United vs. City – The Reality

27 Oct

As we saw over the weekend, a demolition job really can be the sucker punch to a team dilapidated by truly dreadful defending. It was excruciating viewing for any Red, and such joyous watching if you were a Blue.

We have no defence, as proven this weekend. Rio was a humongous let down, and his slow, lethargic approach was finally displayed for all to see. I believe he may be leaving soon, but that’s just me. Chris Smalling had a poor game, and Patrice Evra was equally slow and took the brunt of the majority of the fan’s anger. It was just a bit of a shocker for the defence.

Counter in a non-existent midfield, which finally came up to show on the biggest of stages, and made everyone realise how bad our situation could potentially be. It was just awful.

Everything else has already been said and written, but something has to happen in order to get us kick-started again.

United vs. City – The Prospect

20 Oct

So, with the big derby game coming up on Sunday, and a rather lacklustre performance in midweek, we could be in for one of the best derbies we’ve seen for a very long time. We have something to prove – as do City. And that could lead to absolute fireworks.

Now I’m not going to speak too soon – the last time I predicted a big, exciting game we drew with Benfica in September. But this game will produce some stunning football – providing it’s played right. Aguero and Dzeko have ignited City’s front line, whilst our youthful, exciting defence like to get forward and spur on counter attacks.

It’s an exciting sporting time if you’re from Manchester – both football clubs are doing remarkably well and already it seems the two front runners for the title are United and City. With the blue half having already edged ahead in the league, the red half will now be willing on the team in the hope that a derby win will push us towards Christmas on a massive high.

The problem for United will, as you all know, be the midfield. Or the lack of one. Carrick was brilliant in midweek, but we need more performances like that from all our midfielder – Anderson and Fletcher, most notably. Don’t be surprised to see Giggsy start next to Carrick at the weekend.

We need a win, but so do City. Hold on to your hats.

Liverpool: What We Need To Prove

13 Oct

Having not played a game since our rather flat display against Norwich at the beginning of the month, we’ve got to go out and prove that we’re still the team we’ve always been, and are still playing at the top of our game. And what better game to do so than at Anfield, against Liverpool.

As I’ve said time and time again, we need to sort out our midfield. There’s nothing there at the minute – Anderson runs around like a headless chicken, and we lack any further presence when we have to play an under-the-weather Darren Fletcher, and a static midfielder like Michael Carrick.

Hopefully, training this week will lead to more being done to increase our options in the middle of the pitch, and we will see a marked improvement from the players.

We should also see the return of Nemanja Vidic in defence, giving us more strength. There is a possibility of a return for Chris Smalling, too, meaning we could be lining up with Vidic, Jones, Evra and Smalling all back as a first choice back four. This will act as a big boost to the team, to know that we have a steel wall behind the front six.

Whether we see a marked improvement, I honestly don’t know, but we will certainly see United going out to win. And win well.

Half-Term Report: What Are United Scraping By For?!

6 Oct

United celebrating another goal against Arsenal

With the international break this weekend, we’re left in a bit of a quandary – nobody can really judge our season as yet, but you can’t help but look back. Such a strong start, yet some very lacklustre performances. But why?

The plain and simple reason is that of our midfield. I’ve said time and time again that we have no-one in the middle of the park to connect our strikers and our defenders. Our lack of counter-attack ability proves this. The Norwich game last weekend helped show how we hold onto the ball far too long, then get trapped into tight positions in the middle third of the pitch. It’s a very dangerous game to play.

But we can’t keep blaming Anderson, Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick for our problems. We’ve been weak in defence without Vidic, and Rio certainly is leaving a lot to be desired. Phil Jones has been our star of the season so far – he’s a man possessed sometimes. Chris Smalling continues to improve and impress, but again, Patrice Evra seems to be a bit off-form too. Pressure of concentrating on being interim captain? Surely not for a man who ahs given so much to our team the last few seasons.

We seem to be relying far too much on Wayne Rooney up top. I know he is seemingly our best player, but does that mean we should become a one-man team? The whole attraction of United is that we’re not, and we just drive forward as a unit, not just one man and another ten following up.

I will admit that we have played some cracking football at times too. Our first few games of the season, in particular the 8-2 victory against Arsenal, really shone, and made us stand out from the crowd.

So what would solve all this? I know we keep going back to it, but someone in midfield with experience, and with attacking AND defensive prowess. We miss Scholesy, who brought a lot to the table with his play. Someone like Paul is needed to tie all the team together, and bring us completely together as one.

Will Sneijder join? If things stay the same, don’t be surprised to see Fergie make a cheeky bid. We’ve been long linked with Bastian Schweinsteiger, who would be an equally good signing. Other names floating around are Javi Martinez, Marek Hamsik, and Eden Hazard, all of whom could do the job.

Until that hole is plugged, we’re going to keep seeing these scrappy, drawn-out performances, which I know for a fact is annoying every United fan around the world.

Midfield Mix-Up In Basel

29 Sep

Ashley Young salvages a point

Time after time after time on Tuesday night against Basel, we saw the ball end up at the feet of the opposition, coming straight from a red shirt. Why? Because we’ve lost all sense of ball control.

Not the most conventional way to start a blog, but it’s the only way to get the anger out. Anderson was an utter disgrace in the week – I’ve noticed that since the start of the season, he continually hoofs the ball in front of him, thus giving the ball away nine times out of ten. He’s far too static in midfield, trying to play the role that Scholes used to play, but without the experience, he’s never going to be able to pull it off. He’s got to either play as an attacking mid, or play as a playmaker, ready to always get the ball forward, perfectly, 100% of the time.

Carrick did, in all fairness, play reasonably well – by his standard, anyway. But when we can’t even get the ball forward in the second half, despite being 3-2 down, it becomes quite a big problem.

Park played well, and Giggsy ran the show, but we shouldn’t have to be relying on our wingers to actually turn our display into a relatively good one. Ashley Young was on fire, and Danny Welbeck had a cracker too. But it doesn’t make up for the fact that our central midfield needs some serious strengthening. Otherwise we’ll be stuck in a void that teams like Chelsea have discovered over the past 18 months.

If we are to learn anything from the game against Basel, it is that we have to push up, and get the ball as quickly as physically possible up to the other end of the pitch. Any delay, and Ando will inevitably be running in the opposite direction again…

The Youth Of Tomorrow Seen Today

22 Sep

Fryers celebrates with Macheda, Owen and Park.

Watching the game against Leeds in the Carling Cup in mid-week, I suddenly realised what we were watching – the next generation of United players being pulled through the ranks and given a chance on the biggest stage of them all – in a red shirt on the telly. Any cock-up, and that was that.

But thankfully, what we witnessed was a great game, where the stars of tomorrow played with integrity, hunger, and with a desire to win and score as many goals as possible. The surprise of them all was Zeki Fryers – a player many United fans had not heard of before the game. He played alongside Michael Carrick in central defence, but is also known as a left-back, and his lightning quick pace, and ball control, was there for all to see. A great debut.

We also saw the introduction of Paul Pogba. Most fans have been willing this day on for the last 18 months, but finally his game came, and he shone. His first touch was a 40-yard cross pitch pass, which was perfect in every way. He gained the ball back well, and was willing to get stuck in and impress both the fans and Sir Alex, which was brilliant to see.

The brief introduction of Larnell Cole was good to see, with his appearances in the reserves and the youth team justifying his inclusion within the quad. As a typical midfielder, watching him play alongside Pogba showed what the centre of our team could look like in a few years’ time, and it truly looks great.

The youth will undoubtedly be used again in our next Carling Cup game, and hopefully used throughout the season in our league campaign. The only way they will gain experience and improve as players is by playing the game, and where else would give them the opportunity than Manchester United?!

Agree with me? Want to make your own opinions heard? Contact me on Twitter via @Adam9309!

Paul Scholes – Born Again?

27 Aug

Cleverley celebrates the Community Shield

There was one moment last season where my eye fell from that of Old Trafford, and I chose to watch Wigan instead. The wonders of Sky Sports allowed me to see Tom Cleverley, a midfielder on loan from United for the season. Many expected it to just be a move that gained him a few games experience, and for the same to happen this season.

Oh no, not this time. Young Tom bossed the Wigan midfield last season, spraying passes around, getting the ball forward, and winning it back with some crunching tackles.

Sound familiar? You won’t be surprised to hear that Paul Scholes believes Cleverley will become his successor at the heart of the United team.

Continual reports still link us to Inter Milan playmaker Wesley Sneijder, with many saying that he will become a United player in a £35m deal within the next week. A much cheaper alternative seems to be Cleverley, though, and his performances last season, in the Community Shield, and over the last few League games proves that he is a very mature head on young shoulders.

The Scholes of 1994, and the Golden Generation, was something we’ve not seen before, or since, in a United team. An ability to put the ball at a player’s feet from 70 yards 100% of the time. A willingness to win the ball back the second he lost it. A desire, and a hunger to go out and win everything. All whilst being the most humble, decent bloke we’ve seen for years in a red shirt.

Cleverley seems to have taken this mantle on, and is now well on the way to becoming the new Scholesy. He can’t be replaced, but he most certainly can be replicated, and the past few seasons of training with the great man, and learning from him, have left Tom in good stead.

Supposedly, Fergie is close to pushing through a £22m deal for Mario Götze, the young German who has impressed the last few seasons at Borussia Dortmund. With the emergence of Cleverley as a quality, Premier League player, and also with Anderson’s potential finally coming through, there isn’t any need for a marque midfield signing.

We have Anderson and Cleverley, Giggsy for experience, Fletcher when he returns from injury, and Carrick as a backup, plus the emerging talents of Paul Pogba. The team hasn’t had this youthful desire since, well, 1994. And Fergie’s rebuild of another generation continues to gather pace, as the title favourites begin to cement their position as true title contenders.