After an excellent performance on their return to European competition, many were hoping that Manchester United’s improved form would carry to their league game against Newcastle. However, while United looked good for long periods of the game, creating multiple chances, they struggled to put the chances away. The performance was better than the first two league games, but the same old doubts resurfaced.
After a year in the wilderness, Manchester United returned to European action by hosting Club Brugge of Belgium for the first-leg of the play-off match to reach the group stage.
United came into the game after winning their first two games of the season 1-0, which are a valuable 6 points but they still haven’t looked all that convincing. The Belgians are further into their season than the Mancunians, beating Panathinaikos 4-2 in the third qualifying round of the Champions League, in addition to 4 league games. A game that started slowly for United eventually turned into one of their best performances under Louis Van Gaal.
After a struggling 1-0 win over the Tottenham Hotspur on the opening weekend of the Premier League season, Manchester United travelled to Villa Park for a rare Friday night match against Aston Villa.
Villa fought out a 1-0 victory over Bournemouth, with Tim Sherwood playing a more aggressive brand of football but they rarely bothered United, as they notched up a second consecutive win.
Louis Van Gaal’s men were hardly entertaining and some tactical patterns are beginning to emerge yet again.
After a disappointing season under David Moyes leaves United missing out on Champion’s League football this coming season and a truly awful viewing experience for even the most hardcore Red Devil fan, the board did what they should have done a year earlier and conducted an extensive search for a suitable manager to ensure they didn’t repeat the errors made replacing the retiring Sir Alex Ferguson.
After appointing Louis Van Gaal as the new manager, he went on to lead the Dutch national team to an unexpected third place finish in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
After a dramatic 3-2 comeback victory at Aston Villa a week earlier, Manchester United visited Carrow Road for a dangerous encounter with a Norwich City squad that is undefeated in their previous 5 games in all competitions, including games against Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. The Red Devils came into this game missing some key players, including their main playmakers, Wayne Rooney and Shinji Kagawa.
Norwich came with a sound strategy, incorporating things that Aston Villa did well against the Red Devils a week earlier. Opting not to sit back and defend, instead they applied pressure up the pitch and tried to hit on the counter-attack. The Canaries also used Grant Holt as a strong target man, similar to Marouane Fellaini of Everton and Christian Benteke of Aston Villa, who United struggled against. Without Rooney or Kagawa, the Red Devils lacked any invention or creativity in the middle of the pitch and were too dependent on the wingers to create chances, especially considering the poor game that Antonio Valencia put in. With Sir Alex Ferguson’s side looking flat and without fire, it seemed that once Norwich took a 1-0 lead that United was never going to get back into the game. Continue reading
Aston Villa faced the league leaders with a positive game plan, a big change on the negative style that Aston Villa fans were forced to suffer through last season under Alex McLeish. They looked to play solid defense, pressing United’s midfield and denying space for Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney, while striking quickly on the counter-attack. Manchester United struggled throughout the first half, unable to find their rhythm, and ended up down by two goals with just over 30 minutes to turn the result around. A clever substitution and formation change by Sir Alex Ferguson fuelled another epic comeback from the Red Devils, ensuring that they would go to sleep that night 4 points clear at the top of the table. Continue reading
A fairly dreary game that wasn’t much of a tactical battle, Manchester United’s 2-1 victory over an embarrassingly uninspired Arsenal team was still 3 important points for the Red Devils. Arsene Wenger’s squad was missing some key players, such as Abou Diaby and Kieran Gibbs, but that still doesn’t explain such a poor performance by a squad that most neutral observers would admit plays some entertaining football. In the past 3 weeks, Arsenal has lost 1-0 to Norwich City, 2-0 to Schalke, had to come back from 4-0 to defeat Reading 7-5, and claimed a 1-0 victory over a 10-man Queens Park Rangers. Arsenal brought this extremely poor run of form into Old Trafford to take on an extremely dangerous Manchester United squad, fresh from a 3-2 victory over league leaders Chelsea a week earlier. Continue reading
This was a well fought game between the top 2 teams in the league this year. Much of the post-game conversation has focused on the calls, and some say mistakes, of Mark Clattenburg. This has been covered much better than I could ever hope to do by numerous other blogs, so I’m going to focus on the tactical battle instead. Dominating the early part of the game, the Red Devils were able to take a 2-0 lead before Chelsea led an impressive fight back to tie the game at 2-2. Chelsea looked like they could have been on their way to earning 1 point, if not all three, before Branislav Ivanovic got his red card. Once they were reduced to 9 men, it was only a matter of time before the Red Devils took the lead, and all three points. Continue reading