Friday, November 28, 2008

The derby: It's time for Rooney et al to walk the walk ...

Earlier this week I posted that I have little confidence in United pulling off a win in the Manchester derby this weekend. United do not have a settled side right now and they are not playing well especially in midfield and up front.

In contrast City are coming off the back of two fantastic wins and they are at home too, which in my view makes them favourites.

The fact is there's too many passengers in the current United squad, Park and Nani are not worthy of starting places in any competition other than perhaps the Carling Cup. With Nani and Park all too often there is no end product, their collective use of the ball is more often than not wasteful, yet Fergie chooses them over Carlos Tevez who is far superior in every aspect of the game. It is a baffling situation. My own view is that Fergie doesn't currently know what his strongest team is and that he's got himself into a muddle over Tevez.

Fergie has been deploying a 4:3:3 formation of late, on Tuesday in Spain Wayne Rooney was used as the lone striker with Nani and Ronaldo on either flank. The formation did not work and Nani did nothing of note, yet he remained on the pitch for 85 minutes.

To compound matters, the midfield trio of Fletcher, Anderson and Carrick were wasteful in possession, this was due in part to the lack of passing options up front, but even when players' were available United's passing was slipshod.

Due to injuries to Wes Brown and Gary Neville, Fergie has been using John O'Shea at right-back, if the Irishman faces Robinho on Sunday, United could be in for a torrid time because frankly O'Shea is another who really should not be starting Premier League games - especially at right-back, where his lack of speed on the turn could prove to be a big weakness in the United defence because O'Shea will up against a world-class forward in the Brazilian.

Fergie could play Rafael da Silva at right-back, yet it is unlikely that the young Brazilian will play due to the United manager dithering and sticking to his principles of the seemingly accepted pecking order.

As for the forward line, it seems that Berbatov may or may not start the game due to sustaining a hamstring injury. Chances are Rooney will play alongside Ronaldo and Park. The former Everton striker was asked about the derby earlier this week he said that the players owe the United fans a victory. Rooney promised to put City in their place. This talk concerns me as we've heard it all before, but it's usually Ryan Giggs who spouts-off before big games and then the team fails to deliver.

Talk is cheap and so I'm hoping that Rooney backs up his rhetoric with a superb performance, because he is due a good game, his form has dipped dramatically of late and he's getting a reputation for blowing hot and cold, just like Ronaldo this season.

It is time for United to stand up and be counted, if the Reds contrive to lose this weekend, we can forget any notion of retaining the League title. It's game on and I for one will be livid if United lose the derby.


  1. I think you like Tevez too much and Sir Alex not quite enough. But overall I enjoy your commentary and think that most of your observations are pretty close to accurate. I'm just not 100% convinced of Tevez's unarguable worth... I think he's a fantastic footballer, it's just that the team is full of fantastic footballers. And he's got to earn it just like everyone else. When was the last time he scored? It's been a few games now and he's had some opportunities. But ultimately, I put my faith in Alex Ferguson as long as he's in charge.

  2. OK Paul, but answer me this. Would Park or Nani get into any top team other than United?

    Neither would get a game at Chelsea or even Real Madrid who are now pants....

    But, Tevez would!

  3. I forgot to add that Fergie is a fantastic manager, which really goes without saying, but given I'm questioning him on the issue of what he's doing right now might appear to be contradictory. NO manager is beyond reproach.

    Fergie recently admitted that he's not very good at tactics, this was a few months ago and to be honest, he didn't need to tell us.

    I actually like Fergie's style and the way he deploys players most of the time, but on the issue of Tevez I happen to believe he's getting it hopelessly wrong.

    That said, part of me believes that United are trying to drive down his asking price by marginalising the player by leaving him out. If as I expect Tevez leaves, the club and Fergie will be made to look like complete numpties because he will go on to better himself...

  4. I'm quite left behind on football recently due to my busy schedule. I'm quite worry about the issue concerning Tevez. I heard that Real Madrid is going to sign Tevez, is that true? I apologize for asking such a dumb question. Anyway, I enjoy reading your blog. Keep up the good work.

  5. Hi BR,

    Like you I have only heard the rumours, part of believes that United are playing a game of brinksmanship ref the asking price with the owners of Tevez, but who knows...

    United are also ligning up these two young Partizan Belgrade stars, but I see them more as longer-term solutions..

    I don't want to see Tevez leaving because for me he's a real United player. I think Fergie wants to keep him too, but like I say I don't know if he's playing games or else he's just getting it totally wrong selection wise...


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