Van Gaal reign is on its last legs: Five things we learned from Manchester United 0 Southampton 1
Louis Van Gaal’s job is on the line, Juan Mata should remain on the bench and other things we learned from Manchester United 0 Southampton 1
By Coral Barry
Van Gaal is facing the axe
The Dutchman’s tenure as United manager hangs in the balance as his side followed up a hard fought win at Liverpool last week with yet another dismal home display, resulting in a defeat to struggling Southampton. Van Gaals’ team had just one shot on target for the entire 90 minutes and have only managed two wins in their last seven home games. Yet again, United were horrible to watch for the home fans and Old Trafford certainly made it feelings known with a barrage of boos at half-time and at the final whistle. Without flair and now without goals, Van Gaal’s reign seems to be in its final throes.
Mata is sub standard
As Old Trafford shouted ‘Attack Attack Attack!’ United were boring, boring, boring. For the 11th home game in a row Van Gaal’s side failed to score in the first half. Something had to change and Van Gaal introduced substitute Juan Mata at the start of the second half. The Spaniard has been deemed surplus to requirements in recent games, but after making an early impact he soon faded. Mata remains United’s most effective creative outlet with seven assists in all competitions, but as the winger’s assist-making has diminished so has United’s goalscoring.
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Darmian becomes sixth injured full-back
As Matteo Darmian shuffled off just after the hour mark, Van Gaal cursed his luck yet again. The right-back will has joined the lengthy full-back queue for the treatment room, where Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia and Phil Jones are all already keeping the medical team busy. Van Gaal surely must dip into the January market for a full-back who can walk straight into his team.
Mane and Martial together could be magnificent
It is no secret that Van Gaal would like Sadio Mane, Southampton’s most explosive player, at United and you can see why. Despite missing his golden opportunity today with just David de Gea to beat, the Senegalese’s movement and pace would add some much-needed spark to an uninspiring United attack. In 11 games the Red Devils have managed just 11 goals with three of those coming in the 3-3 thriller at Newcastle. Combine Mane with the lighting quick Anthony Martial up front and United would offer far more attacking threat.
Koeman enhances chances of plum job
Speaking to a Dutch radio this week, Ronald Koeman suggested he would eventually like to move on to a bigger club and suggested his friend and current Chelsea interim coach Guus Hiddink could put in a good word for him. Southampton’s decline this season has been significant, with the Saints seven league places worse off than they were after 22 games last year at kick-off today. The word is that Koeman is sick of having to sell his best players.