Manchester United’s shocking defeat last night to newly-promoted club Leicester City has made the Red Devils a laughing stock. With a reported $100 million spent by new manager Louis Van Gaal on top-class talent including Radamel Falcao, Ander Herrera, Angel Di Maria and Luke Shaw, expectations are at an all-time high.
It’s safe to assume most people expected the 13-time Premier League Champions to blast past Leicester, particularly after their outstanding performance against Queens Park Rangers last week. But last night’s match seems to have exposed the cracks that rival clubs will no doubt be using to their advantage moving forward.
One of those cracks lies in the United defense. Longtime stalwarts Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic are no longer at Old Trafford and without strong leadership at the back; the Red Devils have an exposed vulnerability. Despite the three incredible goals scored by Robin Van Persie, Angel Di Maria and Ander Herrera, the five goals United then went on to concede, left them a deer in the headlights.
Their current defense is made-up of youngsters Tyler Blackett, Johnny Evans, Rafael and new signing Marcos Rojo. Of course, it didn’t help that Blackett was sent off in the 83rd minute. United conceded two penalties and there were some questionable calls by the referee that went against their favor. Clearly, Van Gaal has not yet been able to get his defense tactics right. He admitted in a post-match interview that they made errors in ball possession.
Since legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson left at the end of the 2012-13 season, United seems to have lost their mojo. After his chosen successor David Moyes took over, United went on to finish the season at a measly seventh place. A lot of hopes were pinned on his successor Louis Van Gaal, the Dutch bulldog known for his ‘no bullsh*t’ approach to football.
After a sensational run at this year’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil with national side the Netherlands, Van Gaal hopped off to Manchester to lead his new club in the first match of the season against Swansea. Unfortunately for Van Gaal and United, they suffered an embarrassing 1-2 defeat in front of their own fans.
The next two matches against Sunderland and Burnley ended in 1-1 and 0-0 draws respectively. Considering the stature and strength of United, these oppositions could hardly be considered ‘tough’ competition. United finally got their first win of the season against QPR last week, but the taste of victory didn’t last long.
Surprisingly, United have not benefited from being handed a much easier schedule as opposed to their top half rivals Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea. The next three fixtures will see the Red Devils face-off against West Ham, Everton and West Bromwich Albion.
Besides Everton, the other two are not exactly ‘tough’ competition, but sides like West Ham should not be underestimated. Van Gaal seriously needs to step up his game, and possibly consider bringing in strong defenders when the transfer window opens in January; or we may very well witness another miserable season for the once legendary United.