Sunday, March 15, 2009

Mistakes and tactics cost United.....

United supporters and Fergie will no doubt spend the next week picking over the bones of the Liverpool hammering wondering quite how the champions contrived to concede four goals to their bitter rivals.

Much of the focus has rightly been placed on the error ridden performance of Nemanja Vidic, who will hopefully never play as badly again in a United shirt. If it had been just about any other player who'd committed such errors, the fans wouldn't be so forgiving; the fact is, until yesterday, the Serbian has been a rock at the heart of that United defence and all players have their off days - sadly, Nemanja's had to come against Liverpool of all clubs.

While it is very easy to rake over the mistakes made by the United back-four on Saturday, a more difficult task for Fergie is how best to deal with this Liverpool team should the two sides meet again this season.

After yesterday's defeat, Fergie stated that he was generally happy with the effort of his team; he didn't single out any individuals for criticism, but he hinted that he was slightly disappointed with certain aspects of the performance.

From a tactical point of view, Fergie might well come to the conclusion that in future he may well have to sacrifice either a wide player or even a striker, because on Saturday, Gerrard wasn't dealt with effectively, the Liverpool skipper was able to collect the ball in very dangerous areas and then run at the back four, to coin a Fergie phrase that is "suicide football".

The pace of Torres rattled Ferdinand and Vidic as United went on to pay a huge price for the Serbian's first-half mistake which allowed the Spanish striker to equalise.
In a bid to cope with the pace of Torres, United's two central defenders dropped deep, but this left a large gap between the defence and midfield, and Gerrard was the beneficiary because he was able to exploit the space.

It is to be hoped that when Fergie has time, he recognises why Liverpool were able to force United into making so many uncharacteristic mistakes, but judging by his post-match reaction that is by no means a given, because if you had not seen the game you might well take the view that the champions were unlucky, but that was not the case - in football you make your own luck as the United manager knows full well.

Benitez, has the luxury of being able to field just one striker, this is largely because of the Spaniard's blistering pace, in contrast United do not have a striker in the mold of Torres, nor do United have anyone like Gerrard.

On Saturday, Anderson was brought in to presumably deal with Gerrard, but the Liverpool skipper was playing more in a supporting role behind Torres and United's young Brazilian star wasn't ever really close enough to the man he was supposed to be marking, if indeed that was the plan. United fans can talk all day long about Vidic, but failure to deal with Gerrard was at the heart of United's downfall on Saturday.

United lost the game, but Fergie also lost the tactical battle with Benitez which is why Vidic and Evra ended up making so many mistakes and poor challenges on the day.

At the other end of the pitch, United's failure to break down the Liverpool back four was also a feature of this game.

Given that Jamie Carragher had been booked and was playing out of position at rightback, it is a fair question to ask why Ronaldo wasn't switched to the opposite flank earlier, but then again it is also fair to ask why Ronaldo stayed on the pitch at the expense of Park, who was at least working for the team unlike the world player of the year, who frankly did not look at all interested and showed little or no desire which is totally unacceptable.

Until this week, Michael Carrick has done remarkably well in the continued absence of Owen Hargreaves, but the former West Ham star has been dire in his last two games. There's no shortage of midfield players at the club, but United's collective inability to pass the ball accurately has been a consistent feature of the last two error ridden performances by the champions. You cannot and will not create goal scoring chances if your midfield keeps on gifting possession back to the opposition, which is what happened against Inter Milan and Liverpool.

3 comments:

  1. Failure to deal with Gerard did cost us big. At times you could see Rooney screaming at the midfield and defense to come up...but they were playing so far back that it was just frustrating to watch.

    Can't bear to watch the damn replays on tv right now...all with added special fx. When will this goddamn week get over? >.<

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  2. United's collective failures and the manner of the defeat on Saturday will not be forgotten for quite some time.

    But, if we go on to win the league and hopefully retain the CL then fine, but you do wonder if either of those scenarios will happen given the shocking nature of the last two performances.

    I have done my best to highlight where it has been going wrong, but if I'm being honest Fergie's recent revelation about not knowing what his strongest team is has been giving me some concern - even though I have been saying that has been the case for some time.

    IF you do not know what your strongest team is, then how do you pick a team to deal with any given opponent? To the amazement of many, whatever Fergie has done this season it has worked well - that is until now, but then again we have to look at the rest of the league and question the overall quality of the Premier League outside of the accepted top four....and United are third from bottom of Sky's mini league table which is based on head to heads between these clubs.

    United haven't been that impressive in Europe either.

    All in all, I think we are in for a very dodgy nailbiting ride, again.

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  3. Why can't there be just one season when its easy? :)

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