Sunday, February 03, 2008

Berbatov shines as Ferguson gets his tactics wrong...

The chances of Berbatov arriving at Old Trafford next summer must have been somewhat enhanced following his excellent performance against the Red Devils at White Hart Lane on Saturday in a game that United were lucky to come away with a point.

Spurs Bulgarian striker had struck on the 20 minute mark following a swift counter-attack by the North London side. The home team opened the scoring after Edwin Van der Sar had parried a Lennon cross to the feet of Berbatov who made no mistake with a clinical finish.

There wasn't much sign of a response from the visitors as too many players were having off days. Ronaldo wasn't shining, Giggs was being occasionally wasteful and Scholes was having little impact in the United engine room alongside Owen Hargreaves. Worse still, Spurs were hitting United on the counter attack, this was the general pattern of a poor first-half from a Red perspective. The home team could easily have gone two-nil up if Keane hadn't spurned a golden goal scoring chance, once again Berbatov was involved in the build up.

Ferguson should have started the game with Hargreaves and Anderson in midfield, while Scholes looks to be in good nick following a long injury-lay off, but he simply cannot match the work-rate and industry of Anderson in a two man midfield. The United manager compounded his starting selection error when replacing Hargreaves for Carrick - who also went on to be too wasteful when in possession of the ball.

To make matters a whole lot worse, Wayne Rooney was rightly booked for an outrageous dive which means he will miss the Manchester derby. Rooney worked tirelessly throughout this game and deserves much credit for that, but his booking was the only thing he had to show from this game and it remains to be seen what price the Reds will pay when they face the bitter blues.

The penny finally dropped with Ferguson and he introduced Anderson in the second half when he replaced Giggs and Scholes for Nani and the former Porto star respectively. From then on it was pretty much one way traffic with United mounting raid after raid without managing to open up the Spurs defence, though Anderson had the Spurs stopper scrambling to save a raking low drive that whistled just beyond his far post and Tevez was unlucky with a whipped header.

Then against the odds and deep into injury time Tevez and Dawson contrived to score between them from a corner to give the Reds a highly unlikely and what could turn out to be priceless point.

Sooner or later Fergie is going realise that he cannot keep on leaving out Anderson for Scholes, but until that time comes the Reds are likely to struggle - especially away from home.

Man of the match for United: Carlos Tevez, worked very hard throughout and looked sharper than any of the Reds attacking players.


  1. Every goal Ronaldo scores, makes the Glazers all the more unready to put the money in to replace Van Nistelrooy. Ronaldo has proven he is a natural goal-scorer, but we should not put the pressure of goal-scoring on him, strikers should do that job, and then he should score along with them. The pressure of scoring should fall on a striker, the likes of Drogba, not a creative midfielder the likes of Ronaldo, it should be a bonus that he scores goals, not a necessity. What do you say to that?

  2. IF Real Madrid push home their reported £50m interest with a firm bid for Ronaldo, then he will be sold and then United will have the money to buy another striker. But of course the club would be crazy to sell him - unless he really wanted to join Real, that would put a different slant on things.

    While I strongly disagree with the Glazers' owning United the manager has so far been able to go out and buy players, but this situation whereby Fergie spends big will not continue as the Glazers' business model (the one that has had to be rewritten umpteen times) is totally unstainable in the long term. Anyone who backs the Glazer regime (like Fergie) will be made to look like complete fools within the next five years IMO - which is why Fergie has been stupid voicing his support because his record will be forever tarnished, once the walls come crashing down.

    It is to be hoped this Manucho does the business once he finally arrives at the club, that appears to be a nice piece of business.

    On a slight tangent. Is it not amazing how Wenger not only signs quality players but he also makes Arsenal a profit on his transfer dealings? While I do not like Wenger, he sets examples to ALL managers including Fergie on how to run a big club and a transfer policy.

  3. hey james, compare fergie's trophy count with wenger's. I think fergie will be the one giving out lessons. And how in hell do you know if the glazer's business model is sustainable or not, are you their financial advisor??

    and on the glazer's, they have given fergie the money he wants and kept out of decision making on the football side of things. i think we can count our selves pretty lucky considering the meddling and stinginess of other foreign owners.

  4. How important is this 2 point gap that just opened up between Arsenal and United?

  5. The point about the number of trophies is valid, but could Fergie have done what Wenger has done and made a profit (or even broke even which is probably more like the truth) into the bargain? The answer to that is categorically no.

    Regarding the Glazers' and their debt laden regime. There's a lot of very ignorant United fans out there.

  6. How Man Utd can afford their transfer targets.

  7. The two point gap is nothing to worry about, but it went to six or seven at this time of year then you'd start to have doubts.

  8. Regarding transfer profits, just look at the number of young players who graduate throught the united academy and are sold on for minimum £1m. We have a constant flow of money coming in for good young English players who might not make the grade at United but carve out good careers for themselves. And Fergie buys long term players who may cost a lot at the time but stick around for years. This stability reaps trophies, not just profit, and in football its not about money its about what you win.

  9. I totally agree that Paul Scholes should not have started this game. Against Tottenham it was always going to be hard work and as you said Scholes does not have the work rate required in games away from Old Trafford. I am all for playing Paul Scholes at home but he must be left on the bench for the away games.

  10. Thanks Ron.

    As for the points about Fergie and his buys. They are valid too, but it doesn't alter the fact that Wenger's buying has been so good that it gave the Gunners enough confidence to finance the building of the Emirates Stadium - which speaks volumes IMO. Wenger is a league all of his own where buying is concerned. My big hang-up with Wenger is that he does seem to buy too many overseas stars.

    Fergie could not have done what Wenger has achieved with the same money.

    Many of Fergie's buys have been for big money. Take Carrick for example, we really had our collective trousers pulled down for him. Question: If Fergie rated him, them why didn't he snap him up for £4m when the Hammers were relegated? Instead, he dithered and ended up paying big money. He's not good enough either...

    Fergie has bought some great players to United, Ole, Cantona, Schmeichel, Kanchelski, Irwin, and Keane. They were all wonderful acquisitions, but things haven't gone too well on the buying front until the recent arrivals of Vidic, Evra, Hargreaves, Nani and Anderson.

    There's talk that Wenger could have signed Ronaldo for £4m, though how true that is I don't know, I think Wenger was basically taking the **** out of Fergie and his big spending.

  11. The context of the clubs also has to be kept in mind. The financial situations of the clubs themselves have a great deal of influence on what their managers can or cannot do.
    Ferguson was confident of his ratings of players he wanted to acquire, so that he went out and attempted to get them, backed by the management.
    Wenger on the other hand had a different approach, clearly due to the different financial position and Wenger's rating of his own team.

  12. When I get time, I will present some comparitive figures on Fergie and Wenger's spending.

    Arsenal have total confidence in Wenger's ability to spend wisely. In contrast, it wasn't that long that Fergie had to be warned by directors of United not to do business with the company where his son worked as an agent. There has been unproven talk of bungs.

  13. I'm not sure I agree with your take on Sir Alex having an eye on Berbatov joining united next season. While berbatov is an outright goal poacher that united are deperately short of since van nistelrooy departed, I don't see him in a united shirt.

    If we go back to earlier this season you'll remember Berbatov whining and tantrum throwing...for being subbed and he had a period where he just disappeared from the field all together.

    Players with the wrong kind of attitude will get sold at united. iI doesn't matter how good they are...cases in point staam, RVN, beckham.

    You're exactly spot on with the tactics. I thought hargreaves was having a decent game (relative to our performance, he should have stayed on) and scholes was dismal. Fergie got all the decisions wrong until the last 25 minutes.

    The old guard of Giggs and Scholes are recognised legends and fall into an elite group of players that have played for united. But maybe fergie still has the image of a young ginger prince and welsh wizard awing the crowds with sublime bits of skill. We need to use giggs and scholes more sparingly and give them sufficient breaks to prolong their careers.

    thank you for a good article

  14. James,you are right.Anderson is simply brilliant and should be in the starting line-up ahead of anderson. He can become a genuine all-round midfielder.


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