Darron Gibson gives City the runaround

If you haven’t already seen it, here’s a clip of Darron Gibson giving Nasri, Toure and Dzeko the runaround with some great skill at the weekend.

With Gibson’s form and the improvement of Rafael this season (until Saturday evening that was!) – plus the inconsistent and erratic form of our goalkeepers – does this give more credence to the opinion that people like me and many others have within the RedRants community and beyond, that Sir Alex’s insistence on rotating the squad is denying our players the opportunity to improve to their potential level of performance?

Players need games and teams need consistency, rotation for me denies both…both, if you see what I mean.

Darron Gibson Clip:

Another example was perhaps on show tonight at St Mary’s where Jesse Lingard returned to the U21’s after a short and somewhat uneventful loan spell with Leicester City. 4 substitute appearances is all he had to show for his time there. He headed to Leicester in cracking form but returned way off the pace and looking nervous and rusty.

Players need games.

Can you think of other examples? I’m sure there’s dozens.

What about Sir Alex’s rotation? Do you think it’s the right policy and benefiting the players?


  1. What I find most surprising is that Darron Gibson has had a greater impact at Everton that O’Shea and Brown at Sunderland. Not sure how many of us guessed that would happen.

  2. I think you’re right Ian and the constant and often unnecessary chopping a changing is a big contributor to the lack of cohesion in many of our displays of late. SAF would undoubtedly, and to a point justifiably, argue that we’re top of the league and he knows better than anyone what he’s doing. I would argue that in terms of position (at least the league) he’s probably right, but in terms of spectacle it can be dire – by our standards – to watch.

    Part of the problem I see is that we’ve had a policy over the last few seasons that’s ‘enriched’ us (disproportionately imo) with decent but not outstanding squad players, along with unproven youth. As I and others have said before, it’s only when you bring in a ready made world class player like RvP (along of course with getting spanked in Europe last season) that you realize how big the gap in quality has become in a number of positions in the Utd team. Thus I think for SAF it is easier to justify rotating ‘interchangeable’ squad players, even if uninjured, than it would be leaving out an RvP like player every other game. In other words, lack of top quality incumbents fosters rotation, which in the absence of proven new recruits, or quantum leaps in performance of individual players in a short space of time, becomes something of a vicious cycle.

    Even though at the moment we’re getting by, I completely agree with you Ian that the rotation policy isn’t helping with fluency, team understanding or quality football. What is more perplexing is this season’s approach of extending rotation to the goalkeepers, when it’s obvious that greater stability, understanding and the confidence that comes with it, would go some way to helping our problems at the back.

  3. A team like United that wants to compete at the highest level will need a large squad. It provides depth and competition for starting positions and also gives you different options and looks depending on who you are playing – and so, rotation, to a greater or lesser degree is inevitable.
    United have been beset by a ton of injuries the last couple of years and so the apparent revolving door on who starts or not has been biased by that fact. It’s also true that we’ve had a huge amount of inconsistency within the form of our MF. Without solid and consistent performances from the engine room it’s easy to understand the need to tweak things here and there to get the victory.

    If we were all happy to sacrifice victories for the sake of player education and experience, then the idea of sticking with the same nucleus of starting players would make sense. But were top of the league, usually and go deep into the CL knockout stage (usually) and so the argument against rotating the squad has to be measured against what successes we are having.

    Of course if we had solid to WC players in all aspects of our game the point would be moot – the younger players trying to break through would have to be of a much higher caliber and thus, their “learning” and experience needed to get a starting job would be much, much less than the maybe-ifs we’ve been trying to blood lately.

  4. Interesting comments by SAF regarding Mourihno. It’s not the first time he’s thrown praise in the direction of His Specialness and you have to wonder if this is the ground breaking of the news that might be difficult for a lot United’s faithful to swallow.

    i would imagine that if Ferguson doesn’t time his retirement to the availability of World Class managers then he may feel some internal pressure to do just that.

    With Pep and Jose as favorites to always manager the best clubs in Europe, and both seemingly available come summer we might see the great man take the big step.

    Mourinho is an intriguing character who I don’t dislike at all. He has a relentless style that puts an enormous amount of pressure on himself and the players to succeed. We could do much worse (please not Moyes!!) and we couldn’t do much better. My only reservation is, if the Glazers hire him how long will it be before his demands for better players (ooh, yes please) will outweigh their appetite for success on the field. That would seem like a train wreak waiting to happen!!

    • @Redrich: Yes Mourinho at United can be perfect test for him to prove whether or not he can WIN with not-so-worldclass players. He is not gonna get same kind of money as at Real or Chelsea for Glazers are too parsimonious for that. Lets see if he can operate at the top level with an annual 25m outlay.

    • @Redrich: Mourinho would be great for United.

      I guess I struggle to believe that we could be so lucky as to have Sir Alex Ferguson (the greatest manager ever!) step down only to be replaced by Jose Mourinho (the next best manager ever).

      Does lightening strike twice?

      I’m affraid of allowing myself to dream. I would hate to have my dreams dashed.

      So I look to the mortals like Josep Guardiola and David Moyes.

      Imagine Jose Mourinho working with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Gary Neville? Glorious! We would be unstoppable.

      Here’s to dreaming…

  5. Yeah, play the same team week in week out just like Chelsea did, start really brightly and when the first choice 11 start to tire then we all know what happens just look at Chelsea’s results lately….

    You all know much better than Sir Alex after all what’s his knowhow in football in comparison to you part time bloggers.. pffft…

    • @Indian Devil: Possibly the most over-used sentence in the history of football forums….thanks for that….oh and btw…..your comment makes you sound like you think you know better than Mourihno


  6. It’s simply a matter of big fish in medium pond, Ian. I am in now way derogating Gibson’s talent but Everton don’t have to juggle four or more competitions every year. This is the first year that they have to face the prospect of actually “running” for something as they are fighting for a top four finish. Even then their squad is somewhat completely dependent on Fellaini. When a team like M. United (a team which everyone wants to beat as it is everyone’s cup final) plays around 50 games in a year, you cant have same players playing all games. Look what happened to Hazard and Oscar as they were made to play every game (even League cup) and now they are looking for second wind (something players should be doing around march end).

    Squad rotation is important but like ‘foreverred’ said, it’s more of a case of having players who are interchangeable interspersed with few world class talents. The problem is that United are in the last year of their cycle as this is Scholes’ and Giggs’ last season, Ferdinand’s supposedly last or one of the last few and even Anderson is on his last chance this season. We have world class talent presently in Striker department and one CB (who is injured presently). I expect SAF to do something RVP-like for midfield and even defense in the january window or in the summer one which means then there will be another cycle of few years where United will play wonderful and less-stroke-inducing football. Just like in 07-09. Cheers!

    • @Suraj: Dood, can you name the best eleven from season 98/99?

      I’m sure I can, and I’m sure 90% of us on here would all submit the same team if we tried it. Fact is United have always been many teams’ cup final, that won’t change any time soon. We’ve almost always competed on four fronts and in 99 you don’t need reminding of what we achieved…therefore your point seems a bit….well, mute, because we rotated when necessary AND had a best XI, the same cannot be said for todays team and that in my opinion is having a detrimental effect on the standard of football we’re seeing, especially ‘without’ the ball.

      • @Ian: Then you completely skipped over the second part of my comment. Even i can name the best 11 of that season but the point is that the current United squad, especially in midfield and defense, is either overage (Scholes, Giggs, Ferdinand, Evra and even Carrick) or Underage/Under-experienced (Cleverley, Kagawa, Jones, Buttner or even Powell if you consider him first team material).

        The point is that United are in such a phase that none of the young players in midfield or defense is quality enough to play every week which is why the experience of the older lads is sometimes needed. Moreover, like I said before, Giggs, Scholes and maybe even Ferdinand are on their last leg which means that there are going to be additions next year in midfield/defense and hopefully they would be “RVP-Like” which means high quality so that they can start week-in week-out instantly.

        United are neither Chelsea or City, meaning we rarely buy stars who are already experienced in their positions. Or even like Arsenal who buy players who might be good later on. You mention the 98/99 season but I am saying about the phase between 95-99 or the phase between 05-09. The start of the phase always results in chopping, changing, clearing of dead wood and trying out new things. In the middle is where you see quality growing with some room for improvement left. AND THEN you have the 98/99 or the 07/08 season where a world class team is ready to roll. What i am saying is that this is the start of a phase. I am relaxed, and even Sir Alex is relaxed in this manner, because it is apparent what we will see in a couple years time.

        Lastly, if you can name the best 11 of 98/99 then you must have known that that team was 13 years ago and United are still fighting for everything. I enjoy this constant. You enjoy the worries. Cheers!

  7. I think rotation at a club as big as United is unavoidable. But itt should be managed better perhaps.

    Its difficult to argue with a manager who sits 3 points clear of a more consistent City side but it would be nice as know-it-all fan to see some more continuity in the side.

    Anderson should have been given a lot more games in the beggining of the season when Ferguson was playing Scholes alot.

    De Gea is the more naturally gifted keeper. Lets just stick with him. De Gea can make saves Lindergard could only dream of making. Lindergard is being given an opportunity, I believe, because he was promised a fair contest for a place at United when we signed him. So Ferguson has to give him some games before he benches him fulltime.

    “I’m not here to pick my nose” I recall Lindergard saying when asked about his ambitions for getting into the team. So I think this run is more to appease him than because he is that much better than De Gea. He has a little more fight in him than De Gea I think though.

    Nani shouldn’t have been benched or excluded as much as he has been. Its not right for Ferguson to take out personal differences on Nani. The guy can play. Let him play. Rooney has bad days at the office too but you don’t see him being treated like Nani. Maybe Nani shouldn’t be punching kids either but can we focus on football please.

    Giggs needs to retire. Scholes can still contribute. Welbeck needs chances up front alone like RVP gets.

    Cleverly also just needs more consistent game time.

    Fletcher should be loaned out to give him regular football so he can build up his form separately without his rehab costing players like Powell, Cleverly and Anderson games.

    The only frustration for me with regards to all this chopping and changing is that we don’t know who our best team is or what our most lethal combination is.

    Rooney and Kagawa is the biggest selection headache of the whole lot I think.

    And if we don’t know what our best combo is then we can’t give the combination consistent games to build their understanding and chemistry.

    I think we lose a lot of good football to a lack of continuity.

    • @The_Philosopher: get over nani man. he is leaving plain and simple. not having signed the contract says it all. Thats why SAF wont play him. He doesnt mind losing players but he damn does not like being disrespected. hes old school.

      In any case, theres hardly anything a manager can do if a player doesnt want to stay.

  8. Ian you are spot on. Keep rotating players, especially goalkeepers for me is madness. Players needs games, Fergie tries to keep Rooney, RvP, Evra and Carrick constantly in the starting 11. The issue for me certainly is the keeper, both I feel are not up to standard or, too young. This breeds uncertainly in the defence, especially in the case whoever plays with Rio, eg Evans.
    Fergie likes to rotate as he feels it keeps players fresh, but we do suffer from a lot of soft tissue injuries. Also players who are in from need games, Anderson has suffered with being pulled in and out of the side which may not have helped his form for us.

  9. @Ian – lol.. With a bit more effort you could have defended yourself better or at least I would have appreciated your efforts to do so but… anyways..

    Come on mate, tell me what have Chelsea achieved by playing same 11 (almost) till now? Ten points behind us and almost kicked outof CL.

    • @Indian Devil: There has to be a balance. Rotating keepers hasn’t helped the fact we have conceded so many goals this season. There needs to be a spine and working around that is fine.

  10. @Stephen – Agreed mate re. the keepers, but think for past few games Anders is between the stick for us and he came in only when David got injured. Now I am sure we’ll see David in the cluz game not as a result of rotation but rather due to average performance from Anders which I would be really happy with as I believe David is our best option (no disrespect to Anders).

    And my previous comments were with regards to players other than GK as I believe those players are the focus of this article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *