Thursday, December 01, 2011

Another "wake-up call" for Fergie, as Palace dump sorry Reds out of Carling Cup...

Crystal Palace deservedly dumped Manchester United out of the Carling Cup at Old Trafford last night. The performance and the result was hugely disappointing from a Red perspective and for the second time in recent weeks Ferguson was left apologising to the fans.

The United manager described last month's 6-1 derby thrashing as a "wake-up call". Following the Palace defeat last night, Ferguson didn't mince his words, he simply apologised to the fans when saying "that wasn't a Manchester United performance". There was a hint of "...this is the first time this happened this season" in the manager's tone. We know what the manager meant alright, but sadly, many will beg to differ, because frankly, United have been awful since the derby.

On an individual and collective level, last night's performance was so poor - it barely merits space on this page. But all credit to Crystal Palace who were the better team. United can complain about the manner of the winning goal, but the mid-table Championship club were good value for the victory.

The truth is, there has been too many performances that have fallen way below the expectations of the fans this season; but by and large United have been getting away with it because the team has been winning. Nonetheless, it doesn't alter the fact that the punters are less than happy with much of the fare being served up by the manager and his players.

There's nothing particularly new about domestic cup home defeats; York City won 3-0 at Old Trafford in '95-'96 and of course Leeds embarrassed the champions in the FA Cup two years ago. Such defeats are never forgotten, but they are seen for what they usually are - nothing more than a blip in the big scheme of things.

Worryingly, this loss of form and attacking confidence appears to be much more than a blip, because United have started to struggle at home at Old Trafford and that is a danger sign for any team with serious trophy winning aspirations.

It was only a week ago that Ferguson attempted to brazenly laugh off suggestions from the media that United are struggling in Europe. The fact is, Fergie can laugh as much as he likes, but Basel could quite easily wipe that smile off his face when the two sides meet in the final Group C game which could see United being eliminated from the Champions League.

United are struggling, everyone, and most of all Ferguson knows it. The big question is, what if anything in the short-term can be done to address the problems?

Those hoping that Ferguson will address his central midfield problems in January, are likely to be disappointed, because according to Ferguson, no one of the desired quality is available.

The first part of that problem is identifying your targets; is it fair to ask if David Silva was ever on Fergie's radar? United have been too busy chasing the likes of Sneijder, when we know, at least one potential target most definitely was available, but the manager stands charged of not even trying to sign a player who has lit up the Premier League this season.

The serious issues in central midfield were first exposed by Barcelona in Rome two years ago in that one-sided Champions League final. We saw a repeat of that dispiriting performance by United in last year's final when Barcelona easily cantered to victory. Since then Ferguson has done precious little to address the midfield problems, apart from complain about the "lack of value in the market".

It's one thing losing to the best team on the planet, quite another seeing United humiliated at home by the likes of City and then losing to lower division clubs. United are not playing well in the bread and butter games - and that should be a big concern for everyone connected with the club.

United have stagnated and the manager's buying has been mixed. There has been some unqualified success stories, like Javier Hernandez, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, but there has been other less successful deals.

Perhaps Ferguson needs more help from his assistants when it comes to buying, scouting and tactics, and on this note, some fans are asking if the manager has surrounded himself with too many 'yes men'. Only time will tell what the future holds. But for now, United look beatable at Old Trafford and the word has gone out. The way the team is playing, Palace won't be the last opposing team to win on the champions turf.

2 comments:

  1. Take it easy. Be positive. There are rough patches along the way. Carling Cup, i am glad it's over. See Lucas,he's gone for the season. He's been the outstanding player for Liverpool so far. As soon as we get Cleverly back we'll be fine.

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  2. There are rough patches along the way. I too am glad Palace knocked us out - they spared us another embarrassing thrashing.

    Not concerned with Lucas. As for Cleverley, sadly, he appears to be prone to injury, therefore can we really rely on him at all?

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