Louis van Gaal juggled his midfield pack yet again at Anfield and it’s fair to say that it misfired spectacularly. After a couple of promising performances by Ander Herrera and Morgan Schneiderlin, which resulted in more attack-minded football, van Gaal reverted back to type, re-introducing Marouane Fellaini into the fold. Michael Carrick and Bastian Schweinsteiger, who was returning from injury, both started on the bench.
United offered little creativity and now face an enormous task to overturn the two goal deficit the Reds inflicted on them. Bryan Robson inspired United to a memorable 3-0 Cup Winners Cup comeback against a Barcelona side that included Diego Maradona back in 1984 but it’s difficult to imagine this team repeating that feat.
Schweinsteiger was introduced for the last 20 minutes in an attempt to limit the damage which begs the question – are United more effective when the German midfielder, who was nicknamed ‘Football God’ in Bavaria, is in the side?
The www.oulala.com infographic above certainly suggests that Schweinsteiger is something of a calming influence on the side and fits in well with van Gaal’s possession philosophy. A return of one goal and zero assists will not have fantasy football managers jumping out of their seats but the goals conceded stat is impressive so a case could be made for including his more defensive-orientated team-mates when he starts, due to the increased likelihood of a clean sheet or low goal concession tally.
The German is 31 now and in a pivotal week that could see United being eliminated from the FA Cup and Europa League as well as slipping 6 points behind Manchester City in the race for that 4th Champions League spot, don’t be too surprised to see van Gaal turning to the former Bayern Munich captain, in a last ditch attempt to salvage something from the season and perhaps save his job.