Adnan and “Dat Guy” to the rescue

Man-United-v-Swansea-Antonio-Valencia-of-Manc_3064883Feeling excited after what would have been a routine win until six months ago speaks volume of how far United have fallen this season, for a 2-0 win over Swansea isn’t anybody’s idea of heroics nor would the scoreline, in normal circumstances, be something to remember and behold for too long.

And yet, in this miserable season, today’s win is far from routinely and while it’d be foolish to believe United have turned a corner, they have made their life a little easier ahead of what would have been an excruciatingly difficult week before next Sunday’s trip to Stamford Bridge.

Perhaps it was because United can no longer be expected to dominate teams at home we had forgotten what it feels like to win football matches or perhaps because, in the first half, there was a serious possibility that United would extend their run of consecutive defeats to four, but today’s result and the second half performance were particularly pleasing.

That the two best players on the pitch have a combined age of 41 bodes well for the future, but Adnan Januzaj and Danny Welbeck can no longer be considered prospects with a bright future ahead of them, for they’re very much United’s present and if that symbolises the problem of the current squad, then so be it.

While the Belgian displayed a level of confidence that’s almost illegal for an 18-year-old and kept United ticking over, Welbeck confirmed yet again that he’s fully arrived as a striker this season and not only with an England shirt, given that “Dat Guy” has now netted six in his last six Premier League games.

With Darren Flecther replacing Tom Cleverley in midfield and Chris Smalling filling in for Jonny Evans, United looked to avoid a second defeat against Swansea at Old Trafford in less than a week and despite going close to be ahead within 10 minutes as Januzaj’s free-kick struck the bar, United looked at their worst – lethargic, scared in possession and sloppy when chasing the ball and even though Swansea failed to create any meaningful openings, the Welsh side were by far the better team in the first period.

Whatever David Moyes said or did at halftime it definitely worked and paid immediate dividends, as United were rampant off the block in the second half.

Januzaj’s produced the sort of cross which highlights a) how special the boy is and b) how poor United’s other wingers are, given neither Antonio Valencia nor Nani or Ashley Young could deliver a ball of the same sheer quality.

The Belgian’s cross was flicked on by Ashley Williams, with Shinji Kagawa’s header across goal parried by Tremmel into the path of Valencia, who made no mistake from close range and put United ahead, while ensuring that his name on social media was, for once, not associated with his reluctance to take the man on or his non-existent left-foot.

The goal sparked United into action and with Kagawa now playing in a central position, rather than wide on the left, the Reds attacked with a fluidity not seen around these parts for a long, long time, while Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher shut down Swansea’s midfield brilliantly.

If Kagawa is a strange case – the Japanese was a ghost figure in the first half, but shone after the restart – Fletcher is even more puzzling but, mercifully, in a positive way.

In Fletch, United have a player who’s missed almost two seasons with a debilitating illness and yet, merely a month after his return to full fitness, the Scotsman is becoming an increasingly important figure for Moyes, for he offers dynamism, tempo and composure or, in short, everything that Tom Cleverley doesn’t possess.

Obviously we may never seen the Fletch of old, but at the moment him and Carrick seem to be United’s best bet in midfield and one that Moyes should stick with.

There are no such worries up-front, where injuries to Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie mean the United manager is forced to play Welbeck, and hasn’t our Danny risen to the occasion this season. Having scuppered a great chance in the first half, Welbeck scored United’s second with 58 minutes gone, as he flicked Patrice Evra’s shot – Pat is so much better going forward than he is at defending, that it beggars belief – past Tremmel with a deft touch.

There was still time for Chris Smalling to fire over from a couple of inches, his Jaegerbomb intake depriving him of a goal and wasting Kagawa’s sumptuous cross, before Shinji himself fluffed his lines at the crucial moment, after Januzaj and Rafael had orchestrated a magnificent counter attack.

A new dawn it might not be, but three points are three points. And 2014 hadn’t given us many reasons to be picky so far.




  1. ——————————–DE GEA——————————–





    I want to see this, just once for this season. Our best players, all of them together. Just once and I don’t thnik we will change much from this plan.
    Nani, Welbeck, Hernandez, Zaha, Valencia and maybe Ando can substitute one of the front four.
    In the centre of the midfield we still need improvement. Witsel or Song or Mario Suarez or Dortmund’s Bender or whatever can make this midfield stronger and better.
    Jones must go back to where he belongs at some time in the future, to defence. Fletcher is not for the big teams. Ando should leave and Clev should be last choice for midfield. So, if we buy some players in the centre of the midfield and buy proper substitutes for the full backs, we are a new team.
    Don’t want to see more overlaps and ugly crosses. I mean, stop this! It hurts my eyes!

  2. Team was the strongest available no doubt, I really hope its Fletcher and Carrack in against Chelsea and he does not bring back Cleverley,Adnan is a fantastic talent no doubt about that and he is increasingly becoming one of the most imortant players in the team. Kags was different classwhen moving inside, I also thought Paddy was exceptional today his best game in a long time really and Danny is increasingly getting more and more confident infront of goal now he is playing in his favourite position, Come on reds!

  3. Second half was enjoyable. A nice change. I think maybe Moyes is starting to wake up and take the shackles off a bit. We looked a far better team without Cleverley and Carrick showing some form is a very good thing. It was beautiful to see the interchange between skillful players such as Kagawa, Januzaj, Carrick and Welbeck. Even Valencia looked much better. We hardly looked like we missed Rooney and Van Persie second half. And I think Evra is unfairly criticized sometimes because when we attack properly he is a very useful part of that.

    But I still think we need to freshen things up as our midfield still only looks good when Carrick is on form and as per usual first half of the season that has rarely been the case.

    A Telegraph article mentioned the possibility of signing Lucho Gonzalez. Very experienced international and at 32 with six months on his contract we could get him on the cheap so little real risk.

    Everton Ribeiro was named Brazilian player of the year last year ahead of Neymar and actually wants to join us so that should be a no brainer especially as he is quoted as saying he’ll play anywhere in the midfield. That kind of enthusiasm is much needed right now.

    And ideally I’d like a modestly priced experienced central defender because I don’t see what all the fuss is about Smalling. For me he lacks composure and concentration and steel.

    The tried and tested formula for success in January is going for modestly priced players e.g Vidic, Evra, Hernandez.

    Our world class player or nothing (or worse an Everton reject) policy is silly.

    What we need in the short term is a few new faces that will fit into the squad system and keep underperforming players on their toes (or in Cleverley’s case preferably comatose.

  4. I like your analysis. Fletcher, though, is a support player. He needs talented people around him for him to do his job.
    In a MF that had Scholes and Ronaldo, he was great at causing interference in the oppositions attacking aspirations. Don’t get me wrong, I love the man for his never-ending desire to make a difference in his life and United’s games. He is an inspirational figure for me. Bur Darren is not the answer to our MF and he is not the answer to out attacking creativity.
    More good players are needed, a new manager, naw, just better feet on the pitch, I promise you!

  5. As much as I hate Evra as a defender, he was the clear difference in our attacking options. Without Rooney we have been lifeless and impotent, kudos to Patrice for at least offering some form of passion in our efforts.

    • @Redrich: evra performance made me realize that he has been the best left winger for the team in the last few years since Giggs

  6. Like all United fans,I am gratefull for the win.Janujaz is an awesome talent,that goes without saying,but we shouldn’t be relying on him so much.Pretty soon,the rest of the prem will have his number and we will be back to looking at the ‘great’ tom cleverley for a miracle.The midfield was better yesterday,but against better opposition,it will be the same ol’ same ol’.In summary,I’m saying I’m not getting ahead of myself.This has been a stop-start season,which is the only consistency United has displayed.Let’s beat Sunderland to reach the League Cup Final,pick up 3 points @ the Bridge,then let’s talk.

    • @Everton: There are times when I thought Cleverley would come good. But most of that has to be because I thought that he would get more aggressive, more creative, more intelligent. He was good enough to play, or slightly less than good enough. So I looked at his good performances, and thought, okay, he’s good enough when the side is playing well, be he doesn’t take games over. He doesn’t wow. He displays nothing that you couldn’t get better in a hundred different midfielders. Never was there a game where Tom Cleverley put this team on his back.

      Tom Cleverleys problem, is not that teams figured him out. He wasn’t a blazing star of footballing prowess until teams got his numbers. He is adequate to good when the team is playing well. When it’s playing poorly, he is absolutely useless. What is there for teams to figure out? He isn’t creative, and has no vision. He isn’t attacking, nor is he defending. He doesn’t take good set pieces, he doesn’t score goals. Oh, and he is miserable under pressure and holds the ball horribly. It’s such a mystery what exactly Cleverley does that I keep seeing articles now asking, what exactly is it that Cleverley actually does. And the only thing I can think of is ‘play good enough, or just slightly less than good enough’.

      It didn’t take the best minds in football to ‘figure’ Cleverley out. He doesn’t have it, he isn’t getting it, and he isn’t going to have it. He is now what he was before, a middling to tolerable midfielder okay at attacking, okay at defending, reasonably great at passes going nowhere. He is the human personification of ‘much sound and fury signifying nothing’. He is a chinese riddle of inefficiency.

      If Tom Cleverley dreams of having half the skill of Adnan Januzaj, he should wake up and apologize.

  7. I don’t care that we won or that we only had 39% of possession or that Welbeck scored again or that Ferguson was in the stands or that RvP and Rooney are injured. The ONLY that I care about is that we:
    1) Stopped forcing the archaic 442 system and abandoned the tactic of pass-pass-cross-repeat
    2) Created lots of goal-scoring chances in the 2nd half

    Finally. The problem all along has been that we do not create enough chances. That was what Giggs said in 2007-08 season after our awful start of 2 draws + defeat to City, leaving us in 17th place after 3 games. He said (and I paraphrase): “Despite poor results, we did not panic because we were creating loads of chances every game. It was just a matter of time before the goals and wins would come.” And they did… Today, we’re not 3 games into the season, but nonetheless, we finally created loads of chances against Swansea. As long as we keep creating chances, I will not panic… so keep it up guys!!!

    • @Opti:
      OK, overlapping is ALPHA AND OMEGA for modern football. You can’t attack unless your fullbacks go upfront. This doesn’t mean that 442 is the only formation you can have your fullbacks upfront. Cause all we have seen till now is overlapping tactis in a 442 style, which has no result. Or should I say it has resulted in uglier than last year’s football and lower than 4th position…
      Anyway, I think we have the kind of footballers who can play a 4231 well, but when it comes to 442 our midfield is heavily exposed to anybody. Even Shelvey looked dangerous at some times, yesterday.

      I agree with you and your thoughts on my comment up here would be welcome.

    • @Opti: “Finally. The problem all along has been that we do not create enough chances”.
      There is no finality to it. To create chances you need good players beating their markers and making plays of absolute quality. There was a little of that in this game – Evra had the beating of his man, but there was very few other mismatches that caught my eye.
      Nothing can be taken from this game other than we are usually better than Swansea.
      Chelsea up next in the league – there will be different comparisons to make. We will suffer big time if that same team matches up against their best team.
      If there’s a finality it’s the fact that we don’t have enough good players.

  8. Hopefully Lingard starts getting time with Januzaj, because a midfield with that type of speed and work rate will be huge.

    United teams in the past could pick times in matches to turn the tempo up. But this team doesn’t seem able to do that. And if you can’t pick when you raise the tempo, the next best thing is drilling the team play full tempo all the time.

    In the past, this United team could play a holding type of game, and then a few players would lift the team and make something happen. Depending on a few players to lift this team up while everyone else just plays good enough isn’t a viable system any more, mostly because the ‘just good enough’ players aren’t that any more. Cleverley especially seems build for a just good enough, don’t fuck up majorly but create nothing type of playing style. Which in years past wouldn’t have been a big problem, even if it is essentially worthless as a playing style.

    When United play high tempo pressing football, they are very dangerous. They get more confident, they make more plays. Fire this team out of a cannon every game. Even a loss where every player gives a gutty high work-rate performance would be better than the insipid, tepid, feeble, and worst of all frightened performances we have been seeing.

  9. AC Milan is struggling worse than we are. Who can we get from there that will improve United and is of age to be a potential long-term prospect (i.e. younger than 26)???

    • @Opti: I don’t know if a club of Milan’s stature would sell in such difficult times. And of course they would not sell their best players.

      Mattia De Sciglio is one for the future but he plays as a right back.
      Zapata is strong, but I prefer Jones.
      Balotelli is just Balotelli. Never prove his class, cause he was never consistent, cause he is arrogant (in a Paris Hilton level). And he would never prefer to play as a right winger.


      El Shaarawy : a great player when counter attacking, he will only get better but he prefers the left wing and I don’t think Milan would sell him for less than 45-50 million euros. Why would we give so much money when we got Januzaj.

      So, practically this means we have no choice. No AC Milan can improve our squad.

    • I think AC Milan is the wrong club to be getting recruits from,but Serie A is probably a gold mine as a whole right now. Besides Zapata,I just can’t see any other useful options. Their midfield is pretty average if you ask me. But there are several options in Italy we could have a chance with. Juventus is a real waste of time on a Fabregas level.Let’s be honest,players like Vidal,Pogba and Marchisio will feel United would be a step backward and at the moment it’s impossible to argue against that. So we should be looking at players like Inler and Guarin. Pjanic is a brilliant technical playmaker on whom,we should spend what it takes. The truth is,of you wave £25m in Italy,they look up and listen. In Spain they curse you at times but Serie A is a very poor league in need of money. Kinda like Valencia who are an easy target. Hernanes of Lazio is another option ,though not without risk. He isn’t the most action packed midfielder out there and can be considered somewhat lightweight,but he is a good playmaker and that’s what we desperately need. But to me the most important acquisition from Italy,that we could make is Antonio Conte. That would solve all our problems I think

      • @Jay Wire: Lol. Conte. HAHAHA. We have Moyes, we don’t need someone who will be found guilty of match fixing in 1 years time. He’s italian.


        Opti from the Future

        • Well match fixing goes by syndicates and no way other staff at OT will be involved. The accusations were dubious at best anyway. I’d still go for Conte or Klopp. Difference between them and Moyes is they have produced teams that have won significant things with very anonymous teams. In Conte’s case he won things with unknown players,including a promising youth player who couldn’t sniff a game behind Anderson’s butt. An old washed up ex-Milan regista,a player only those in Germany knew and a local lad. But Marchisio,Pirlo,Vidal and Pogba are the next best thing in world football to Xaviesta and Busquets. You look at the ridiculous budget he has to work with and I think he has shown his talents. Klopp has been hard hit by raids every season on his band of anonymous stars. Nuri Sahin,then Kagawa,Gotze and next season Lewandowski. But he keeps competing. Yes it’s been tough this season but that is an exception to the rule. These guys can develop winning attacking teams,even with limited budgets. I’d rather lose out on Champions League football next season if that’s the bizarre condition for securing one of these coaches. It’s infinitely better than Moyes. I’m also gonna be monitoring Solsjkaer’s situation at Cardiff very closely. If he can transfer the kind of magic he worked at Molde on the bigger stage of the PL,then we should be looking at him. Unlike Moyes,he actually has won things,tangible trophies. He has been involved in Europe too and seems to be a favorite with his players

        • @Opti: We can agree on Klopp. Mightily impressed with what he achieved at Dortmund. However, he wasn’t a super-star manager until he joined Dortmund…

          I agree he knows how to spend well and despite annual raids keeps Dortmund relevant abroad and domestically.

        • @Opti: On OGS, I am torn. He is entrenched in Manchester United’s most glorious history and is a fan and player favorite. However, despite his Norwegian success, I am not sure he is such a great manager.

          I will also watch Cardiff, but cannot look past them getting relegated despite Ole’s magic. If they relegated but play great football does it really matter? And then what can we say about Ole? If they survive relegation, it will be by skin of their teeth, so what can you say about that? Ole went to a club where defining success is nebulous unless he lifts a cup, which is even more unlikely than avoiding relegation.

          I do not see how Ole can prove himself at Cardiff… damned if you do, damned if you don’t… it’s gonna be hard to judge him properly unless he can get a club like Everton or Villa and try to compete for european spots or cups.

          PS: Don’t say Wigan, because that was a freak accident. Won’t happen for another 50 years.

    • @Opti:

      Ricardo Montolivo without a doubt. He would keep us ticking over in the centre of the park and his range and vision of passing is excellent. He is also tactically very good. I mean i would definately go for him and he would certainly be a positive addition to the midfield as he can create from deep but also play further forward. He is a younger version of Pirlo.

  10. Klopp is still young by managerial standards. He has only ever coached two,clubs,so to say he only became famous at Dortmund is true but misguided. He took the club from the lower half,closer to relegation to the very top of the Bundesliga in three years. All with very creative managerial accomplishments. Tactically,you would be hard pressed to find a better alternative. In terms of transfers,when you learn about the story of Shinji Kagawa,that will give you a very accurate picture of the kind of manager that Klopp is. Moyes has no history of innovation nor does he possess any competitive attributes. I just can’t see how it has to be an option. Klopp,Conte anyday ahead of Moyes

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