This Boxing Day fixture against Stoke City was a new low for Louis Van Gaal and his men. The Red Devils succumbed to another humiliating defeat, this time against the low-lying but a highly motivated Stoke, who won the game by a comfortable 2-0 margin. The Saturday night defeat was Manchester United’s first in 13 Boxing Day games. The kind of negativity that surrounds the Old Trafford at the moment has never been witnessed before as some supporters suggest that their team played better even under David Moyes.
Rumors are rife that former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is all set to replace Louis van Gaal at Old Trafford. The Portuguese tactician recently parted ways with North London outfit after a poor first half of the season which sees the Blues hover around the relegation places. However, Van Gaal could still have another game to save his skin.
Manchester United next play strugglers Chelsea and given Jose’s reluctance to go to the Stamford Bridge; it would be right to assume that LVG still boasts, at least, one last chance. As a result, we take a look at the five things that we learnt from United’s defeat to Stoke City.
1) Anthony Martial Needs a Rest.
Lack of attacking options has led to increased pressure on the young Frenchman. As a result, his performances have deteriorated in the recent games.
Against Stoke, each and every move that Martial made needed an extra effort. He looked fatigued and labored a lot for each effort. As a result, he was unable to work out the opposition goalkeeper Jack Butland.
It is true that Martial has incredible talent. However, he needs careful monitoring in the coming months so that he lives up to the expectations and his potential.
2) Juan Mata Failed to Deliver
It has been quite some time since Juan Mata did something great for Manchester United this season and the last match against Stoke just added to the disappointing outings for the Spaniard.
On Boxing Day, Mata played on the right wing, a position where he is usually not at his best. Even from his time at Chelsea, the Spanish professional has failed to flourish at this slot. Louis van Gaal must have deployed him in the heart of his attacking midfield to get a positive result.
With Mourinho nearing his move to replace Van Gaal, Mata must start performing at a higher level to impress him from the start.
3) Daley Blind Needs To Be Relaxed.
In these times of despair, Louis van Gaal has increased the responsibilities on Blind’s shoulders. His role at the left back has been over complicated and exhausting where he is expected to take care of all the corners, deliver through balls and defend at the same time. As a result, he has not been able to do any of this stuff with perfection.
Moreover, he was caught off position on several occasions as he needed to cover more ground.
Stoke’s first goal was due to the same reason as Depay was left as the last man in the defensive line where he failed to counter such situation.
4) Morgan Schneiderlin Needs To Play
Louis van Gaal has been reluctant to play Morgan Schneiderlin ever since his hip injury. However, United have consistently suffered due to his absence.
The former Southampton man was an integral part of the Manchester United team that was solid at the center of their defense at the start of the season. His absence has cost United very dearly as they lack a solid protection for the back four. Maybe, it is now time to take the risk and play him.
5) Wayne Rooney’s role
The Dutch boss surprisingly dropped skipper Wayne Rooney from the starting lineup for the first time since 2014 in a Champions League match or a Premier League Match. However, ever since his introduction at Halftime, Rooney posed an attacking threat that United lacked in the first session. LvG failed once again to recognize his best first team and dropping Rooney was a mistake that may well cost him his job.