Tuesday, September 28, 2010

United must learn to keep the ball or they will pay the price ...

On Wednesday night Manchester United take on Valencia in the Mestalla in the Champions League. Having drawn with Rangers in the opening group game, it is vital the Red Devils come away from Spain with at least a point.

After sustaining an ankle injury in the weekend draw with Bolton, Wayne Rooney has been omitted from the United squad. In Sunday's post-match interview, Mike Phelan suggested Rooney would travel to Spain and that his injury wasn't anything to worry about. However, in the wake of Rooney's omission from the United squad, reports claim Ferguson has been thinking about resting the player following a run of poor form in which Rooney hasn't scored from open play since March. Matters have not been helped by allegations about Rooney's private life. There's no doubting United need Rooney, after all, he was last season's top goal-scorer, but so far this season he has been a shadow of the player he's been since he arrived at the club.

United have been shipping goals this season, much of the blame has been attributed to poor defending. Good teams defend from front to back and in this respect opponents have found it too easy to get at the heart of United's defence.

While defending as a team is very important, if United are to get anything from Wednesday's clash with top of the table Valencia, equally as important is the need to retain possession. After a bright opening ten minutes in the Rome final two years ago, United's midfield were totally out-played by Barcelona.

Players like Darren Fletcher and Ji-Sung Park - who lose possession cheaply too often - have to learn to do better.

If you keep on giving the ball back to your opponents you will eventually pay the price as happened against Barcelona. Ironically, many United fans believe Fletcher's absence due to suspension from the Rome final, was in point of fact a major factor in that defeat.

United's Champions League campaign hasn't really started yet and given the way the team is playing at present, it would come as no surprise if Valencia go on to win on Wednesday.

Against Bolton last weekend, United had to rely on the brilliance of Nani and an unlikely headed goal from Michael Owen to rescue a point. United didn't create enough clear cut goal scoring opportunities against Bolton.

It is to be hoped Berbatov and Nani take any goal scoring opportunities that come their way against Valencia, because right now, it appears that the strikers needs to score three goals to seemingly have any hope of winning given the goals United are conceding.

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