Stoke City 2-0 Manchester United: Louis van Gaal left on the brink of sack as visitors suffer fourth defeat in a row

by Ben Topliss

Louis van Gaal has been left on the brink of the sack at Manchester United following a 2-0 defeat against Stoke City at the Britannia stadium this afternoon.

Stoke enjoyed long periods of possession during the opening exchanges but struggled to create clear cut chances. It was Man United who were the makers of their own downfall as Memphis Depay’s awful backwards header failed to get anywhere near David de Gea, allowing Stoke’s Glen Johnson to square the ball for Bojan, who tapped in to score.

Things went from bad to worse seven minutes later when Marko Arnautovic doubled the home side’s advantage with a rasping effort from outside the box which flew past De Gea and into the net. Arnautovic then had a superb chance to make it three for Stoke when played clean through but he fired wide. United improved after the break but shots on goal were still hard to come by. Marouane Fellaini had a golden chance to claw one back for the visitors following good work from substitute Wayne Rooney but the 28-year-old fired too close to Jack Butland, who saved well. It was the closest United came as Stoke eventually closed out the three points.

Daley Blind

Ander Herrera

Louis van Gaal showed faith in the Spaniard by giving him a spot in the starting XI at the Britannia stadium but Herrera struggled to establish himself on the game during the opening exchanges.

Herrera’s touch was poor, his passing was off and he gave away a few unnecessary fouls. His display didn’t exactly fit the narrative that he should always be starting over Rooney. Of course, the same could be said of many of his teammates but Herrera is supposed to be a creative spark for United and he was anything but against Stoke.

Memphis Depay

Van Gaal has taken his fair share of flak in recent weeks but he could no nothing about Memphis’ horribly misjudged backwards header which led to Stoke’s opener.

Louis van Gaal 2

The mistake was duly capitalised on by Johnson before Bojan compounded United’s misery with a calm finish past De Gea. It was a complete and utter shambles at the back and you could scarcely believe that the players in a United shirt on the pitch were professionals. As for Memphis, he was rightly substituted at half-time.

Where’s the fight? The desire?

United were two down without reply within 26 minutes at the Britannia stadium but the players barely seemed fazed by the awful situation they had got themselves in.

The likes of Chris Smalling, Juan Mata and Michael Carrick failed to rile up their teammates during the first half and show fans that they were willing to fight for the cause. Grit, determination…anything. None of it was on show in the first half. While on the bench, van Gaal and Ryan Giggs sat almost in a quiet contemplation, seemingly accepting of the fact that their team wasn’t good enough. 2,500 fans travelled to Stoke for the Boxing Day clash and every single one of them was let down by United. Atrocious.

Marouane Fellaini

Wayne Rooney

Rooney replaced Memphis at the interval and he at least showed some fire in the second half as he looked to get United back into the match.

The United captain’s excellent work after 63 minutes teed Fellaini up for what seemed like a simple tap in but the Belgian’s effort was saved by Butland in the Stoke net. Every single player can be disappointed with their display on Saturday but Rooney did more than most.

You’re getting sacked in the morning

The defeat against Norwich City last time out appeared to be the one that would see Louis van Gaal leave United but it wasn’t to be, as the club reportedly sticked to their ‘traditions’ by giving him two games to save his job.

Louis van Gaal

Van Gaal has failed at the first hurdle against Stoke and there surely must be no way back for him now, with the only question being whether or not he is sacked or if he resigns. United have gone backwards under his tutelage and the future is now bleak.

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