Monday, November 15, 2010

United must improve wing-play if they are to turn draws into wins...

United by common consent had the better of the Manchester derby last week, but neither camp could, with any justification, claim that they should have won. It was a game of few chances, but it could have been oh so different if Carlos Tevez hadn't turned down Rio Ferdinand's invitation to shoot in the opening minutes of what turned out to be one of the most uneventful derby's for many a season. The end result was fair one, a 0-0 bore draw - though truth be told, it wasn't quite as boring as the media have been making out, because like any local derby there was a lot of tension on the night.

Edwin van der Sar was forced into the only real save of the night from a Tevez free-kick, but apart from that, neither 'keeper was made to earn their wages. In the wake of the derby result and several poor results and another draw at the weekend with Blackburn, Roberto Mancini has been on the receiving end of much finger pointing. Let us hope City start firing and hiring as only they can, the seemingly ever revolving exit door beckons for the current incumbent and long may it continue spinning...

As far as United are concerned, the Red Devils managed to somehow comeback from being 2-0 down at Villa Park on Saturday to come away with a 2-2 draw - a result that looked unlikely for much of the second-half in which Villa deservedly scored twice. In point of fact United, were lucky not to be dead and buried in the opening 30 minutes of the second period in which the home team hit the woodwork twice before they eventually scored from the penalty spot through Ashley Young.

Four minutes later and it was Villa's tormentor-in-chief, Albrighton, who doubled Villa's advantage after United were hit on the counter-attack following some sloppy play by substitute Kiko Macheda; the Italian gave the ball away cheaply deep in the Villa half, the home team broke quickly and punished United. It was worth noting that Patrice Evra was guilty of ball-watching when the cross came in from the left; the Frenchman should have done a lot better and you can be assured Ferguson will be having words with his left-back.

Likewise, Ferguson will have expected Nemja Vidic to have done better when chasing down Agbonlahor in the build-up to the penalty which led to the opening goal. At that point Villa were all over United like a rash, but it was in no small part down to United defending poorly again, as we have done too often in the current campaign - but unlike many of the drawn games this season, on Saturday, the team simply did not perform in the engine room or up front. Against Villa, United were quite simply collectively dreadful for long periods of the game.

United only really started to play once Villa had gone two-nil up. United had to thank Macheda and Vidic for producing two moments of magic, but Fletcher and Nani played their part in the build-up to both goals.

When United are playing really well the chances usually follow, and more often than not it's crosses from wide positions which often lead to those vital goal-scoring opportunities. Against Villa we saw Nani produce one such cross from which Vidic scored a majestic headed equaliser; another excellent first-half cross was spurned when neither Hernandez, or the once again out-of-sorts looking Berbatov failed to move quickly enough.

Apart from giving the ball away cheaply on far too many occasions, United are not getting behind opposing defences and pulling the ball from dangerous positions, as we have done for much of Ferguson's reign as manager; it is why United are not creating chances.

United might well be unbeaten but the team has, to a degree, been getting away with it, and so for anyone looking for reasons why United are drawing so many games and asking why the Red Devils are not creating chances in front of goal, the answer can be found out on the flanks where United are traditionally so strong.

The quality of the cross is of course all important, and at present, only Nani seems capable of unlocking the door: Park doesn't use the ball well and Bebe is raw, untrusted and inexperienced; Giggs has been out injured and of course Valencia will be out until February at the earliest.

It is turning into something of a topsy-turvy season, with the likes of unfancied Newcastle and Sunderland winning away at Arsenal and Chelsea respectively recently. United are still in with a shout of winning some silverware, but even the most die-hard Red must surely agree that winning the Champions League is looking highly unlikely - realistically, the winning the FA Cup and or the Carling Cup looks like the Reds best bet; but if we are to achieve those domestic goals, United need to improve and quickly.


  1. Dear me you are getting quite negative.

    They have not lost yet! Yes they were fortunate a couple of games. BUT when you consider who is injured/sick or absent through greed and think of the possibilities when they return the thought that they could win more than you suggest is there.

    Personally I believe that Hargreaves will come back and prove all doubters wrong. The young players have proved there are some excellent qualities there and all it needs is getting the right balance.

    Come on now. get behind them and they will surprise even you.


  2. Cash Strapped,

    I doubt Hargreaves will come back and clearly I have less confidence in the current squad than yourself, but I'd like nothing better than to be proved wrong. With that stated, I believe that I have highlighted where United are going wrong at present.

  3. We aren't playing like champions, but in all honesty, who has? Chelsea looked like a Championship side this weekend, Citeh are a joke and even the most faithful Gunner will be fairly skeptical about their title chances- they always screw up come January, don't they?

    There are problems aplenty- our midfield is in shambles, we were played off the park by a second-string Villa and we seem to be perennially stuck in second gear. That said, if we can somehow find some semblance of form, number 19 is there to be won.

  4. Dela,

    When you read back your comments I think it's worth reflecting on your words because you've pretty much summed it up. Personally, I don't think the current squad is capable of taking us any further and yes, I'm referring mainly to the midfield.

    The only hope is that Fergie spends some money and finds the right players who will take us forward, but here again I have my doubts because there's been too many missed opportunities: I refer to Snjeider, Ozil and Raphael van der Vaart - all three were available for a snip and Fergie's failure to make a decisive move for either is unforgiveable IMO, given our reliance on veterans like Scholes and to a lesser extent Giggs.


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