Manchester United 0-0 PSV Eindhoven: Van Gaal Risk Aversion Translates To Another Inglorious Stalemate

Manchester United’s last Champions League outing – a 1-0 home victory against CSKA Moscow – can now be safely filed away in the false dawn folder. That night, as crowd unrest began to build off the back of three consecutive scoreless draws, Louis Van Gaal’s side turned in an anomalous performance. Full-backs were encouraged to overlap and attackers were encouraged to attempt dribbles. The tempo was noticeably higher, the passing significantly more direct. United, in truth, were incredibly unlucky not to win by far more than a single goal. Continue reading

Bayern Munich 5-1 Arsenal: Guardiola tactical tweaks lead to Bayern rout

Arsenal’s 2-0 victory at home to Bayern Munich a fortnight ago was built on the foundation of a solid defence, married to a relentless counter-attacking determination to prevail upon the German champions’ poor defensive transitions. Continue reading

Manchester United 1-0 CSKA Moscow: Van Gaal loosens the restraints to end United goal drought

“We are United, we want to attack!” The refrains of the Old Trafford faithful this evening, one minute after Anthony Martial had been removed in favour of Marouane Fellaini – a substitution that was greeted by loud booing from United fans. Continue reading

Liverpool 1-1 Rubin Kazan: Klopp Progress Report

Coverage of Jurgen Klopp since his very recent arrival on English shores has been almost universally positive. The gregarious German, who worked wonders at Mainz and Dortmund through the application of his gegenpressing philosophy – essentially pressing aggressively to counter the counter-attack – has been greeted with something of a hero’s welcome by the English media. Continue reading

CSKA Moscow 1-1 Manchester United: Van Gaal risk-aversion almost costs United again

A lot has been written about Louis Van Gaal’s obsession with control. Since his Ajax days, the Dutch coach has espoused a brand of football that seeks to minimise risk – the risk of losing the ball. His is a brand of football where dominating possession is an end in itself, not merely the means to an end.  Continue reading

Arsenal 2-0 Bayern Munich: Wenger bests Pep thanks to new-found tactical pragmatism

Arsene Wenger is not renowned for his tactical flexibility. The longest-serving manager in the Barclays Premier League has long lived by the “we’ll play our own game” maxim, only to be hoisted over and over again on his own petard – most notably in the countless counter-attack inspired drubbings at the hands of Alex Ferguson’s United sides over the years. Continue reading