Thursday, February 24, 2011

It's another midfield horror show as Smalling and Vidic star in Marseille stalemate..

United were in action last night in the Stade de Velodrome, where they faced Marseille in the first leg of the Champions League group of 16. It was a very dull game with few chances created by either team as a result it finished up 0-0.

Even the most ardent fans would find it difficult to convince you that either of the two teams who were in action last night will progress much further in this competition.

Marseille were every bit as poor as United when it came to creativity. As far as United are concerned, midfield is the problem area and against Marseille, Carrick, Fletcher and Gibson were simply not good enough.

On too many occasions Carrick gave the ball away and cheaply; at times his passing was dreadful. Gibson wasn't quite as wasteful, but he simply wasn't in the game. Fletcher was marginally the better of the three, but his touch often let's him down when it really matters - though to be fair, at least he had a shot on target.

Paul Scholes entered the action on 72 minutes when he predictably replaced Gibson, and within 10 minutes of entering the action he'd had more touches of the ball than the player he'd just replaced. Scholes is still head and shoulders above Fletcher, Carrick, Gibson and Anderson; United are to put it bluntly, rank bad in midfield and have been when the team has been playing away from Old Trafford pretty much all season.

Ferguson recently stated that Berbatov and Rooney needed to improve when playing away from Old Trafford - that might be true - but the fact is United are not creating enough goal scoring opportunities when playing away and for that we have to blame the midfield and wide players; Berbatov, Rooney and Hernandez are only as good as the service provided and against Marseille the United strikers were given scraps to feed on. Everyone in football knows that United have big problems in the engine room and so the manager's comments about his strikers didn't really get to the heart of the real issue.

The fact that United have remained unbeaten for so long this season raises questions about the quality of the Premier League, but it's true to state that the league leaders have performed well at Old Trafford and the defence has been mostly very good both home and away.

Against Marseille, Nani was guilty of taking the wrong option on several occasions in the final third - which can be infuriating for all concerned - but at least the Portguese winger has improved his game over the last 18 months.

As United have found to their cost down the years a goalless away draw in the Champions League isn't a great result and Marseille will definitely fancy their chances in the return leg at Old Trafford.

If there was a positive to come out of last night it was the performance of the United back-four and in particular, that of Chris Smalling who was superb alongside Vidic.

Smalling has been so good, that the injury to Ferdinand could now be looked upon as something of a blessing because it has given the former none-league defender time to settle in. However, United cannot hope to go much further in the Champions League when relying on the defence alone; clearly, there are major problems in central midfield and Ferguson will only be able to address them in the next transfer window when hopefully he will sign Luka Modric from Spurs.

1 comment:

  1. I agree a very bad display from ehat has the potential to be the best midfield in the world
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