Sunday, July 18, 2010

Evra and Vidic 'set for Madrid move': Now is the time for a tactical rethink...

According to the latest transfer speculation, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra could be joining Real Madrid. Mourinho has tried and failed to sign Ashley Cole, because Chelsea have blocked any move; would United do the same should Madrid come knocking for Evra and Vidic? The answer to that is probably not - certainly not in the case of Vidic who we are told wants away.

It might be a different case with Evra, but do not rule it out - not many players turn down the chance to play for Real Madrid. Evra like Vidic is a big fan's favourite, but everyone has their price and of course what the player wants is usually key.

Despite Ferguson's optimism about what lies ahead, the manager has a lot of problems to address with an ageing squad and serious concerns in just about every department.

You cannot build a house on unsound foundations and United's back-four has been the bedrock of successive United teams under Ferguson over the last two decades. However, with concerns about the future of Vidic, Ferdinand and now Evra, is now the time for the United manager to rethink his tactical plan in a bid to make the most from the players at his disposal?

There is a compelling argument for Ferguson to switch to a 3-5-2 formation. Assuming Ferguson will be without Vidic, Evra and Ferdinand (through injury) the manager doesn't have a proven reliable alternative centre-back pairing. Added to which the Da Silva brothers are more suited to attacking.

Given the options at Ferguson's disposal, playing three central defenders would give Ferguson more cover down the middle and at the same time the Brazilian fullbacks would augment United's porous midfield, it would also give the duo more licence to attack.

The problem is, new formations take time to perfect; the players need to understand their roles. Ferguson should be using this summer's tour to plan ahead for the coming season; even if Evra stays, there is a strong case for reverting to 3-5-2. There's the added bonus of being able to play with two strikers as well as five in midfield where Ferguson arguably has the most problems.


  1. I have read the source of this story and as far as The Evra rumour is concerned it is dependent on Madrid failing to sign Cashley, and past experience would suggest that once Real set their sights on a target they rarely fail to sign them. It also wouldn't be outside the realms of possibility that Evra's agent is using this situation to leverage a new deal for his client. However there is another rumour that we are interested in Lahm with Berbatov being used as some sort of make-weight in the deal. If this were the case i don't think i would be too disappointed. While Evra is undoubtedly a class player and in my view the best left back in world football over the last couple of seasons, there have been a few signs that he hasn't been at his best during the second half of last season and his World Cup performances didn't inspire much confidence. Given that Lahm is just reaching his prime and is coming off a very impressive season with Bayern and World Cup, he would be a more than able replacement, also with the ability to play either full back position as well.

    Now the Vidic part of the rumour, just seems to be a done deal for me. I felt from near the end of last summer and the start of last season that Vidic would be going this summer. My reasoning for this are the stories in the press, which are too long running and persistent to be just the usual case of an agent angling for a better deal. If and when Vidic does go to Madrid i do hope we get more than £18 million for him, £25 - £30 million would seem a much fairer valuation for one of the best centre backs in the world.

    Your 3 5 2 theory is interesting but how do we make this work if Vidic goes we would only have 4 centre backs, Ferdinand, Evans, Brown and Smalling. If we were to make this work we would them need at least 2 more CB's given that Smalling is still an unproven quantity and Brown's injury history. I can understand your reasoning for the formation change to accommodate the twins but i think Rafael showed signs of developing more physically last season and would be more than capable of being an attacking full back. Also Fabio has yet to establish himself in the first team to warrant an entire change of system to accommodate him. I would guess however that Fergie will stick with 4 at the back, by simply bringing in a like for like replacement for Vidic, at the minute it seems most likely to be Chiellini, with Evans, Brown and Smalling as back up.

  2. Graham,

    IMO, there's more chance of United signing Billy Graham in ref to Lahm coming to United now or at any time in the new future. Germans rarely feel the need to come play in England and I seriously do not expect it happen in this case. Berbatov being sold is another thing entirely... that could happen.

    In ref Real always getting their man; where United are concerned it is very true - we have become their feeder club - and yet Arsenal and Chelsea are currently seemingly turning down the advances of the big Spanish two.... go figure...

    I totally agree with you on your points about the fee for Vidic. But IMO he will soon be history.

    You are right about the need to bring in new centre backs - I reckon we need two not one, but my reasoning is based on the players at Fergie's disposal right now; again this is just my opinion but this new formation is best suited to those who are currently at the club.

    Fergie is no great tactician sadly and he shouldn't be wasting this summer using the same old tired tactics. He should be using this valuable time to try something new that might make the difference next season.

    United could start to try to emulate Barca's ball retention game by flooding midfield with players who can actually retain the ball with the da Silva brothers helping in this respect.

    Ferguson needs to pull his finger out and get that central defender too because you are right about the need to strengthen, but three can be better than two in this instance IMO.

    IF Fergie goes out and signs the players we need then 4-4-2 is great, the problem is I do not see Chiellini or anyone else coming...

  3. I don't think it's beyond the realms of possibility that we sign Lahm, although i do agree that it does seem unlikely. If Evra were to leave he would be top of my wishlist of replacements although i'm not sure we have the money to buy him or he would be willing to come.

    I don't agree with your pessimism about being a feeder club. The reason this appears to be the case is that the players leaving us are all foreign players with no real allegiance to United, just look at Scholes and Giggs, the likes of Madrid would love to have taken them from us but they just wouldn't have went, Beckham only went because Fergie wanted to sell him, he has stated that he will always be a utd fan and never wanted to leave. The other players that have left: Ronaldo said several times that it was his dream, Ruud had fallen out with Fergie and now Vidic seems to be unsettled as i think he and his wife just plainly don't like the lifestyle they have in England, with the weather etc.

    Although another summer with very little big money transfer activity does leave Fergie and Gills' insistence that we have the money to spend seem rather hollow. As this summer we clearly have a couple of holes to fill in the squad and all we keep doing is picking up young players with potential rather than buying one or two proven talents.

    I don't think Arsenal and Chelsea are fending off the interest of the big two. This is just posturing for the fans to show that they are doing everything to keep these players. There is very little chance that Arsenal will be able to fend off Barca's interest in Fabregas and if Madrid are genuinely interested in Cole they will get him, don't worry about that.

    I honestly don't see anything wrong with our tactics, just the personnel. I would agree that Fergie isn't a great tactician but he is no idiot either, he has adapted our system over the years, in the 90's we were always a simple 4 4 2 with 2 out and out wingers, but we have adapted to play 3 in the middle for a number of years now especially in big premier league and champions league games. In my opinion the problems last year weren't in the formation but in the need for someone to play just behind Rooney and link up play and pick killer passes. That was meant to be Berbatov but he just didn't show up for the most part last year and i'm not too excited about how he played in a pre-season friendly. Maybe he gets a good pre-season and gets some confidence, because he has talent but last season i thought he looked petrified to be playing for us at times.

  4. Graham,

    I agree with most of that, especially about the foreign players who've left us to join Real Madrid.

    I will disagree with you about Beckham though, he worked his ticket and wanted out, but it suited both parties. I can also tell you that prior to him being sold United sent their then top PR man to meet with elements of the 'hardcore' local fans to sound them out regarding whether or not selling Beckham would create a backlash - but by that time the fans' were sick and tired of Beckham's antics and so they weren't bothered about losing him and that message was conveyed back to the big-wigs.

    Loyalty to one club is pretty much a thing of the past, but you are totally correct about Giggs and Scholes - it is a rarity these days but lets us not forget it works both ways...

    Personally, I think Vidic is the biggest **** of them all, because it has been suggested he refused to play on a least one occasion last season. None of the others who left to join Madrid ever did that and neither did Tevez - who the fans' turned against.
    On the wider point about new players; I wouldn't sign any Latino types because they will almost certainly be more likely to want to play for Madrid - it is a question of when and not if.

    Regarding, Arsenal and Chelsea you could be right, but Wenger is a very influential man at the Emirates and I wouldn't be at all surprised if Fabregas stays. As for Cole let’s see what happens...

    As for our tactics, here again you are sort of right and as I stated there’s nothing wrong with 4-4-2 or even 4-5-1 providing we have the players... but I’m not confident about playing Smalling and Evans (or Brown), which is why I’m advocating a change of system.

    I totally agree about the need to bring in a long-term replacement for Scholes. Fergie missed the opportunity to snatch Sneijder for just 15m Euros last summer. He also missed out on Lucio who went for just 5million Euros.

    The way things are I can see United really struggling to finish in the top three. We went backwards last season and I think we will go even further backwards this coming season – I don’t see Rooney getting anywhere near the goals he scored...

    It will be an interesting ride.


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