Thursday, January 08, 2009

Nani must go, as Derby defeat gives Fergie much to ponder...

Let's get one thing straight, Manchester United do not like losing semi-finals as happened when they went down 1-0 to Derby County at Pride Park last night, in the much maligned Carling Cup, it was a result which will have hurt the Champions.

As expected, Fergie fielded a young team, but it was one that also included Paul Scholes, Carlos Tevez, Anderson and Nani.

To say that United were disappointing would be a gross understatement. United were rubbish pretty much throughout and make no mistake the performances of several players will have given the United manager a lot to think about regarding their futures - if hasn't then something is wrong - because it was that bad.

After the final whistle Fergie admitted that the Reds' were lucky to lose by just the one goal, it could have been much worse. Fergie even went as far as saying it was a "great result" - which is stretching the point but, we knew what the manager meant under the circumstances.

Fergie was asked if the 'kids' will be given another chance in the second-leg of the semi-final at Old Trafford at this point he more or less blamed the poor result on the senior players' - namely Paul Scholes - as he was the only senior player on duty in the United engine room which hadn't performed well on the night.

Nonetheless, it was slightly surprising that it was Scholes who was the first to be substituted when he was replaced by Ronaldo on 63 minutes. Fergie made two further changes when taking off Anderson for Carrick and then Welbeck for Rooney.

The changes did affect the flow of the game, but still United were unable to create any decent chances from open play and so the Reds' had to rely on Ronaldo's free-kicks - but the Portuguese star failed to hit the target which is criminal for a player with his reputation.

Fergie defended the performance of Danny Welbeck, when saying that he'd had no service. Personally and with the danger of being accused of going over the top, I thought Welbeck was awful. True enough the service was poor, but when the United youngster was on the ball his first touch was like that of baby elephant. What's more, his movement off the ball was poor. I have to admit that I don't watch United's youth team or even the reserves, but based on what I saw last night I don't expect Welbeck to make it at United because he isn't good enough - but I will add that I hope I'm proven wrong on that score.

If the performance of Welbeck was poor, it wasn't nearly as unacceptable as that of Nani who was once again dire throughout. United fans must be sick and tired of seeing Nani waste possession - his crossing from corners is pathetic. It can only be a matter of time before Fergie decides enough is enough and the club cuts its losses on a player who is little more than a show pony. Quite how Nani remained on the pitch for 90 minutes beggars belief.

While we are on the subject of poor decision-making by the manager, playing Gibson on the right wing was so wrong it stood out like tits on a bull. Only when Gibson was switched into central midfield late on did he look at home.

As for Carlos Tevez, he looks as though he has given up trying to impress the manager and the writing looks to be on the wall, an exit surely beckons - but here again if this comes to fruition the club needs to have a long hard look at the way they've handled the Argentine, not least because United will have pay through the nose when they eventually replace Tevez, if indeed he moves on as now I expect.

Paul Scholes was pretty anonymous on the night and this against a team who only just narrowly avoided defeat to non-league Forest Green in the FA Cup at the weekend. Sadly, it looks like time is running out for Scholes, who can no longer be expected to be the magnificent midfield general that he has been over the last decade. If Fergie cannot see this then I'd be surprised, but given the manager's post-match comments it was pretty clear that Scholes had been marked down as the major culprit where failure was concerned against Derby. Added to which the very fact that Scholes started the game seems to indicate that he is now playing second-fiddle to Carrick and possibly Fletcher too.

Of the starting front six that faced Derby County, only Anderson came out of the game with any degree of credit, but Gibson did ok in the last twenty minutes. The back four were a bit shaky at times and so Fergie will be glad that Evra is back from suspension in time for the visit of Chelsea.

Derby thoroughly deserved their victory and if they play like that in the second leg, do not rule a major shock for the Champions. Technically, the Rams were more than a match for the Reds' and their players collectively wanted it more.


  1. Berbatov was missed on the field. His creativity and languid style was the key to unlock Derby's defence

  2. Bebratov's creativity was missing all along the game. Prove me wrong, he's became a crucial part of the link between the midfield and forward zone...

  3. You might well have a point as Berbatov has been key in the Reds' last two league games.

  4. Sorry but this article smacks of reactionary "journalism". Thank god impetuous individuals like the author are not in charge of our beloved football club.

    Nani is 22 years old. He has not had a regular run in the first team. He has been deployed consistently down the left wing when he is right footed. With all that in mind I think it ridiculous to say he has to go. At this stage he is a squad player who needs to develop but he needs to be given more time. On his day he can be fabulous, all he lacks at this point is consistency. This is a problem that plagued Ronaldo at one point also.

    Nani may never develop as we all hope but suing him as a scapegoat for a terrible performance is the stuff immaturity is made of. We are in an age where we expect far too much, far too soon from our players. Incredibly quick to write people off when what is needed is patience and a cool head.

    Contrary to what the author said, Scholes was absolutely awful yesterday. The ginger prince is my favourite Man Utd player but it is not surprising at all he was the first one off. He was almost invisible in midfield except when he was giving the ball away. Gibson got put into his role presumabley in an effort to add some much needed steel. What strikes me as strange at this point is the role of Anderson. He arrived at Utd as an attacking player with a greta left foot. Need dictated that he play deeper last year but this year we are stuck with Park or the right footed Nani on the left flank. Given his work rate and obvious skill I would think it prudent to try Anderson out there. Am I alone in that thought?

  5. Scholes lack of form is a major concern for me because he is still by far the best centre midfielder we have and I really worry where the creativity will come from when he hangs up his boots.

    What James says about Park is quite true and it worries me that we are starting to fill the team with such players - Park, Fletcher and Carrick, none of whom are particularly creative so our forwards have to do all the work.

    Berbatov for all his nice flicks and touches on the ball slows our play down too much IMO, what was wrong with the Rooney, Tevez and Ronaldo forward line that won us everything last year?

    Something has gone amiss at Old Trafford this season and it needs to be addressed because we haven't played well all season, are yet to get a result in a "big" game and at this rate will finish second to the scousers which none of us want.

  6. Spence,

    I actually agree with all of your comments. Further to which and there's no easy way of putting this without being blunt, but Berbatov IS lazy. That said, he was instrumental in winning our last two league games. What I cannot understand is why Fergie cannot play Tevez wide left or right when replacing Park, who isn't in the same class as the Argentine. I can only put this down to internal politics with a view to driving down Tevez's asking price...if that is so, then I'd be disappointed in Fergie's complcit actions.

    Reference Scholesy, I'm afraid he looks to be past it, his legs have gone. I noticed this at Anfield where he couldn't cope. Maybe the time has come to use Scholes from the bench. Carrick is ok on his day, but no more than that really, he is currently our No1 midfield passing general.

    With all that said, I still believe Fergie has the tools to do the job, if only the team was picked on the basis of fair play and not politics where Tevez is concerned.

  7. Simon,

    I was expecting this type of reaction to my article.

    Having been involved in football for over 30 years I've seen it all and there's an old adage that says 'if you're good enough then you're old enough'. This applies to Welbeck, Nani, Anderson and Gibson.

    So what I'm saying is this. Fergie has decided that these players are ready for the 1st team and so especially in the case of Nani (for whom we paid over the odds btw). The player has had ample opportunities to show us what he's capable of and during this time he has consistently failed to deliver an accurate final ball. In short, as I said in my piece he is an expensive show pony who does not deliver. You only have to look at the players' reaction when one of his all too often passes goes astray - I have lost count of the number of occasions when players are left cursing at Nani. What's more, if Nani cannot deliver now after a couple of seasons then it's a fair bet he never will - he is technically very poor where some of the core basics are concerned. I might add that it looks like Welbeck suffers from exactly the same problems...though I will reserve final judgement on him for a while longer.

    As for Scholes, if you read my piece again you will see that I wasn't happy with his performance at all, added to which Fergie got much wrong on the night including taking off our best player in Anderson - though that is somewhat subjective.

    I'm not going to retract anything from that article becuase it is all true.

    Finally, I'm sick and tired of hearing about Park's workrate. He is a trier and nothing more. He lacks quality, his passing isn't great, his finishing is dire. He'd be great in Fulham's team, but he is not and never will be a United star.

  8. While I do believe Nani will improve, and I do love Tevez as a player, I think its time to let both go. If we could get say 15mil back from nani and save the 25 mil we'd be forced to pay for Tevez, we could then use some of the transfer funds that we have set aside and buy Ribery and Benzema as replacements. I think both would fit marvelously into the team. Ribery actually scores goals, which none of our midfielders seem capable of this year and Benzema provides the clinical finishing as well as the physical presence that Tevez simply does not. Really, if Tevez would just finish more of his chances I would love to keep him, but he hasn't proven to be consistent, and he is such a similar player to Rooney in so many ways that it just doesn't make sense to keep both.

  9. I've not seen this game so can't really comment but...

    I love Scholes & feel priviledged to have seen such a fantastic footballer. Unfortunately age is catching up with him & he can only dictate the midfield in some of the easier games when he has time on the ball. I also feel these are the sort of games where Giggsy can still contribute positively.

    Ref Park / Nani - they both frustrate the life out of me for contrasting reasons. Yes Park has unbelieveable energy but very little skill - you can see him panicking when he gets near the goal. I do believe Nani is a very skillfull player - his recent volleyed crosses highlight that. Plus he has scored some great goals but he so often runs into trouble, picks the wrong pass, strays offside etc. He must be incredibly frustrating to have as a team mate. I don't agree with the comment about putting Anderson out wide as he is much better off in the centre as he can pass, tackle, intercept, cover the pitch like you'd expect from a midfielder. I'd much rather see Tevez on the wing than Park as he'd match Parks workrate but contribute positively. Fergie has used Rooney out wide so why not Carlos?

    I would love to see Wellbeck make it as there is nothing better than seeing a local kid come through the system. I think it is way too early to judge him as he has so little upper body strength. He has a lot of pace so maybe he is an option down the flanks??? I've not seen anything yet about Gibson to suggest he'll make it at United.

    I wonder if the one thing United are missing most is a decent assistant to Fergie? I still can't believe the way we played at Arsenal.

  10. Gordon,

    I think there's one big difference between Nani and Tevez, one is proven and so is worth persevering with the other isn't. Nani has had enough opportunities to show us what he is capable of and he has consistently failed to deliver the end product.

    As for Ribery, now here is a player who can deliver consistently, we paid a lot of money for Nani of which we will be lucky to recoup half of the initial outlay if sold. Ribery, would be good value for money in comparison.

    I'm not sure if United can afford Bezema who has spoken of his desire to play in Italy on a number of occasions - if they do not want to play for Manchester United then **** them.

    Finally, regarding Simon's point about reactionary journalism. I personally couldn't care less if United were dumped out of the Carling Cup by Derby. Fergie needs opportunities to give those chomping at the bit for places in the 1st team and so the CC represents the perfect opportunity. That said, a trained eye can tell if someone has 'got what it takes' from a fairly young age and if when you reach 17-18 you cannot control the ball (as was the case with Welbeck) then I'm afraid you really shouldn't be getting anywhere near United's first team as that paricular skill is a core basic - as is the ability to make space when moving off the ball - here again, Welbeck was poor against Derby - but so was Tevez but for very different reasons....( I suspect ).

  11. I'd love to think we could get 15m for Nani but we'd be lucky to get half that. C'mon Hughesie do us a favour & splash the cash!

  12. Totally agree with James's comments regarding Nani. He's been at the club for a season and half now and there is little evidence of improvement. If he's not showing potential after 18 months he never will. The left wing position is now something of a problem for Utd with Park not being the answer either though I'd pick him in front of Nani every time. Let's hope this new kid Tosic will fit the bill.

  13. Total agree with u James on Nani...
    Not only that he doesnt progress, he also possess this negative kinda greed or 'self centredness'. How many times have we seen tht he opted to dribble or shoot rather than passed to his much better positioned mates?
    For me, he's a gone case unless he shows tremendous improvement in the coming matches.


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