Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! To the Times this morning, who bring us exclusive news that:
A delegation of senior Manchester United players has confronted Louis van Gaal with concerns over his rigid training. Unhappy at what they see as stifling methods, the players asked the manager to be allowed to express themselves more freely.
Which is pretty exciting. Apparently this happened several weeks ago — before the loss to Swansea — and involved players having "discussions inside the dressing room," before "approach[ing] Van Gaal to raise complaints about a lack of creativity. They feel that training orders have become so inflexible that they are hampering performances."
Who, then? The Times don't say, the coy so-and-so's, but the Daily Mail, scooping the scoopers, reckon that the rebellious parties are, er, "captain Wayne Rooney and vice-captain Michael Carrick". (Which is good, since that's part of their job, and much less exciting.) The Times also run an accompanying piece about a growing sense of frustration in the squad, which begins:
A Premier League coach was scouting a Manchester United match recently, trying to work out what it was about Louis van Gaal's team that did not seem right. He thought about the formation, pondered the tactics, considered the ponderous passing — but then realised that the answer was nothing technical.
The problem was that United's players did not look like they were enjoying themselves.
A reminder: for all that he may come across as a terrifying autocrat, Van Gaal does have some form in listening to his senior players. The 3-5-2 that took the Netherlands to the World Cup semi-finals came about after a hammering from France and subsequent discussions with Arjen Robben. So, you know, maybe Carrington isn't about to be consumed by vengeful flames. Maybe.