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Manchester United and Chelsea play out a 0-0 bore draw Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea: Winless run continues for Louis van Gaal | Guus Hiddink happy with draw at Man United with Chelsea battling injuries.
Man United and Chelsea play out a 0-0 draw that doesn't help either side

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal believes his side dominated the match and deserved to win against Chelsea.

Three quick thoughts from Man United's 0-0 draw with Chelsea in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Monday.

1. United, Chelsea draw a blank

If this was the last time Louis van Gaal manages Manchester United, there was delicious irony in the scoreline.

A seventh 0-0 of the season best reflects the troubled and almost certainly doomed reign of the ailing Dutch master.

Chelsea, themselves mortally wounded amid their own wreck of a season, were able to ride out some early United pressure and eventually force some of their own chances, with Nemanja Matic missing the best of all in the 61st minute.

From there, two malfunctioning units eventually ground out a stalemate, but Van Gaal must have cursed his luck when both Juan Mata and Anthony Martial struck the woodwork in the early stages, with Old Trafford's home contingent roaring in encouragement.

At that point, it looked like Van Gaal had released his players from his tactical cage and allowed them to take risks in attacking positions.

Wayne Rooney, who played with something approaching the buzz of old, even rediscovered his long-range shooting boots with a 25th-minute rocket that warmed the hands of Thibaut Courtois. Shots on target? Whatever next?

United were still bereft of confidence in front of goal, and Rooney, with Martial marooned out left, swiftly became an isolated figure at centre-forward, usually in too much traffic when receiving the ball.

Behind him, Bastian Schweinsteiger's and Morgan Schneiderlin's ponderousness put a brake on the quick attacks that United fans craved from their team, and Ander Herrera, a leading light in Monday's bright start, got bogged down in midfield skirmishes that brought a raft of bookings.

Man United had several chances to grab all three points before being forced to settle for a dissatisfying 0-0 draw.

When Chelsea began the second half much the brighter, United's confident beginnings seemed likely to become a memory, but then came another thwarted revival. Thibaut Courtois' chest stopped a goal-bound Herrera effort in the 55th minute.

A team that has forgotten how to score was headed for another blank, a plight confirmed by Rooney's late skewed volley of an inviting cross by substitute Cameron Borthwick-Jackson when the goal was positively at his mercy.

It left United winless in their last eight games across all competitions.

2. Van Gaal signs off?

Is Louis a lame duck? It certainly seemed so. Right now, he's a manager who admitted on Boxing Day that he had considered deserting his post, oversees a team that no longer seems to respond to him and is beset by a fan base riven by doubt.

Beyond all that, he tried to function within a club hierarchy that appears unable to make up its mind about what to do next.

Had United execs been more decisive, Jose Mourinho might well have been strategising United's approach against his old team.

As it was, with Chelsea's former manager taking in some winter sun before his next move is revealed, his face instead starred on some unofficial United scarves. An opportunistic "swag man" had either jumped the gun or was predicting the future, but Chelsea fans did not have to go through the pain of seeing their loved one in another's arms. Instead, they happily regaled their fallen hero in song throughout.

For his part, Van Gaal took to the bench with a look of reluctance. As he walked down the sideline to a smattering of supportive applause, he looked straight down the camera tracking his every step. "This is Manchester United, a club that is known around the world for never being beaten," his programme notes had read, and his team did begin with notable defiance.

When Mata, a player for whom Mourinho coming in would probably be bad news, struck the crossbar in the second minute, Old Trafford swelled with expectation.

Many United fans may hope for a change of management, but they still want their heroes to win.

Then came a Daley Blind slip and Ashley Young's desperate clearance of Eden Hazard's cross to remind fans of the defensive problems that have contributed heavily to United and Van Gaal's slide from grace.

It was a nervous evening all round, and Young, a left-winger-turned-left-back now playing at right-back, exhibited some fine last-ditch defending.

Chelsea defended brightly enough but will also rue several glorious missed opportunities.

Van Gaal continued his form of never raising himself from his cushioned seat in the Old Trafford dugout, making typically copious notes on what was occurring in front of him.

Despite a performance that was a significant improvement from the dirges delivered this season and some vocal support from fans, many will hope that those scribblings contained a resignation note.

3. Chelsea appear more relaxed

Can the second time around be just as good? Guus Hiddink's return as a diamond-plated caretaker manager sees him granted a task far beyond his February 2009 assignment, when he took over a team sitting fourth in the table. Seven seasons on, he is leading a team who started their 19th game of the league season just two points above the relegation zone.

It's of course a preposterous situation for the Premier League's defending champions. Hiddink has stepped in as the chilled-out uncle to Mourinho the divisive control freak, and Chelsea's players did look to be enjoying greater freedom of expression, though some lax passing helped set up United's more dangerous moments of the first half.

Diego Costa's untimely suspension, a self-inflicted wound just as he hit form with two goals against Watford, robbed Chelsea of an attacking counterpoint.

It means that despite being barely fit after the hip injury that caused one final bust-up with Mourinho on Dec. 14, Hazard was the furthest forward. Though he chased plenty of shadows in search of possession, he clearly enjoyed his newfound freedom. A couple of body swerves had United defenders flailing, and the Belgian's link-up with Pedro (who turned down United to join Chelsea in August) was the most obvious danger to United.

It was their combination that forced David De Gea into a world-class save at the beginning of the second half, while Hiddink will have rued the game's best chance falling to Nemanja Matic. Having been offered the freedom of Stretford by some awful United defending, the Serb had far too long to think about a shot that he managed to hit both high and wide of the goal.

Manchester United and Chelsea play out a 0-0 bore draw Reviewed by Cyusrie on 4:54 PM Rating: 5

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