After another woeful, sluggish and impotent Manchester United performance, this time away at Crystal Palace, Louis Van Gaal must tweak his squad and soon to make it fire again. With chants from the travelling support of “we`re Man United, we want to attack”, fans are getting frustrated with the bile being served up by their side. This kind of supporter backlash reminds us of the “4-4-2” chants from United fans at QPR last season not to mention the “attack, attack, attack” chants that often ring around Old Trafford on a Saturday.
Although Van Gaal retains a big support from the United faithful, cracks are appearing in the relationship and these will only get larger if the Reds do not win the next two must-win games at home to CSKA Moscow on Tuesday and West Bromwich Albion. Anything less than two victories will leave United drifting away from qualification in the Champions League and falling out of the top four of the Premier League. In fact, Van Gaal really needs two good performances to go with those victories. If the side play the slow sideways passing game even if they win, the supporters will not be convinced all is well within the camp.
Firstly, United have the players capable of lighting up Old Trafford. The manager has sold lots of dead wood and bought in some good talent, he is to be praised for the way he has tightened up the team defensively, turning Smalling into an unbelievable talent as well as fixing the midfield. However, it is time to ditch playing two defensive midfielder`s, especially at home. As much as I like Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin there is no need at home to play both, it is too negative and putting one on the bench allows for a more attack minded midfielder to come into the side.
Secondly, Anthony Martial must be moved centrally where he is most effective and where he scores his goals from. With Memphis Depay in such poor form it is time for Ashley Young to come back into the side. Young proved last season that he is willing to get forward and take players on at any moment as well as get back and defend. This still allows for Juan Mata and Ander Herrera to be paired in the team, players who can open up any defence.
This will mean thirdly that captain Wayne Rooney drops to the bench. We can all see that his first touch has deserted him as has his pace and accurate passing. Against Palace there were times for United to break but the player on the ball saw the only outlet was Rooney and they thought twice about passing to the United captain. Rooney does not deserve his place in the side and it is time to make that decision.
We all have opinions and we all think ours is the right one, I have read many articles on this subject recently and the general consensus is for Rooney to drop to the bench with Martial moved centrally. What Van Gaal has to be very careful with is not just making those decisions but he has to release the shackles off his team, stop this obsession with possession and winning 1-0. You will always have possession especially at home, but it is what you do with the ball that counts. If the manager becomes pig headed and sticks to this rigid system then he will start to lose that support from the stands very rapidly as the fans want and expect to be entertained.