We managed to get through the Christmas period pretty unscathed, dropped only four points since November and have found a bit of consistency so with a few favourable fixtures including the start of the F.A cup, January was a month which I think could be a good one for us.
It didn’t start off great though! Having done Stoke over at Old Trafford the return leg was a much tougher affair, and United never really recovered from a second minute opener from Stoke. Stoke played well given the conditions and sat back not really offering anything, unless it was a high ball into the box. Radamel Falcao swept in a corner for the equaliser, which was another confidence boost for the striker, who is struggling a little to put the ball in the back of the net as much as he would like. Apart from that, not many other clear chances were created and the points were shared.
On the back of this result was an away day in the F.A Cup against Yeovil and I have to admit – given the team we put out and the return of Angel Di Maria, I was shocked at the performance and only a stunner from Ander Herrera who again has come back into the team and started to show what he is all about and why we paid £30m for the Athlectic Bilbao man, and a cool finish from Di Maria in the 90th minute which seperated the 2 teams and Yeovil will feel unlucky they couldn’t force a replay. United were sloppy in the middle of the park, passes were terrible and the forward play to the strikers bordered on pathetic for a team such as United to not go and dominate a team 3 tiers below fielding a strong team did worry me, but the F.A Cup is all about a shock…and that certainly shocked me, fortunately we got through.
From a pretty poor performance in Yeovil (who, credit to them played very well it has to be said) to arguably one of our worst performances of the season in my eyes, the 1-0 loss at home to Southhampton really shook up everything we had worked so hard for in December, firstly Van Gaal “tactically” dropped Falcao, a decesion which as fans we have to live with, but one I don’t think any of us agreed with, especially considering we couldn’t record one on target shot during the whole match and the only option we had was Wilson on the bench a very good young player, but one who is only 19 and only scored 1 Premier League goal for United. Given the stats from this match and the poor performance going forward was confusing to us all but maybe it was a wake up call? Maybe van Gaal was sending a message that anyone can be dropped and therefore you must perform? Whatever the rational was, it was confusing and even now I can’t really figure it out, but another league match again QPR and an F.A Cup match was in the pipeline and we had to be up and ready for it.
QPR was next in line and I’ll keep this one short and sweet, a return to a little bit of form for United, which I have to be honest was really lacking in the last couple of matches and a good performance just to indicate to the fans that this wasn’t going to be a desperate streak of bad form/decisions both on and off the pitch.
Falcao back in the starting line-up, looked good going forward creating lots of space and had a couple of really good chances going forward, and was unlucky not to grab a brace, Green was in very good form stopping all Falcao’s efforts but none the less good to see him put in a good performance. The goals themselves came from Fellaini who is enjoying a good season so far and netted his 3rd of the campaign and Wilson who came on at the end to slot past green for his second, and probably added a little bit of weight to his case for more first team football. 3 points in the bag and United still sit in fourth place. Rojo back in the team gives our defences a little bit more stealy determination and grit which has been lacking, but I still think we could be with at least one more high quality true centre back to bring the other players together. Together with Rojo and Shaw with Smalling when he is in form, we have the makings of a solid defence and one more centre back could really work wonders.
Cambridge away was next in the F.A Cup, and there wasn’t much to say 4th in the Premiership vs middle of the 2nd Division….surely a walk in the park? No 0-0 it was and again credit to Cambridge to force the replay, but they could of snook a win! The performance was not a great one at all, it seems as though we might be underestimating teams that have nothing to lose, van Gaal said the pitch was poor which is true, but you can’t always play on a carpet, the ref was poor, but the decisions can’t always go your way and the crowd was against us, which is what you would expect. So without the excuses I just think it was a damn poor performance and we didn’t deserve any more than we got.
Moral of the story, so far this month has been far from impressive, all the hard December work has kind of been put to one side to make way for a bit of a disaster month, team selection and tactics changed which was a bit of a mystery and we just didn’t seem to be at the races. One thing for sure though, is if I know anything about van Gaal he will be less than happy and will be wanting a quick response in both results and overall performances.
On a side note… the transfer window has been quite although the rumours has been flying, we have made one big name signing in Victor Valdes from Barcalona, but I really don’t think we will let De Gea go, and a new contract I believe will be offered.
Jorge Mendes De Gea agent and also that of Falcao has been vocal about both but we will ahve to wait and see, United do have a good relationship with him so I think if there is a deal to be done then it can be.