Thursday, February 13, 2014

Dour draw

OK, so we were solid at the back. We had good shape. And we had a few chances up front to steal the game.

But seriously, RVP and Rooney are just not getting the service they should be getting. That pass from Rooney to RVP for a header which produced a sterling save from Szczesny was fantastic. But nothing else really worked.

Vidic, Smalling and Ferdinand were easily the best players for United yesterday. Evra was not his usual attacking force, and poor Rafael played his heart out as usual, but that horrible fall really took the wind out of him.

The ref didn't do too badly, though I was left scratching my head as to why there were only two minutes of time added on in the first half when Rafael was down for at least three and there was an injury to an Arsenal player before that (can't remember who, exactly).

Mata still needs time to really integrate into the team, although his sheer talent is carrying him by right now.

But there are still lots of problems. That Daily Mail report saying things are frosty between RVP and Rooney doesn't really play out for me. Yes, they have not been passing the ball to each other as much as they used to, but I don't think that's the reason. The whole team is just not playing properly right now and Mata is the one who has been tasked with making the passes, it seems.

The Dubai break should (hopefully) do the team some good. Let's hope they come back playing better.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Ridiculous tactics

Two defensive errors, two goals, two points lost!

That should be enough to sum up United's latest sad result. But it is nowhere near enough. Let's look at some other numbers.

United had 75 percent of possession and sent in 81 crosses. Those are ridiculous numbers for a draw match. For all the possession and attacking moves, two goals were really not up to mark.

So Fulham parked the bus. So what? Every time a United player sent a cross in, there were six or seven Fulham players in the box, including that 6ft 7in giraffe named Burns. Burns alone cleared 22 of those crosses, apparently.

What in heaven's name were United thinking, sending in crosses into a packed penalty box with six or seven opposing players and not more than three Devils? Those tactics were all wrong.

I believe the starting line-up was a problem as well. Why Young is even in the squad is an enigma to me, let alone on the starting line-up.

Adnan Januzaj has been going great guns for United and should be starting every game.

Ultimately though, it was the defence that really let us down. Fletcher should have tracked Sidwell's run, and a defensive error gifted Fulham the second goal. De Gea did well to parry the initial shot, although there will probably be some who would say he should have pushed it out or over the bar instead of in the path of Bent. The way I see it, you can't blame De Gea. That initial shot was ferocious and De Gea did not have enough time to try to bend it around the post or over the bar.

One thing I have to ask though is where the ref got that extra five minutes which he added on. The norm is to add on 30 seconds for each substitution. Both teams used their allotted three subs, but Fulham made one change before the start of the second half, so that means only two and a half minutes.

Injury concerns would probably add a minute. So where did the extra minute and a half come from.

That is no excuse though for a miserable result.

David Moyes, if you're reading this (yeah, right!), please come up with better tactics. For a start, leave Young out and start with Januzaj for the match against Arsenal.

Also, how about a sort of diamond-shaped midfield lineup, with Valencia on the right, Carrick playing a holding role just in front of the back four, where he can splay passes, since that is his strength, and Mata just behind the top two (Rooney and RVP of course).

In defence, leave Rafael at right back and Evra at left back with Smalling and Ferdinand/Vidic in the middle. In years gone by, Vidic and Ferdinand would have been my automatic choices for the central defensive pairing, but to have "oldies" in the middle of defence against an Arsenal team which is skillful and fast would be suicide.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Good servant leaving

Vidic has been a good servant all these years, except for the few games against when Torres seemed to always get the better of him, so it was with a heavy heart that I read the news that he was leaving at the end of the season.

Having said that, however, it must be said that United would be better off getting a younger defender, one in the same cut as Vidic. Of all the leagues in the world, it has to be said that the English league is the toughest for defenders. It is fast and it is rough. So, having a younger defender, one who is tough and fast, would do United a world of good.

Let's face it. Though still a fantastic defender, Vidic is getting slow and a little bit too injury prone. We send him off with a host of gratitude and wish him well, though.

Rio Ferdinand, too, should be heading off soon, if not at the end of the season, then the next. He is older than Vidic, and even though he is still a fantastic reader of the game, he is also injury prone and a little on the slow side, to put it mildly.

Evans is a good central defender and the more games he gets under his belt the better he will become. With Vidic going, and you would have to think Ferdinand too, he should get more games and improve even more. The only thing is, he is injury prone as well.

I guess such are the demands of the English games that central defenders tend to pick up injuries easily.

Smalling and Jones have the makings of good central defenders but they have a long way to go yet and one wonders if they will ever be as good as people like Vidic, Ferdinand, Stam, Bruce and Pallister were for United.

We need to buy at least two more central defenders, and at least one needs to be an established one, able to take hard knocks and give them as well (legally, of course).

Meanwhile, all eyes will be at Old Trafford tonight as the United faithful hope the season will finally get started in the bid for a Champions League spot, though Liverpool's drubbing of Arsenal last night has seemed to suck all hope away, if there is any still there.

Good luck United. Good luck Vidic.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


No, I've been lax in updating this blog not because of the bad run United have had. I will always be a proud MU fan, no matter how they are doing. As usual, that lethal combination of workload, travel and (yes, I admit it) laziness caused the lapse.

What made me write this entry was the announcement of the agreement between MU and Chelsea regarding the transfer of Juan Mata. Pending the agreement of personal terms and the results of a medical, the Spaniard is set to become a Red Devil soon.

Lots has been said about Mata's transfers. Most have hailed it as welcome news, but there have also been detractors. Not surprisingly, rival EPL bosses have voiced their opinions. People like Wenger and Pellegrini. Surprisingly, one detractor is former United stalwart Gary Neville.

I am one who is elated at the news and believe Mata will justify the record amount the club will soon be laying out for him (reports say this is anything between 37 million to 40 million pounds). But let's start with the complaints from rival managers.

Wenger's, and perhaps Pellegrini's, complaint that there are elements of unfairness in the transfer. This evolves around the fact that United and Chelsea have already completed their league games against each other. In transferring Mata to United, Mourinho is banking on the probability that the talented Spaniard can lift the Devils and make it more difficult for teams like Man City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs and Everton, who are all above MU. This gives Chelsea a better chance at lifting the trophy.

Whether this is Mourinho's plan or whether the Portuguese manager simply decided to let Mata go because the player really wanted to join MU is beside the point. Wenger is right. There is the possibility that this sort of thing can be a little unfair, whether or not it is done intentionally. But let's face it: Wenger would do the same thing if he thought it would be an advantage.

As for Neville, well, I just think he has it all wrong. Mata is a quality player. I have always said Sir Alex should have brought him to United. Neville's doubts about where Mata will fit in are unfounded. He is the sort of quality player who would be able to fit in anywhere, whether it's on the wings, playing in the hole just behind a lone striker or calling the shots in the middle of the park.

Many a player has been taken out of his comfort zone, put in a spot and excelled. Take Thierry Henry for example. He was a winger until Wenger decided to play him up front. And what a striker he turned out to be!

Locally, we had Zainal Abidin Hassan. He was a defender before being made a striker, and he turned out to be Malaysia's best in his time. OK, so you can't really compare Zainal and Henry, but you get my drift.

So Mata, even if Moyes decides to make him the playmaker in the team, will serve MU well. And, his transfer will serve to boost morale.

I'm looking forward to having the talented Spaniard in the team. After all, how can anyone deny his ability when he's been voted best player in a star-studded team like Chelsea for the last two years.