Thrashing exposes Man United flaws
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