Monday 11 December 2017

Van Gaal running low on credibility

Big match verdict

Man United Assistant Manager Ryan Giggs and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. Pic: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Man United Assistant Manager Ryan Giggs and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. Pic: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

They fought for Louis van Gaal at Old Trafford but it wasn't enough and it hasn't been enough for nearly two seasons now

There's no point in trying to place this in the context of the Van Gaal's future with Manchester United because there is no indication that the powers that be are minded to act.

Certainly, this wasn't a sacking performance. This was a different Manchester United than the one we saw last week at Anfield. With their season on the line, they responded for Van Gaal.

They were confused, badly organised and paid the price in the first leg but this time I saw a better shape to them and much more calmness and control on the ball.

There was no hit and hope towards Fellaini who partnered Michael Carrick in midfield and played a much more constructive role than he was asked to perform last week.

At the same time, Liverpool didn't quite manage to deliver what Jurgen Klopp had asked for and were playing with obvious fear. Chances fell to United and they deserved the lead when it came.

Liverpool certainly didn't pick up where they left off in the first-leg and Klopp must have been more than a bit concerned when Anthony Martial lowered the gap with a penalty.

In the past, that might have signalled a Liverpool collapse but Klopp has given this team some belief and when Philppe Coutinho scored a delightful chipped equalise just before half-time, their confidence rose sky high.

I must say, I expected something more direct from Van Gaal and his men after the break and a more prominent role for Fellaini's head but to be fair to the Dutchman and his players, they kept trying to play and kept up the level of commitment you would expect in a game like this.

Certainly the crowd stayed with them right to the end and that was simply because they saw players giving honest effort and not hiding.

United have rivals Manchester City at the Etihad at the weekend, rapidly followed by West Ham in the FA Cup on Tuesday and then Spurs. It doesn't get any easier.

The biggest winner on the night was probably the biggest loser.

Spurs limped out of the competition with a whimper at the hands of Borussia Dortmund but if I was Mauricio Pochettino, I would have woken this morning with a big smile.

He has one focus now - Leicester City.

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