The story has been circling the football headlines for quite some time now, and it was no surprise when the giant elephant in the room resurfaced this afternoon. Nothing has been the same on the red side of Manchester since Sir Alex Ferguson stepped down in 2013, and after another dismal home performance, Manchester United suffered yet another defeat in the Premier League. This loss continues to add to the club’s worst run of form in the entire Premier League era, and it’s hard to see where an improvement will come from.
In a season rife with inconsistency and poor form, there’s only so much the loyal fans can endure from a team that has all but lost its former glory, an era that saw Manchester United dominate football, winning a grand total of 38 trophies during Alex Ferguson’s legendary tenure in charge. The fans have been very patient, but it seems they are at the end of their tether. According to the papers — the fans were calling for Louis van Gaal to be sacked immediately following today’s result.
The news comes from British newspaper The Telegraph, who reveal that the fans have lost patience with their current coach. A 1-0 home defeat to Southampton — who have won at Old Trafford for two seasons running now — continues a poor run of form for the Red Devils, who look a distinct shadow of their former glorious selves. United have now only won two of their last 10 league matches, and have failed to score in eight league matches total this season. United currently sit on 37 points after 23 games, their lowest total in the Premier League era, and three points fewer than David Moyes had at the same stage during his ill-fated season in charge.
When van Gaal was asked if he feared for his job after yet another dismal, shameful performance, the manager simply replied.
“I cannot answer that. I don’t know, but it was a poor performance, of course, because football is not only defending but creating chances and we didn’t create any chance. It was a poor game for the fans. I cannot change feelings, only work hard with the players. That is what I am doing. I put a question: how can we change this? That is my job. It is not an easy job.”
What seems to be deserting Manchester United this season is their do-or-die spirit, their determination, one so often linked with the glory-hungry club. The anger of the fans was a constant soundtrack this afternoon, one that escalated as the match progressed. The lacking performance sorely disappointed the home supporters at Old Trafford, The Theatre of Dreams, long standing as a cauldron of dominance and invincibility that now seems like mere history. Boos rang in the ears of van Gaal and his players as they walked off the pitch, a scene that is becoming all too familiar for the red side of Manchester.
In a dour match lacking in highlights, Southampton scored the only goal in the 87th minute, when debut striker Charlie Austin, fresh off his £4m move from Championship club QPR, netted a header from a sublime free-kick. The striker hopes to continue his prolific streak in the Premier League, after the 2014/15 season, where he scored 18 Premier League goals for QPR, a performance that put many of the top clubs on notice. Despite a successful debut though, the game will be overshadowed by United’s continued faltering in front of goal. During the game, Manchester United only produced one shot on target, a stat that was deemed simply unacceptable from a club of their calibre.
The day got worse for Manchester United when it was revealed defender Matteo Darmian suffered a rib injury during the match. He was taken off the pitch whilst spitting blood, and is now in the hospital, as revealed by the official Manchester United Twitter account. The tweet can be seen above. Many suspect this injury could have had a dampening effect on the performance, but in a season that is becoming all too fruitless, United are fast running out of excuses.
With rumours of a replacement for van Gaal circulating the headlines — Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola are just two huge names being hinted, as revealed by BBC Sport — van Gaal may be running out of time to turn the tide at Old Trafford. With such successful managers being linked with the job, will the United fans get their wish? Only positive results can make a difference now.
[Image via Getty Images/Matthew Peters/Man Utd]