Manchester United: Van Gaal damned but stays beyond 2017
Who can be blamed for Manchester United crashing out of the Champions League in the group stages? It’s worth noting that this is an improvement on last season, when United failed to even qualify for European football’s biggest tournament.
The Mail says the buck starts and stops with United manager Louis Van Gaal, who is “hammered for his abysmal tactics”. Martin Samuel says United lost “because they could not not pick ip an old-fashioned big lad in the penalty area at set-pieces”.
As Van Gaal admits to his side going “backwards”, Chris Wheeler says United’s owners, the Glazer family, want to extend his contract beyond 2017.
No evidence that they do. But just saying it is enough to start that most wanted to tabloid aims: a heated debate.
Overall, though, the papers are split between leading with a dejected Van Gaal…
…or a his over-paid, under-talented side:
Any United fans in need to a laugh – or at best a distraction – can look to the Mirror, where David McDonnell delivers a tortuous intro:
And so it proved Emission Impossible for Manchester United as their Champions League campaign spluttered to a halt.
Wolfsburg may have been rocked by the emissions scandal that has engulfed sponsors Volkswagen, but last night it was the Reds who were left on the hard shoulder of European football.
As you wince at that, better, perhaps, to turn to the Times, where Henry Winter is in his pomp:
Embarrassing. Manchester United deservedly departed the Champions League because they defended like amateurs, not like elite professionals. They were drawn in an easier group than Manchester City yet find themselves in the Europa League. Welcome to Thursdays. Excruciating.
And Van Gaal?
Van Gaal’s reputation was damaged here. For United’s biggest game of the season, he took two eye-catching decisions. Guillermo Varela, the 22-year-old Uruguayan who made his debut against West Ham United on Saturday, started at right back; he made a couple of good tackles, but betrayed his inexperience by getting dragged into the centre, gifting André Schürrle space outside.
More controversial was Van Gaal’s decision to field Marouane Fellaini alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger with Michael Carrick kicking his heels on the bench and having to wait until 20 minutes from time for his 70th Champions League appearance. Fellaini lost the ball twice in the opening five minutes and did little to stop Wolfsburg’s counterattacks.
Which can all be summed by two words from the Sun: “Van Damned.”