The United View
The busy fixture list sees the Eagles take a midweek trip up to Old Trafford so TEB had a chat with Red Devils fan James Cummins on the season so far and his views ahead of this match up.
Q. How has your season been since we last met in the Premier League?
It has been a season to forget really. All the drama and off field issues surrounding Louis Van Gaal has certainly had a negative impact on the pitch. The lack of presence upfront and in defence has been a real issue for us this season. I just hope that we can end this turbulent season on a high and win the FA Cup next month. If not, it is back the drawing board and the end of LVG for sure.
Q. What did you make of that game at Selhurst Park which ended goalless?
That game was a lucky escape in all honesty. Two factors came to our rescue that game, De Gea saving a header from Cabaye and the crossbar from a Yannick Bolasie effort. We were extremely poor attacking in the early stages of the season and the fact Wayne Rooney had the best chance saved by Wayne Hennesey the match was painful for all United fans to see. Wilfried Zaha and Bolasie terrorised us the wings and Cabaye looked outstanding. On the United front, nothing seemed to stand out on the pitch, apart from going five hours without a goal as a result of that draw at Selhurst Park. Painful!
Q. There has been plenty of speculation over the managerial position but what is your view on Louis van Gaal?
I think in terms of the United style and approach play, LVG does not fit. Alarms bell started to ring when Di Maria’s form dropped considerably last season. For a player of his calibre, he should have performed better. LVG’s approach and tactical mindset certainly did not aid his falling form. Only when we had sold to PSG has the real Di Maria returned to form and become the player that United had wanted from Real. In terms of play, Van Gaal’s tactics seem painfully restrictive and defensive. Injuries, a squad in transition and some players which are hopelessly out of form have certainly not helped his cause and I feel after two seasons, fans have expected a lot more than what we see at the moment. They deserve it considering who Van Gaal has spent on in the previous close season. I personally think that change is needed again but only for the right man to take United onto the next step of the post ‘Ferguson’ era.
Q. The rise of Marcus Rashford has been great to see this season. How much has he impressed you and do you think he is the real deal?
Marcus Rashford has been outstanding this season. His rise into the first team has been a rare glimpse of hope in a season of potential (if we are knocked out of the FA Cup) major underachievement. Despite his age, his pace and eye for goal reminds me of a younger Andy Cole in his prime and United have been crying out for a striker of Rashford’s current ability since Ruud Van Nistelrooy was on our books. Seven goals in twelve appearances so far this campaign is no mean feat and his potential partnership with Anthony Martial could be lethal in seasons to come.
My only worry is nurturing and maintaining his talent without the fear of burnout. Adnan Januazj is a prime example, raw talent which was exploited under Moyes. He was over played and personally I believe has not fully recovered to the form we saw at first. A failed loan spell at Dortmund has not helped his cause and that is what I fear with Rashford. We need to protect our brightest talents and aid their career development in the right channels rather than using them to their fullest potential which in short is fatally harmful and damaging to their future playing careers. If Rashford is protected and allowed to develop effectively, we could have a real talent that could potentially light up the Premier League in years to come.
Q. The big question is, do you think United will finish in the top four?
I think we will …… but only just. With the squad that we have and some of the players that United have invested in this season, we should really have been at least second or third in the table in all honesty. David De Gea has been outstanding yet again this season and we would have been a lot lower in the table if it was not for some of his heroics throughout the season. I think Arsenal are too inconsistent to have a firm hold of fourth but neither have we been for the majority of the season. I am constantly looking over my shoulder at Liverpool and Southampton to see if they challenge but I am confident that we will finish in the top four come the season.
Q. The FA Cup has been a welcome distraction. Are you confident of winning it for the first time in over ten years?
I am quietly confident that we can go all the way. None of the teams left have stood out form wise at present, and in regards to Everton they are not in good shape. Similar to United, they should be performing a lot better than they should be and like us, they have a manager who is under pressure to perform. It is a good time to play them and given the recent influx of youth team players that have broken through into the first team in Rashford and Ofsu Mensah for example, the drive looks to be there to save a pretty torrid season.
Q. What are your thoughts on Palace this season?
To sum up Palace this season in one word, infuriating. From an outstanding start to a woeful conclusion, it has been a season of two halves. So much promise was on the cards and along with the unreal events regarding Leicester City, it looked as if at long last, the balance in the Premier League was starting to shift away from the established teams. Ever since the turn of the year and the takeover by the American consortium, Palace have been in freefall. I will openly admit however that I am glad that the Eagles are safe in the Premier League for next season but hope for better for the new season to come.
Q. Name a player from each side that the opposition should be concerned about.
One man stands out for me for Palace and that is Yannick Bolasie. You just do not know what he is going to do and with his wing partner Wilfried Bolasie, they can both cause our full backs some real problems especially with their pace and trickery.
For United I have gone for John Ofsu Mensah. He is quietly making a name for himself in the United side in light of all the attention thrust upon Rashford this season. Confident, quick and refreshingly calm and composed for his age, he has a very bright future. I only hope that he continues to work hard and carry on his superb form that he has shown.
Q. Your prediction?
Result wise I will go for 2-0 to United on the day with Martial and Rooney (remember him?) scoring.
Q. Please tell us a little about what you do and share anything that you are currently working on.
Along with supporting United I am very keen on my non-league football and follow Woking Football Club. I am also a presenter on a community radio football show called ‘Back Of the Net‘ which is broadcast live on Susy Radio 103.4FM or online at www.susyradio.com every Monday from 7-9pm. Like taking a photograph or two as well when I have got time to spare!