Predictable style of play
Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass backwards. Lose the ball. Repeat. Not for the first time this season, United were abject in possession. Prior to the game, Louis van Gaal spoke of how United need to pass the ball quicker in order to open up opponents but they did not heed his advice against the Mackems. Slow and predictable, United’s dire football is becoming an all too familiar sight at Old Trafford.
United are boring to watch
The marquee signings of Angel di Maria and Radamel Falcao last summer were supposed to bring attacking football back to Old Trafford. However, the cold, hard truth for United fans is that the team are boring to watch. The opening 45 minutes was utterly devoid of creativity and ideas from United’s point of view and fans were relieved when referee Roger East mercifully brought it to an end.
Van Gaal has prioritised results and rightly so but a team containing the likes of Di Maria, Wayne Rooney and Ander Herrera should not look so miserable, particularly against one of the worst teams in the league.
Angel di Maria
Di Maria is the fifth most expensive player in the history of football but he looked anything but a £59m player on Saturday. Van Gaal hauled Di Maria off at half time following a wasteful display and he can have no complaints.
The 27-year-old is too good of a player not to deliver at United but his form is becoming a huge worry. In Di Maria’s defence, the whole team has looked equally as disappointing but he will inevitably become the focus of fans’ frustrations given his price tag.
For all United’s attacking riches it was Ashley Young who was by far their most dangerous player against Sunderland. Bright, vibrant and a constant threat, Young worked tirelessly on United’s wings and his crossing ability was a crucial part of the team’s attacking play.
It is highly encouraging to see Young pick up where he left off after an injury earlier this year derailed his progress. The 29-year-old is quickly becoming the first name on the teamsheet for van Gaal and has undoubtedly been United’s standout player this campaign.
Another three points
Yes, United were poor. Yes, Di Maria was awful. Yes, Falcao was anonymous. Yet, United secure another three points. The ability to grind out wins has been a notable trait in van Gaal’s side this season and he deserves credit for that. It is absolutely vital that United qualify for the Champions League and Saturday’s victory was another step towards that goal.