Facing Preston North End FC in the FA Cup, Manchester United failed to put forward yet another convincing display and managed to just about scrape through despite boasting the presence of players like Radamel Falcao, Wayne Rooney and Angel Di Maria. To be fair, Di Maria and Rooney were perhaps the only bright sparks amidst a team that is struggling to get its act together. While Van Gaala s philosophy is yet to be deciphered by many football fans, the Dutchman has mastered the art of squeezing a win out of games that he should be winning comfortably winning anyway. To struggle occasionally against the lower ranked teams is normal for any football club but Manchester United seem to have made a habit of making teams like Cambridge United and Preston North End FC look good. They now face Arsenal in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.
Ever since Louis Van Gaal arrived at Manchester United, he has insisted on keeping possession of the ball. And while the team has managed to do that for most part of the season, Manchester United dona t seem to know what to do with all the possession that they have during the game. The lack of pace and penetration was evident against Preston North End FC as Manchester United struggled to break down a resolute defence. But the lack of attacking threat is not the only thing that has plagued Van Gaal this season. A shaky and unreliable defence has left Manchester United vulnerable this season and hence it is not surprising that they found themselves a goal down midway through the fixture.
Preston came into the fixture with a clear plan to beat Manchester United. Defend in large numbers and hope to catch the visitors on the break. And their plan seemed to be working as Scott Laird put the hosts in front after his shot was deflected into the net. Manchester Uniteda s inconsistent defending once again put the Red Devils under the risk of suffering a major upset and it took Van Gaal a lot of luck to come away with a win. Ander Herrera managed to pull one back for the visitors but the goal was a controversial one as Wayne Rooney was clearly in an offside position and interfered with the goal-keepera s vision. Fellaini gave Manchester United the lead while the England captain was once again involved in a controversial goal after many believed that he dived to earn a penalty in the dying minutes of the game to score Manchester Uniteda s third goal.
Having set up a mouth-watering date with Arsenal in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, it will be interesting to see how Manchester United cope up with the big guns in the tournament. Van Gaala s side has failed to strike an effective rhythm this season and the likes of Radamel Falcao and Robin Van Persie have failed to justify their position in the team. The case of Falcao gets more bewildering with every performance as many wonder if the Colombian can actually get back to being the force he once was at Atletico Madrid and Moncao. And more importantly, how will Manchester United fare against an Arsenal side that is looking extremely confident and reassured in its style of play. Will Van Gaal have to rely on luck and the likes of Fellaini and Blind to bail him out of yet another tough spot?