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Burnley 0-0 Manchester United: Another miserable 90 minutes for Van Gaal's plodders

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It was another disappointing performance from Manchester United as they were held at newly-promoted Burnley.

Clive Brunskill

Louis van Gaal is indeed a genius. He predicted that Angel di Maria would not inspire the team to new heights of brilliance, and he was entirely correct, as the new signing played a decent 70 minutes before being withdrawn for Anderson (yes, really.)

His performance was the highlight in a classically inept 90 minutes about which we barely need to write, because you know how it goes. Juan Mata was disappointing and could not find the key pass. Wayne Rooney was wasteful, poor in touch and remained undroppable for some reason. Robin van Persie was anonymous, Adnan Januzaj didn't start and was brought on too late, Antonio Valencia crossed like he was wearing calipers, Ashley Young was poor, the defending caused several heart-attacks and Darren Fletcher looked overwhelmed in midfield. So, the exact same as in every other game so far this season and a while before that.

Di Maria was selected to play in the middle, with he and Mata ahead of Fletcher, and while he put in an energetic performance, it led to the Scot being asked to do too much in the centre of the park, and resulted in the usually disjointed performance. There were a couple of decent efforts in the opening, with Burnley hitting the bar early and Van Persie going close, but thereafter chances were few and far between at both ends, with United's defence continuing to look shaky but Burnley not really threatening to do too much to exploit it.

Van Gaal's persistence with 3-5-2 in such a situation, when Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia play and Adnan Januzaj does not, seems baffling. Januzaj and DI Maria on the wings in a 4-3-3 is surely the best thing for the players we have when everybody's fit - it makes sense to play the latter in the centre when Ander Herrera is missing, but surely Januzaj would've done a better job on the right than Valencia, regardless of the system?

In the end, a rather drab game was brought to a conclusion by Anderson replacing Di Maria after the latter went down with cramp - a stark reminder of how poor this squad can still be despite all the money spent - and Januzaj getting a far-too-late introduction. More of the same, again, in other words. Other than having a clear penalty for handball turned down towards the end of the game, it would be hard to make a case for United deserving to win.

We won't really be concerned unless things remain this bleak when Daley Blind is added and Ander Herrera returns. But we could still probably be better than this.