The sound of the final whistle was answered by booing at Old Trafford yesterday as disgruntled Manchester United fans voiced their discontent.
Their frustration was born out of seeing their club record a fourth 0-0 draw in their last six games in all competitions. Louis van Gaal’s side may have the best defence in the Premier League, but they need to start converting more of their chances in front of goal.
The obvious absence of Wayne Rooney has left a void in United’s attacking force, but one of the key positions that currently needs filling is left back, where Luke Shaw played so well leading up
to his cruel leg break in Eindhoven.
Van Gaal has operated a few different systems since his arrival in England, but now seems set on playing a 4-5-1 formation with two holding midfielders.
While this is making the side very solid at the back – and providing a string of clean sheets – it is leaving something to be desired when going forwards.
Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata played on the left and right wings respectively against West Ham, which allowed both attackers to cut inside, which in turn opened up the overlap for the full backs
to push on.
However, the quality of crossing this weekend was below par and, as such, the hosts were unable to make the most of Marouane Fellaini’s presence in the opposition penalty area.
Matteo Darmian is not as strong on his left foot, Paddy McNair hasn’t played too often on the right side, and Guillermo Varela made his debut in the second half. But it was a far cry from how United
played with Shaw and Antonio Valencia in the team at the start of the season.
Marcos Rojo’s consistent injury issues mean that he can’t be relied on as a long-term replacement, and while Daley Blind is an excellent distributor of the ball, he simply lack the speed required to fly
down the wing on the overlap and fill the box with crosses.
If this position is filled, then United can spread the width of their play and open up more options to unlock defences who arrive in the North West looking to keep it tight and try to nick a draw.
Fellaini and Anthony Martial are both capable in the air so pumping the ball into the area might be a better way for the club to start finding the net more consistently, and turning draws into victories.
A pacey, direct and left-footed full back is just the type of player that Van Gaal needs to sign in January to step in for Shaw as he works his way back to full fitness.
There has been talk of the free agent Ashley Cole making a remarkable return to the Premier League with the Red Devils – while this would be a reliable short-term fix, it would make sense to look for a younger player who can forge a career at the Theatre of Dreams.
Who do you think LVG should sign in January? Have YOUR say in the comments section below!
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