Sunday, September 30, 2007

ANALYSIS: United win 1-0 again, but they aren't convincing...

Birmingham City became the latest victims of another one-nil-defeat to the champions on Saturday night as United leap-frogged neighbours Man City who'd gone second in the table behind Arsenal earlier on in the day. Ronaldo sealed the victory after pouncing on a defensive mistake midway through the second period. In truth, a draw would have been a fair result.

After the game former United hero and now Birmingham boss Steve Bruce said that his team would never have a better chance of beating the Reds, and he was right too because his team were the better side when it came to creating chances.

The home team pressed United into making mistakes of which there was quite a few. The normally reliable Scholes, Evra and Ferdinand were giving the ball away in dangerous areas of the pitch and that put the Reds onto the back foot. Ferdinand made up for his errors by making one first-half goal-line clearance. United lost Edwin van der Sar through what looked like a foot injury, his replacement Kuszczak had to make one fine save at his near post from Ferdinand's deflected header.

Meanwhile at the other end, the travelling Red Army had little to shout about as Rooney, Tevez and Ronaldo weren't in the game. Much will be made of United's one-nil victories this season, because it is very unlike the Reds.

Normally the Reds can be relied upon to entertain and attack teams both home and away, but it isn't happening right now and if United have ambitions of winning anything this season they are going to need to improve massively on what we've seen so far because as a team and on an individual level it isn't happening.

So why haven't United started the season well? For starters key players were missing early doors due to injuries and suspensions. The absence of Rooney and Ronaldo haven't helped and now Hargreaves is missing and in my opinion we need him in the side every week as it gives Fergie more attacking options.

As we have already seen this season Fergie has started some league games with Carrick on the bench when Hargreaves has been available. The reason for this is quite simple. The former Bayern star has a fantastic engine, he must cover the combined ground of Carrick and Scholes, not only that but he tackles better than them both too. Hargreaves is the real thing when it comes to central midfielder players.

Against Birmingham Scholes was playing too deep for much of the game and he needs to be receiving the ball higher up the pitch. Scholes hasn't been helped much of late by the hapless Ryan Giggs who for the second game in a row gave the ball away virtually every time he touched it. For some reason the Welshman isn't looking where he's passing the ball at present. Granted Giggs did supply the cross for Tevez to open the scoring against Chelsea last week, but he did precious little else that was positive against the former champions. Against Birmingham Giggs was nothing short of embarrassing and by giving the ball away constantly this broke up United's flow going forward.

There is other issues which need to be addressed. The Reds are too narrow at present, we have no width especially on the left. If Giggs is going to be played at all, he needs to be used wide left and if it isn't going to be the Welshman, then it needs to be Nani. On the opposite flank Ronaldo is coming inside too much, he also needs to keep the opposition stretched.

It is still very early days for the Tevez, Rooney partnership, but at present they aren't making enough intelligent runs off the ball. Here again United are too narrow for much of the time and this is why they are playing too many tippy-tappy short passes in confined spaces.

It isn't that Tevez and Rooney are static, it's more complicated than that, they are trying their collective socks off, but so far we've seen little evidence of the near telepathic understanding that makes for really good strike partnerships.

Currently Rooney and Tevez are playing as two individuals and they are not working as a pair. If the Reds do not improve up front, Fergie might well soon decide to bring in Saha who gives the Reds more options with his height and speed. Tevez or Rooney could then drift out wide left and cut-in from the flank, so far the manager has not tried this option, largely due to the problems already mentioned.

Fergie has the players, what he needs to do now is get Hargreaves fit and then start fine-tuning.

Roma are next and they are currently by all accounts the best team in Italy, another 7-1 win would do nicely, but this Red will settle for another 1-0.


  1. Roma just got hammered at home 4-1 by inter. They aren't the best team atm.

    And they drew 2-2 with Juve.

  2. That's a fair comment. Let's hope United do the business against Roma. I was going off Gabriel Marcotti's comments about them being the best side, but I don't follow results in Italy.

  3. Giggs seems past his best, or at least for the moment. It is atrocious how we have spent so much on attackers and have not managed goals the way Liverpool (regardless of recent 1-0 victories) and Arsenal have. We have not gotten into our fluid play, and the later we begin, the worse off we might be when we actually do become the 'real' Manchester United. At present, this 'Manchester United' seems far from challenging a Champions League or Premier League championship.

  4. This is the most intelligent analysis of Man. Utd's problems.
    You are the only one among the many analyses that I have read that have identified the major problem.....Ryan Giggs and to a leser extent Paul Scholes.
    Manyoo is not only playing with 10 men when Giggs is on the pitch but he gives them 12 opposing players with the way he gives away the ball and misses chances. I know he WAS once a very great player but so was Sir Bobby Charlton, that does not give him the right to be on the first team NOW.
    Paul Scholes has lost it, when last have you seen him make a great pass? Most of his passes today are backwards and sideways and he is always playing so deep back that it often appears that we have no midfield.Tevez and Rooney have to keep dropping back to collect the ball themselves or they have to run after the long ball from one of the back four.
    Giggs and Scholes should be left on the bench.Scholes also undermines carrick,s confidence , he always seem to defer to Scholes. The best midfield is Carrick and Hargreaves, with Nani replacing Giggs.
    All the English supporeters are giving Tevez stick and supporting Giggs. Anyone can see Tevez oozes class, and is one of the hardest workers on the team, he will be great once he gets the support up front. He was the best player on the field against Birmingham.
    Fergie has to wake up. Bench Giggs and Scholes, and he beter find a right back because I think Neville is also going the same way as the other two...Passe'

  5. Scholes has been largely poor this season and there's no getting away from that, but to compare him to Giggs yesterday is harsh because he was appalling really. Regarding our best midfield, I'm sure that if the Reds early season poor form continues for much longer Fergie will try Hargreaves and Carrick together.


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