Why Mystic Morgan is Van Gaal's Secret Weapon

Why Mystic Morgan is Van Gaal's Secret Weapon

A proper response to the disaster at the Emirates. Manchester United went to Goodison Park, started brightly, which they have never done in the last three years, got the job done in the first 45, capping it off with another goal early in the second half, to the delight of more than 2000 strong and vociferous travelling support. Van Gaal was obviously pleased with the performance and went on about the number of ‘tactical meetings’ he had to hold with the players between Wednesday and Saturday as part of the preparation for the game itself and the work off the pitch had paid off as the Red Devils somehow overcame their anxiety and an inexplicable lethargy when it comes to the opening ten or twenty minutes that hurt them so badly at the Emirates.


He said,

“It was a very good performance and I have said to my players that I was very proud of them because it is one of our best matches, it is more than a response. That is an understatement, but I cannot find another word. It was very difficult to prepare this match because we have lost against Arsenal in a horrible way. I have a lot of meetings, individual and team meetings, 10 or 15 between Wednesday and today.”

Overall, it was a composed performance, where Manchester United were pretty much in control for about three-quarters of the game. The new-found composure was although, brought in to the game, by the midfield which looked excellent and highly organised, often covering up for the back four during counter attacks, largely due to the mobility of Morgan Schneiderlin who, strangely, was benched for the defeat against Arsenal and Herrera who also had to watch the Arsenal defeat from the sidelines. Morgan Schneiderlin, in particular, ran the show from a deeper position, accurate in his passing for most of the game, putting tackles in and reading the game really well, to shut the doors on Barkley and co.

The Frenchman, one of the key signings in the summer, is viewed as someone that could potentially fill the role of Roy Keane in the midfield, and he looked after the defence throughout the game, only misplacing two passes out of 71 with a remarkable 97% accuracy despite being put under pressure by Barkley and Naismith when he was on the ball. What was more impressive was the fact that he always looked forward, which was encouraging and often set the pace of United’s attack. Out of the 71 passes he made, 47 were aimed forwards which played a vital role in the Red Devils’ good start to the game and thankfully they never looked back.

Schneiderlin Passing v Everton

Talking about the awareness of what’s happening around him, Schneiderlin on Saturday showed why he was one of the most sought after defensive midfielders in the league. He scored the most crucial goal in the game, in my opinion, the first goal, where he found himself unmarked inside the box, when the ball, pinged in by Mata from out wide, bounced off a couple of defenders, was there for the taking and he calmly slotted it past Tim Howard like he did not exist. He also played a vital role in the third goal, intercepting what was an awkward pass from Phil Jagielka and released Herrera – the man of the match – who in turn found Rooney to score the third and final goal on the day.

Schneiderlin's Goal - 18' v Everton

And as far as the defensive side of a midfielder goes, Schneiderlin won 4 out of 5 tackles attempted all over the pitch, intercepting twice, blocking once and clearing the ball successfully twice. Those are pretty good numbers against a side like Everton who can beat anyone on their day, especially at Goodison Park, as we were proved when they comfortably beat the reigning champions Chelsea, not long ago.

It was a typical day for a good defensive midfielder. Playing a key role in victory, scoring, contributing to the defensive side of the game and as a result a well-earned clean sheet, but all under the radar, escaping the eyes of the media and even the manager. On Saturday though, it was a case of Morgan Schneiderlin quietly proving why he was one of the most important players in the side at this very moment in time and why he could become the most important midfielder for Manchester United in the coming years under Louis Van Gaal and his successor (HINT – IT IS RYAN GIGGS). And long may it continue.