Analysis: Van Gaal’s toothless Man Utd continue to bore

Manchester United’s goal drought amassed five hours after they were held to a 0-0 draw to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

Louis van Gaal has had to endure a lot of criticism this week over his style of play but after a third consecutive stalemate, the Old Trafford faithful are becoming growingly disgruntled over their side’s lack of invention.

A tame Wayne Rooney free-kick was the only effort that troubled Crystal Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, the travelling United contingent doing their utmost to rally their troops by bellowing ‘Attack, Attack, Attack-Attack-Attack’ imploring Van Gaal to be more positive.

However the Dutchman’s lack of risk was yet again very apparent.

The 20-time champions have now drawn three successive games in all competitions for the first time since January 2005.

Former United midfielder Paul Scholes voiced his discontent over Van Gaal’s inability to entertain last week but the Englishman did praise the Dutchman’s role in making the Red Devils a more resolute defensive unit.

United have in fact kept more clean sheets than any other side in the Premier League this season (seven).

However, the current United crop’s attacking football has become very stale and lacking creativity and there is a growing concern that Van Gaal’s impetus is on being disciplined and organised.

After the short turbulent tenure under David Moyes, United fans were optimistic that Van Gaal could rekindle the glory days regularly witnessed under Sir Alex Ferguson.

The former Netherlands manager has been at Old Trafford for 16 months and has spent a whopping £240m on building his jigsaw but the worry for United fans is that they seem no closer to returning where they feel belong.

The days of pacey wingers tormenting defenders and teams surrendering in the final few minutes due to United’s relentless onslaught seem to be a distant past. United fans are now the ones slowly surrendering due to their sides mind-numbing possession-based philosophy.

Van Gaal seems reluctant to let his players play without freedom and would rather control the game without necessarily providing a risk.

Anthony Martial has been a revelation since his deadline day move but after such an impressive start to his United career upfront, Van Gaal opted to switch the young Frenchman out on the left to compensate for under-performing club captain Rooney.

Rooney’s lack of pace and confidence has resulted in United carrying no attacking threat: Martial is the only attacking player that can scare opposing defenders with his speed and willingness to be positive in possession but is not as effective in the wide area.

United are currently four points behind leaders Manchester City and second-placed Arsenal but given the attractive football their title rivals play, Van Gaal’s side are currently light-years off the pace and can only look on with envy.

Van Gaal will hope that his side’s much publicised goal-drought will come to an end when Russian leaders CSKA Moscow arrive to Old Trafford tomorrow in a crucial Champions League clash. 

Image courtesy of MUTV via YouTube, with thanks.

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