Friday, August 29, 2008

Why Super Cup defeat will give Fergie cause for concern...

With the transfer window set to slam shut until January and with no new signings on board Fergie will be concerned with United's lacklustre display in the Super Final in Monaco that ended with Zenit St Petersburg lifting the trophy by the odd goal in three. Vidic's consolation goal led to a late attacking flurry by the Reds, but for too much of this match United were very much second best all over the park.

United simply didn't turn up for much of the contest, in contrast the Russians appeared to want it more. Perhaps not surprisingly, Zenit were the better prepared of the two teams given their season started some weeks ago and it told as they looked sharper all over the park, whereas United looked sloppy.

Of particular concern to Ferguson will be the form of Gary Neville and Nani, on too many occasions throughout this final both were off the pace. Neville is recovering from long term injuries, while Nani is returning from suspension, but still they were both hugely disappointing in possession and especially on defensive duties as both were suspect.

United's midfield and forwards failed to fire until the last twenty minutes of what was a decent game to watch and somewhat ironically the Reds late resurgence in this final coincided with the introduction Park and O'Shea. It could be argued that the introduction of the Irishman and the Korean changed the pattern of the game, truth be told the Russians looked to have either run out of gas or else they'd taken their foot off the pedal.

If losing the final wasn't bad enough, Paul Scholes added to Fergies woes when he was sent-off after collecting his second yellow card of the game late in the second-half for a hilarious re-enactment of Maradona's "hand of god" jape.

Ferguson wasn't too impressed when he was later informed that the sending off will lead to Scholes missing Champions League games and there was yet more concern for the manager as Scholes wasn't the only United player to throw his arms aloft on a night of frustration for the Champions.

Wayne Rooney looked less than happy being played as an out-and-out striker, Fergie has gone on record stating that the England striker needs to be more selfish and not to drop back into midfield, as he likes to do and against Zenit he didn't drop back and it took something away from his game. Not only that, on more than one occasion he berated Gary Neville for his poor passing and crossing. Nani's distribution and decision making was poor and this too brought negative reactions from several players.

The result and especially the performance leaves Fergie which much to ponder, while on chances alone United could have won the Super Cup, they simply didn't deserve to win the match as Zenit were pretty much in complete control for around 70 minutes.

United's midfield and defence couldn't cope and up front the forward line didn't function. The performance of Carlos Tevez was the only real bright spot of what was a poor all round display by the Champions. At times it was like watching a Premier League team versus a Championship side, so inferior were United. Fergie will also have to decide what the future holds for Gary Neville, as he looks to have lost at least a yard of pace. There is no room for passengers at Old Trafford and both Fergie and Neville know that.

When Fergie reviews a tape of the game, he will be concerned how easily Zenit were able to prize open United down the left flank. Evra was given little or no help by Nani. On the opposite flank Fletcher and Neville weren't much better.

As a result of United's collective inability to mark their opponents, Zenit found it remarkably easy to pick their way through the Reds backline which left Vidic and Ferdinand exposed.

One final note of positivity, the referee Claus Bo Larsen (Denmark) was excellent as he allowed the game flow, based on this performance Larsen will go far.

Final score: United 1-2 Zenit St Petersburg
Man of the match: Tymoschuk

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