Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hit and miss United just about see off Hull...

Manchester United were back in action for the first time over the festive period when they took on Hull City at the KC Stadium this afternoon, thankfully and despite what was largely another well below expectations performance, they were just about good enough to secure all three points thanks to goals by Wayne Rooney, Andy Dawson (own goal) and Dimitar Berbatov.

Prior to today's win, United had lost their last two Premier League games against Fulham and Aston Villa; admittedly the champions have been struggling with no fit central defenders, against Hull City the defence was bolstered by the welcome return of Nemanja Vidic, Wes Brown and Rafael.

In his post match interview Ferguson said the return of his defenders was as important as the three points - few would argue would with that assertion; United have been plugging the gaps in defence with round pegs in square holes and despite what was a sloppy display at times against Hull, playing Fletcher and Carrick in central midfield gave the champions a more familiar look in the engine room.

Rooney was today's star man; he scored the first deep into first-half added time after great work by Fletcher who swung in a wicked low cross from the right that was pretty much undefendable. However, five minutes after the break Rooney went from hero to villain when he gave the ball away which led to Rafael conceding a penalty for a push; Fagan converted the resulting spot-kick when giving Kuszczak no chance.

Valencia - who had a quiet game - was replaced by Park (63), the South Korean would have surely got his name on the score-sheet if it wasn't for Hull defender Andy Dawson. Rooney more than made up for his earlier error in the build-up to United's second goal when he ran fully 60 yards to collect a Ryan Giggs pass before pulling the ball back from deep in the Hull penalty area for Dawson to convert into the Hull net as United regained the lead.

Rooney then put the icing on a man of the match performance with a brilliant pass to the feet of Berbatov who made no mistake with just Myhill to beat in the Hull goal. United's third goal came about when the game was very stretched following a long punt out of the Hull defence - but as has happened on so many occasions, the champions were quick to capitalise on the break, from that point on it was game over.

Today's result leaves United just two points behind leaders Chelsea; but the champions have lost five games already this season and no other club has lost that many games before Christmas and gone on to win the League.

According to Ferguson, the quality of the Premier League is the reason we have seen so many unexpected results; that is one point of view, but it could be argued the accepted 'top four' have so far, been disappointing, and that in point of fact the overall standard of the leading clubs has if anything dropped.

While it's true that United have been struggling with injuries, some of Ferguson's recent tactical decisions haven't helped the team; against Villa the United manager started with a lone striker in Wayne Rooney - this when United were playing at home at Old Trafford. Then against Fulham Ferguson committed suicide when electing to play three at the back, this when he only had one first-choice defender in Patrice Evra to call upon - it was an act of madness - a damning fact that the mainstream media has completely ignored.

United don't have the look of champions, but neither do Chelsea, or come to that any of the other leading contenders and so despite the lack of any standout team the battle for the title will no doubt see many more twists and turns in the weeks and months ahead as the turn of the year approaches.

Ferguson has made it clear United are unlikely to be stregthening in the January transfer window; but many observers would surely agree the champions need to sign a top quality striker, a quality central midfield player plus a central defender; with the danger of prematurely writing-off the champions - without the addition of some new blood it is difficult to see Ferguson and his team retaining the title.

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FAO 619 (for some reason the blogger platform is broken today hence my unusual reply)

619,

Of course I can see what you're getting at. Regarding the benefit of hindsight and Lucio, Fergie could learn a lot from Arsene Wenger who really does know when to sell players who are coming to their sell by date. Fergie could have offloaded Rio and got half of the ridiculous £30m fee we outlaid to Leeds (who were on the brink of administration at the time), and then he could have swooped for Lucio - that would have been the mark of a transfer genius. 12 months on it looks like Rio is heading for early retirement.

I'd also like to underscore the point I made about me not being Fergie; If I was paid to do his job with his massive resources, then I'd hope to know about every up and coming top player - while accepting your point about obvious targets, no one is going to convince me that there isn't anyone available for the three positions mentioned.

Furthermore, I have growing concerns about Fergie's scouting network and his ability to judge young players. Take the case of Tosic and his former team-mate Adem Laljic; according to the press, Tosic is up for sale and of course United pulled out of the Laljic transfer (believe what you will about that sorry episode).

Regarding the players you've mentioned and some of the manager's recent buys, here's my assessment of them:

Anderson: signed for a lot of money and has failed to improve as was hoped and he can't dislodge either Carrick or Fletcher, both are not exactly world beaters - the point being, Anderson is third choice when it comes to United's best formation (442) in a two man central midfield.

Nani: Another expensive buy, but one who all too often fails to deliver - hence him being up for sale too...

Gibson: Looks slightly overweight and slow - despite his obvious goal-scoring ability, the pace of the game has moved on since the days of Jan Molby. Prediction: He will eventually (within 2 years) be sold just like many other former youngsters with promise...

Welbeck and Macheda: I have major doubts about Welbeck making it at any club in the Premier League, let alone United, he simply doesn't look good enough in any respect; IMO Fraizer Campbell is a better player.

Regarding Macheda, I had high hopes for him after he burst onto the scene, but now I'm really not sure; he looks a bit too slow, but technically I'd say he's a better footballer than Welbeck. My gut feeling is they will both be sold within two years.

As for the two da Silva brothers; these two have a chance, but Fabio won't get in ahead of Evra and you have to wonder why Fergie is messing about when electing to start with players like Brown and O'Shea ahead of Rafael (when he's been fit).

Regarding Possebon; if United really believed in him and with the current midfield options (lack of genuine star quality) then why did we let him go out on loan? So again, I see no future for him at Old Trafford.

In a nutshell, some observers have stated Fergie is creating a new team with the players' you've mentioned; I disagree, the manager is persevering with players who aren't quite good enough, with a view to probably selling them and so I see no nucleus of a new team.

As I stated in my post, without Rooney the current United team are very average and uninspiring.

Berbatov is a misfit who would not get into Chelsea's team.

Wherever you look in the current United squad, there are problems in all departments and added to which Fergie has been a great manager when he's been giving bucket loads of cash to spend, but now you wonder how good he actually is without much to spend (if the reports are true).

The current team is going nowhere fast and the last time they lost five league games before Christmas was in 01-02 when we finished third.

I'm really not sure what Fergie is playing at right now; are his hands being tied in the transfer market, or does he genuinely believe there's no value where potential new signings are concerned?

Please do come back and remind if I'm proven to be wrong....

5 comments:

  1. So you list basically that we need a player in attack, midfield, and defense. My question to you is who? I have thought about this a lot, especially after reading your constant criticism of the team. I would like to know who can we realistically get, at a decent price, who would contribute immediately to the team?

    I am not convinced that there are that many players that fit that bill.

    ReplyDelete
  2. 619,

    I'm not paid to do Fergie's job for him, obviously, but the manager missed the boat when not making any attempt to sign Lucio who was sold to Inter Milan for just 5 million Euros.

    Fergie could by his own admission, have signed Adebayor too.

    Central midfield is a real problem area and I'm really not sure who I'd have gone for, either in January or last summer.

    All I know is the current United are basically a one man team - take Rooney out and we are very average.

    In fact, I'd go as far as stating this is the most uninspiring United team that I've seen for a long time.

    This team is going nowhere fast and the squad needs urgent surgery, there's too many average players like Park and we are over reliant on veteran's like Giggs and Scholes.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Regarding the midfield option how about Miloš Krasić?

    ReplyDelete
  4. I hope you see what I am getting at. There are very few options that SAF has. First, only in hindsight can one criticize SAF for not signing Lucio. Mourinho did get a bargain. However, at that time, we had no need for another center back. Rio and Vidic were seemingly fit. Then we had Brown, Evans, and O'Shea, not to mention De Laet. Who could have known that 7 first team defenders would be injured at the same time? Then what happens that instead of everyone being injured, we have everyone fit? Lucio would seemingly be a waste of 5 million pounds because we would not have needed him. This I do not think can be held against SAF. If we get Evans fit, a pressing defensive purchase is unneeded.

    As to a striker, purchasing Adebayor would have been questionable. Furthermore, he has Welbeck and Macheda coming through, Josh King potentially could come through too.

    As to midfield, Krasic does present a decent option. He, however, is not eligible for the CL, but I do not think that should exclude him from contention. Yet, if he signs, where does that leave Anderson, Gibson, and even Nani (who I think we all know will not likely wear the shirt next year)?

    My problem with people calling for signing players or criticizing SAF is this, what is really available, especially now? A player must add something to be worth the wages he is paid, let alone the transfer fee. Once you find a player that can add to the team, the next question becomes, at what price? Is the purchase reasonable?

    My belief right now is that very few players, if any players exist, that answer yes to the questions above.

    Thus, I think that the best avenue is as follows. Let Anderson, Nani, Gibson, Welbeck, Macheda, Evans, Rafael, Fabio, Tosic, Possebon, Cleverly, and other similarly situated players, show that they are United caliber. We have a decent squad. Now the youngster need to come in and show can they reach the level necessary to perform in our team. It may turn out that we don't win anything this year, but we can see (even from the players out loan) that they are United material, will make it, and will help us move forward. In that case, one season without silverware, in return for many team come built on a team of homegrown talent is worth it in my book.

    Or the team will learn, the youngsters are not good enough, and will not move us forward, and we need to get rid of them and make purchases where we are lacking.

    If a player is purchased in the striker, midfield, and defensive position, insufficient minutes will exist for the players above to show case what they have to offer. Accordingly, I am not convinced that we absolutely need to sign more players.

    While I would not mind a big signing, I think that this season has a lot to offer in terms of learning if the current team is worthy to wear the jersey. Many can complain and forecast a number of things, but we are two points back. Chelsea does not look convincing, and we are just getting our spine fit. We can only improve.

    ReplyDelete
  5. 619,

    Check out the main story I've tagged my reply on the end of it because there appears to be some issues with the blogger platform today.

    ReplyDelete

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