The Academy: Wolves 5 – 2 MUFC

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The less said about today’s result the better. I’m not suggesting we should be dismayed or in any way embarrassed – far from it, Wolves looked a competent side with some talented lads. What I mean is, the 5-2 scoreline masks what was actually a closely contested game played at a high tempo and in the right spirit. Unfortunately for United they were missing key players and their defence continues to make individual mistakes and then struggle to rectify them as a unit.

United took the lead after 10 minutes through Joe Rothwell. Possibly inspired by his effort against Blackburn making it into MUTV’s ‘Goal of the Month’ competition, Joe found himself just enough space on the edge of the box to float a delightful effort curling into the top left hand corner. There was very little backlift and very little space to work with but the second it left his boot you could see it was destined for the back of the net.

The goal capped a positive start for United after Paul McGuiness was forced to drastically alter his plans with the loss of three key players to injuries. Luke McCullough’s eye injury sustained in the Derby last week hadn’t healed sufficiently enough to start and Tom Lawrence was again unavailable this time with a groin strain. I haven’t a clue what’s happened to Gyliano van Velzen but hopefully none of the injuries will keep them out for too long.

Wolves were content to let United have the ball but press them into mistakes, each time they regained possession they were keen run at United’s defence and get crosses in.

The equaliser came on 27 minutes after a few minutes of sustained pressure from Wolves had United’s defence in chaos. United had the chance to clear a freekick but, like weeks gone by, they failed to properly clear their lines and were slow to move out. A shot from outside the box was drilled in low only to be parried by Joe Coll. It looked like a certain goal when the Wolves striker bared down on the rebound but he blasted it against the bar and the following rebound was hit wide by another Wolves player. Somehow United were still ahead, but only just.

Seconds later, United escaped again when some more slack marking led to Wolves hitting the post (sorry for the lack of players names for Wolves btw but they didn’t provide any teamsheets). The writing was on the wall and it was only a matter of time before United were undone.

True enough, the goal came seconds later in much the same fashion as the previous chances had been carved out. Wolves were allowed to get a cross in from their left and two players were left in the centre of the box on the 6 yard line seemingly unmarked. Both players had a touch and Joe Coll was beaten. To be honest, from where I was it looked like a suspicion of offside, it looked impossible not to be, but without highlights to refer to it’s hard to know for sure. No flag was raised and the goal stood.

United were under heavy pressure now but still Wolves were happy to concede possession to United and let them make mistakes, sadly, predictably, that’s exactly what they did.

1-1 at half-time was a fair reflection on the game so I took a mooch into the Academy for a drink and a bite to eat…….BIG MISTAKE! They were serving tea, coffee and soup. I chose the soup and I’m still regretting it now, 10 hours later! If you’ve ever tasted cattle shite you’re probably somewhere near knowing what it was like ….. I imagine!

Anyway, the second half began quietly with United again trying to play their football and creating the odd half chance with some neat play from Pearson, Rothwell and debutant Adnan Januzaj, the latter looking a very decent prospect with the ability to pick a pass and slide passes in behind defences. He’s not the only one with that ability. Tom Lawrence, Joe Rothwell and Ben Pearson all can and like to pick these passes. Jack Barmby showed today that he can also pick the clever pass and split a defence. Put those five players in the same team and the intricate passing we’re trying to achieve would stand every chance of succeeding, that makes the obvious need for a more positionally aware striker all the more evident.

I think it’s unfair for me to suggest Sam Byrne isn’t a good player, to be honest I just haven’t seen anything from him yet. Yes he puts the effort in but he’s there to score goals and by my reckoning he had one shot today (off target) and I can’t recall too many he’s had in other games. Can we blame the service? I’m not sure, there were many occasions today when United got in behind with a chance to pull the ball back from the byline for a simple tap-in, but each time the one man who I think should be there screaming for it is the striker and he was nowhere to be seen. That’s why I simply suggest it’s his positioning that’s lacking because I don’t have the evidence to assess his technique. If he was in the right place I’m sure he’d get the service from the gifted lads he’s got behind him.

In my preview I suggested removing Byrne and playing without a striker, after watching Januzaj I’m more convinced it’s the way forward with the personnel at the managers disposal.

Predictably it was defensive lapses that led to Wolves taking the lead on 56 minutes when they were allowed the freedom to run with the ball straight into the heart of the defence and, clearly through on goal, Charni Ekangamene, stand-in leftback for the day, had little choice but to make a last ditch tackle just 10 yards out. The tackle was rash but he had no choice, clearly a foul the penalty was awarded and emphatically put away by (I think) Zeli Ismail.

Barmby had a great chance to level the game at two-a-piece a few minutes later when he found himself one-on-one with the keeper from a tight angle on the left but he skewed his shot wide of the far post. Had he known he had more time to set up for a shot on his right foot I think he would’ve opted to do that, the chance was begging to be bent in the far corner.

Barmy came alive in the second half. The first half he’d been quiet, not seen much of the ball and when he did he was often showing too much of it to the defender who took it away from him, a problem he needs to address because it’s an all too familiar habit. But, to his credit he persisted with running at the defenders and got some rewards, hopefully he’ll build on that.

Two goals in the space of a few minutes around the 70 minute mark killed United off and the game as a contest was gone.

Both goals similar in origin, an attack down our right side, Luke Hendrie unable to prevent the cross and Wolves getting on the end of it to find the net. They were that simple, enough said. Credit to the scorer of the third goal though, a remarkable header to turn a brilliant cross to the far post in.

Barmby drilled a penalty in to pull a goal back with 5 minutes to go after Januzaj was brought down in the box. Unlike Wolves’ penalty this one had a hint of ‘was it / wasn’t it?’ about it. I think Adnan had been fouled a couple of times on his was to goal and could’ve ‘earned’ a penalty but when the final tackle came in I think it was a good one but the referee balanced it out and pointed to the spot.

The match was summed up for me in the final moments of the match. Tyler Blackett, who was again playing out of position at centre back due to the absence of McCullough, won the ball brilliantly and ran the ball into Wolves’ half. He continued his run and the ball came for Ben Pearson in the centre circle who came under pressure and, to the managers disgust (he put his shaking head in his hands), he played a simple ball to Declan Dalley but gave it straight to Wolves. United managed to fend off the subsequent attack while Blackett was trying to get back but seconds later, before United could regain their shape, Wolves struck again to make the score 5-2 and that’s how it ended.

That last goal is a perfect example of what’s happening at the minute, simple, needless errors are putting this side under unnecessary pressure and players playing out of position doesn’t help matters but it is providing them with experience. Charni had a fairly decent game at leftback I thought. Tyler gets attracted to the ball too often and causes the defence to get completely out of shape. Hendrie’s getting better at rightback but he had a mare in the second half, maybe the manager will explore other options there but who knows.

Anyway, I’ve reserved the last few words for a man who thought the day was all about him and not the football……the referee.

In the very first minute I heard him threaten to send Joe Rothwell off for saying something out of turn, it’s a bit unusual that early in a game…..it was a sign of things to come. He barked his orders at players for pinching inches on throw-ins, he booked 4 players for Wolves and Ben Pearson for United but unfathomably shrugged his shoulders at the two worst tackles of the game, he even stopped play after a United freekick just to allow a substitution. Bizarrely, he restarted the game with a drop ball which Wolves gave back to United. The bloke was making his own rules up by now! Even the normally quiet Paul McGuiness was irritated enough to signal his displeasure at the referee’s oddball manner “let the f**king game play man!”. Hopefully that’s the last we see of him this season.

That and the soup aside, the game had some positives and just reaffirmed the defensive frailties that need to be improved upon. We move on to Liverpool away next Friday in a midday kickoff. Regular tweets as usual from @Rimmerstweets or @Ian_Red_Rants on Twitter.

As usual your thoughts, opinions and feedback good or bad are more than welcome.

Ian.

Team: Coll / Ekangamene, Blackett, Dalley, Hendrie / Rothwell, Daehli, Pearson, Januzaj, Barmby / Byrne
Subs: (None Used) Jacob, Gorre, McNair, Love, Rudge.

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62 Comments

  1. Thanks for the insight into the game. I’m looking forward to watching the highlights tomorrow.

  2. I forgot to mention the highlights are on MUTV around 5pm tomorrow night. I think I’ll have a link to the goals too. You’ll know mo0 off RedCafe, he posts them on his England Blog.

    http://www.englandfootballblog.com/ – I’d recommend everyone goes for a look at the site, there’s not much Aidan doesn’t know about what’s going on with youth players in England.

    Cheers Aidan.

  3. What I got from this is that the United defence seems to have very little organisation. Help me out here Rimmers, because since I’ve not watched the game it’s not possible to say anything about it. I’ll just have to ask you a few questions

    Who is the leader in the defence? You can’t play a defensive line without someone being vocal, giving orders, take initiative. Watching from the stands, have you noticed whether the communication skills are decent? It doesn’t necessarily have to be one screaming all over the place, giving orders, but rather someone who goes out quickly, or stays on his line… As a defender you need to both mark space and man, which can be a challenge for a lot of youngesters. Especially these days where the game is so free flowing, and offensive positions don’t mean an awful lot. Who is the mature guy, the leader of the pace in defence?

    And how do they defend? Is there an offside trap, zonal marking, do they push wingers inside or outside? How to they cope with strikers, and when the midfielders are following up, is it too much of a counter attacking based mentality, or is there focus and understanding in the defensive line?

    I’ve read two or three of your academy reviews, and what I get from it is that our midfield and offence is very good. Unlucky perhaps! But the defence doesn’t seem solid, and although there are some great individuals out there, I wonder whether they work together and have that wolf-pack leader. Without that, this team won’t get as far as their potential will allow them.

    • I’m glad you ask that tbh Eddy, I had a similar conversation on Twitter with @TimGarnett. I think I said something along the lines of “we desperately need a leader” during the game versus Boro at Carrington and the argument was put forward that that generally means a powerhouse/bruiser/stopper in centre mid. I disagreed with that and said every single player on the pitch should be a communicator because it’s a vital ingredient of success in any team at ANY level. So I totally agree with what you’re saying.

      At the moment United should (in my opinion) be looking at Luke McCullough to take on the role. He’s the dominant central defender and the captain, not to mention possibly the most able player in the squad, he’s heavily involved in play and a 2nd year scholar.

      My argument/reasoning was that right now we don’t have one let alone a full team of communicators. It needs one man to get it started, not only communicating himself with authority but he needs to encourage others to do the same……communication’s infectious but initially it needs to be encouraged and if it still doesn’t work then either he or the gaffer need to be giving out a few bollockings until they start to communicate. Some players may never pick up certain technical skills and fair enough….but communication is something everyone’s able to do so there’s no excuses.

      Players playing out of position is contributing to the problems. Hendrie isn’t a RB really so he’s REALLY just learning and getting started. Tyler was yesterdays captain and leader in CB but got dragged out of position so often he was barely there, that left Dalley exposed who in fairness showed some really clever defending when covering but again had lapses leading to goals. He’s only been at the club a few months though so he needs time. Charni was at LB yesterday and, being a CM he was being attracted out of position but what can we expect, they don’t know the roles and they’re keen to get involved in the action…..who can blame em for that at this stage? If it’s still happening in February/March then there’s something a miss.

      The good thing is any improvements will be obvious 🙂

      Getting forward the problem lies in Sam Byrne I think, when the boys do counter Sam tends to come looking for the ball. When he gets it he never thinks to play a one-two he pops the ball back in front of himself which gives the opposition chance to regroup and get behind the ball and us with a striker out of position. He needs to run in behind and time his run because with Lawrence, Rothwell and now Januzaj there’s player’s who’ll look for that pass on the break.

      We struggle to defend against counters too but again that’ll improve in time….and a lot of it boils down to your point…..COMMUNICATION.

      Seriously, I’ve heard people talk on other sites about how ‘shit’ the team is and how ‘they shouldn’t be getting beat this often we’re Man Utd’. Well, would you rather support/watch (for example) Everton who won the Academy league last season but their first team struggled and only ever produces talent from their academy to sell?

      No, me either, if United lose every game of their academy season but the players develop for better in the process; and United keep producing talent and winning leagues and cups long term then I’m a happy man, can’t see the point in concentrating on results.

      I nearly went into a rant then! :mrgreen:

      • Thanks, the main reason why I asked is because my local team have had the same issues. People played out of position, hence leading to them having to adapt to a totally new role, leaving them too focused on that to have the courage or ability to be that leader. I’m a natural left back, but because of issues with a new coach I spent much of this season starting on the bench. He wouldn’t listen to what I had to say about defending, and decided to use a back four which consisted our target-man striker, our playmaking midfielder, last season’s right winger, and a left back which spent most of the game inside the opposition’s penalty area. We ended up with a goal difference of -13, I think, despite winning half the games. We only got two clean sheets that season, and both of them came in 2 of the 4 games I started during the course of the season.

        When players, especially young ones, spend too much time adapting to a new position, they don’t really have the time or concentration levels to communicate. When I play left back, my natural position, I’ll scream my head off and dictate the players around me, raising their concentraion levels and awerensess. But when I’m used on the wing, or on right back, I’ll focus too much on what I’m supposed to do and I kinda shut up… Every time I read your academy reviews I read things like “He’s actually a winger/striker/midfielder, but we’ll probably see him in the back four somewhere”. This is one of the dumbest things you can do to a youngster. It’s not just about playing football, because youngsters that age will often lose confidence if they get deployed everywhere. I know some coaches think “If I use him more places, he’ll think that he has so much ability that he can master every role”. But it’s wrong, and plain stupid!! They may use it to judge the character of someone, but I still have probelms with it.

        I’ve always had a problem with Evra being captain for us, at least in backup for Vidic. He is all over the place, unlike Vidic who I actually feel has the physical and mental presence to be that leader. He is dedicated to football, to Manchester United, and he knows his team-mates. A wonderful captain! I also think Rooney would be an amazing captain, not only because of his mentality and because he’s vocal as fuck, but because he is smart. Although he seems to be all over the pitch at times, he knows why he is there and he is the boss. I’ve also noticed that Anderson, at the start of this season, talked incredibly much. He critizised Evra for being to offensive, he gave orders to Cleverley, and he started pointing with his fingers to Nani and Jonesy against Bolton. I haven’t seen that since the Bolton game, he has looked very quiet. Young is also very vocal, and you can see him talking to every player around him. You don’t see that with Nani, Chicharito, Welbeck… And to be fair, not even Jones! I’m against the opinion of him being captain, at least from what I’ve seen so far. He seems to focused on his own game to lead United, and looks very quiet on the pitch.

        This points leads me to why I think we have been so unstable defensivly this season. Van Der Sar, Rio, Vidic and O’shea have been one of the most vocal guys I’ve seen in the United backline. They’ve all been replaced with De Gea, Jones, Smalling, and Evans. Of those 4, only Evans has striked me as a dicater. He talks a lot, and actually helps out Evra too much than he actually should do. Even Valencia, when deployed at right back, seems quiet as a mouse. I fear for our defence when I see this, as I am yet to see a solid defensive performance this season. Bolton away is the closest you’ll come, and that was with a pairing of Rio and Evans, our most vocal centre backs with Vidic out.

        On to the Academy players again… The best teams are those who know their roles, are leaders, and of course also has talent. From what I’ve read, these guys have more than enough talent to become good! But they don’t seem to know their own roles, leading to them not talking as much as they should do. McGuiness should really look into himself and question what is best for these lads, and not only the team as a whole. These guys play to become greats in the future, not just to make an academy team win.

  4. Learning to play in several positions is always important. But at the same time, it can hamper a player’s development. Take O’Shea for example who’s a master of all trades; capable of playing in pretty much any position in defence or midfield. He was really impressive at left back when he first broke into the first team. He should have made that position his own but instead he became a utility player because of his versatility. Instead of becoming a top class left back, he became a competent player at everything.

    I think it’s best to try young players in different positions up until they’re about 13/14. After that, you should really concentrate on playing in one or two positions.

    Luke Hendrie is currently learning to play the right back position because we’re short on defenders in this group of players. Why didn’t we recruit or promote more U16 defenders and strikers? Hendrie showed promise as central midfielder last season, scoring two goals in a game. By playing the majority of his games at right back, he’s not developing into the central midfielder that he should be. Maybe the coaching staff see potential in him as right back though. Tom Cleverley was also used as a full-back during his Academy days. He couldn’t be further away from being a full-back now. I can’t help but wonder if he would have developed quicker if he was used as midfielder more often when he was younger. Charni Ekangamene is another young midfielder who is suffering because of his versatility, in my opinion. He’s had to play in several positions since joining the club, so it’s difficult for him to cement a place in the team.

    • I agree that players should learn to play in different positions, but you have to look at their mentality and skillset. If some players are still trying to grow accustomed to a role, you shouldn’t force them into trying yet another one at the same time. Football doesn’t really turn serious until you are 13-14, and these guys are only 16-17? Playing, for example a left back, isn’t as simple as just knowing how to position yourself. You need to know how to adapt to different players, when to go forward or hold your run, push people wide or back, when to be cover for other players, or look for cover yourself. Movement both with and without the ball are incredibly vital, as a modern defender also has to know how/when to attack. This takes years to grow into, and know well… If you decide to use a full back in another position, it should be as a winger, so he knows what to anticipate, how to attack, when to cover and how to defend etc.etc.

      You’ll much rather have a player who is totally comfortable playing one position, and managing to cope in two others, than having a player who is just alright in three different. That’s what happends when you use a player in a different positions whilst still trying to learn making his positions his own, inside out. Time, understanding, and proper management is vital for this.

  5. @RedDevilEddy The only point you make that I kind of disagree with is not trying players out of position, I definitely don’t regard it as ‘stupid’. I’d side with @T-Clev90 and think players should experience other areas of the pitch and find out what’s involved in front or behind their usual/natural position. It helps give them a better understanding of what’s happening/needs to happen in front of them which helps when they revert back to the natural slot….it also helps your original point about communication – if a player’s knowledge of the role in front of him is good, it loads him with the knowledge to communicate the right instructions/warning.

    The funny thing is, after yesterday I’d actually try Charni at rightback.

    • I think a player should be able to play in different positions, my point is just that he shouldn’t be forced into learning a new position on the pitch if he is already trying to learn what will be his natural position. When someone can fully say “I am confident and know my role in the team”, then you may look at his skillset and try him out in a position you think he would cope really well in. But not unless he has learned his own position fully! 🙂

  6. Only one camera at the game yesterday and the highlights/replays are inconclusive on the offside 1st goal, Dalley probably playing him on if I’m honest.

  7. I’ve changed my mind about the was it/wasn’t it penalty of ours….it WAS a pen! No doubt

  8. Rothwell’s goal was superb. He showed wonderful technique and quick feet to create the opportunity to score. Januzaj really impressed me. The lad oozes class and is already one of the top prospects in this group, which is just going from highlights. The defence still don’t have enough protection and look vulnerable against pace. We played some lovely stuff but simply can’t defend well enough to win games at the moment.

  9. Oh dear it looks like the Wolves lads decided to turn up-hate to say – I TOLD YOU SO! We are Wolves……………

    • You told me nothing, pal. I was hoping for a draw and expected a tough game. We’ll see where both groups of players are in 4/5 years time.

    • Two things spring to mind instantly here……

      1. Wolves 3-4-0 _ United 19-11-3

      2. Will you sell Kempton and Ismail? Probably.

      Enjoy your win John, that puts you into 6th in the Academy league…..superb! :mrgreen:

      btw John, have you ever heard this joke? It works when the punchline’s done in Brummie, you do talk Brummie don’t you? I know you’re a small town near there somewhere…..

      What’s the difference between a Buffalo and a Bison?

      Ans: You can’t wash your hands in a Buffalo!

      Classic :mrgreen: 😆

  10. Ian, did you do the ‘courteous’ thing and finish the soup, or could you not bear to finish it and discreetly dropped it in a bin somewhere?

  11. Guess who I think I’ve convinced to join the Twitter revolution??????

    😯 😯 😯 😯 😯 😯 😯 😯

  12. Yes it is true, Grognard has gone hypocrite and joined Twitter to partake in Red Rants tweeting. Trust me, if it were not for Red Rants and United, I wouldn’t be seen or heard on that abomination but as for just chatting up footy and more specifically our linked passion Man Utd, well the more forums to do so the better I guess. Groggy is spreading his wings. 😀 😀

  13. I don’t know??? One minute you get sick and bedridden then meds and fever make you delirious and the next thing you wake up and you’re a memeber on Twitter. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! 😈 😈

    • Grog what are you eh? 😉 😆 . I suspect you’ll be changing your sig name in the not too distant to ‘My resistance these days is futile’ 😀 . You’ve been well and truly got at, and succumbed mate. Oh how the mighty has fallen! Grog when you get your mightiness back – I will be throwing one hell of a party to celebrate. I am a believer – Grog will recover HIS MIGHT of the truly resistant to all enemy power. Sith Sith Sith 😆

        • Yeah Johnsom – seems like you and I are the only BASTIONS of true resistance left – or are you a twitterer too 🙁

        • Aaaah so I am flying SOLO for the RESISTENCE – well viva le resistence and those of us who still stand against the twitter bug-gers and their evil tweets. 👿 👿 👿 😆 😆

        • Craig, you don’t know the power of the dark side. Join me and together we can make Twitter conform to our expectations. Craig, they never told you about your father did they? Craig….I am your father. Join me on Twitter and we will rule as father and son. Embrace the dark side of hypocrisy or you will fall victim to it. RESISTANCE IS FUTILE. 😈 😈 👿 👿

        • 😆 😆 😆 – that would be a NO and a NEVER – as Dad you should know I have the heart of the OVERCOMER 😉 😀

      • What can I say? I guess I’m the diet Coke of Evil, the margarine of evil. I’ve lost my dark mojo but trust me, Fergie has ways over a long season on how to best bring my darkness out. So I say put the trust in Fergie to deliver some really bland, boring football and you will see the NASTY ONE come out of his love cocoon again.

        • 😆 😆 😆 – Grog has gone soft as SOFT can be – you are just putty in the hands of all who cross your path now my friend – sad sad sad – tis indeed a sad day and a rude awakening for lesser mortals – the cast iron will of Grog the warrior has been BROKEN 😉 😆 .

        • Not broken – just harnessed to deliver on a grander stage than merely RedRants – Craig……..

          ……sorry to say this……..

          ………………but you too…………

          …..WILL SUCCUMB!!

          One day 🙂

        • Yes Yes Yes, I like that. Harnessed. Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war. 😆 😆

        • Sorry Rimmers – but hell will freeze over before I ever succumb to the ONE LINER twitterers 🙄 😆

  14. So what will our team be against the scouse GITS? Will we play 5 in MF and 1 little lost soul up front trying to do something on his poor ole lonesome? If so who will that lonesome one be? I can’t see Fergie risking us playing a 4-4-2 in this game – what do your football brains tell you? Better still what do your crystal balls tell you – do you see a United win, draw, or loss?

    • Liverpool are a very odd team. They seem to drop Carroll for home games, and start him in away games, which is pretty odd. Carroll is a player who is only possible to use when a team is dominant and get to crosses, and even though getting a goal he was shit during the whole Merseyside derby. He got a goal, yes, but I doubt he would have gotten that if Everton had 11 men on the pitch.

      I think Liverpool will line up with Suarez up front, with Downing and Kuyt/Henderson as wingers. Lucas is a certainty in there, and we’ll see whether he opts to start Gerrard or not. If he chooses to start with Gerrard we will have a great chance of winning the midfield battle, because although Stevie G is a monster of a player he hasn’t played a full game since March, and his age is catching up with him. If we have a pairing of Cleverley and Anderson in the middle we should be able to handle them, as our energetic midfield will cut out his and Adam’s static movements. Lucas is the only thing standing in our way, but I expect him to be given the role of catching Rooney.

      I am very much against a Rio-Vidic partnership in this game. Suarez is incredibly mobile and can create havoc for us, and unless Carroll starts I don’t want to see those two start. Vidic is very positional orientated, which is a good thing, but only if Rio is able to move around and mark players instead of room. I haven’t seen that with Rio lately, so I’d much rather go with Smalling or Jones next to Vida who actually have the pace, stamina, and the somewhat tactical awereness to handle the man from Uruguay.

      Young and Nani are certain starters for me, and I don’t think I need to explain why. Both of Liverpools full backs are very offensive in their play, and both Nani and Young are masters at tracking back. They are both also incredible attacking wise, unpredictable for the opposition and real team players. We are gonna need that this game, along with a definitive width that we didn’t have last season by playing Nani and Fletcher, eventually Giggs and Fletch, on the wings.

      Now I think Fergie has a real issue concerning the choice up front. Liverpool are most likely going to play Carragher and Skrtel, which means a lot of heigth and strength with little pace. Now Rooney is as said a certain starter, but if you look at what Welbeck and Chicharito have to offer, the choice is really based on our gameplay. If we decide to play a very straightforward attack, where we will be challenging the offside trap and organisation, we will go for Hernandez and his pace. But I don’t really see that working well with Cleverley and Anderson as our midfield. They are both free flowing midfield players, with a lot of energy and quick passing. With the one-touch football they have installed in our side lately, including Hernandez in the build up may prove costly as his poor first touch doesn’t suit their gameplay.

      Welbeck on the other hand has the ability to drop deep, make interchanges with Rooney as to who is further forward, and is really a player who shows his true strengths when we are dominant. A great first touch, and very good in the build up play. He has a lot of pace, but he doesn’t use it like Hernandez, so I can’t see us going for Welbeck if we are going for a counter attacking tactic as Hernandez suits that better. But if Cleverley and Anderson start, I can see us going for a dominant attacking style which means Welbeck should be a certain starter.

      Either way I expect us to win. The margin of it really depends. If we go for a snatch-and-grab, we may get a 1-0 or 2-1 win. But if going for the dominant style, we should win by 2 or 3 goals as Liverpool have proved very weak when dominated and when going for a counter attack. None of their wins this season have been impressive, and when beating Arsenal and Everton they needed a man to get sent off before they actually started to play football. Tottenham really exposed their flaws by playing football, passing the ball around and moving into space. Players like Adam, Suarez and Coates seem to have a very short fuse, which will work to our advantage if we decide to play a passing brand of football. Cleverley is the key to that.

      • Very good synopsis there Eddi mi man, and I hope you are right on the score. We haven’t won there in 2/3 seasons – so lets hope you are right eh? I am more worried how De Gea will do, because they will be going for his throat – our jugular, so I truly hope he doesn’t leak goals!

      • i think Welbeck will get the nod ahead of Chico mainly because the latter will play tomorrow against Brazil while Welbeck is back home. i would prefer Chico mainly because the pool have a really really slow back 4 and middle currently

      • I cannot recall the last time we went to Anfield with attack on our minds and tactics that were not designed to defend first, and counter later. If we win I see us being patient and waiting for that one goal to settle things 1-0 late. 1-1 is possible but unless we have had some major patch up work done in our back four I expect us to leak a few and lose 2-1. Jonny Evans starts and it will be 3-1 because he’s always good for one goal to the opponent per match. To quote Han Solo, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this”. Me thinks our undefeated streak will end here.

        Liverpool are woefully inconsistent but Dog leash is a motivator and there’s no team he wants to beat more than ours. Rooney is distracted and in a mini scoring slump now that he is back from injury and Chicharito is also slumping so I just don’t see it folks. Sorry.

      • Very good write up Eddy, you have come a long way my friend in your writing ability. I would prefer welbeck with ando and cleverly. There is no way Carragher will be able to cope with consantly being drawn high up the pitch to mark welbeck, then rooney, then nani… The point is we are more fluid upfront with welbeck and are incredibly hard to mark with our movements . Normally I would agree with grog that we are set for a snooze fest, but I think we will go for it. We dont have the defence right now to shut up shop, but we can outscore liverpool.

    • I fully expect five in the midfield and we will get it all wrong. Liverpool is the perfect club to go in there with Cleverely and Anderson, Rooney and either Welbeck or Chicharito and blitzkrieg them like we did teams early on. Defensively they have issues and Young and Nani could win the war of width and really give them a pounding. But Fergie will be ultra cautious and conservative and I fully expect him to borrow John O’Shea for one game to throw in there with JS Park to serve up a snooze fest of epic proportions. Teams that win at Assfield show no fear and attack. We have won a lot of close low scoring games there in the past but that was when we had a dependable back four and goalkeeper. Nowadays, I am not so confident. I say attack and lets see who scores more. I’d be more happy coming out of there with a 4-3 win than a 1-0 win.

  15. Make it a good prediction of a result please, because I would like to WIN a lot from my betting on the right United result! 😀

  16. If the striker’s always moving and you’re not sure where he’s going to move next – if he keeps you guessing – then it’s so much more difficult. We’ve got players here now who do that – players like Chicharito and Wayne Rooney, who’s bringing a lot more of that into his game now. And Louis Saha used to be a master at it.

    Thanks Rio! 🙂

    • You knew where Saha was going to move to. The infirmary. And yes he was a master…….at getting injured.

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