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Manchester United: Is it the players, the manager or are both to blame?

Article written by: @Kevin_C11

As Manchester United continue to struggle on the pitch, yet keep within touching distance of both Chelsea and Manchester City, there are several questions on the lips of many Manchester United fans has to be whether or not they have enough quality and resources in their squad to make it into the Premier League top four.

Undeniably, the quality of the players at their disposal seems clear for the eye to see, so why hasn’t it all clicked as well as you would expect it to have had? Is this purely down to Louis Van Gaal’s determination to stick to a rigid system or are the United players not adapting to each other quick enough? Is it the lack of quality the star names such as Angel Di Maria and loan signing Radamel Falcao have shown on the pitch?

With all this considered and being said, Manchester United currently sit fourth in the league table, only five points off second placed cross-city rivals Manchester City, despite a number of lacklustre and under-par performances. Admittedly, Manchester United fans would’ve expected the Reds to have been challenging up at the very top of the charts with Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea after the announcement of Louis Van Gaal as manager last Summer, but it seems more likely for Manchester United to prove their worth a little bit lower than in the top two, and fight it out for a UEFA Champions League standing. United currently find themselves in a fight to finish in the top four and as the Red Devils struggle to pick up much-needed points against sides such as Southampton and Swansea City, who this season have occupied the European qualification places, United now themselves with a tough run in towards the end of the season. In comparison to their closest rivals to finish in the top four, Liverpool and Arsenal have a much kinder run in whilst Manchester United’s matches against these very sides alongside the top two of Chelsea and Manchester City will prove crucial if Van Gaal’s side are to be competing in Europe’s biggest competition next season.

Yet if Manchester United can hold their own faith and consistency in the final games, then a Champions League spot does beckon and would pacify the instant demands of fans after a turbulent period following Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure and the upheval which was to follow with the appointment of David Moyes. However we must not rule out Liverpool currently playing on top form, best exemplified by a strong home form and a recent eye-catching victory over reigning champions Manchester City and also Arsenal, who are always in the top four mix for a Champions League spot.

So what needs to be done at Manchester United Football Club? What needs to be happen to make The Reds a title winning team again? Do they need a change at the top? Do vast amounts of money need to be spent once again?

I believe Louis Van Gaal may still be the right man to lead the Manchester United’s resurgence to the top of the pile in both the Premier League and in Europe, but I have concerns over his current strike force which for me, screams out the need to acquire a striker capable of scoring twenty or more goals a season. And with the likes of Robin Van Persie showing his age and loan-ranger Radamel Falcao struggling to make his impact count in the Premier League, it looks more and more necessary that United may have to once again break the bank and sign a world-class striker.

But as always, there are few coveted goal-scorers available in the current footballing climate, with clubs snapping up the most prolific forwards at the quickest opportunity. One name touted is Edinson Cavani, currently at Paris Saint Germain, but would he have a big enough presence and more importantly, enough quality and consistency to carry on his great goal-scoring record in the Premier League? The Uruguayan would certainly add a great deal of aerial presence and his ability to run in behind defenders is clearly something that has been missing from Manchester United’s front-line throughout this season.

Other alternatives would be the likes of Alexandre Lacazette  of Olympique Lyonnais, who has been in fine form this season already netting twenty one goals in Ligue 1 at the time of writing. Lacazette would ideally bring the pace to Manchester United’s front line which has been badly needed all season, but predictably the Frenchman due to his prolific goal-scoring record has been linked with every major club in both European and World football. Danny Ings is another name rumored and could possibly be a smart buy for the Red Devils, after several examples of World Class players failing to cut it at Old Trafford. The English forward who like Lacazette has been in fine goal-scoring form could be worth a punt with his contract running out this Summer but his lack of experience playing at the highest level could prove a stumbling block in acquiring his services.

Yet aside from Manchester United’s attacking problems, their defence is another area which has received widespread criticism. But although they do currently boast the third best defensive record, it’s their lack of leadership and solidarity on the pitch which Van Gaal’s side miss and could perhaps be the reason why Manchester United have struggled to push onto that next level they have craved since Ferguson’s departure. Borrussia Dortmund’s German centre-back Mats Hummels is a name often linked to The Reds and would bring both his World Cup winning experience and a dominant presence in Manchester United’s back four.

The right back position again is another area that Manchester United need to look at in my opinion, with Antonio Valencia often used as a make-shift right-back and his performances have often not been up to scratch. But who would they bring in? Well, Southampton’s Nathaniel Clyne could perhaps be the pacy full back they have been crying out for with his great ability to defend equaled by his strong ethic to attack with pace and I therefore believe the Englishman would be a great fit in United’s defence.

Finally, an anchorman in midfield is long overdue, whilst the signing of a pacy, creative winger would complete my shopping list for who The Reds need to go out and sign in the near future. Dominant, ball-winning midfielders are always in demand every transfer window, and like Arsenal in some ways have never done with the loss of Patrick Vieira, Manchester United likewise have never replaced Roy Keane in such a position, although Daley Blind has done well when called upon in such a defensive midfield position. Geoffrey Kondogbia of Monaco who has impressed this season could be the man United may look at with his raw strength and ability to dominate teams and someone of his stature could be the perfect fit. Meanwhile, somebody like Memphis Depay of PSV Eindhoven would be the final piece of the puzzle for me at Manchester United. His speed, power and agility would help United create more chances for Manchester United going forward and could help solve their creative problems they have often suffered this season.

Obviously, the purchase of the previously mentioned players would fully depend on whether or not Manchester United have qualified for the 2015/16 Champions League. Therefore the importance of qualifying for the biggest competition in European football is clear to see and consequently, failure to achieve a top four position this season could prove detrimental for Manchester United’s future development and progression, never-mind the instability that would come should Van Gaal be axed and the financial hit the club would face. All in all, a big few months await at Manchester United as the Louis Van Gaal roller-coaster ride slowly comes to its climax.

Article written by: @Kevin_C11

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