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The Warm-Up: A tough day for Louis van Gaal's Manchester United

The Warm-Up: A tough day for Louis van Gaal's Manchester United

17/12/2018 at 16:08

Plus, the Maurizio Sarri hype train has resumed full service, Arsenal can't defend and Borussia Dortmund are a hell of a lot of fun.

MONDAY’S BIG STORIES

Manchester United look worryingly familiar for a team that has spent £400m

Manchester United ushered Louis van Gaal out the door before the ticker tape barely settled on their FA Cup win back in 2016 because, if leaks were to be believed, winning the FA Cup and finishing fifth were not a good enough return, particularly given the brand of football on offer.

In fact delve a little deeper and how many of Mourinho's signings does Mourinho actually rate? Eric Bailly (£34m), nope. Victor Lindelof (£31m), nope. Fred (£55m), nope. Paul Pogba (£90m), definitely nope. Alexis (£30m), nope, Romelu Lukaku (£76m) edging towards nope. Diogo Dalot (£19m), jury out. Nemanja Matic (£40m), yea, quite likes him. So, as things stand, currently in favour at United are the players that Van Gaal had at his disposal and Matic.

Now, it might be noticeable that the above list is in no particular order. That is because there has been no order, direction or logic to United's transfer spend. Anyway, The Warm-Up is no economist but that is about £375 million spent, limited to no improvement and a manager that doesn't rate £335m of the £375 million of talent he has signed.

The result? United are anaemic with the ball, porous without it and increasingly lack fight. Basically, the performance on offer on Sunday was the very worst of the Van Gaal era but after £375 million has been lobbed at it. The most damning thing is personnel-wise, on paper, this United team aren't that inferior to Liverpool. And yet, they were utterly demolished by Jurgen Klopp's men.

United are 19 points off first. And look absolutely no better than Van Gaal's United.

All board the Sarri hype train

Eden Hazard, second right, was in top form for Chelsea

Eden Hazard, second right, was in top form for ChelseaPA Sport

Now, The Warm-Up is nothing if not a hot-take factory but let's perhaps give Sarri a little time to settle in before he is declared absolutely dog at coaching a football team.

Chelsea have made a decent enough start in the league but it is clear that Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham are a lot further along in their cycles as teams, so fourth is probably par.

The Warm-Up humbly suggests that perhaps next season is the time for true evaluation of Sarri's substance and style and all that.

The streak is over but that is probably a good thing

Matteo Guendouzi of Arsenal reacts during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Arsenal FC

Matteo Guendouzi of Arsenal reacts during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Arsenal FCGetty Images

Unai Emery has done a wonderful job since taking over as Arsenal boss this summer. The work he has done has papered over the fairly substantial cracks that remain from the Arsene Wenger era.

Chief among them remains an inability to defend properly. Granted, Arsenal are in the midst of a defensive injury crisis that saw Granit Xhaka playing centre-half at one point during the Southampton defeat, but facts are facts and Arsenal remain a poor defensive unit.

They have conceded 23 goals in the league this season. That is the same as Crystal Palace and more than Newcastle, Leicester and Wolves. The teams above them are a touch more frugal: Liverpool have conceded seven, Manchester City 10, Tottenham 16 and Chelsea 14. In the scheme of the top four, Arsenal can't defend for toffee.

So, perhaps the end of the streak will persuade the Arsenal board to back Emery in January because if they want to qualify for the Champions League then, well, they need to tighten up at the back. Coaching can only take certain players so far and the body of evidence over the last few seasons suggest these Arsenal defenders just aren't good enough.

IN THE CHANNELS MK I

There is defending like your life depends on it and then there's this.

The above was truly stoic and heroic defending from Dulwich Hamlet during their FA Trophy match against Wingate & Finchley - a match Dulwich Hamlet would eventually go on to lose 2-0.

IN THE CHANNELS MK II

Nothing warms The Warm-Up's cockles more than a well-worked free-kick routine.

So, you can assume that The Warm-Up's cockles have been well and truly warmed by Borussia Dortmund, who beat Werder Bremen 2-1 over the weekend to extend their unbeaten start to 15 games.

Well done everyone.

HAT-TIP

The Warm-Up can't work out whether the Mario Balotelli quotes from Vieira are tongue in or, erm, out of cheek. Anyway, here they are:

" When it comes to Mario, I want to answer back, or just slam him up against the wall or leave him hanging by his collar on the coat rack, but I can’t, as I’m no longer a player."

RETRO CORNER

With Roy Keane larging it on punditry and Patrick Vieira larging it in L'Equipe, it got The Warm-Up thinking of the pair of them larging it at each other - courtesy of the Best of Enemies documentary.

Halcyon days.

COMING UP

The FA Cup is getting seriously serious now. It is second round time and teams are just one win away from a glamour tie. Tonight Southport welcome Tranmere Rovers for a spot in round three.

On tomorrow's Warm-Up is Nick Miller, who is always glamorous whatever round of competition we are talking.

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