Mike Phelan has criticised Manchester United’s training regime and hinted that Louis Van Gaal could be partly responsible for the number of injuries that have hit his squad in the first four months of the season.
Chris Smalling became the 43rd player to fall victim to an injury when he had to be replaced after 15 minutes against Southampton on Monday night, the third time he’s been sidelined this season.
Louis Van Gaal has told Gary Neville that he must pay attention to his words when talking about Manchester United, after Neville’s comments on Sky Sports last night.
Speaking on Monday Night Football, the former United captain said that Van Gaal’s team had “got away with murder” after beating Southampton 2-1 despite having only two shots on goal. Neville had also suggested that, based on both teams’ current form, United vs Liverpool on Sunday would be “like The Dog and Duck versus The Red Lion”.
It wasn’t pretty, in fact it was downright horrendous and dull, as dull as United had been in years. But it was also a fifth consecutive win, the second in a row away from home and achieved against a side that, at least for the time being, is a direct rival for a top four finish.
Apart from the result and an outstanding away support there wasn’t much to save from United’s 2-1 win at Southampton, though here’s five things we have learnt from Monday night.
Louis Van Gaal has said that Radamel Falcao must adapt to his substitute role until he regains full fitness and that he will not start at Southampton tonight.
The Colombian has scored just once since arriving on loan from Monaco and was only used as a substitute against Hull and Stoke City after missing over a month with a calf injury.
The only way to start this preview is to simply to say, even Liverpool beat this lot.
Something that after last season is said with immense satisfaction. Part of the reason for this satisfaction is that last season this fixture would have been labelled a “mid table clash” with very little consequence. Arsenal and Liverpool fans revelled in United’s mediocrity. Twelve months later this fixture rolls around again, but this time it is a key 90 minutes in the battle for the top four.
It wasn’t pretty by any stretch of imagination. In fact it was dire for large spells of the game and the last 120 seconds were downright frightening, but Manchester United have a fourth consecutive win under their belt after beating Stoke 2-1 and more reasons to be confident ahead of two testing fixtures.
That it was achieved without Wayne Rooney and Angel Di Maria and while annoying Mark Hughes, made it even better
Whisper it, but United might be on the way to redemption. They’re not quite there, of course, but November was as encouraging a month as we had witnessed since lifting the trophy in May 2013. Three games, nine points, two clean sheets and a first away win, all while United’s direct rivals for fourth place – which, like it or not, is the only realistic target for this season – dropped points, allowing Louis Van Gaal’s troops to sneak into the top four.
Beating the likes of Crystal Palace and Hull City at home should be a routine exercise for United, but if last season taught us anything is that nothing should be taken for granted and, therefore, November’s mini-revival was more than welcome, particularly as it’s been achieved with a squad ravaged by injuries.
A win against Stoke would lift United within one point of third place, ahead of Southampton’s trip to the Emirates tomorrow night, but Mark Hughes’ men are likely to prove a sterner test than Hull did on Saturday.
Javier Hernandez has admitted he might need to find himself a club capable of guaranteeing him first team football next season, after Real Madrid turned down the chance to make his loan deal permanent.
The Mexican was shipped out by Louis Van Gaal this summer but has managed only 10 appearances in all competitions for the European champions, with Carlo Ancelotti opting against signing him the Mexican, who insisted he remains concentrated on doing well for his current club.