Cleat Geeks

Newcastle,Liverpool, LVG and Man Utd History

wayne-rooneyAt around 10pm on Tuesday January 12th Manchester United earned a point away at Newcastle United which Wayne Rooney said, “felt like a defeat.” If, for whatever reason you had not viewed or listened to the game it might sound confusing. A 3-3 draw away from home with the United team on a mediocre run of form does not sound that bad. However on deeper analysis perhaps Rooney’s comments make more sense, especially as Rooney had put United 3-2 up in the game with only a few minutes left. Two points lost rather than one point gained was the general consensus for the evening.

At around 3:50pm on Sunday January 17th Manchester United earned all three points away at Liverpool which Wayne Rooney hailed as a “massive win”. Rooney scoring the all decisive goal in the 78th minute at the Anfield Road End of the ground, the end where most of the United supporters, including United players Michael Carrick, Phil Jones and Marcus Rojo were gathered.

A 1-0 win away at Liverpool was a “massive win” indeed, but how United achieved it was far from convincing and had its fair share of divine luck. United had one shot on target in the whole 93 minutes which resulted in the goal, Liverpool had four shots on target and had it not been for David DeGea Liverpool would certainly have converted at least one of them.ManU David de Gea

The only talking point of note in first half was when Adam Lallana was put through on goal and tried to head the ball over the oncoming DeGea. It was a poor decision and sums up his season so far because even if the ball had cleared DeGea it would not have had the energy to reach the net.

The other major point if the first half was the spat between Marouane Fellaini and Lucas, both were lucky not to get booked for their skirmish. Yet in fairness this fixture has seen far worse over the years and the situation never escalated into anything too dramatic. Fellaini continues to divide supporters of his particular value to the team but importantly he is now Louis Van Gaal’s go to man.

In the second half United came out with more purpose and attacking intent after a reported row between the players at half time in the dressing room. However it was Liverpool who still managed on average to create more chances and DeGea was the far busier goalkeeper. He made a particularly fine double save to keep United in the game which unfortunately for him was not mentioned by Van Gaal after the match who remarked, “he is the goalkeeper, that is his job.”

After the Rooney goal in the last 15 minutes Liverpool huffed and puffed but could not blow United’s house down and that was not good news for Jurgen Klopp in his pursuit of a top four position and a Champions League place next season.

As with most things in life the truth of Manchester United’s season lies somewhere between the Newcastle match and the Liverpool match but exactly where is difficult to fathom at the moment. In truth at Newcastle, United drew a game they should have won and at Liverpool they won a game they should have drawn and that is football (soccer) “it is always like that” as Van Gaal would say.

There is no doubt, given the rivalry between the two clubs that the win at Liverpool was far sweeter for the supporters than any win at Newcastle would have been. However this win should not mask the deficiencies the present United team have and blind their supporters to any misguided notion of winning the Premier League Title this year. One shot on target in the whole match was not an aberration for this United team, it has become a norm.

If there is a silver lining for United at the moment it is the form of Rooney who has now scored goals in his last four games. This is not to be understated because prior to this scoring streak Rooney was having one of his worst seasons ever in front of goal. Should he continue in this vein and given Rooney’s history of going on scoring runs, then perhaps the FA Cup might be a possible target for the club, especially if others in the team dust off their own scoring boots.

louis_van_gaal_podiumVan Gaal in his post match interview argued the point that United are still in with a chance of winning the league. “We have a lot of matches still to go,” said Van Gaal when asked if his side could mount a late charge. “We have to continue, which is not so easy. But we can do it because we show every week we can do it.”

United closed the gap on Arsenal and Leicester after both sides could only draw at the weekend, although third-placed Manchester City and fourth-placed Tottenham picked up maximum points. “Today is very important because our competitors have lost points,” said the 64-year-old Dutchman.
“The gap is seven points. We can overcome that so that’s what I’m thinking about.”
With this win United moved into 5th in the table however I suspect only the most fervent United supporters believe United have a strong chance of winning the Premier League Title, especially with this team under this manager.

It used to be said,especially under manager Sir Alex Ferguson, that Manchester United played better after Christmas. As if metaphorically they had rounded the last turn in a horse race and seeing the finish line galavanted them into extra effort and endeavour. History shows this to be true on many occasions in Ferguson’s reign in charge. It is a comforting thought for United supporters because history has a habit of repeating itself all too often. Perhaps Van Gaal also knows his history and his post match rhetoric was just that or what he truly believes this squad can achieve.

In truth in a few short weeks Van Gaal has gone from being an overwhelming certainty to be sacked, to promoting his view that United can be champions. The former is still much more likely than the latter it has to be said, but while Van Gaal has earned a stay of execution it is anyone’s guess how long that will last.

Each match is now crucial for Van Gaal and the next few weeks will decide if United will win any silverware this season or end up potless for a third year running. On Saturday United face Southampton at Old Trafford followed by an the F A Cup 4th Round tie away at Derby County on Friday 29th January.

At around 10pm that Friday night United may well have made important strides in both competitions or should history not repeat itself, may have fallen at both hurdles and again be left facing the runners up places for another season

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