Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal withdrew Ander Herrera at half-time against Arsenal for tactical reasons, reports the Manchester Evening News.
The decision baffled many within Old Trafford, especially as Luke Shaw followed Herrera off of the pitch. Van Gaal has already got a reputation for making strange calls, and this one was up there with the best, or worst, of them.
Michael Carrick came on for Herrera with many assuming the Spaniard had picked up an injury in the first-half. However, the MEN believe Herrera was 100 per cent fit when he made his way to the substitute's bench.
The same cannot be said of Shaw, who was apparently taken off as a precaution. The 19-year-old has missed recent games against Sunderland and Newcastle and was not fit to continue against the Gunners. Phil Jones came on in his place with Marcos Rojo moving to left-back as a result.
We will, of course, never know what effect those early substitutions had on the game, but when Manchester United went 2-1 down, it was evident Van Gaal would have a big decision to make with his final throw of the dice.
He opted to send on Adnan Januzaj, leaving Radamel Falcao to sit on the bench and thank his lucky stars his time at Old Trafford is only temporary. Januzaj's biggest contribution was to receive the second yellow card of the game for diving.
Van Gaal's quirky decisions have paid off in the past. He brought on goalkeeper Tim Krul before a crucial World Cup penalty shootout against Costa Rica whilst manager of the Netherlands. Krul made the difference with his extended reach.
Novelty factor wears thins
But last night his decision to take off Herrera left Manchester United severely handicapped in what they could do when Arsenal scored their second. The job was made even harder when Angel di Maria got himself sent off for two quickfire yellow cards.
The novelty factor is certainly starting to wear off for Van Gaal with critics suggesting these two substitutes were an indication that the Dutchman had simply got his tactics wrong. Trying to amend his mistakes only eased Arsenal's path into the FA Cup semi-finals.
What did Manchester United fans think of Van Gaal's half-time substitutions? Did they harm their chances of winning, or would the scoreline have been even worse? Give us your views in the comments box below!
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