Paul Gallagher: Buzz Light Years

I have often wondered what this esteemed first-team squad of ours do in training all week before a big match. Nearly every game is witness to a slow start, with the game often ending-up as a bit of a mess by the end of those 95 minutes. It’s now five losses at the Etihad in the Premier League this season.

It’s been at least 18 months since we’ve seen a really intense performance – with a sparkling finish right through to an authoritative ending. It’s no coincidence that our three most comprehensive home defeats until the derby had also seen our three slowest starts to matches – Leicester, Liverpool and Tottenham. If we don’t score early, we just don’t score. Is it any wonder that half of the team are injured if they aren’t being coached for full game intensity?

At half-time last weekend, I knew we wouldn’t score, no matter the headless running-around we did. The intensity just isn’t there anymore. The desire and the thirst to win at all costs has disappeared.

‘We fight to the end.’ The end of what – the first half? As we certainly don’t fight for the full 90+ minutes any more.

Jesús Navas… when was the last time he beat his man and delivered a quality cross? Somebody should ring Peter Barnes or Mike Summerbee to give the lad some coaching.

Surely, Manuel and his two backroom stooges do do something of note all week, or are they happy just toeing this ‘nice man’ line? Pellegrini is complacent, and that is exactly why he’s being ousted, to be replaced by a total perfectionist: Pep Guardiola. I for one am looking forward to watching totally committed footballers do what they are paid so handsomely to do – to give 100% and fill that blue shirt with sweat. It’s the very least we expect as football fans.

However, as much as this season has been a damp squib I’d like to believe that not all is lost. We probably should have collected a league title in the last two seasons, but there have been great strides made elsewhere. The Etihad is expanding, we’ve created a world-class academy facility, and have progressed to the quarter-finals of the Champions League. If our new coach can embed his infamous philosophy and mould the playing staff – complimenting our already experienced bunch with a handful of new, hungry top-class footballers, then the world will be our oyster once again.

Even with all our problems, we’re still buzz light-years ahead of our neighbours across the way in Trafford. If we need five new players, then they need at least eight.

Michael Carrick is still getting 90 minutes – can you believe that?

With the exception of David De Gea they are the worst United squad for 30 years, which makes last Sunday’s capitulation all the more difficult to take. Louis Van Gaal has taken that lot back in time, back to a place they’ve never seen. They are the ultimate sideways team, boring beyond doubt. Even if Mourinho does arrive this summer, he’ll need one of Mother Theresa’s miracles to get them anywhere near that league title.

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