Thursday, August 20, 2009

Rivals laughing at United: Owen continues to fluff his lines as champs turn to chumps..

The fixture list gave United a relatively easy looking start to the new Premier League season, but just two games in talk of the champions retaining the trophy for the fourth time in a row is already looking optimistic and that is putting it mildly.

On Sunday United just about managed to see off the challenge of newly promoted Birmingham City thanks to a Wayne Rooney goal, but last night at Turf Moor Burnley sent Ferguson's team crashing to the canvass following a first-half hammer blow by veteran Robbie Blake.

Worryingly for Ferguson, for the second game in succession Michael Owen failed to convert excellent goal-scoring opportunities and the fans will be wondering how much longer the manager will give the former Liverpool and Newcastle striker. There has to be a serious danger that Ferguson will make what could prove to be a costly panic buy given his limited striker options. Owen might well say he'd be more concerned if he wasn't getting into goals-scoring situations, which isn't the case, but nonetheless he doesn't look sharp. Pundits and fans alike will be questioning if the former England striker will ever recapture his cutting-edge, but the early signs do not look good for Owen and United.

To compound United's misery, Michael Carrick saw his first-half penalty saved by the man-of-the-match Brian Jensen. United's failure to score from the penalty-spot only served to highlight that currently the club doesn't appear to have anyone who is confident enough and capable of converting from just 12 yards out - which is an alarming fact following the departure of Ronaldo.

Ferguson's concerns go way beyond the lack of a penalty taker. Rio Ferdinand's injury problems appear to be getting worse and talk of Vidic leaving the club is getting louder by the week. Against Burnley United's makeshift defence was stretched too many times and Owen Coyle's team could easily have scored more goals.

The problems were not confined to the back four, because the midfield was equally as shaky. Michael Carrick was largely anonymous throughout this game, but perhaps Ferguson didn't help him when electing to play Anderson on the left wing and Giggs in central midfield. It's true to say Giggs was one of the champions better performers on what was a truly awful night, but Anderson was like a fish out of water on the left and here again Ferguson's tactics will be come under scrutiny, because ahead of what was always going to be a tricky away game the United manager had decided to completely change his midfield following Sunday's win over Birmingham.

Ferguson will be expecting his team to bounce back when they travel to Wigan on Saturday, but if that doesn't happen and United lose again it will be further of evidence of a team in decline. Following the departure of Ronaldo and Tevez there was always going to be a period of readjustment; the common consensus was that Ferguson needed to sign someone to score goals and the lead the forward line and so not everyone will be that surprised the champions are struggling in front of goal even against modest Premier League opposition.

United lack genuine star quality in too many areas and new recruits like Atonio Valencia have so far failed to convince the fans that he is capable of stepping-up to the mark. On a night of wholesale changes, Park-Ji-Sung was preferred to the Ecuadorian, but time and time again he gave away possession cheaply as United's forward play broke down on the right.

Against Burnley, United had the look of a mid-table Premier League outfit, one that will struggle to score goals and one that could leak them at the other end, while the engine room was at sea following too many changes. To compound matters there are no leaders in this United team.

It would be totally ridiculous to talk of a crisis at this early juncture, but it won't stop the ABUs from having a good laugh at United's expense following last night's defeat. All credit to Burnley, because they created some excellent chances and their victory was well deserved.

It was only last season that Ferguson suggested this was his best ever squad, it was a silly claim at the time, but a just a matter of weeks further on it is one that looks positively barmy now. The harsh truth is United have relied on Ronaldo too much, without him the current squad is struggling against the calibre of Birmingham and Burnley.

You do wonder how much longer Ferguson will persevere with players who continue to under-perform and how much longer the manager can continue to ignore younger players like Macheda and Gibson. Whatever team the manager selects it looks like it's going to be a very bumpy ride if the first two league performances are any sort of indicator but there's no reason to think otherwise on the evidence of what we have seen so far.

12 comments:

  1. i think you should relax and not get to far ahead of yourself... yeh they haven't started the season on fire but in the past two seasons they didn't exactly win the league in the opening few games... as for owen.. give the guy credit for getting into those positions.. his movement in the box is incredible... id be more concerned if he didn't get any chances whatsoever... and united are in transition its obvious to see.. they will need a few games to adapt and in my eyes valencia is still finding his feet.. so are a few other players... get behind the team rather than slagging them off so quickly

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  2. Regarding Owen I wasn't one who subscribed to the "masterstroke" theory on his signing, I feared it was anything but that, but Fergie can only give him so long...

    United fans like you make me a laugh with your bury your head in the sand "get behind the team" jibes. The shortcomings of this team are obvious to see (as clearly outlined in the post - it isnt' just the forward line is it?) only a blinkered rose tinted wearing Red would argue otherwise.

    I was impressed with United's first-half performance against Chelsea, which gave me a greater degree of optimism but frankly the last two performances were in marked contrast to anything we saw at Wembley...

    In a bizarre way I'd be quite happy to see United struggling for a while because I'd like to see a lot of changes at Old Trafford both on and off the pitch.
    I'd also like to see the young lads given a proper chance.

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  3. Got to agree with James on this. I agree with pretty much all of his points. Losing Ronny was a major blow but the other warning signs were already there last season when we struggled over the line.

    SAF's selection policy isn't helping. Its almost like he just picks the names out of a hat. We may have a strong squad but, with few exceptions they are all of the same ability and so we dont actually have a great first 11. I'd be interested to know what people think the first eleven actually is.

    Carrick and Park were very poor last night and Brown was rusty. Owen just might start scoring but it needs to happen soon. Berbatov will never be a Utd player, he just doesn't have the heart. Anderson was also very poor but to be fair he looked lost on the left. Poor selection policy again.

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  4. SAF need to spend some of the banked for the Ronaldo sale, with teams like Burnley, Wingan, Hull, Stoke etc, we're going to have problems breaking them down without a good play maker because they will put ten men behind the ball and make it hard for United to play the kind of football we know they can play, United are still going to be champions I believe but we need to start taking our chances as well because all the team in the epl are improving, I also believe team selection and formation play a part in yesterday's loss

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  5. Derek,

    TO be honest some United fans never cease to amaze me, I've lost count of the number of numpties who wanted Ronaldo out and said things like "glad to see the back him" etc etc. I'd also question anyone who has questioned the merits of retaining Carlos Tevez...these people did not understand what those two players brought to the team and only now will the gravity of the situation be hitting home..

    The fact that Fergie relied upon Ronaldo so much was understandable, and as I've stated repeatedly on this blog since those departures United are in for a period of transition which could go on for quite some time. There will no doubt be further question marks about Fergie's own future soon given his age, but in the immediate short-term actually changing the way your team plays can take time especially when you don't have the pieces to complete the jigsaw. In shart contrast to United's situation, Hughes over at City looks to have bought well and his new team are already showing rapid signs of improvement.

    I could add that United could have made a move for both Barry and Adebayor and I'd argue strongly that they are both better than anything we have in central midfield and where a target-man is concerned... (so don't tell me there was no one available this summer)...

    Regarding your question about our strongest XI many of us have been asking the same question for a while, not even Fergie knows the answer.

    United are in serious danger of being overtaken by the likes of City and even Spurs...

    I was trying to be positive and optimistic when I recently predicted a third place finish, but in all honestly I have felt all summer long that United will struggle to finish in the top four.

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  6. Reuben Red, you are clearly another very optimistic Red - how do you arrive at the view that United will be champions? The defence looks wobbly as does the midfield and we cannot score even against the rubbing-rags.

    Fergie has been trying out his new formation and to be honest it's falling apart at the seams.

    It's probably too late to spend now, the time for doing his homework and making those signings looks to have gone, that is apart from a bit of possible panic buying.

    In a nutshell and as I stated here when he said it, simply saying we will play Berbatov up front and play differently was never going to work...Fergie didn't have a workable plan following the loss of Ronaldo apart from signing an average Premier League winger and a free striker who was heading for the scrapheap (sorry that was a masterstroke)

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  7. Im usually optimistic but honestly last night we were really poor. I was really puzzled about a couple of things, Why didn't Anderson take the pen? I'm sorry but Psychologically English players have not got the same bottle as Latin players in such situations. Why does Fergie constantly rotate the team? We will struggle to find consistency in the results and the players will take longer to gel.

    It also seems as though Anderson is low on confidence. Whenever the lad plays he seems to be the scapegoat, iv noticed Rooney and Giggs constantly having a go at him(nani aswell), but they tend to say nothing to other players who should be getting more stick. Fergie also plays him out of position which does not help. IMO at 20 years old he is a better all round player than Carrick. In the opposition half he is much better than Carrick, penetrating through ball. Every year people say 'its Carrick year' 'he will start to dominate/dictate matches'. Im not saying he is a poor player, he is a good tidy player, but for the job he is suppose to do, he is nowhere near as good as xavi,fabregas,alonso. In the CL final he was outclassed Xavi ran the show in CM.

    I will say though in recent years we have had really bad starts, so we shouldn't be too concerned. But we need one more signing for midfield. Someone like senna would be a brilliant short term buy. This guy for me is as good as Xavi at his best, he can dictate matches and scores and he would not be too expensive.

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  8. Tony, Only Fergie knows why he does what he does. Last night as you say we had Giggs (winger) in central midfield and a central midfield player (anderson) on the wing. There was no need to completely shuffle the team after just one game.

    Fergie has got away with this messing around because he had the best player in the world playing all most every week, and now he's gone - he needs to wake up and smell the coffee.

    As I've been saying for a while, if United keep on signing mid-table club players and persevering with the ones like Park and Carrick they will eventually become just another mid-table club.

    I don't rate Carrick and never have done. Fletcher is marginally better, but his distribution let's him down.

    Players moaning never helps. There is no substitute for genuine class and United are about to discover that fact and it seems Fergie has forgotten that.

    I spoke to someone this morning who is a die-hard Red and I mean seriously die-hard. He was there last night and rarely misses a game. Jokingly, I started our conversation like this "fergie out by christmas?" and to my amazement he laid into Fergie saying he'd get rid today... I cannot overstate this lad's redness or his credentials. I was taken back at such a reaction and I spent a good hour talking to him about the whole situation and Fergie. The bottom line is he and others like him who he speaks regularly are seething with Fergie.

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  9. Relax .. take a deep breath... We are just 2 games in. Chumps after two games?

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  10. Yes, last night's result was one of the worst in the last 30 years... and as someone else put it to me, none of the leading clubs will drop points at Turf Moor.

    Let's see what happens this weekend, I will be there too, but I'm not expecting more than a point after what I've seen so far.

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  11. Who was to blame for that goal? Why was Robbie Blake left completely unmarked, twelve yards out?

    Cold, hard analysis at http://whywasthatgoalscored.blogspot.com/ . The pundits aren't doing it, so somebody has to...

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  12. The marking was very poor.

    To be honest whenever the ball went into the box in the air it was panic stations.

    It was total bloody shambles.

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