I don’t know if there’s a coaching course at Lilleshall entitled ”How not to rescue a losing match”, in fact I doubt very much that there is.
However, if they ever decide to include one they should use the last 30 minutes of Sunday’s match between Swansea and Manchester United at the Liberty Stadium as a template.
Specifically Louis van Gaal’s pathetic attempt to get a result for his losing United team.
There are two basic mistakes which seem obvious to the average football fan Don’t take off players that are playing well and leave on players that are playing poorly.
Don’t bring on players that you don’t truly believe can turn a game around i.e. players that can score or create a goal.
Sounds rather simple, doesn’t it? Well, someone needs to have a word in van Gaal’s ear, because those are the baffling errors he made at the Liberty Stadium.
With his side seemingly in control of the game and holding a one goal lead, he watched as in the space of five minutes United conceded two soft goals and fell into arrears.
Van Gaal responded to this adverse situation by taking off Juan Mata, the United goalscorer and the player most likely to open up the Swansea defence, Ander Herrera, who was just behind Mata in the creativity stakes, and Morgan Schneiderlin, who was comfortably the better of the two defensive midfielders on the pitch.
Three who should have been hauled off were Bastian Schweinsteiger, once a midfield powerhouse but now a shadow of that and struggling to even break into a trot, Memphis Depay, showing absolutely nothing of his scintillating early season form and refusing to even attempt to take on the Swansea full-back Kyle Naughton, and Wayne Rooney.
The same Rooney who seemingly bounced back to form with a mid-week hat-trick over Club Brugge in the Champions League qualifying second leg. Unfortunately that conclusion now looks to have been a premature over-reaction.
The Belgian side were one of the worst teams United have faced in Europe for a long time, plus Rooney’s goals were delivered on a plate by brilliant build-up play to the extent that even he couldn’t miss.
Harsh? Not when you saw his pathetic attempts against Swansea when he was one on one with the goalkeeper three times
Back to the substitutions. On came, in the 70th minute, Ashley Young and Michael Carrick for Mata and Schneiderlin. The obvious man to make way for Young was Depay and even though bringing on Carrick made no sense to the attacking way United should have been playing, the obvious replacement for him was the aging German Schweinsteiger.
And, pardon my incredulity, still Rooney stayed on the pitch! Finally, in the 77th minute, the tall figure of Marouane Fellaini stood on the touchline waiting to come on. Surely now Rooney would be subbed? Not a chance. Off came Herrera and Rooney dropped into his position.
Obviously van Gaal believes that this United team, his United team, will live or die by whatever Wayne Rooney does. If that is the case, then United fans are in for a long, hard season.
Add in the continuing transfer debacles and you have to wonder will the Dutchman’s arrogance and pomposity reduce the once great Manchester United to a team struggling to finish in the top six, or dare I say it, the top ten.