It’s going to be another season without a trophy at Old Trafford as Manchester United’s last hope ended Monday night at the hands of Arsenal in the quarterfinals in the FA Cup. This is the second straight year there won’t be any new* silverware at Old Trafford and apparently fans are already getting tired of Louis van Gaal as if the man fix a very broken ship in less then a year.
To add insult to injury Arsenal’s winner was scored by ex-United striker Danny Welbeck, who was pretty much thrown in the trash can by Louis van Gaal this summer.
While it’s infuriating that Welbeck is the one who grabbed the winner, I’m not mad at all that we let him go. I’m not mad about any of the players we let go this summer, they were all terrible. Welbeck sucks, he’s a striker that can’t finish (as all United fans know, England fans are starting to figure out, and Arsenal fans will realize soon enough). His goal that sunk United was such an easy finish that even someone like Danny Welbeck would have put it in the net. The infuriating part was that it was set up by Antonio Valencia. In all their years of playing together I think that’s the first time Valencia ever set up Welbeck for a goal at Old Trafford. Go figure.
As for the other players that United let go of this summer: while Javier Hernandez certainly did score a lot of goals, he’s probably the worst soccer player outside of the opponents box I’ve ever seen. Can’t pass, can’t keep the ball, just terrible. We said goodbye the Nani who has been the most frustrating player we’ve had since 2009 (guess what Nani scored for Sporting on Monday too!), and Tom Cleverley failed to develop into a competent midfielder so I don’t think anyone misses him.
The problem isn’t with the players we let go, it’s the players we held on to and actually expect them to contribute. This is my biggest complaint with van Gaal. How can you keep playing Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia and expect a different outcome?
Antonio Valencia is a problem in of itself. He’s a one trick pony who only uses his right foot. He legitimately can’t use his left foot. It’s impressive that he managed to get to such a high level of play using only one foot, but how Sir Alex Ferguson saw him as a replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo is beyond me. Since he doesn’t use his left foot, but instead the outside of his right foot in certain scenarios, playing him at right back is like playing with matches in a wooden tree house. Every so often he gets into trouble because of his own neglect and relies on David de Gea to save him, which is exactly what happened Monday night, except not even de Gea could make a save that great.
It’s almost unfathomable that right before Christmas there were some delusional (I.E. myself), who were able to look at this team and think they could challenge for the title and the Top 4 was all but given. The argument of course was United weren’t playing anywhere near their best and once they were they’d be hard to beat.
Three months later United aren’t playing any better and it’s hard to even look at this team and expect it to make the Top 4 when you see how much they rely on Valencia and Young to supply their attack. When Valencia was playing for Wigan, he was Wigan’s source for goals and Wigan routinely finished in the lower half of the table. Aston Villa used to rely on Young for the same thing and they would finish around the middle of the table. It’s not really a surprise that if United are going to rely on those two to create their attack they’re going to fall to a mid table club as well.
Meanwhile, Chelsea used to rely on Juan Mata to score and create their goals and they would win league titles and FA Cups, so of course he’s found a permanent spot on United’s bench. That’s really my biggest and only complaint about Louis van Gaal so far. He has all these fancy toys and for some reason he keeps throwing the same crappy ones out there week after week. That’s not to say he hasn’t had success in this area, he did manage to make Marouanne Fellaini a competent footballer again, but with Valencia and Young it’s just not going to happen. For god’s sake this is Young’s third year with the club and he’s only scored goals in SEVEN league games. That’s awful. Meanwhile the club paid all this money for Juan Mata last January and all he seems to do is score goals to rescue points for United when they play like crap and he still prefers Ashley Young over him?
At the end of the day, this game was just a sobering wake up call that if you’re going to rely on mid-table players, you’re going to end up near the middle of the table. Hopefully this summer they continue the exodus of players not good enough and Young and Valencia are on that list.
*Obviously this doesn’t include the International Champions Cup United won back in August and I’m still celebrating now. Seriously would you rather win the Football Association Challenge Cup or the International Champions Cup? Which one sounds more prestigious?