MANCHESTER. — Manchester United’s players look “bored”, former midfielder Paul Scholes said after watching his old side edge third-tier Sheffield United 1-0 in the FA Cup on Saturday.
United needed a stoppage-time penalty from captain Wayne Rooney to see off their League One opponents and mustered only one other attempt on target in the third-round tie at Old Trafford.
The home fans applauded ironically whenever Louis van Gaal’s side attempted a shot at goal and many had already left the stadium by the time Rooney spared his team from an unwanted replay.
“The players looked bored themselves,” said Scholes, who was analysing the match on BT Sport. “There’s no spirit, there’s nobody having a go at each other, there’s no smiling, there’s no entertainment.
“I think even Van Gaal on the bench looks bored, but he’ll come out and say he’s happy. It wasn’t a great performance.
“Will he (Van Gaal) be happy with it? I think he probably will be. I think that’s the way he likes to play football.”
Scholes added: “I’ve tried to defend this team over recent weeks, but it’s getting more and more difficult to do.”
United have already recorded six 0-0 draws at Old Trafford this season, which would have been unthinkable in Scholes’s day, and the former England midfielder sounded exasperated as he dissected their latest display.
“We haven’t seen anything different now for the last six months,” said the 41-year-old.
“That’s the way this team plays football and he’ll be happy with the 1-0 win.
“We don’t see anything else, and he constantly comes out and says he’s happy with his team, he’s happy with the way they’ve played. But they didn’t create a chance, had to win a game against a League One side with a penalty in the 94th minute. In my eyes it’s not good enough.”
And van Gaal admitted his side needs to improve and cope with the pressure of performing at Old Trafford after they scraped to a 1-0 victory over Sheffield United in the FA Cup.
Van Gaal’s side looked as though they would be taken to a third-round replay by their third division opponents before Rooney scored the winning goal with an injury-time penalty.
Before Rooney scored, after impressive substitute Memphis Depay was tripped by Dean Hammond, United were staring at a sixth 0-0 draw in their last 10 home games.
Many of the home supporters showed their frustration at the performance, as well as giving ironic cheers at belated efforts at goal and van Gaal’s final substitution of Marouane Fellaini with Andreas Pereira.
“Players for Manchester United have to cope with the pressure of the fans and the media and it’s the same for the manager,” said Van Gaal. It can have an influence but when you are a player for Manchester United you have to cope with that.
“It’s not only frustrating for the staff, it’s frustrating for the players, the staff and for everybody.”
Van Gaal’s side has now won back-to-back games after an eight-match winless run and will be hoping this is the start of a run that will bring them first FA Cup success since 2004.
But following another laboured attacking performance, van Gaal knows there is room for improvement. — AFP.