Opinion: Di Maria, contender for Premier League biggest ever flop

Welcome back to Rowlesy’s Ramblings. By now, you’ll be awaiting the Premier League’s talks about, the rather optimistically named, Project Restart as all twenty clubs have a Zoom rendezvous.

Honestly, once chief executives made it their own politicised, financially driven agendas, rather than realise human lives are being lost at a still haemorrhaging rate and football is not safe to return, I lost the gusto to see football return with the proposals put forward. Some of them are frankly ridiculous- taking the annoying buzz phase ‘sporting integrity’ into account – how can rules be changed or omitted now when clubs agree on them before the season? It is a total farce and I cannot see a resolution.

Digressed there, and it’s vital to provide escapism and keep the football debate going.

So, let’s get right into it…

Di Maria’s Manchester rant fails to mask the real truth

I was initially dumbfounded when I read his wife’s comments about Manchester. Then I realised his remarks actually  perfectly summed up the Argentine: He proved he did not move for footballing reasons and he bottled it. He can’t even blame cultural differences: Gaucho restaurant has a four star TripAdvisor rating and compatriots Aguero and Zabaleta enjoyed their times in Manchester.

I’ll discuss Van Gaal later but I witnessed first hand how the Dutchman started his demise: His United, containing the expansive setup of Rooney, Van Persie, Falcao and di Maria (who scored one of the best goals I’ve witnessed live) folded like a pack of cards in that 5-3 Leicester defeat. From then on, gung ho turned to conservatism and it is true Di Maria did not get a settled position but don’t great players adapt to systems? I mean, we did sign him after a man of the match display in Real Madrid’s clinching of La Decima over rivals Atletico.

I also never forgave him for effectively ending our FA Cup prospects in 2014-15 after he received a brainless red card for manhandling referee Michael Oliver. As irksome as Oliver is, Di Maria’s actions were as costly as the Jones / De Gea mix up to allow Danny Welbeck to score the winner. To cap it all off, he received applause from bits of the Stretford End.

Given the euphoria the Di Maria signing brought, as the first ‘top’ post-Ferguson signing (sorry Marouane), for me there is no other contender for the dubious award of biggest Premier League flop ever.

He didn’t fancy it, and that sickens me.

That is the real truth.

Do United really need another centre-back?

Centre back should not a priority for United, in a summer where money could be reduced. I acknowledge, though, that there will be some shouting the shortcomings of Lindelof, Tuanzebe and Bailly at me. I did not include Smalling, Jones or Rojo as their futures surely now lie elsewhere.

I think the world of Tuanzebe and Bailly but both have been hampered by injuries. If Tuanzebe can avoid the treatment room, I believe he can be a mainstay at United for years.

If those two had stayed fit this season, I think Lindelof would not have played as much football as he has, as such there has been mass speculation about his future at United. Some will highlight he has not been dribbled past this season and look how Van Dijk was revered last season on accomplishing that.

Conversely, there are clear deficiencies in Lindelof’s game – his lack of aerial prowess and looseness in possession when targeted by the opposition press.

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Many would place Lindelof in the ‘good’ tier and the question is what is his development ceiling, given he hasn’t entered his prime.

With Swansea’s Joe Rodon in the news, after another Giggs recommendation (via Mail), if you asked me whether I’d spend £20m on a Championship defender to give competition at the very least to Lindelof, I’d be highly skeptical when there are graver areas to sort.

Sir Alex will always be the greatest but he contributed to the fall of his empire

Last week marked seven years since SAF dropped my biggest footballing bombshell – he was retiring after 26 years of unprecedented riches.

I might be called out on this, but I disagree, for as remarkable as his work was, that gave Ferguson the divine right to handpick the heir to his throne – the biggest shoes to fill of all time.

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Mourinho was available and even put his hat in the ring, maybe even Ancelotti.

Moyes was the wrong man, woefully out of his depth and turning Everton from relegation flirters to Champions League hopefuls did not fit the bill.

Although Moyes was victim of many changes all at once and arguably destined to fail as the first one after Fergie, he should never have been put into that position. He simply was not the best candidate to carry on Ferguson’s legacy.

It was arguably the biggest mistake Ferguson made at United and started the fall from the top.

Van Gaal should look at himself, he deserved the sack

LVG has been fantastic value in the media and the podcast he featured on last week was no different. He called Ed Woodward an ‘evil genius’ and said his sacking shocked him.

Not only did I have my season ticket for the LVG era, but I also re-watched his final year on Premier League Years, in the absence of live football. He deserved to go, even though Palace at Wembley created mad scenes.

Although he blooded Marcus Rashford and maximised Anthony Martial, the final season was damning: Same win tally as the Moyes season, fewest goals scored in our Premier League history, 17th in chances created, 5 0-0 draws and failing to score in 10 games- not to mention spending stupid amounts on mediocrity we have only just sifted out, boring the fans and antagonising players due to his unmoved rigidity and stifling of talented players.

Woodward is to blame for hiring and backing him absurdly but Van Gaal’s football meant he had to go. It was just not United.

READ MORE: Man United defender valued at €18m being offered around top Serie A clubs

More Stories Angel Di Maria Louis van Gaal Man Utd Manchester United Sir Alex Ferguson Victor Lindelof