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Five things we’ve learnt from Midtjylland vs United

3484Manchester United’s season took yet another embarrassing turn as Louis Van Gaal’s side slumped to a pathetic defeat away against Midtjylland in the first league of their Europa League.

Despite going ahead through a Memphis Depay’s goal, United succeeded in delivering an even more abysmal performance than the one they had produced at Sunderland on Saturday and were eventually deservedly beaten by a hungrier and more organised side. 

1) Enough is enough

United and Van Gaal have had more “last straw” moments in four months than some managers have in a decade but, despite falling short in each of those instances, the Dutchman somehow continues to cling on to his job. United have failed to win in 18 of their last 27 games in all competitions and their wins against Derby and Stoke only served to highlight the umpteenth false dawn of the season.

In normal circumstances, dismal defeats such as the one United suffered last night and the one against Sunderland on Saturday would have spelt the end for a manager who’s been under pressure for as long as Van Gaal has. However, considering the sheer ineptitude of those running United, expect the former Holland manager to remain in charge for the foreseeable future as the club sleepwalks into the abyss.

2) Champions League? You’re having a laugh

Much has been made of United’s demotion to the Europa League, a competition which is often considered a nuisance rather than a genuine opportunity for silverware. Undoubtedly, European football’s second tier no longer carries any of the prestige it had when it was named UEFA Cup and while the round of 32 features the likes of Valencia, Liverpool, Napoli and Borussia Dortmund, the tournament remains underwhelming.

However, it is a stage United might have to get used to in the foreseeable future for Van Gaal’s side are clearly not good enough to face Europe’s elite. In fact, based on this season’s performances, they’d be simply making up the numbers in the Champions League.


3) Romero seizes his chance

Sergio Romero was a last-minute inclusion in the starting line-up after David De Gea suffered an injury in the warm-up and did not disappoint.

The Argentine, who kept four clean sheets in as many Premier League games early in the season before conceding two largely avoidable goals against Swansea prior to De Gea’s return, twice denied the hosts in the first half. First he parried Kian Hansen’s goalbound header before keeping our Vaclav Kadlec’s shot when 1 vs 1 against the midfielder but there was little he could do to prevent Pione Sisto’s equaliser.

Sisto was then denied by another superb save late in the second half but, ultimately, there was nothing Romer could do to prevent Paul Onuachu’s winner. The question now is, can the Argentine stand up and be counted should United be without De Gea for the foreseeable future?

4) United fans get a raw deal

United fans were charged £71 to attend Thursday’s game, even though Southampton fans were only charged £22 by the same team earlier in the season. Midtjylland fans, who normally pay £15 for a ticket, were also charged £71, a decision the Danish outfit justified by saying it was a once in a lifetime chance for a club their size to face Manchester United.

Whatever the reason, the 800 or so fans who traveled to Denmark were in fine voice and made themselves heard throughout the 90 minutes, proving yet again that regardless of the success on the pitch, United’s support remains in good health. 

They were right to express their disappointment too and, after hearing the away end chanting “We’re fucking shit” Van Gaal and the players should have had the decency to apologise to the fans.


5) Reasons for optimism

There are none.

United might well qualify for the next round but this was Van Gaal’s Olympiacos away moment and keeping him in charge until the end of the season would be absolute, sheer folly. He has given up, the players have given up and the fans could soon give up themselves. After going behind, as was the case on Saturday against Sunderland, United showed nothing that would suggest they could get back into the game and they simply drifted towards the final whistle.

It was embarrassing and. even more worrying, it was not surprising.




  1. brian.

    February 19, 2016 at 9:27 am

    I cannot comprehend why I’m not reading that LVG has been dismissed as Man U manager. What must he do to receive this sanction? Does Ed Woodward have a few quid with Paddy Powers on LVG keeping his position despite atrocious results and performances? Have LVG and EW combined to convince the Glazers ( Who know precious little about football) that LVG is a massive success and an away defeat in Europa League is, in fact, a victory? Or is, EW, a scouser and having a belly laugh at the whole debacle? If a snake rots from the head down, it’s time to decapitate. I realise how dreadful the injury list has become, but failure to prepare for all eventualities is a managerial failing. We are currently preparing for total failure and destruction and for this accolade, we seem very well equipped.

  2. bestie

    February 19, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    Midtjylland fans paid 71 pound to see ManUtd? They should ask for a refund

  3. colver

    February 19, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    I am convinced there is a clause in his contract (as there probably was in Moyes) whereby if he fails to make Champions League he can be dismissed on the cheap. You will notice Moyes was only sacked after he was dumped out of the Champions League and it was mathematically impossible to make the top four. It is the sort of false economy one has come to expect from our club.

    We are six points off the top four. LVG has been given the chance to put December behind him and build some form but it is still a case of one step forward one step back. A new coach often reinvigorates a side and Mourinho in particular is ruthless enough to whip the team into shape and launch a sustained push for the top four. Imagine pushing City into 5th place and Guardiola having to ply his trade in the Europa League? It would be priceless. But it is never gonna happen under Van Gaal. Giggs wouldn’t do much better. Why wait till our season is a total write off before sacking Van Gaal when a new coach could give us a fighting chance of rescuing our season?

  4. Julian

    February 20, 2016 at 10:29 am

    I think the following scenario has some credence. United have an agreement with Mourinho to take over at the end of the season but not before. JM wants to start afresh at the beginning of next season and doesn’t want to have to come in and pick up the pieces as well as usurping LvG. At the end of the season LvG can leave with a degree of dignity, an outcome with which Mourinho would no doubt heartily concur.

    Complicating matters as regards an early exit for LvG is Giggs, reportedly, not wanting another caretaker role. That means there’s nobody to immediately replace LvG except perhaps Warren Joyce. It seems that Giggs is likely to be off in the summer to gain first hand managerial experience elsewhere – which is good for all concerned I think.

    It’s all theoretical but it does explain the inaction and the silence.

    • storm

      February 21, 2016 at 8:08 am

      @Julian: I agree, I think it is the most likely scenario. The only drawback is,it gives Mourinho less time to evaluate existing players, who to keep,who to convince to stay and who to sell, and find suitable replacements. It’s a real pity he can’t take over straight away and give himself and the squad, time.

  5. colver

    February 22, 2016 at 4:14 am

    Julian, the problem with that scenario is that LVG is continuing to deny there is any relationship between Mourinho and Manchester United, while no one in the club hierarchy is doing anything to dispel these rumours or publicly voice any support for LVG. So we are making him look like the footballing equivalent of a cuckholded husband. It is pretty obvious we’ve been having talks with Mourinho behind LVG’s back, just as we reportedly had with LVG months before we actually got round to sacking Moyes.It is possible a deal has been done. It is a question of when not if LVG will be sacked. But that question still creates a lot of uncertainty which is affecting the players and the manager.

    I agree Mourinho is unlikely to want to take over until the summer. He is supremely self interested and will want to stack the deck in his favour by bringing in the players he wants and getting a pre season to work with the players. Giggs would be foolish to refuse another stint as caretaker manager given how weak his CV is and even if he was willing to take over I think Woodward still views LVG’s experience as a safer bet but wants to keep his options open in case results deteriorate or it is clear LVG has completely lost the dressing room.

    But it would probably be much better if we made a public announcement to the effect LVG would be in place till the end of the season and Mourinho would take over in the summer. It would restore a bit of authority to LVG as the players are more likely to listen to a coach who will be around for the next three months than a coach who could be gone tomorrow. It would resolve the uncertainty and press speculation and LVG and the players might be able to come to some sort of working arrangement to give us the best chance of turning our season around. And LVG would get some of his mojo back knowing his position is secure till the end of the season and get some of his confidence back.

    • Julian

      February 22, 2016 at 1:29 pm

      @colver: It would be better to have certainty but my guess is that Woodward is still keeping his options open. As such plan A whereby LvG sees out his contract and then Giggs takes over cannot be totally ruled out. For that to happen United need to finish in the top four or win one of the cups – none of which seems likely right now. Should this season continue disastrously then LvG would have to go – more likely at the end of the season rather than Giggs taking over as caretaker again. Promoting Giggs on a permanent basis in those circumstances would be high risk and therefore someone like JM or Pochettino would take over for next season. It means jettisoning the Giggs succession plan. I would think the choice of an experienced successor to start the re-building (once again!) is also an option despite the so-called gentleman’s agreement with JM. The latter isn’t going to wait forever while Ed makes up his mind but there are others – and Ed knows JM isn’t exactly everyone’s choice.

      I don’t think this is too far removed from what is happening right now.

  6. Leo Shouse

    March 12, 2016 at 1:39 am

    As if seeing their team humbled by the Danish underdogs was not bad enough, the 800 United fans here had to pay £71 for the privilege even though the same tickets usually cost £15. 

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