Crunch Time for Van Gaal

Manchester United face Derby County in the fourth round of the FA Cup at Pride Park tonight. After his side performing abysmally in recent weeks, the pressure is really being cranked up on Louis Van Gaal.

With Jose Mourinho seemingly waiting in the shadows to take the reigns at Old Trafford, the Dutchman cannot afford any slip-ups against the Championship high-flyers. United fans won’t be happy with a win in a similar vein to their victory, thanks to a last minute Rooney penalty, over Sheffield United in the the third round. What the fans want to see is positive attacking football, many have voiced their concerns about the constant back-passing and lack of attacking runs being made.

If Van Gaal wants to keep his position at the helm of one of the world’s most famous clubs, he will really have to change his mentality; for United fans, winning isn’t everything… they have been used to high-quality football for the last 20 or so years, and that quality has been pretty much non-existent since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson.

With the FA Cup seemingly United’s only realistic chance at a trophy this season, Van Gaal really has no room for error. He either wins this match, or the axe simply must fall on his head from the powers that be at Old Trafford.

Top 10 Premier League Goal Scorers (Rooney, Shearer etc.)

Wayne Rooney became the joint-second all-time goalscorer when he scored his first away goal in 11 months against Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday. Who are the players who join Rooney in the top ten all-time goal-scorers in England’s top flight?

10. Robin Van Persie

The ex-Arsenal and Manchester United man finds himself in tenth place in the all time Top 10 Premier League Goal Scorers list. In 280 Premier League appearances, the ‘Flying Dutchman’ scored 144 goals and is widely regarded as one of the greatest poachers of the Premier League era… the mind boggles at the amount of goals RVP could have scored if he wasn’t so injury prone.

Arsenal: 194 games, 96 goals
Manchester United: 86 games, 48 goals

Goals per Game Average: 0.51

9. Teddy Sheringham

The three-time winner of the Premier League with Manchester United and the oldest outfield player to play in the league is in 9th place in the Top 10 Premier League Goal Scorers chart. After stints with Spurs, Portsmouth, West Ham United, Manchester United and Nottingham Forest in the top-flight, Sheringham ended up with figures of 146 goals in 418 appearances.

Spurs: 236 games, 97 goals
Portsmouth: 32 games, 9 goals
West Ham United: 43 games, 8 goals
Manchester United: 104 games, 31 goals
Nottingham Forest: 3 games, 1 goal

Goals per Game Average: 0.35

158823hp28. Les Ferdinand

MBE Les Ferdinand is 8th in the Top 10 Premier League Goal Scorers chart. The ex Spurs, West Ham United, Leicester City, Bolton Wanderers, Newcastle United and Queens Park Rangers forward managed to knock in 149 goals in 351 appearances.

Spurs: 118 games, 33 goals
West Ham United: 14 games, 2 goals
Leicester City: 29 games, 12 goals
Bolton Wanderers: 12 games, 1 goal
Newcastle United: 68 games, 41 goals
Queens Park Rangers: 110 games, 60 goals

Goals per Game Average: 0.42

7. Michael Owen

The ex-Real Madrid man and 2001 Ballon d’Or winner was well-known as one of the hottest prospects of football during his younger days at Liverpool. After one season with Los Blancos, Owen was sent back to the Premier League, where he carried on playing with Newcastle United, Manchester United and Stoke City, where he played his last game on 19th May 2013. His Premier League figures read 150 goals in 326 games.

Liverpool: 216 games, 118 goals
Newcastle United: 71 games, 26 goals
Manchester United: 31 games, 5 goals
Stoke City: 8 games, 1 goal

Goals per Game Average: 0.46

Robbie-Fowler-cropped6. Robbie Fowler

Liverpool favourite Robbie Fowler is 6th in the Top 10 Premier League Goal Scorers chart. After stints with Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers, Leeds United and Manchester City, Fowler ended his career with Premier League stats of 163 in 379 games.

Liverpool: 266 games, 128 goals
Manchester City: 80 games, 21 goals
Leeds United: 30 games, 14 goals
Blackburn Rovers: 3 games, 0 goals

Goals per Games Average: 0.43

5. Thierry Henry

Monsieur Henry brought some Va Va Voom with his audacious football style and his role in the 03/04 Arsenal ‘Invincibles’. The highest-up foreign player to feature in the Top 10 Premier League Goal Scorers chart was one of the greatest exports from France since Eric Cantona. With 175 goals in 258 games, there is a clear reason why he is considered one of Arsenal’s and the Premier League’s greatest ever goalscorers.

Arsenal: 258 games, 175 goals

Goals per Game Average: 0.68

4. Frank Lampard

The only Midfielder in the Top 10 Premier League Goal Scorers chart and Chelsea’s top-scoring player ever, Frank Lampard is well-known as being one of the most prolific centre midfielders the world has ever seen. Scoring 22 goals from midfield in the 09/10 season is an achievement in itself and after scoring 177 goals in 609 appearances, it is understandable that is held in high-esteem when looking at the top goal-scorers ever.

West Ham United: 148 games, 24 goals
Chelsea: 429 games, 147 goals
Manchester City: 32 games, 6 goals

Goals per Game Average: 0.29

andy-cole3. Andrew Cole

The joint-second scorer (at the time of writing),  and 5-time Premier League winner, Andrew Cole is known for his prolific goal-scoring and his almost telepathic partnership with fellow Manchester United striker, Dwight Yorke. After playing for seven different clubs (Newcastle United, Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers, Fulham, Manchester City, Portsmouth and Sunderland), the ex- England international ended his career with Premier League figures of 187 goals in 414 games.

Newcastle United: 58 games, 43 goals
Manchester United: 195 games, 93 goals
Blackburn Rovers: 83 games, 27 goals
Fulham: 31 games, 12 goals
Manchester City: 22 games, 9 goals
Portsmouth: 18 games, 3 goals
Sunderland: 7 games, 0 goals

Goals per Game Average: 0.45

2. Wayne Rooney

Manchester United captain, Wayne Rooney is the only player in the Top 10 Premier League Goal Scorers list who is still currently playing in the Premier League. The 5-time Premier League winner, and 09/10 Player of the Season finds himself in second place, and Rooney is not finished yet. Breaking onto the scene as a fresh-faced 16-year-old at Everton, Rooney has been under the scope for his whole career; and, in general, he has not disappointed. After becoming England’s all-time top scorer recently, Rooney currently holds Premier League stats of 187 goals in 415 games – 1 more games than his second-place compatriot, Andrew Cole.

Everton: 67 games, 15 goals
Manchester United: 348 games, 172 goals

Goals per Game Average: 0.45

1. Alan Shearer

The Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United legend, Alan Shearer has been at the summit of the Top 10 Premier League Goal Scorers list since his retirement in 2006. His incredible 260 goals in 441 games looks like it will be a record that will stand for quite a while longer too, with second-place Wayne Rooney about to enter his 30s. After scoring 112 goals in 138 games, and winning the title with Blackburn in the 94/95 season, Shearer went from strength to strength becoming Newcastle United’s top scorer by over 100 goals as well Blackburn’s.

Blackburn Rovers: 138 games, 112 goals
Newcastle United: 303 games, 148 goals

Goals per Game Average: 0.59

Can Rooney Get Back on Track?

It is no secret that Wayne Rooney has been out of form for Manchester United in the Premier League so far this season. When looking at his overall stats for the season, 5 goals in 11 games doesn’t look too bad, but when you consider that 3 of those 5 goals came in 1 UEFA Champions League qualifying match against Club Brugge, his goals-to-game ratio looks slightly more worrying. Rooney’s solitary goal in the Premier League came against bottom-placed Sunderland, and even then it was not a cool finish which we have come to expect from Rooney, it looked more like he fell into the ball and luck came his way.

Out of luck. Rooney desperately needs a goal to gain some confidence.
Out of luck. Rooney desperately needs a goal to gain some confidence.

After missing the international break with England with an ankle knock and with a trip to boyhood club Everton up next for United, Rooney needs to step into gear. The new signing, 19-year-old Anthony Martial cannot be expected to be the only consistent goal-scoring striker at the club.

Rooney’s lack of form is not only a headache for himself, manager Louis Van Gaal must be frustrated at the lack of finesse shown by the England and United captain. In fact, a recent stat has shown that Rooney has not created a single goal for the Red Devils in the league this season, but Van Gaal can safely defend himself by saying that he is playing Rooney where everyone wanted him to play, not in midfield but in front of goal.

After claiming his award for becoming the leading England goal-scorer of all time at Wembley on Friday, Rooney may have been given a confidence boost. There is no doubting his ability or commitment to the club, and Sir Alex Ferguson, who knows Rooney more than anyone, told ESPN that Rooney’s lack of goals comes down to confidence. “All the strikers I had, everyone relied on their confidence, when they were scoring they think they can never stop,” Claims Ferguson, “When they’re not scoring they think they’re never going to get a goal, it’s a fact.” The ex-Reds manager has no doubt in his mind that Rooney will get back to his scoring best when saying “I think we’ll have to wait. It’ll happen. (Rooney will) go on a run, don’t worry about that.”

Martial has been in great form since his move from Monaco, but can he be expected to be the main goalscorer at such a young age?
Martial has been in great form since his move from Monaco, but can he be expected to be the main goalscorer at such a young age?

So, if Fergie thinks that it is only a matter of time until Rooney starts to score again, should United fans feel relaxed in the knowledge that their captain will get back into form? Or should they be worried that the club only has three ‘senior’ strikers (Rooney, Martial and James Wilson), two of whom are 19-years-of-age. With new reports claiming that Wilson may be going off on loan to Celtic in the January transfer window, United need Rooney now, more than ever, to get back to his talismanic best, and to prove to fans and staff alike that he deserves the captaincy of one of football’s most historic clubs.