Thrash­ing ex­poses Man United flaws

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

BER­LIN — Bay­ern Mu­nich’s 25th Ger­man league ti­tle victory on Sun­day came as no real sur­prise with the Bavar­i­ans hav­ing only their own records to beat in a sea­son that they turned into a pro­ces­sion.

Bay­ern shot out of the blocks and never looked back even when play­ers like Thi­ago Al­can­tara and Javi Martinez were ruled out early in the cam­paign.

With six wins in their open­ing eight games and just two goals con­ceded, it be­came clear early on that the cham­pi­ons, who had 10 play­ers at the World Cup, were hardly suf­fer­ing from any tour­na­ment fa­tigue.

Coach Pep Guardi­ola, in his sec­ond sea­son in charge, had de­clared the ti­tle their top goal but the ex­pected chal­lenge from last year’s run­ners-up Borus­sia Dort­mund never ma­te­ri­alised as they recorded one of their worst starts.

Bay­ern had carved out a seven-point lead over the field by match­day 12. With Ar­jen Robben in sen­sa­tional form un­til his in­jury in March, ri­vals had to wait un­til the new year for Bay­ern’s first Bun­desliga re­verse, a 4-1 loss at VFL Wolfs­burg.

Yet with a grow­ing in­jury list as they tar­get­ted three tro­phies, Bay­ern had at times only 14 out­field play­ers in the squad.

So Guardi­ola quickly adapted his team’s style to fit the needs, fash­ion­ing a more de­fen­sive out­fit that pre­ferred to re­lin­quish pos­ses­sion while ek­ing out a re­sult rather than to fol­low their nor­mal goal-chas­ing in­stincts. The plan’s suc­cess was ev­i­dent as they beat im­prov­ing Dort­mund 1-0 in April. — Reuters LIVER­POOL — No sign of that grim reaper who stalked David Moyes be­hind the Manch­ester United dug-out a year ago but his spirit lurked within this place. Louis van Gaal might have the aura and fewer de­feats which in­su­late him against what de­feat to Ever­ton brought for Moyes: the sack, within 48 hours. But he was out­done by Roberto Martinez: out­thought and un­smarted by a game of clas­sic counter-at­tack­ing foot­ball on Sun­day.

It was United’s heav­i­est Pre­mier League de­feat un­der van Gaal and one which re­vealed that a golden Spring of which had brought six suc­ces­sive league wins, should not ob­scure the sub­stan­tial flaws at the heart of this team. There will al­ways be a risk when an un­tried de­fender like Paddy Mcnair does not have a com­mand­ing part­ner. It was a des­per­ate de­fen­sive dis­play. And nowhere in the hub of mid­field was there some­one to drive United for­ward. The ab­sence of 34-year-old Michael Car­rick, who can strike a for­ward pass, and the pres­ence of Da­ley Blind, who can­not, con­trib­uted to the lack of in­ci­sion and Ever­ton were ready to let the op­po­si­tion con­trol as much as they wanted and then see what tran­spired on the counter attack.

The nar­ra­tive of the first half was ac­tu­ally re­mark­ably sim­i­lar to what hap­pened on the April day last year which en­cap­su­lated ev­ery­thing that was wrong about Moyes’ United. Com­men­ta­tor Martin Tyler said, as that game went into its last half hour that day, that they might as well “throw ev­ery­thing at it.” They are throw­ing ev­ery­thing at it, Gary Neville replied. Then as on Sun­day, they were 2-0 down by the in­ter­val.

It was a reprise of last week’s evening at Chelsea for the vis­it­ing team, too: a heap of pos­ses­sion (62 per­cent on the first half) and ter­ri­tory but pre­cious lit­tle

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