Louis van Gaal’s search for his first competitive victory as Manchester United manager goes on, as his side were held to a 0-0 draw by Burnley at Turf Moor.
It has been a poor start to the campaign after such a promising pre-season, and his side lacked the craft to break down an organised Burnley unit.
Louis van Gaal has now failed to win any of his first 4 competitive games as Man Utd manager; scoring just 2 goals. pic.twitter.com/AjFMaFgBpb— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 30, 2014
United handed a debut to Angel Di Maria, and while he showed some bright moments, he failed to make a difference against a side that was comprehensively outclassed by Chelsea.
Van Gaal has called for time to put things right at United; it could take some time to close the gap on the big hitters in the Premier League.
The Red Devils came within the width of the crossbar of falling behind on three minutes, as a clumsy challenge from Phil Jones provided Burnley with a free-kick in a dangerous position.
David Jones showed exactly how dangerous it was by curling the ball over the wall and against the bar, with United keeper David de Gea a static spectator.
United produced a defensive horror show against MK Dons, and they looked extremely nervous at Turf Moor. It took an alert De Gea to clear in front of Lukas Jutkiewicz following a sloppy back pass.
Man United look just like they have all season. Slow, errors and lacking confidence, few long balls too. Tough times...— Jake Humphrey (@mrjakehumphrey) August 30, 2014
United fans got their first glimpse of the attacking brilliance of Di Maria on 15 minutes.
Dropping deep to take possession, the Argentina international clipped a glorious ball over the top for Robin van Persie. The Dutchman took the ball in his stride and thumped a shot on goal, but Clarets keeper Tom Heaton made a fine save.
De Gea was called into action again on 27 minutes, with the Spaniard having to be alert to keep out a swerving drive from David Jones.
Burnley were not overawed by their more illustrious opponents. Scott Arfield tricked his way past two defenders on the right-hand side on 34 minutes to fashion a shooting chance, but he snatched at the effort.
Ashley Young has been accused of simulation on more than one occasion in his career, and shortly before half-time he tumbled in the box under challenge from Kieran Trippier. There was contact prior to Young hitting the deck, but referee Chris Foy felt the challenge from the Burnley defender was a legitimate one.
Chances were somewhat limited for United, but they came close to opening the scoring just before the hour. Excellent play down the left from Di Maria caused panic in the Burnley box. The Clarets failed to clear their lines, and Van Persie struck a shot on goal, but Dean Marney got back on the line to clear.
Di Maria’s Premier League debut lasted 70 minutes, as he tired as the contest wore on and was substituted with 20 minutes left on the clock.
United failed to fashion a killer chance in the final 15 minutes, although they had strong appeals for a penalty waved away four minutes from time for handball, and they were forced to settle for a point.
Van Gaal’s focus can now shift to the final couple of days of the transfer window. Daley Blind is seemingly on his way after the club confirmed a fee had been agreed a fee with Ajax, but United still look short in a number of areas.
With Marcos Rojo’s move to United in some doubt, according to a report by the Daily Mail’s Ian Ladyman, Van Gaal may look to bring in another defender. Even if Rojo completes his move, the Dutchman may still look around.
On the evidence of recent weeks, additional defensive reinforcements would not go amiss.
Di Maria got a "kick on his calf" according to Van Gaal. Taken off as a "precaution" #mufc— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) August 30, 2014
Angel Di Maria: B
The first signs are positive ones for United. The Argentine looked typically composed on the ball and was always looking to take possession.
He created one excellent chance for Van Persie with a glorious pass, while he did not shirk the responsibility of tracking back. United spent an awful lot of money on him, but it could prove to be well spent.
A United player v a non united player is so obvious when you watch this game! Di Maria pass forward / run forward at speed! He will do well— Gary Neville (@GNev2) August 30, 2014
Phil Jones: C-
It is a new system the United defenders are having to get used to, but some of the errors made—such as jumping into an opponent when you had no chance of winning the ball—were easily avoided.
Van Gaal has work to do in this area.
Wayne Rooney: C-
The striker was confirmed as England captain this week. He’s also skipper for his club, but he could not inspire his side to victory. In truth, he had little influence on the game.
Van Gaal: "The progress is there but a club like United has to win. Two points from nine isn’t enough and that’s disappointing." #MUFClive— Manchester United (@ManUtd) August 30, 2014