Lessons Learned: Sunderland 1-1 Man United

Match day 2 kicked off at Sunderland today and was United’s first draw of the season at 1-1. United showed quite a few weak spots with some poor performances from Tom Cleverley and Ashley Young, who’s poor plays caused a few close calls by giving Sunderland good attacking chances, however with the poor performances it was Still United who got on the board first in the 17th minute with a good play from Antonio Valencia who flicked the ball through Sunderland’s defence and gave Juan Mata the chance to score with a simple touch.

However 15 minutes later it was Jack Rodwell who put things back to even with a header around the 30th minute. De Gea did his best to make the save but it was a brilliant header that went right into the top right corner.

Louis Van Gaal was under under huge pressure after the injury list for United got even worse. Ander Herrera was one of those players who is out with a ankle/foot injury, he isn’t expected to return until mid September. Luke Shaw is still out with a hamstring injury and is also expected to return in mid September. Less importantly, Fellaini is also out, probably more of a blessing than a curse given his weak performances at United.

In the last few minutes of the first half Chris Smalling was subbed off and replaced with young defender Michael Keane, the reason for this substitution is rumoured to be a possible hamstring injury but Smalling was able to run off the pitch.

The second half kicked off with no other changes and in the 50th minute I had a mini heart attack after young and prospective Sunderland attacker Connor Wickham made a good run into the United zone and nearly got a goal off a deflection from Tyler Blackett that only missed by mere inches. Van Gaal’s 3-5-2 formation has been questioned mainly due to the weak defensive play from United and that play seemed to be a good example of that.

No match is complete without a little controversy after Ashley Young was booked for what was called a dive. Robin Van Persie was first challenged but then made a pass to Young who went down after the Sunderland defender seemed to make contact with him, but Young was booked for diving. The play didn’t look like a foul either but given the contact it doesn’t seem that it can be called a dive either. Young has had a reputation for diving for a few years now and seems to be unable to shake off that reputation.

In the 63rd minute Adnan Januzaj came on for Darren Fletcher and Danny Welbeck came on for Van Persie. Welbeck seems to have had a bit of difficulty proving to Van Gaal his worth and is one of the rumoured players to be sold along with Javier Hernandez and Marouane Fellaini, who have both had weak performances in the matches they have played under Van Gaal. Januzaj has come off a huge season last year and is one of the big prospects on the United squad, only 19 years old his skill only seem to be getting better. Being the same age as me it makes me feel as though I’ve done something a bit wrong with my life, watching someone the same age playing in the first team for United, something we have all dreamed of at some point as kids (Don’t deny it).

Today’s match was another example of why work is still needed at United. Fans are beginning to have a problem with the fact that United pays in total somewhere around £1 million in weekly wages for the players who played today yet they couldn’t even beat Sunderland. Van Gaal will definitely need to begin cracking down on the lack of effort shown today and last week, as well as the winging from some of the players. Van Gaal will need to work on Rooney’s communication skills as well, who can’t seem to keep the defence in sync with the rest of the squad.

Once again United supporters have been disappointed with the squad’s performance, and will be calling for more changes and more work to be done, which Van Gaal has acknowledged will take time. He predicted it would be around three months before he can mold the squad into the shape he wants. But until then we’ll have to hope the squad can learn their lesson and start to improve soon.

United’s next match is Tuesday against Milton-Keynes Dons in the Capital One Cup, and then they take on Burnley away on Saturday in the Premier League, both matches will be important for Van Gaal, who hopes to get winning soon.