PSV 2 Man United 1: Three talking points as Luke Shaw suffers injury blow
Three talking points as PSV Eindhoven sure comeback win over Man United
How to fill the gap left by Shaw
After Luke Shaw was stretchered off with what looks like a serious injury, Louis van Gaal will be scratching his head on how to fill the gap that the 20-year-old has left in his defence. Shaw had a tough season at Manchester United last year. He struggled to find his best form thanks to a series of injuries and Van Gaal’s habit of chopping and changing his starting XI. However, Van Gaal has now seemed to find his preferred starting XI during his second season at Old Trafford with Shaw forming an important part of his defence. The question is who does Van Gaal deploy in the left-back position now that Shaw will surely face a lengthy period on the sidelines. Daley Blind made a number of appearances on the left of Van Gaal’s defence last season as he did with the Netherlands during last summer’s World Cup. Given the Dutchman’s intelligence and ability to read the game very well, he would be more than capable of filling the void left by Shaw. Although United will gain a great defensive mindset at left-back with Blind, they tose Shaw’s attacking prowess and speed down the left flank. Blind has formed a solid centre-half combination with Chris Smalling this season, which has so far performed very well. Van Gaal may have no option but to break up his centre back partnership in order to solve his problem at left-back with Shaw’s absence.
Herrera is not a holding midfielder
As much of a talent Ander Herrera is, his future at Manchester United is surely in a more attacking position in the midfield. Van Gaal opted to play the Spaniard in the no10 role at Old Trafford on Saturday during United’s victory over Liverpool, and Herrera was in his element. With the ability to find the killer pass and his creativity in space, Herrera is far more suited to play as an attacking midfielder rather than in a more central role. Van Gaal opted to play the 26-year-old in a holding midfield duo with Bastian Schweinsteiger, a decision that raised the eyebrows of a number of United fans given his performance against Liverpool. Van Gaal’s decision to omit Morgan Schneiderlin from the starting line-up was a strange one given that he has performed so well for United so far this season. Playing away from home in Europe surely requires solid cover for the defence, therefore it does seem an odd decision that Herrera was asked to fulfil this duty by Van Gaal. After tonight’s disappointing result, Van Gaal will surely not opt with Herrera in the holding midfield in Europe again. He was outmuscled in the centre of the park by PSV’s midfielders and failed to make an all round impact all game.
English teams failing in Europe
After making a positive start to the game, all looked set for United to make a winning return to the Champions League tournament. After the delay of Shaw’s injury, United broke the deadlock with an excellent goal from new signing Memphis Depay, and all looked set for them to go on to pick up an impressive three points away from home. United should have gone into the break with the lead, but poor marking from a corner lead to a soft goal for PSV, giving them the equaliser against the run of play. As the game progressed, United seemed to fade as grasp they had on the game in the first half began slipping away from them. A second goal from PSV took the wind out of Van Gaal’s men, who failed to re-establish their dominance. After being on top for large periods during the first half, United will be ruing the chances they had to kill the game off before the interval. Back in Manchester, United’s inner city rivals Man City also surrendered a 1-0 lead to Juventus. The tradition of English clubs failing to make an impact in the Champions League continued tonight, where both English teams lost a game they went into as favourites. Van Gaal and Manuel Pellegrini will now have to go away and re-think their tactics for their European fixtures, as both managers have now made it difficult for themselves with a loss in their opening group fixtures.