Before Wednesday’s game against Burnley, Manchester United is sitting 5th in the EPL table and just a single point away from 3rd. They have only lost once since the November 2 Manchester Derby and all anyone can talk about is how they are getting those points.
After Sunday’s 1-1 draw against West Ham, Hammers manager “Big” Sam Allardyce wasn’t impressed with Manchester United’s play and the managing decisions of Louis van Gaal. Allardyce said, “In the end, we couldn’t cope with the long balls Manchester United kept putting in the box. It was just, thump it forward and see what they could get. In the end, it paid off for them.”
On 32 Flags, we have talked about how van Gaal has been getting the benefit of the doubt because of his past success, confident demeanor and the fact that his positional rivals are even worse than last year even though after 21 games, his and David Moyes’ Manchester United team from last year had the same amount of points.
The usually confident Louis van Gaal is clearly getting rattled. In a press conference earlier this week, van Gaal seemed to take Allardyce’s “Longball United” comments personally and went into a bizarre rant that included visual aids.
Now that van Gaal is responding to these comments in the highly defensive manner that he did, more fans and media are starting to take notice. For some, they saw through it and were worried about Man United months ago. For others, the blinders are now off and they’re realizing that it may be a little bit worse than it was originally made out to be. To the rest, everything is still fine and United are in a good spot to have a successful season. Now people are openly questioning if United will finish in the top four.
I have some simple advice for Louis van Gaal. Just shut up and get into the top four. Winning will calm everybody’s fears and if you have to win by being “Longball United,” do it and get into Champions League instead of trying to get too cute and potentially miss European play for a second straight year. Manchester United’s season can very well be defined by these next five days. These two games coming up for Manchester United, Burnley and Preston North End in the FA Cup, will be crucial for the perception of this team. Two wins will certainly calm those fears, anything else will turn up the heat even more on Louis van Gaal than it already is now.