Dec 27

United look to finish 2013 on a high

Tag: Match Preview @ 3:40 pm

_71959401_459383507There is, the saying goes, no rest for the wicked. There definitely isn’t any rest for Manchester United nor for their traveling supporters who, having spent Boxing Day in the British City of Culture – that will be Hull, for those of you who missed out on that nugget of brilliance – will now embark on another long slog to Norwich.

Trips to Norfolk have been largely forgetful events in recent seasons, with United losing two of their last three at Carrow Road and, more worryingly, failing to get on the scoresheet in both of their defeats.

Things look rosier this season, with United mustering their first Fergiesque comeback of the Moyes’ era while Norwich managed to achieve the remarkable feat of not only losing at home to Fulham but they also allowed Scott Parker to get on the scoresheet and now hover just three points above the relegation zone.

Despite splashing almost £13m on strikers, Norwich’s front-men have been largely disappointing this season but were United to defend as diabolically as they did in the first 12 minutes against Hull, then Gary Hooper and Johan Elmander could soon be made to look like a combination of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Raul.

United’s back-four looked desperately shaky at Hull and with Rafael out injured and Antonio Valencia suspended, David Moyes could either opt to switch Chris Smalling to right-back, thus deploying either Nemanja Vidic or Rio Ferdinand alongside Jonny Evans or, albeit a less likely option, give Fabio a rare start in the team.

The midfield cover remains excruciatingly short, for having welcomed back Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick, United have lost Phil Jones to a knee injury which, theoretically at least, could open the door for a Carrick-Giggs partnership in the middle of the park, bearing in mind that Tom Cleverley and Fletcher played only 48 hours ago.

With Van Persie still nursing his injury, the front two pick themselves. Wayne Rooney has turned from villain into talisman and his strike at Hull was as good as any we’ve seen from the man with the worst agent in the world – or one of the best, depending on which side of the fence you sit – while Welbeck’s recent run of goals looks to have filled him with confidence, something Moyes will want to make the most of.

Ashley Young’s confidence has also sharply risen in recent weeks – almost as sharply as the majority of his overhit crosses fly harmlessly over the box – and with Nani and Valencia out, Young is a shoe in for a starting spot, particularly given that we still do not know whether Shinji Kagawa survived his Christmas dinner.

The boy who comes from Belgium and whose name is Adnan – the Januzaj chant was the real Christmas number 1 as far as Reds were concerned – could also start and expect the locals to express their disappointment as soon as Januzaj wins a foul.

United are still eight points behind Arsenal, a far from an ideal position at this time of the year, but a run of five consecutive wins in all competition is not to be scorned at, particularly considering that the league leaders travel to Newcastle on Sunday, while the Champions of Christmas could drop points again, when they face Chelsea.

With Spurs at home on New Year’s Day and four days until the January transfer window, a win tomorrow would be crucial in more ways than one.


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Tags: Match Preview

27 Responses to “United look to finish 2013 on a high”

  • Got to be some of the worst football ive seen so far this season, and that’s saying something. Fuckin toothless and clueless 1st half. Just hope 2nd half isn’t as bad as this shite. :(

  • The result was more than welcome, but our lack of depth in the squad is really starting to show . Can’t make us out at the moment. We’re getting results but our overall standard of play at times is exceptionally poor.Seems when our big game players are out, our confidence with the ball is resorting to going either sideways or backwards . We’re screaming out for someone who’s not scared of being positive with the ball when we’re in control.A schneider esque type of player is for me sadly lacking in this team.Someone who can control the play and pick out the killer pass.Just hope moyes see’s this and addresses this in january. With rvp, rooney and welbeck starting to show that killer instinct, We’ve got the firepower, just nead someone to supply the bullets. If we can recruit a player of that calibre and a dominant centre back, we could have decent second half of the season.

    • @THE RED BARON: Kagawa does it for me in terms that midfielder who knows what to do with the ball in attack. Pair him with Carrick and we got two top-class midfielders. That might sound crazy, but with Kagawa in the correct role with proper formation and strategy, we do not need a Sneijder….

      What we lack are wingers now. It’s appalling how we utilize the wings and extremely predictable. Laughable that we’re Man United but we cannot play much better than Norwich and Hull.

      • @Opti:The problem I have with kagawa is for all his skills,he just can never seem to impose himself fully in a game.Ive lost count how many times he’ll just let the game just pass him by rather than try and control things.I think to get the best out of kagawa he has to have certain types of players around him, basically to do the graft for him.the way we play at the moment, especially with just two central midfielders, don’t think we’ll get the best out of him with the formations we use aswell as no proper partner for carrick.Our wing play has been a problem for sometime now, just another area that neads addressing.Our wing play is very direct and just lacks fluency and variation at times.Just seems we’re becoming very predictable in our overall game, that’s why I suggested a schneider esque type of player.someone with an astute footballing brain who can think outside the box.

  • The days of wanting a performance have long gone. The results at this stage are all that matter. We are getting a head of steam and are now 6 unbeaten. If we invest well in the right areas, you never know. But logic has to be applied and a top 4 finish and maybe a cup would now be a decent finish. Welbeck, De Gea, Januzaj, Smalling and Evens are progressing well and offer us some comfort for the future. Moyes needs to invest well in the next 2 windows as his pathetic excuse about only starting on July 1st is getting tedious and is a poor offering. Now he has to show what he is made of.

    • tonymontanna4united

      @Stephen: Agree 100% with the last comment Stephen.
      It’s really quite tiresome Moyes going on about his lack of time with the squad, I mean it wasn’t like he was in Timbuktu the last few years, surely he knew just like every man, woman and child in the land that we were lacking atleast 2 top class midfielders and some competition for Evra.
      It was his job to go and do something about addressing that, which he failed at quite spectacularly and which has cost us thus far.
      It really is time that this club gets it’s finger out and starts addressing the problem areas quickly, and that starts with this January window as far as I’m concerned.
      I’m not buying any of this BS that January isn’t the right time to buy because you get ripped off and there’s no one of any calibre available.
      The likes of Matuidi, Matic, Koke, Herrera, Bender, Rakitic, Witsel, hell even Cabaye could all be available and would all improve the side.
      Yes we will have to overpay a little, but then years of leaving the midfield to go stale has left clubs knowing how desperate we are for new blood there, so of course we’ll have to overpay, and we only have ourselves to blame for that.
      It just smacks of a measly and lazy attitude to suggest no one is available and that prices are too high.
      With a world cup looming next summer which will inevitably lead to prices rocketing, and no guarantee of top 4 as things stand, I think it would just be totally foolish, arrogant and fucking stupid to let January roll by with no reinforcements brought in.
      With Liverpool now faltering, and none of the top sides apart from City looking anything above average, the chance to really come out of the blocks during the 2nd half of the season and achieve a top 4 finish is still within our grasps.
      Bringing in say a Herrera, Bender or Matic with possibly some LB competition for the atrocious Evra, would give us all such a lift and we could really go into the next few months full of optimism and personally I’d back us to achieve 4th place quite comfortably.
      But doing that costs money you see, and as with every year, we seem to talk a good game, but very rarely put our money where our mouth is.

      • @tonymontanna4united: “But doing that costs money you see, and as with every year, we seem to talk a good game, but very rarely put our money where our mouth is.”
        — do you believe this? We put a lot of money out, but the question is: are we getting our value’s worth??

        Is Ashley Young worth 17 million?
        Is Phil Jones worth 14 million?
        Is Fellaini worth 27 million?
        etc… same old story. It seems like we have money available, but are not sure how to spend it well. I am not saying that I want a guarantee of success-to-money-spent, but I would like something positive from our outlay. Look at Dortmund. They sell big, spend less, and get players who click with current setup. They have done this for at least 5 years.

        We should be able to buy big, sell a little, and find players who click with some overall strategy or team formation if Dortmund can do it on pennies and threaten the football establishment.

        COME ON UNITED!!!!

        • tonymontanna4united

          @Opti: We have money to spend figuratively speaking yes, but all this bollocks about how we would be willing to meet Madrid’s offer of £100m for Bale, or compete with the City’s, Psg’s and Madrid’s of this world for players is rubbish imo.
          The way we went about increasing our bids a few million at a time for Fabregas say, stopping once we reached our limit of just over £30m, says alot to me about our budget and how willing we are to smash our transfer record if need be.
          It’s probably why our club record transfer has gone up by only £1 million for Berbatov in 2008 since we bought Veron in 2001 while the likes of Chelski, Liverpool, Arsenal and City have been spending massive amounts more than they had previously and gone past our record while we spent about the same as Norwich in a summer when we desperately needed to support our new manager.

          To be honest though, that doesn’t bother me per se.
          I used Bayern as an example in the summer and have been saying for nigh on 3 years that if the grade a, top class players aren’t available then there is no shame in finding a rough diamond to polish up, or going for a b grade, very good player.
          They haven’t bought world class grade a players in the last 3 years, instead bringing in the likes of Dante, Martinez, Mandjukic etc (along with a sprinkling of youth talent from their reserves) who have gone on to become key players for them.
          The likes of Matic, Bender, Matuidi, Herrera probably aren’t in the grade a world class bracket, and won’t turn our midfield world class overnight, but they do look gettable and will improve us, and make the difference that could see us step up a level or 2.

          But as I said, that all costs money, and whilst I think certain funds will be freed up, I highly doubt we will be releasing the sort of cash that will allow us to bring in the number of players we need to be bringing in.
          A Herrera say, someone like Shaw at LB, and a top class wide man, is easily the best part of £70m+ right there.
          We haven’t seen that kind of investment since the Glazers arrived, so call me negative but I don’t see why that’s going to change now especially if they take a hit by coming out of the top 4.

  • Manchester United need a midfield player. He has to be technically very good, have presence in the midfield, needs to be available for the Champions League, needs to know the Premiership, needs to be an deliverable target, surely we could do a lot worse than Tom Huddlestone?

  • @ opti
    We’ve been looking for a scoles replacement for some time now, without any success. Just find it unbelievable with the resources at utd’s disposal, we’ve been unsuccessful in replacing the best midfielder of his generation.We’d never find a like for like replacement, but for me, schneider, ever banega, someone of that calibre can take us to the next level. The two players I’ve just mentioned probably come with baggage (temperament, etc), but the same warning came with king eric and look how he turned out.

    • @THE RED BARON: Did not watch the game yet. On holiday, so cannot comment on the game performance.
      Tge problem with our midfield I think is more tactics/style related than player related. Scheijder (I just love him as a player) in the right team is not much better than Kagawa in the right team. Problem is that our team is not the right team. Or differently put, our style of play does not suit them. Even Fabregas will struggle in our current team. The way wr currently play, we need 2 energetic box to box (Jones and Fletcher should be able to perform as well as any worldclass players), or a cdm (Carrick) and a versatile and “intelligent” box to box (Roy Keane replacement)…perhaps a Mikel. Their job is just to win the ball and pass it to our forwards (Rooney or wingers). Any creative midfielder will flop because defense-splitting through passes is not part of the job description. Especially if the passes come at the expense of failing to defend (which most no.10s areby nature guilty of). With our style of play, the only position available for any creative expression is no.10. Unfortunately it is already occupied by someone that is not that creative but cannot be dropped. Everyone else have clear-cut responsibilities which involves first and foremost defending.
      At the current going rate, the only way a creative midfielder will flourish is if RVP leave and Rooney become our primary striker (and Welbeck hit a bad patch…and Hernandez decides he’s had enough). Not likely to happen. The other option is for Rooney to suffer a long term injury, but no one (includinh myself) wants that. Besides, it is bad business to sign a multi-million pound creative midfielder as cover just in case your best striker gets a long tern injury.

      Unless we change our gameplay, we’re kinda screwed (in terms of champagne football) regardless of who we sign. Even if we sign Ronaldo or Messi. We will be better off signing no one.

      • @Karl: yup, what we are missing are world class wingers, like ronaldo. I think just a Bale in that lineup would have made all the difference. Marco Reus could be the best buy for me for now.

        • @jos: The way we accomodate “exceptional” wingers (Ronaldo) is to play Rooney on the wing. How do you think we will accomodate “good” wingers? When what the coach really want is a defensive winger like Park that can play like Nani and can follow instructions like a Valencia.

  • Mikel a box to box midfield player!? When was he ever that? He just stands above the back 4 and does very little, 1 goal in his entire career backs that statement up. Carrick does a brilliant job, intercepts and passes, the most underrated player we have ever had. Scholes was the most creative player in the league, essentially playing the same system we are currently adopting, so Sneidjer and Fabregas would have blended well. I agree the general philosophy is to move the ball quickly as creatively out wide. Hence my belief Huddlestone would be a good sort fix for us. Our system this season is no different to that under Fergie. All be this with a more conservative, less skilled and pragmatic copycat. Moyes needs to learn how to gamble and stop being a coward in games. The foundations are in place with the youth, we just need the quality to put the window dressing on it. But being fair Moyes has been unlucky with injuries. He has to take the blame for the Summer, he hides behind his July 1st appointment, but he had bids turned down well before that date for Baines and Fellaini. He loves an excuse.

    • @Stephen: When we bought Mikel it was for box2box. Chelsea instead used him the way they used Makalele.
      I don’t know enough about Huddlestone so cannot comment. Buy I can guarenyee you that chances of any creative player failing is high. Not because of him, but the way we play.
      Ps. Scholes (old) was not my type of player. Scholes (young) was. Regardless, even he had poor defensive abilities and often became a liability in the team.

  • £14m for Jones is a steal for me.

    • @Stephen: Imo, Jones was a brilliant buy. I just hope he gets bred into the CB position as I believe that Jones and Smalling partnership will be beneficial for both club and country. I see them as the Rio/Vidic pairing.

  • With the Year almost out there are still so many unanswered questions. Surrounding our great club.

    Why was David Moyes the only candidate for the United job? Considering his CV had limited Champions League football, one top four finish and no trophies won, also his football was dire?

    Then why subsequently was he given a six year, £5.5m contract, placing the seventh best paid manager in football, above Klopp, Martino, Pellegrini, Blanc, Low and Del Bosque? Surely a three year deal at £3.5m would have been more suitable.

    If Fergie did decide he would be retiring in December, why did we not move heaven and Earth to secure Pep Guardiola?

    What did Rooney say to Fergie?

    Again, why did we then sign Wilf Zaha in January?

    Why was the Summer such a unmitigated disaster? Moyes new he had the job in May. The World and his wife could see what United lacked. Surely he must have done his homework when he played us?

    If he accepted the job in May, why did he only take over in July?

    Again, if he bemoans the above fact and uses it as an excuse for the clubs failure to land more players, why did we have an offer rejected for Baines in June?

    Why did we not trigger the buyout clause in Fellaini’s contract? He also stated it takes him time to settle, this makes the last gasp panic to sign him even more ridiculous.

    What was going on with the lawyers in Spain?

    Why did he not retain any of the previous coaching staff, who new the club and players?

    What is going on with Rio and RvP?

    If David Moyes was born in London and not Glasgow, would he be the current United manager?

    • @Stephen: Wait, thought we should give Moyes time? Sorry Stephen, I can’t help but be smug even if it comes at the expense of our beloved club.

      And yes, simply put, Moyes was appointed because he is Scottish. Martin Jol (who at least has international experience) would have been rightly laughed off but Moyes the Scottish equivalent who is still a nobody was handed a 6 year contract. This is a Man United manager who says ‘they’ll make it difficult’ for the opposition :roll:

      He needs to be kicked out of our great club before his ‘transition’ becomes terminal.

    • @Stephen: Brilliant!!!

      To me the strangest one is…if you intend “keeping things the same” and “getting to know the players”; why on earth fire the entire backroom staff?
      Were they fired or did they resign? Is there somethibg we don’t know brewing in the pot? Or should this just go down as an idiotic move?

  • The way I see it, we have a completely flawed football setup with a questionable creative hub in the centre of the park with talent on the wings which isn’t being utilised or being underused. Rooney is given the freedom of the pitch with everyone else in rigid positions which doesn’t work as some of the more talented players instinctively drift out of position and get in the way of talentless dross and vice versa.

    De Gea is a world class goalkeeper, let’s enjoy his services before
    Real/Barca come calling. The right back position should belong to the twins only, Phil Jones embarasses himself there and Smalling even more so. We passed up on Garay, so it has to be Rio/Vidic/Smalling/Evans being rotated there. Evra is still reliable imo when you consider that he gets no protection on the left wing. Baines may well arrive, and a hilarious waste of our precious budget he would be, but I’m still holding out for Shaw.

    Rooney being deployed in the hole affects the entire dynamic of the midfield and attack, and not in a good way. Rooney is a world class striker, a mediocre midfielder who should drop back only to receive the ball on the counter-attack. Due to Rooney’s poor creativity, RVP is forced to feed on scraps as he relies on technical support between the lines, anticipating balls even Scholes and Carrick failed to spot according to Fergie. No, Rooney receives the ball, shifts it left/right and spreads it on the wing, which is what the striker is supposed to do, not the No 10. Valencia is simply a pile of horseshit, Young at least tries to cut in with limited success but Januzaj and Nani are shackled to the wing and told to put in cross after cross, a terrible waste. The midfield is simply Carrick holding and Rooney, so essentially if we were to even take Class A world class talent such as Fabregas, he would take time to adjust from a dreamy 6 man midfield to doing the donkey work of both an engine man and a no 10. It would take him time to adjust, which given our current position is intolerable for the rest of the season and he might be risking his World Cup selection with the most competed positiion in world football on the line, the Spanish midfield.

    We need 4 players at least and a gameplay overhaul. Good job we have a truly revolutionary manager eh?

  • The “give him time“ ideology is suited to a manager rebuilding. We last season won the title, comfortably. All he really had to do, was to buy 2 centre midfield players. Keep the coaching staff and to try apply the logic, evolution rather than revolution. But the cynic in me believes Moyes was hires and would protect Fergie, keep the bodies hidden as he was grateful for the job, being from Glasgow they look after themselves.

    • @Stephen: Actually Stephen, all he had to do was keep the coaching staff whilst nursing his own in at the same time. Thatd it. As you mentioned, the previous team won the league comfortably. And given the fact that the big teams all had managerial changes, there was never a better opportunity to seamlessly shift into the post-Fergie era.

      Fergie actally handed Moyes a silver platter to make a name fir himself. He seems to be managing to f it up.

      • @Karl: For the last few seasons many of us were scratching our heads wondering what Phelan added and now his departure is being used in part as a reason for our decline under Moyes. We can’t have it both ways. Rene apparently was offered a role but chose to leave – at least that’s what’s been reported. So, yes I would certainly like to have a coaching staff that had a track record of developing technical skills and flexible tactics at the highest level, but on the other hand once he was offered the job, it’s not terribly surprising that Moyes chose the people he knew and trusted.

        I’d also disagree that Fergie handed Moyes a silver platter. A centre back pairing that was approaching the end of a (very successful) era, a midfield comprising only a single player that might get picked by one of the top 10 clubs in Europe, wingers who were limited at best and hopelessly out of form at worse, and a disenfranchised talisman in Wayne Rooney. In summary, very few players in the peak age range of 25-30 and even fewer performing at the top of their game. Yes – a top notch goalkeeper and centre forward & plenty of youngsters with potential but certainly not what I’d call a silver platter. As has been said many times before, Fergie extracted far more than the sum of the parts in a weak Premier League last season. Even with Fergie, we’d be fighting for a top three place this season.

        • @ForeverRed: I never liked Phelan as ass coach. I still believe we could have achieved much more in Europe if he was technically adept. However, if the intention was to keep things “the same” (like it so obviously is and Moyes even stating the same), then it would make sense keeping the infrastructure the same. At least while he breed in his new staff. If he came with dynamic changes, then by all means I agree a chanhe of personel should be the first matter of business. I don’t see any changes, do you?

          Regarless of what we feel (rightfully so I might add) that the team is lacking, we have to admit that this is the same team that ran away with the league. With all the top contenders (Arsenal excluding) changing managers, this was/is the perfect time for a transition. What more could you ask for than to transition with a team capable of winning the league (of you intend using the exact tactics and philosophy) and then endear yourself by adding slowly what tye team requires?

          I agree the CB pairing is ageing, but they still have a few miles in them. Enough to bleed in a “replica” pairing (which he also inherited) in Jones/Smalling.

          Whether we like the team or not, we have to admit that the team is capable of winning the league again. (Only 8 points adrift amid all the issues we had?) Nah, he got it handed big-time. A golden opportunity to become hero once he sorted out midfield.

          My theory is that he wanted to bring about some changes in philosophy and style but fot some reason had a change of heart. This is especially evidenced by how he originally intended utilising Rooney (as cover for RVP) vs now (playing bitch to Rooney). What or who caused the change of heart I do not know. I only know that it is making him look like the dick.

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