Friday, November 04, 2011

Post 6-1: Fergie facing biggest challenge of his 25 years at United.....

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Every football pundit in the land might well be talking about Fergie's glorious 25 years in charge of the champions, but for many of the followers of United and especially City, the events of the most recent Manchester derby are still reverberating around the city and its suburbs.

United fans wanted to move on as quickly as possible and they also quite rightly expected the right response from the team and the manager; well that response hasn't exactly instilled a great deal of confidence going forward. United might well have won three out of three, but much of the football against Everton and Galati left an awful lot to be desired and that is putting it mildly. There was no way United were going to come unstuck against plucky Aldershot in the Carling Cup, not with the team that Fergie started with.

In the immediate aftermath of the derby, this blog suggested that Fergie might eventually abandon the club's attacking traditions and revert to a 4-3-3 formation. We still think that might happen - that could well turn out to be one of the consequences of such a heavy defeat and of course it was against the worst of all opponents.

While United fans find it difficult to give City any credit for their success on the pitch - largely because their club is nothing more than a 'rich man's play-thing' - we have to acknowledge that Mancini has bought some fine players, none better than David Silva who many expect to win a clutch of awards this season. United fans might even ask why was it that Fergie didn't make a move for the brilliant Spaniard? Only Fergie can answer that question.

United quite obviously are lacking genuine star quality in central midfield, save for the fast emerging Tom Cleverley, but alas he's been injured for much of the season and so it came as no great surprise to see Wayne Rooney being asked to drop back into the engine room in the last two games.

Rooney was one of the few who could hold his head up to some degree after the derby, because at least he tried, but it wasn't an error free performance by the England striker, far from it.

Last weekend United travelled to Goodison Park and Rooney was asked to play in midfield alongside Cleverley, Fletcher and Park. United won thanks to a first-half goal by Hernandez, but the performance was disjointed and the champions attacking play wasn't what we have come to expect.

The team that started at Goodison Park and the performance that followed raised a couple of important questions; firstly, did Ferie ask Rooney to play in midfield because of the events of the weekend before? Was this the first real signs of a major tactical change with no genuine winger in the starting eleven?

Then in midweek in the Champions League, Rooney was once again asked to play in central midfield against Galati and he had a very good game. United won again, this time by the margin of two-nil, but the second goal took a horrible deflection and being honest the Romanian champions didn't deserve that slice of bad luck. In his post-match interview, Ferguson was asked if Rooney's immediate future could lie in central midfield. The United manager insisted that Rooney was only playing in midfield because he was short of numbers. Well, we are not going to call Fergie a liar, but he has been known to spin the odd yarn to the media over so called injuries to his players. Ryan Giggs is supposedly injured, but he hasn't kicked a ball in anger for the first-team proper since he jumped out of the way of that Gerrard free-kick at Anfield. And Carrick, we are told, is injured again...

Whatever the truth behind these 'injuries', the decision to play Rooney in midfield has only served to highlight what millions of United fans have been saying for at least three years that is we need to add more genuine quality in midfield.

While we don't want to keep on harping on about the derby, United have been far too open this season at Old Trafford and Mancini knew that his players would get their chances providing City didn't concede in the first-half and then those chances would surely follow and so they did.

Mancini is no stranger to criticism, he was labeled as 'too defensive' not so long ago, but it sure looks like he's found the right blend now. City are rock solid in defence and they have genuine class up front and with Silva pulling the strings, they could go a long way on all fronts this season.

Even if Fergie wanted to he couldn't ape the City system and why is that you might well ask? The answer is simple: He doesn't have the players. Of course Fergie could try to copy the City system, but it wouldn't work nearly as well, because he doesn't have a genuine defensive midfield player (City have at least two, if not three) also quite obviously and perhaps most importantly, Fergie doesn't have a David Silva.

Despite what Fergie says about Rooney's role - don't be surprised if his future is in central midfield. We think that everything is in a state of flux following the derby; Rio Ferdinand is seemingly on borrowed time - which comes as no great surprise, Berbatov is little more than a spectator these days, as is Michael Owen and a host of other players including Gibson and Diouf.

Fergie is facing up to the biggest challenge of his brilliant United career, yes knocking Liverpool of that fu**ingdiehard red will find very hard to stomach and only one man can stop it from happening. Fergie, Fergie, sort it out.

United take on Sunderland at Old Trafford tomorrow. Nothing less than three points is expected.

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