Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fergie facing huge striker dilemma .....

In the aftermath of what turned out to be an Anfield horror show on Saturday by the Red Devils, Fergie hinted that he was a little bit perplexed as to why new signing Dimitar Berbatov didn't build on this excellent contribution which led to United taking the lead in the opening minutes of a pulsating clash.

It would be wrong to blame the defeat on United's new striker, but like the rest of the team he was hussled out of it by the Liverpool players. Fergie also made the point that the referee Howard Webb appeared to be affected by the Anfield crowd; the United manager has always held the view that match officials are all too often swayed by the home supporters.

There is an element of truth in what Fergie says because down the years and despite gaining the upper hand on Liverpool, the Reds have been up against the ref and the home crowd. On the flip side, visiting supporters and managers will no doubt say the same about teams coming to play at Old Trafford.

Carping aside, Fergie did admit that his team were very much second best on the day and it was a very uncharacteristic performance by the Champions.

On reflection the United manager may well take the view that international matches and travelling may have taken their toll on the players. The Reds were also affected by the loss of Michael Carrick at half-time through injury.

Whatever the truth behind United's poor Anfield performance, there is no time for moping as Villarreal visit Old Trafford on Wednesday in the Champions League. Fergie has confirmed that he has a full squad to choose from and he has much to consider selection wise.

Vidic was sent-off at Anfield for two yellow card offences and misses next weekend's huge clash with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, the Blues will want to make amends for losing in the Champions League final and if they win the Champions will be nine points adrift. If that scenario comes to being then it will not be the end of the world, but United will know that they cannot afford to drop many more points given how Chelsea have started the season.

Ahead of the Villarreal and Chelsea games, Fergie will have to decide who comes in to replace suspended Vidic. Brown could move to the centre of defence, but the situation is quite complex as despite recovering from injury Gary Neville hasn't been able to win back his regular place in the side.

My gut feeling is that the manager has reservations about Neville, who looks to have lost a yard of pace, which is understandable given his lengthy lay-off and coupled with his age. The manager may well opt to bring in Jonny Evans, as a straight swap for Vidic, this will effectively result in one defensive change and not two. Brown is also a bit too similar to Rio, in that they both prefer to intercept rather than be aggressive central defenders like Vidic. The big question is who will mark Drogba?

Ronaldo is fit and ready to play again and Fergie has hinted that he will only be a substitute at Chelsea. Prior to the match with Liverpool and despite having seven subs on the bench the United manager hinted that he is still finding it difficult to know who to leave out.

Set against the the Reds poor Anfield performance it begs the question; will Fergie leave out Ronaldo as a matter of convenience given that he faces benching either Tevez, Rooney or Berbatov? The latter is almost certainly untouchable being the new boy. The most likely scenario is that Tevez will be the odd man out, be it against Chelsea or whenever Fergie starts with Ronaldo again.

Given his performances so far for United, it would be totally unfair to drop Tevez who has been the Reds star performer thus far this season, so that means Ferguson is facing the very real prospect of having to drop Rooney - but that is unlikely to happen. Leaving out Tevez, could come at a price, the danger is the manager will upset the player and worst case that could eventually lead to an exit.

Fergie has also managed to tie-himself in knots over his public declaration that Rooney needs to stay up front. Given that the club knew all along that they were going to sign Berbatov, it does make you wonder about Fergie's wisdom going public about Rooney's future role. There is another option for the United manager which is to play Rooney in midfield alongside Hargreaves, Anderson and or Scholes.

Scholes, by his standards, had a very poor game at Anfield and at the age of 34 it remains to be seen how much longer he can be accommodated in a three man midfield.
Rooney has the legs, passing skills and vision to play anywhere in midfield and what's more he can tackle better than Scholes (who can't? :0)).

Possible future answer to Fergie's selection dilemma:


++++++++++++++++Brown.....Vidic (Evans)......Rio....Evra

+++++++++++++Hargreaves(or Carrick)......Anderson (or Giggs)

+++++++++++++++++++++++ Rooney(or Scholes)

+++++++++++Ronaldo (or Park)....................Tevez (Nani or Rooney)



  1. I think the biggest decision Fergie has to make is dropping Van Der Sar. Twice this season now he has cost us goals and we have only played 3 games. It's definately time to give Ben Foster his chance.

  2. EVDS has much more experience than Foster, putting him in now might be too much for him, but as we have seen before if the number one 'keeper keeps on ******* up, Fergie will axe him like he did with "Dracula" all those years ago when he brought in Les "the cat" Sealey for the 1990 FA Cup final replay.

    The 'keeper situation is a worry, but for me the bigger concern is how to fit in Ronaldo, Tevez, Rooney and Berbatov.


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