Sunday, October 03, 2010

United slump in serious danger of turning into a slide if unchecked...

United were in action at the Stadium of Light yesterday, it finished up 0-0; it's the fourth away draw on the spin in the Premier League this season and it simply isn't good enough for any team with serious title winning ambitions.

The harsh truth is, for the second weekend in a row United were extremely fortunate to come away with a point. Last weekend Bolton's Elmander should have ensured victory for his club, but thankfully, he shot tamely at Edwin van der Sar, that was when the score was 2-1 to the Trotters. In the end United somehow salvaged a point at the Reebok. Yesterday against Sunderland, after pulling off an unlikely away win against win Valencia on Tuesday in the Champions League, United's performance was in many ways much worse than the previous weekend.

By the time the referee blew the whistle for half-time, Sunderland should have been at least two-nil up: That fact that Steve Bruce's side went into the dressing room on level terms was down to a combination of bad luck and some dogged defending by United's defence who actually performed well on the day.

Up front and especially in midfield it was an altogether different story. Putting it bluntly, United's midfield was pretty much none existent when it came to creativity and that's despite the fact that Paul Scholes was restored to the starting eleven.

United barely created anything of note in terms of goal scoring opportunities. It was quite simply a dreadful performance and so no wonder Ferguson said after the game that he was satisfied with a point. At this rate Ferguson must surely be running out of get out of jail cards.

The worry is, against Sunderland Ferguson had started with his first choice centre midfield pairing. But, up front the manager elected to leave out the player of the season so far, Berbatov. It was a strange decision, but one that United fans have become used to down the years. The exclusion of Rooney was of course expected. Rooney isn't playing well and despite the player declaring himself fit to play this weekend, he is no great loss at present.

In contrast, Nani played extremely well against Bolton and Valencia in midweek. However, yesterday there was no balance on the left, at times in the first-half Michael Owen drifted out on the left flank, but to no great effect. Anderson, was frankly a complete and utter waste of space and did nothing worthy of praise in the whole 90 minutes.

The partnership of Owen and Macheda up front simply did not work and so it came as no surprise that Berbatov replaced the former Newcastle striker at half-time. United fans and indeed the player himself might have reasonably expected Hernandez to start following his heroics in midweek against Valencia, but Ferguson is a very fair manager when it comes to giving everyone a chance. The Mexican's name is at the bottom of the established pecking order and that's why Ferguson chose to start with Owen and Macheda yesterday. While, the supporters often find themselves scratching their collective heads when Fergie elects to leave out what most would see as the obvious candidates to play up front, you have to look at the overall picture when it comes to the morale of the players concerned.

Ferguson commands respect, not least because of his actions when it comes to giving everyone a fair chance. Michael Owen had scored two goals against Scunthorpe in the Carling Cup and one against Bolton last weekend. Macheda played a vital part in the the winner against Valencia in midweek. Nonetheless, the decision to leave out Berbatov is without doubt a good talking point.

For those looking for positives, Rio Ferdinand came through another ninety minutes unscathed and continues to look in good shape. United have a run of domestic and European games from which we will hopefully take maximum points; though Spurs and Stoke will fancy their chances given United's stuttering form. United have been playing poorly away from home, but so far we have been getting away with it, however, the Reds must improve and quickly.

Saturday, 16 October 2010
Barclays Premier League
Man Utd v West Brom, 15:00

Wednesday, 20 October 2010
Uefa Champions League
Man Utd v Bursaspor, GpC, 19:45

Sunday, 24 October 2010
Barclays Premier League
Stoke v Man Utd, 13:30

Tuesday, 26 October 2010
Carling Cup
Man Utd v Wolverhampton, R4, 20:00

Saturday, 30 October 2010
Barclays Premier League
Man Utd v Tottenham, 17:30

Tuesday, 2 November 2010
Uefa Champions League
Bursaspor v Man Utd, GpC, 19:45

Saturday, 6 November 2010
Barclays Premier League
Man Utd v Wolverhampton, 15:00


  1. Sunderland away is by no means a cakewalk and a draw isn't a disaster but what I simply can't come to terms with is our performance. We made them look like Barcelona in the first half.

    Essien has come out today and said that the title race will be between the Rentboys and Citeh. This is as low as it gets.

  2. Dela,

    WE simply aren't good enough in midfield.

    Essien is probably right.

  3. Wasn't Essien the one who had done his so called 'Calculations' a few seasons ago and predicted that Chelsea will win the league by 5 points? Well they didn't. So we shouldn't really be worried about what Essien has to say.
    What we need to be worried about is the constant tinkering by Fergie. There was no logic to drop/rest Berbatov. One out of Macheda or owen should have been chosen, but not both.

    SO till when can we keep Chicharito on the bench. He was the one tiny shimmer of hope in that whole 90 minutes at the stadium of light.

  4. When I saw that Owen and Macheda were our starting forwards, I knew we had no chance in winning. Our engine room was already weak as it was with a rehabbing Anderson, geriatric Scholes and Fletcher playing like Fletch (as portrayed by Chevy Chase). Because Macheda and Owen are not that good at holding possession as a tandum, that meant that Sunderland was able to push and pressure Scholes. If Berbatov starts and is able to hold possession longer, the midfield is able to push forward, giving Scholes to make the passes that he needs to. Instead, he was playing close to Rio and Vidic most of the game.

    Did our players play poorly? Yes, but Fergie's tactics up-front causd it. What we he afraid of in starting Berbatov? There's a two week break for him now! During the match the announcers mentioned that we haven't had the same starting lineup in two consecutive matches for something like 140 matches. I am thinking to myself there has to be something to say for consistency too. At least 9 players should be starting most games. Instead, only VDS and maybe Vidic are the only players that aren't a howler away from sitting on the bench.

  5. Overthinker,

    Let's see who is right come the season end. But I honestly fear that United season could be effectively be over by the time Xmas arrives the way we are playing away from home.

    I agree with you in ref to Berba, there was no logic, but this is Fergie for you, he's done this time and time again down the years.

  6. Evgenni,

    Of course consistency is important, and in this respect, we've been consistently lucky in the last two Premier League away games.

    I actually think the defence did a good job at the weekend.

    Midfield and the forward line was the problem against Sunderland, especially the former!

    Fergie will pay the price for his inaction: He should have signed either Sneijder or Ozil.


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