Man United: Losing RVP Could Win Us The Fourth Place Spot
Previously Manchester United’s worst final league position was third. Now we have five games left in the league this season and we look on course to break that record.
Currently seventh but with a game in hand United will most likely finish sixth ahead of Spurs and behind Everton and Arsenal, something that was accepted by many fans a long time ago. But then Everton went and lost to Crystal Palace and a glimmer of hope emerged, The Red Devils may sneak the last Champions League place.
Arsenal have an FA Cup final to distract them and Everton have the trickiest run-in. But it is United who have the biggest disadvantage as they’re managed by David Moyes. They put on a fine display against Newcastle in their last league outing but it was primarily accidental. Shinji Kagawa and Juan Mata were started together behind Javier Hernandez; and the two playmakers glided into each other’s position seamlessly throughout the game which caused endless problems for Newcastle’s defence. Ashley Young was started wide right on that day but was injured inside the first 10 minutes which is what allowed Moyes’ true accidental genius to shine through.
And if United are to have any chance of accidentally finishing fourth it’ll be due to the fact Robin van Persie is out injured – which is not a criticism of Robin, more his manager. When Kagawa and Mata play together – with one central – United are playing to their strengths. When United play Wayne Rooney behind van Persie they simply are not. They may be playing all their best attacking players together but there is no flow, there is no protocol; van Persie probably summed it up best when he said “Unfortunately, They (my teammates) are often playing in my zones. I think that's a shame.”
But without the Dutch striker United have looked stronger when attacking. They’re less rigid and the likes of Hernandez and Welbeck stretch defences more efficiently, and create space for Kagawa and Mata to operate and control matches from. It also allows Rooney to play in his most natural position and means United don’t have a restricted player in the Number 10 Role.
And it is a culmination of all this that gives hope - tiny, tiny hope – that United could secure fourth place. Their flaw is simply their manager.
There’s been a resemblance of a title-winning team shining through in some of their last few league games. But the frustrating part is that without a Champions League quarter-final coming up Antonio Valencia will not have to be rested in league games anymore and alas Kagawa’s emerging, and scintillating, partnership with Juan Mata will never emerge. Ashley Young, like at Newcastle, will be used more regularly than the well-rested Januzaj hence diminishing the last minuscule hope United may have of retaining their Champions League status.
United play Everton on Sunday and the Merseyside club have transformed under new manager Roberto Martinez this season. Everton no longer have fourth place in their hands but it is still within their grasps. They can end United’s hope of finishing fourth at Goodison and it’ll be this that’ll give them the determination to overtake Arsenal once more. But fourth place or not Everton can look back at this season fondly; primarily because of having a new identity football style wise but also because it gives them the platform to remain above their old manager’s current team.