Monday, August 27, 2012

RVP, Kagawa and Dembele shine as de Gea invites further trouble....

Robin Van Persie and Shinji Kagawa started against Fulham on Saturday and both scored on their Old Trafford debuts - a feat that has left United geeks scouring the record books - and according to some, this was indeed a first (if you know different let us know).

So far, so good then, as United ran out 3-2 winners in what was a very entertaining game, but one which ended with plenty of shredded nerves following what has been described as a 'mix up' between goalkeeper and defender.

The final score was tighter than perhaps it should have been, thanks to what in truth was a howler by David de Gea on 64 minutes; not for the first time, the Spaniard came and failed to effectively deal with a cross when the score was 3-1 - the mistake led to a deflected Vidic own goal. Words were exchanged between the two, as they both tried to apportion blame, but when a goalkeeper decides to go for a cross his actions have to be decisive - that didn't happen. Repercussions usually follow in such circumstances and it was no different against Fulham.  Other than that mistake, de Gea had a fine game - he saved United on a couple of occasions - he got lucky with his legs with one save, but no matter he dealt with it. Hopefully, de Gea's confidence won't have been knocked too much, but surely we can expect the opposition to continue to 'lump it into the box' in a bid test the Spaniard - and weren't we all hoping those days were behind us?

It would be wrong to focus too much on one mistake as there was positives aplenty to take from this game. Van Persie equalised with a stunning goal after Duff had given the visitors a shock early lead, which once again came about thanks to some questionable defending at the heart of a United defence that included makeshift centre-back Michael Carrick. The manner of Van Persie's first-half goal will have left United fans drooling for more - this was technique right out of the Marco van Basten archives - it really was reminiscent of the Dutch master himself. We cannot be sure that Evra's cross into the box was really meant for RVP, but the way he despatched it with his first touch will live long in the memory.

Shinji Kagawa then went on to light up Old Trafford with an intelligent passing display, one that suggests there's much to look forward to from a player who has quickly become a firm favourite with the  fans'. Without wanting to burden United's fast rising Japanese star, he looks to be every inch Scholes heir apparent - a huge compliment if ever there was one. To cap what must have been a memorable day, Kagawa gave United the lead from close range - in truth he couldn't miss.

Ferguson had elected to leave out Rooney and Welbeck following their poor performances in the defeat at Goodison Park earlier in the week, both were left to fester on the bench. Ferguson, started with Antonio Valencia and Rafael da Silva on the right, in their customary positions - both went on to have fine games.

Da Silva is an exciting young player, one who's ideally suited to the Red Devils attacking traditions  - he had a goal disallowed for offside, but moments later the referee couldn't save Fulham on 40 minutes when the Brazilian stole in to head United into a deserved 3-1 lead.

Rooney came on with Welbeck when replacing Young and Kagawa respectively on 68 minutes, and not long after left on a stretcher with a nasty gash on his lower inner thigh, it remains to be seen how long he will be out for; Ferguson claims four weeks. Like Rooney, Welbeck's contribution was minimal, but in fairness,  United weren't anywhere close to as good as they had been in that electrifying first-half.

Cleverley and Anderson were paired together at the heart of United's engine room. United's often criticized Brazilian worked hard, but faded badly after 50 minutes. It took Ferguson until the 80th minute before he sent on Giggs as replacement.

United held on to win and were just about good value, but Fulham  played a huge part in what was an entertaining contest - one that was dominated by the visitors for most of the second-half.

In Dembele, Fulham have a very talented player, one who would grace any top flight team, and no wonder reports have been linking him with moves to United and Real Madrid. In short Dembele could well be the midfield player that Ferguson is looking for. If the United manager wasn't convinced prior to Saturday, the Belgian star left him in no doubt about his abilities. Surely, if Ferguson doesn't make his move, he well live to regret it, much in the same way that he failed to make moves for Wesley Sneijder and David Silva.

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?

Sunday, August 05, 2012

£50m swoop talk erupts as IPO rumpus rumbles on...

Say NO to the Glazers IPO - click here to help MUST

The nation may well basking in a golden glow from "Team GB's" stunning success in the  London Olympic games - it is turning into a very special year - but for followers of Manchester United, we still don't know if Ferguson's summer signings will live up to the fans expectations.

According to Bob Cass of the Mail on Sunday, United are about to sign Lucas Moura and Robin van Persie in a £50m double swoop - one that will send out a strong message to United's rivals. It bloody well will, if it actually happens.

Ferguson recently broke with convention when confirming that the club were indeed trying to sign the Brazilian and Arsenal's dutch talisman. Quite why Fergie felt it necessary to publicly confirm his interest in the strike duo has been the subject of much debate; was it a curved ball to put United's rivals off the scent of the 'real targets'?; or was it a cynical attempt to win the fans over following the much talked about IPO? ; or is it the case that Ferguson's interest is genuine, despite this somewhat radical departure from the norm in which transfer deals are done without the full glare of public scrutiny?

So what of this £50m double swoop? Bob Cass is said to be a 'pal' of the United manager - despite the fact that 12 month's ago Ferguson told him where to go in no uncertain terms, nonetheless, the MOS reporter was granted a controversial no-punches-pulled interview during United's recent Summer tour of South Africa.

Ignoring that Ferguson and Cass had a bit of a set to - which happens to most reporters from time to time with Fergie, Cass has stuck to his story over the last few weeks and the fact that he's now claiming Moura is set for a medical is of some interest. If nothing else, Cass has has been consistent and he's not hiding behind the often used "Staff Reporter" byline. All we know for sure is if this transfer coup fails to materialise, we are unlikely to ever know the real truth, not least, until the Laird of Old Trafford publishes another book...

In other news, Manchester United's latest attempts to launch an IPO (Initial Public Offering) on the New York Stock Exchange gets under way this week. This blog fully supports MUST and we urge all right thinking United fans to Say NO to the IPO. Please click on the link to register your displeasure: Say NO to the Glazers IPO - click here to help MUST