Euro 2012 preview – Reds watch

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Euro 2012 is only a week away and when the continental tournament kicks off in Poland and Ukraine next Friday, United fans will have a very small contingent of players to look at, the smallest in a big tournament in recent years.

England face a tough task in a group including one the host nations (Ukraine), a country against whom England have a terrible record (Sweden) and a team whose golden generation, unlike England’s, delivered results and whose young guns promise to be a stern test for Roy Hodgson’s team as the betting for Euro 2012 suggests.

With Wayne Rooney suspended for the first two games, Danny Welbeck could secure a place up-front if Hodgson decided to play his favourite 4-4-2 formation, but Welbeck has struggled for fitness towards the end of the season, missing the last two games.

Ashley Young’s first season at Old Trafford was overall a positive one, albeit marred by the occasional controversy, and the former Villa man seemed to translate his good form onto the international stage, as he netted the winner for England against Norway a week ago.

Phil Jones could be deployed as right-back or as surprise choice in midfield but Hodgson’s preference for a four-man midfield means that the former Rovers man is likely to spend his first big tournament on the bench as Glen Johnson looks to have secured his spot at full-back despite his poor season for Liverpool.

Jones suffered of a dip in form following a blistering start to the campaign, however after his first season at the club in which the youngster showed huge potential, a trip to Poland and Ukraine is fully deserved.

With Chris Smalling injured and Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick inexplicably omitted from the team, United’s only other presence in group D is Patrice Evra who will hope to put a disappointing season behind him by helping France to progress as far as possible in the tournament.

The Manchester United captain hasn’t had the best of seasons, as he proved time and again that while he hasn’t lost his attacking instinct, his defensive form is a shadow of what it used to be.

Away from group D, United’s only other contributions to the tournament are Nani, who will pair up with the man whose footsteps United fans wish he will one day emulate, and Anders Lindegaard as Portugal and Denmark face each other in group B.

Ronaldo and Nani are the two main attacking threats of a Portugal side who, like England, have shaken off their “golden generation” tag and will look to cause a few surprise during the tournament.

To do so, they’ll have to get out of the “group of death” which also includes Germany and Holland and promises to be a fascinating tale as it looks to be the more evenly poised of the four groups.

Denmark, at least on paper, are the weakest of the four teams but are experts at causing shocks even though today’s team is only a paltry image of the wonderful side that conquered Europe 20 years ago.

Lindegaard’s season was overall positive, despite an injury and David DeGea’s emergence as number one choice between and the Danish will battle it out with Thomas Sorensen and Kasper Schmeichel to earn a spot in the starting XI.
Best of luck to our players as they’ll keep the Red flag flying across Europe.

If you want to place a bet on Euro 2012, William Hill are offering 66/1 on Ashley Young for Top Goalscorer, at that price I think he’s worth a tenner of anyone’s money.

Dan (@MUFC_dan87)

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41 Comments

  1. Nice piece Daniele, but personally I am struggling to get too excited about the Euros’. I think the fog of last season is still hovering over me like a long hangover. The thought of cheering on John Terry who will be beating his chest like the faux warrior he claims to be is a tough one, as Rio should be playing in his place. I have been thinking about the “England ” situation a bit over the past few days. Yes like Ian, Craig and Tony I am a very proud Englishman, but on the other hand I am also a bit disillusioned with the whole situation.
    Firstly for me the manager should have been Harry Redknapp, he was the obvious stand out candidate. The issue with England is not ability as we have some extremely good and World Class players, it is with attitude. Yes I know we have an inability of retaining the ball, but the players either as the press say are “nervous” when the put on the shirt or have no unity. The first point is a fallacy, these players play in Champions League finals and have won titles, for me the second case is the correct one. I know that football is very tribal, clubs mates stick together. We all know that Gerrrard and Terry don’t get on and this is the only ones we really know about. They play as individuals been forced to play together for the greater good, I bet JT and Lamps snigger about the fact Carroll is half the player Drogba is. This creates a scenario where unity isn’t there, they don’t really get on and would rather be playing with their club mates.
    This brings me back to the Rednapp, he brings players together which is his real strength, his man management is his greatest quality. Tactically he is relatively average, but getting players to play is his forte. For me Hodgson has got these qualities in spades, he couldn’t get high profile players like his captain Gerrard to perform for him at Liverpool, what makes him think he can do it with England? All the players know how to play, they know what their role is within in the side, but they need someone to motivate them.
    Secondly the FA are the most incompetent body in the World, bar FIFA. It is extremely difficult to understand why the FA have decided to go with Hodgson, I would imagine that Daniel Levy and the compensation was a big stumbling block. Also Hodgson is yes man, speaks many languages and was certainly the safe option. Rednapp like Brian Clough would have been more of a risky appointment. We all know that he fell out with Brooking at West Ham which I am sure also was an influence. They have made numerous mistakes like playing the FA Semi finals at Wembley, paying Capello £4m a season and failing to sack him because of the compensation after our disastrous World Cup campaign and lets not forget the Luiz Felipe Scolari cockup.
    Lets see how we get on this time,I hope for the best, but I won’t be holding my breath.

    • @Stephen: There is perhaps one thing going for England this time round, and that’s the lowered expectations. There is less pressure on the team than the World Cup in SA, and the media have not made the usual love-ins and erected messiah figures which of course is followed by failure.

      Looking at the squad, the lack of technical midfielders like Carrick, Milner and Lampard is a big, big blow. Ball retention is key against European teams, but countries like Sweden and Ukraine appear to be similarly impoverished of technical players so the outlook in terms of qualifying to the last 8 is optimistic.

      Quarter finals and beyond, England could try Chelsea style 10 men defending, but the big man up front won’t be Drogba, it will be Carroll the big useless lump or Welbeck who will be auditioning for Dancing on Ice. Rooney will be playing in midfield essentially (in the hole bollocks sort of thing) which is a terrible waste as he is England’s only world class attacker, and defensive midfielders will gobble him up.

      • @Moscow:

        With Hodgson in charge we will be extremely dull, he does like to get players behind the ball and strangle games. Milner is in the squad but probably won’t play as we will go with the usual ineffectual 4-4-1-1 with maybe Young behind a lone striker. Not selecting Carrick was a real error, his pass completion rate last season was 90% which is ideal in International football.

        The issue with the press in England is build them up to knock them down. They want to apply so much pressure on the players, hope they loose so they have something to write about. Most journalists want failure, writing about success for them doesn’t give them a chance to show their wisdom or insight on how to make things better.

        The group is tricky, France are on an amazing run, Sweden Ok aren’t great but have Ibrahimovic and Ukraine are one of the host Nations. It will be the classic case of taking it a game at a time.

        Personally I would have still taken Lampard, he would have been out for the group stages but would have been fit for the knockout stages. This is not arrogance with me expecting us to qualify, but we have Parker, Gerrard, Milner and even Jones/Jagielka to fill in the centre. My worry is goals and where they are going to come from. Henderson will probably be warming the bench anyway in the group games, so why not give yourself the option of Lampard in the business end of the tournament (if we get there)

        • @Stephen: Rooney should be played as lone striker, supported by Young, Gerrard and Milner behind him. Parker can hold with the Henderson/Jones/Jagielka. Many people seem to forget Rooney’s best ever season when he played as a lone striker for us in 09/10, and he wasn’t isolated in any way. His aggression, pace, finishing and aerial threat makes him the super striker who allows the team to play 3 in midfield. Germany will play Klose, Spain will play Torres, Holland will play RvP, and they always play at least 3 in midfield, so why shouldn’t England do the same? I would be very frustrated if I was English.

          However as you say Roy has turned out to be the typical lump balls to Carroll manager and it is a shame England fans like yourself will have to suffer watching such medieval football.

          If he plays 4-4-2 against France they are in for a rude awakening. Hopefully Fergie’s signing of Kagawa is a sign that we are shifting from away from that outdated formation.

        • @Moscow: Rooney should play as a alone striker for us, never mind England. We in this Country have 4-4-2 ingrained on our DNA. We cannot get out of this out of our system, get the ball out wide and swing in crosses. This is an outdated system, United play it hence our exit from the Champions league this season.

          England should have taken Carrick and played him in with Parker and Gerrard. Rooney up on his own, flanked by Young and for me Adam Johnson. There is flair and skill in that side as well as players who can retain the ball, but we stick with Gerrard in a two man midfield who is very difficult to play with. Benitez struggled to accommodate him as he plays like a kid at school, chases after the ball like a headless chicken. He has been over indulged by too many managers who were desperate to keep him, so he could do what he liked. This leaves the other midfield player very exposed hence we get totally over run in midfield and why Lampard and him couldn’t play together.

  2. Soooooooooooo Lil man is rocking the boat eh? Only one winner is this battle – FERGIE!

    • @Craig Mc: He certainly doesn’t lack confidence, “Cristiano Ronaldo and I are the best pair of wingers in the world.’
      😯 😯

      • @Stephen: 😆 😆 😆 😆 , ya all know I’m his biggest fan, but yeah talk about short sighted OVER confidence about ones ability. Aaaargh Lil man, you can be so good but you still gotta prove your the best alongside Ronnie – because its nearly five years and counting!

    • @Craig Mc: I’ve just read on The Guardian that contract talks have stalled and Nani is open to a move. Not long before Jose starts sniffing around.

      • @Moscow: I am firstly not sure if Real need him, or he would sign Nani. Remember how frustrated he got with Joe Cole, not tracking back and his general unpredictability. For me Mourinho likes players he can rely on and Nani who is a cracking player is very in and out.

        • @Stephen: There will be a number of clubs interested, who he signs for I don’t know, but I am sure Nani will be replaced by an inferior player or not replaced at all #glazernomics

        • @Stephen: Errr now there I have to disagree stephen mi man, because remember all those stats we got – Nani came out the best NON defending defender in the team. 😀

      • @Moscow: I heard it was juve and inter milan that were interested, and that russian club anzhi who has too much money to burn for their own good 😆

  3. Mmmmmmmmmm Fergie likes a punt doesn’t he? What about Ronaldinho, he is still only just 32 and has walked out on Flamengo due to unpaid salaries and delayed payments. On a free?!!?

  4. @Stephen: I generally think Nani plays much more better consistently when with Portugal than us. He doesn’t dilly dally so much like when he is at united. maybe is the comfort of having Portuguese speaking lads around him but Whatever the case we can’t afford to loose him now no matter how frustrating he can be at times. it wont look good on us. Reading statements from his interview I kinda think he is disillusioned about something

  5. England. vs Belgium. if hazard fails to shine you can expect a barrage of abuse here. if he shines, discussion will be how we missed a gem :-). England 4-4-1-1. Belgium 4-3-3

  6. Well, City will buy Nani just for fun, just to put up another poster and as a replacement for Johnson as well. Would be surprised anyone else buying him now that chelsea seem to have the wingers they need. OUtside england it would be stupid of him to go to INter, Juve never know. Barca, Real might not pay the 30MM we might expect on him.

  7. Meanwhile Turkey beats Portugal 3-1 in Lisbon, that’s what you call winning in style bitches!! 😈 😈

    • @Moscow: Nani scored and Ronaldo missed a pen.

      Currently battling to stay awake as I wait for Argentina vs Ecuador qualifier to start

  8. It does seem inexplicable that with so many midfielders out Carrick didn’t get a call up with players like Jagielka and Henderson getting the nod. With him and Rio snubbed I also cannot really muster any enthusiasm for this England team.

    Certainly on paper I cannot recall a weaker England squad than this one. But maybe that will play into our hands. Far fewer egos than usual, far lower expectations, no Lampard-Gerrard debate, no David Beckham monopolizing the media, with Rooney so dreadful in the World Cup and missing the first few games there is no question of England looking to him as their saviour, and a manager who will be forced to keep it simple as he’s only been with the squad a few weeks.

    • @RedEyes: If Spurs are asking £32 million for Modric either it isn’t true or Ferguson has lost his marbles.

      • @Moscow: How do you mean? It is the Daily mail so chances are the story is bollox. It just happens that the journalist behid the story is about the only half way to reliable source available, as he is about the only British print journalist close to Sir Fergie. In fact many of his published stories have come directly from Fergie in an attempt to manipulate the media

        By saying Fergie has lost his marbels, do you still believe Fergie controls player recruitment and the cheque book? If you do beleive this you need to spend some time learning how the club is managed and financed. As with your comments you are shooting at the wrong person.

        • @RedEyes: I said ‘either it isn’t true’ didn’t I? If Fergie is to be believed he won’t be denied money whenever he wants a player so there should be no problem. Are you telling me Fergie lied? 😯

  9. Roy stated that Rio was omitted from the England squad for “footballing” reasons, is that why Martin Kelly has been called up to replace Gary Cahill? Yes he is a far better player than Ferdinand, my life why aren’t people just honest. It was either him or the player who racially abused his brother?! They went for the latter, the FA they do just that for racism…

  10. Red Eyes if we buy all three players even if it meant breaking the bank we’d be in business for next season:

    De Gea-Jones, Vidic, Evans, Baines-Valencia, Tiote, Modric, Carrick, Nani-Rooney

    That team would be incredibly difficult to beat

    • @colver: eaaasy to beat this team. Dribble down left flank and skip past sliding Jones. The end.
      😆 😆 😆

    • @colver:

      I dont disagree. We need to bring in 3 or 4 players over the summer. I think iTote and Baines are over priced. But as a club we have become used to the “united tax”. Martinez has been quoted at 25 million, but as soon as we go in for him you can guarentee he will go up 10 million. Plus the extra wages for him coming to the wet little hell hole that is Manchester

      My point remains in the current market the prices quoted are the going rate for us. The press story (despite being in the mail) is reliable sue to the journalist concerned (It is Fergies go to guy). I am not sure what Fergies game is here. But if you think about it these player plus the new Japanese lad equils a £100 million + out lay on recruitment costs alone.

      We do not have this money, end of. Unless we sell that is.

      The most ABU sports journalists are now beginning to say that this Glazer reign has to stop before it is to late and this is coming from people that want to see united fail

      This is why is angers me that we have media fed sheep lapping up the bull shit and blaming the manager.

      THE PROBLEM IS GLAZER IF YOU CARE ABOUT THE CLUB DO SOME THING ABOUT IT

      • @RedEyes: If the fans abandon their tickets, there will simply be tourist replacements.

        If Fergie threatens to abandon his position, then there is no replacement.

        Only Ferguson has the power to do something about the Glazers.

        • @Moscow:

          You are telling me things i have already stated. Explain to me please how Fergie can aort our the Glazer situation. He is an emplyee in the last time of his employment. If he wins nothing next season in the current footbll culture and very easily disposable one

        • @RedEyes: The fans are not powerful enough to hurt the Glazers. Fergie ended the Green and Gold protests and has endorsed the Glazer regime, which makes him the only person other than Gill to support them. Since he is the single most important figure in the club’s history, I think he has a better chance than the replacable unsatisfied customers that are the fans. We can do fuck all about it, but Fergie can and won’t, which is why I blame Fergie.

          And just in case you haven’t noticed, only Fergie can make this squad successful, so without him the Glazers have to actually build a world class side which costs £££. So he’s not exactly dispensable.

      • @RedEyes: You see this is where people like you and i differ.
        I dont think theres a single united fan here, who doesnt agree with you and realise quite how much of a cancer the glazers are to this club.
        However to let fergie, the man who so openly supports their regime, get away with it completely because apparently “hes got no choice” is just something i cant go along with (this is a man lets not forget who was never afraid to speak out against edwards over lack of transfer funds under the old PLC).
        Not going to get into the “fergie should have spoken out” debate again, because its obvious we dont see eye to eye there.
        However, may i ask is it not asking too much for fergie to have simply remained tight lipped on all matters involving the glazers?
        Could fergie when asked about transfers and value, not have just kept his mouth shut, and remained rather vague on the issue rather than wax lyrical over the glazers, dozens and dozens of times.
        Many times he would find an opportunity to praise the glazers in answer to a question that had no relation or relevance to anything concerning them. He could be asked about how well the under 17s were doing and he’d still find an opportunity to get in a nice old “the glazers are great” quote in there.
        Hardly sounds like a man who has no choice to me.
        Again this is just my opinion so not calling it fact, but i look at fergie and the way he goes on about the glazers, and i genuinely get the feeling hes actually 100% behind them.
        Not because he has no choice, but because he genuinelly supports them.
        Hes thankful for the full control over the club he is given. Hes thankful for a lack of interference in being pressured into signings etc.
        Hes thankful for the increase of about £2m a year he’s received under their tenure.
        For this, he can happily accept he has lesser transfer funds to go out and buy players with.
        For this, he is quite happy to humiliate himself, and look like a desperate salesman, trying to flog season tickets on the website as weve (surprise, surprise) had a number of fans not renewing this season (albeit that mostly down to financial reasons and not down to glazer).
        But again this is where some of us will never agree.
        Some of us hold fergie accountable in all this and feel hes worthy of criticism for his lack of action, which has now likely resulted in the glazers being unmoveable.
        Others think he has had no choice, and is doing all this for the good of the club.
        Regardless, atleast were all agreed and united in our hatred in the one common enemy in this. That ginger leprechaun tosser who is responsible for all this.
        Atleast we’ll never, or i hope never, end up like the united official website, where they’ve still got morons actually praising glazer, and calling them “good for the club” 🙄
        (SHUDDER).

  11. Ha ha Opti yeah Jones would be the weak link of that team. I pondered about replacing him with Rafael who on his day is world class but the guy is always injured so not really that reliable. Oh for the days when we had Gary Neville playing every game without fail with Irwin on the other flank. In those days there was never any question of players like Beckham or Giggs ever having to track back and help out defensively.

    But then again the team I posted would shut up shop in the middle of the park which would considerably take the pressure off our central defence so we could get away with a bit of sloppy defending from Evra or Jones. The real nightmare was last season when teams were going through our midfield like a knife through butter and our entire defence was collapsing under the pressure.

    Anyway Rome wasn’t built overnight. If we fix our midfield this summer with a few quality signings it will be a great start. Then the next season we can give our defence a makeover.

    Everyone is angling for another striker but in all honesty Welbeck, Hernandez and Rooney should be adequate with Young capable of filling in as a support striker.

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