An interesting report from this morning's Daily Mail has furthered the view that Louis van Gaal's philosophy is having a detrimental effect on the Manchester United first-team.
Neil Ashton, who is most famous for hosting Sky Sports' Sunday Supplement program, claims the installation of a blame culture at the club's Carrington training ground has left many of the younger players frightened to express themselves.
In fact, he named three in particular who looked noticeably anxious in the Old Trafford dressing room as they prepared to take on PSV Eindhoven. We imagine he has a pretty reliable source within it.
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Those players were Anthony Martial, Memphis Depay and Matteo Darmian. The summer additions sat there in angst, worrying about what their volatile coach might say if they make so much as a routine mistake in the opening 45 minutes.
But that fear has not helped. In fact, it has left many of the players feeling stifled and unable to perform anywhere near their best. It may be the reason why Manchester United are playing the most uninspiring football in their illustrious Premier League history.
On paper, the game against the Eredivisie champions looked like a routine win for a club currently sitting second in the Premier League, but a drab performance saw them limp to a 0-0 draw – their fourth in seven games.
Lack of expression
Such is the turnaround at Old Trafford these days, only a handful of first-team stars know what it was like under the stewardship of Sir Alex Ferguson. The football was exciting and players were encouraged to take risks. More often than not, those risks paid off.
The Scotsman certainly didn't let players get away with murder, but it was nothing like what Van Gaal is putting his players through. They are made to sit through endless analysis of their performances as a group led by his assistant Max Reckers.
Any mistake is called out in front of the other team-mates, making the player in question feel like a fool. The result is a fear to make mistakes, to try something new and a determination to do the job Van Gaal has assigned to them. It is a culture that goes against everything the club has stood for in their recent past.
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