By Andy Jones
- Why are players being played out of position?
When you find yourself retweeting comments by Michael Owen, Olly Murs and Eamonn Holmes, you have hit an all time low, and things in the world of football are pretty bad.
But when Ashley Young is playing as a centre Forward for Manchester United it is bad. The heavy defeat to Spurs was one thing, but when the team is set up as badly as it was, then questions have to be asked about the manager and his tactics.
Young has never been a centre forward, not even for Aston Villa, Juan Mata doesn’t have the pace or physicality to track back as a winger and help out the fullback, who in Darmian case is totally bereft of confidence, and was being singled out by the Tottenham forward line every time they attacked.
Earlier in the season, the manager was forced to play players out of their natural positions due to the crippling injury list, but now there is no excuse, its not working, and rumours are circulating that senior players are now questioning the managers decision to single out players for critiscism rather than the tactics and formation they are asked to play after another defeat.
The only clear chance for United was the one created by an individual piece of skill by Martial, who the manager then seemed to criticise for missing in the post match interview.
There is an argument that Martial should be playing as the striker, although he is one of the few players who seems to be able to cope with being asked to play a slightly different role, cutting in from the left.
Its not a new situation for players to be moved out of their comfort zone, Sir Alex Ferguson once picked Rafael and Park in central midfield against Blackburn Rovers at Old Trafford, United lost 2-3 and many saw that as the tipping point for a young Paul Pogba, who was sitting on the bench.
More recently how can we forget the selection of Nick Powell in midfield against Wolfsburg, a genuine “where were you” moment.
Its not just positions this season which have had supporters rubbing their eyes in disbelief, who can forget the sight of Phil Jones whipping in a corner, or the regulation full back substitution on 60 minutes. You also have to question Ryan Giggs role in all this, as assistant manager surely he has a say in the team selection and substitutions, or maybe he just cant change the views of a stubborn manager, who believes in his own decisions.
Once United went a goal down at White Hart lane, there was no way back, unless the manager could call on the likes of Beckham, van Nistelrooy, Veron and Blanc to turn the game around, which of course he couldn’t as the current squad is bang average, a bench of Fellaini, Valencia, Young and Darmian is proof in that.
Post match on Sky, two Liverpool legends in Souness and Carragher were gleefully putting the boot in. Even the most red tinted of United fans cannot argue that these two are quality pundits.
Souness pointed out that United are relying on kids to carry them, it might have worked once, but not this time, where are the senior players to help them on the way? Carragher, rightly pointed out that the team is going backwards.
Van Gaal’s first season could be described as a relative success, Champions League qualification achieved, the Moyes disaster rectified.
This season is a different story, the money spent, lowest scorers in the league and 4th place seemingly gone. The FA cup remains a glimmer of hope, but I fear West Ham will have too much for a shell shocked United team, then Woodward and the board will have a huge decision to make for the future of the club.