Saturday, August 25, 2012

RVP and Kagawa add a touch of class but has Fergie done enough to win back the title?

The 2012-13 Premier League season is one week old and sadly, United are among those clubs with no points after deservedly losing on Monday night at Goodison Park. Marouane Fellaini was the man who did the damage with a well taken second-half header. The goal came from a set-piece and for some reason makeshift centre-half, Michael Carrick, was detailed to mark Fellaini - but the taller man got to the ball first and he gave De Gea no chance.

Fergie angered Evertonian's in his post-match interview when saying that "they lump the ball forward" - the blunt fact is, United couldn't deal with the tall Belgian midfielder, who was at the heart of most of Everton's attacks. United may well have dominated the possession stats, but it was the opposite story when it came to shots on goal. In contrast to United, Everton looked dangerous and the most likely to score throughout. In the end, Everton were good value for the victory and Ferguson's post-match comments sounded like sour grapes. Just like that disastrous and dramatic 4-4 draw at Old Trafford back in April - a result which indirectly led to City's league title triumph, United were found wanting when it came to defending.

Worryingly for United fans, the team looked short of ideas and lacked punch up front - despite the fact that Japanese star, Shinji Kagawa, started alongside Tom Cleverley and Paul Scholes in the engine room.

Aginst Everton, United were flat footed, short of ideas and lacked pace up front, the tempo was too slow. With new signing Robin Van Persie on then bench, Wayne Rooney started against his former club, but he looked as though he'd just walked off the beach following a long summer holiday and didn't look anywhere near match-fit. On too many ocassions, Rooney's first touch was that of a baby elephant. In fairness to Rooney - Danny Welbeck was no better. RVP, eventually came off the bench, but he had zero impact on the game - largely because the service to the Dutch striker was pretty much non existent.

It's also worth noting that Ferguson started with three players out of position: Carrick's deployment was enforced, but the decision to play Welbeck on the left and Valencia at right-back were of the manger's choice. Welbeck was totally ineffective on the left and his link-up play was a long way from even close to his best. Valencia isn't a right-back but Ferguson went for height instead of starting with Silva - but this decision meant United's most potent crossing threat was negated to defensive duties.
Ferguson and United fans can rightly point to injuries in defence, with Smalling, Jones and now Ferdinand all likely to be missing for several weeks, if not month's. In the wake of that hugely disappointing 'no show' at Everton, reports claim Evans might return soon to ease those defensive concerns, but having known about his many injury problems for a while - shouldn't the manager go out and sign another central defender while the transfer window is still open? The focus of concern among the fans this summer has been on central midfield - but now questions are being asked about defence and whether or not Ferguson will do anything to address them...

United have been strongly linked to Everton's, Leighton Baines - but the chances of that move coming off look remote following the Toffees decision to sell Jack Rodwell to Man City. Having sold Rodwell and having City's money in the bank, Moyes & Co can hang Fergie out to dry over any transfer fee for Baines...which surely makes the move less likely. It's worth asking, why Ferguson doesn't switch his attention to 'out of contract' Royston Drenthe? The former Feyenoord and Real Madrid defender can play anywhere on the left; but while there appears to be genunine concerns about his personality, there's no doubting Drenthe's ability.

Despite the addition of a play-maker in Kagawa - who looks very good - concerns about United's midfield persist. Scholes and Giggs are another year older and Cleverley's, albeit short career, has been seriously blighted by injuries - can Fergie really rely on him? Michael Carrick, isn't universally popular among the rank and file, but he's generally acknowledged to be the main cog in United's engine room. Having been at the club for five miserable years - Anderson is viewed as a player who has failed to live up to his hefty price tag and billing - it was widely reported the Brazilian would be sold this summer, but like Berbatov he remains at the club, at least for now. One is left to assume there has been no serious bidders for Anderson, but the exit door still beckons for Berbatov. To the surprise of some, Nani could yet be sold this summer after failing to agree personal terms on a new deal.

Many United supporters are still crying out for Ferguson to strengthen his squad with the addition of a world-class all round central midfield general, but it hasn't happened and Fergie says his transfer dealing is done for the summer.

United fans will be hoping Ferguson is bluffing, because if he isn't, and with Roberto Mancini looking set to strengthen what was already by far the strongest squad in the Premier League then surely, United will be looking to finish runner-up at best this season.

It is the considered view of this blogger that Ferguson hasn't done anywhere near enough to wrest control of the Premier League title from Man City. Unless, Fergie signs at least two quality players, United will do well to win a trophy, a cup is the best bet as things stand.

United take on Fulham on Saturday hoping to make up for the disappointment of Monday night. Surely, United cannot play as badly as they did against Everton?

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