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We need a central defender more than a central midfielder

The clamour for Sir Alex to delve into the transfer market for a central midfielder with great passing ability, drive and determination has been ringing in everyone’s ears for a number of years now, but has the need for a new central defender become more important?

Yes it’s true, I’ve been amongst the bandwagon calling for United to make a welcome return to bossing games in midfield with players in the mould of Bryan Robson, Roy Keane and, to a lesser extent but still worth a mention here, Paul Ince.

For the last 12 months I’ve quietly mentioned Victor Wanyama. I think he’ll become the next central midfielder of his type to be coveted by all and sundry within European football, since his performances against Barcelona, a team who have seemingly become football itself, Wanyama has suddenly become the hottest player of his type on the market.

That itself means Wanyama would now cost United far more than the quoted £7M from last summer, it looks likely that figure could inflate closer to £20M, and if that happens, regardless of whether we sign him or not, his name can be added to the ever growing list of players we hesitated to sign then jumped in feet first when it was too late to pay a reasonable fee or simply lost out on.

Now though, with the possible pending departure of Rio Ferdinand next summer and the uncertainty surrounding Nemanja Vidic’s future fitness, I think our biggest most important vacancy is at the centre of defence.

Jonny Evans is good and getting better with every season. It’s my opinion Evans will go on to achieve great things at United but I think he needs a leader next to him, someone he knows is in charge of the dirty work, someone who frees him up to get on the ball and play.

Jonny Evans can play football……and I like that. Nowadays it’s as crucial to be confident and comfortable in possession of the ball as it is to be aware of danger and quick to react to it. Jonny has all the attributes today’s Manchester United centre back requires; just like Rio Ferdinand did back in 2002 when United paid an incredible £34M after fees.

When Rio signed for United he’d totted up combined 181 appearances with West Ham and Leeds, he was aged 24 and an established International. Jonny Evans has so far accrued 134 Manchester United appearances and guess what, he’s just 24 too and a permanent fixture for his country.

When Rio joined United in ’02 he had Laurent Blanc for company at the heart of the defence, who better to play alongside and learn from in your first season at Old Trafford? It would be a huge ask to burden Evans with the role like Blanc’s if United were to bring in a young, inexperienced centre back rather than a proven one.

Chris Smalling is good but his lack of top flight experience is a huge drawback for me, he is however, just 22 years old, in the next 2 years Smalling could easily be where Evans is now, but we’re talking about the here-and-now and he’s just not ready.

What about Phil Jones? This boy needs to get his career kick-started, get fit and get games under his belt. What he also needs to do is find his position and hone his skills there, if he doesn’t begin to do this I fear his career could follow the same path as John O’Shea’s. O’Shea for me could’ve gone on to be one of the best leftbacks the country has ever seen but his ability in other areas and his willingness to adapt and conform for the team cost him that chance. Whatever Phil is, I hope he finds it sooner rather than later and he’s given the chance to mature there, but again, I’m talking about now and Phil simply isn’t the man right now.

Michael Keane’s waiting in the wings and many United fans are suggesting he’s the next great central defender. They might be right….but now? Or even, for that matter, any time soon? I don’t think so.

Scott Wooton’s another one but with just 3 appearances under his belt at age 21 it’s hard to imagine the boss sees him as a player with the right credentials to forge a meaningful career at Manchester United, hence why I believe Scott will leave for pastures new next summer be that on loan or thanks to a permanent move.

So I guess if Vidic returns the player he was two seasons ago there’s nothing to worry about, but if he doesn’t, I’m concerned. In reality, if there’s even the slightest doubt about Vidic’s return; with money in the bank (that’s a joke!) and the lure of playing for Manchester United, it’s time they went out and located their new man in much the way they did when they finally got serious about finding a replacement (not directly) for the hole Jaap Stam left instead of making do with a number of makeshifts such as Silvestre, May, O’Shea and Brown.

If United don’t purchase a new central defender we’d go into 2012/13 with the following options.

Evans, Vidic, Smalling, Jones, M Keane

Is that good enough? Even if you add a delicate Rio Ferdinand, an inexperienced Scott Wootton and don’t ignore Vidic’s advancing footballing years and ability to stay fit to that list, it still needs strengthening.

There aren’t that many suitable names out there at the minute but everyone will have their own favourite in mind, who’s yours?

The one stand out candidate for me would have been Gary Cahill but again that bird has flown. I like the look of Italy’s Angelo Ogbonna and I don’t think Rolando at Porto’s too shabby either.

Do you think central defence has taken over the priority from central midfield like me, or do you still see a central midfielder as the priority?




  1. Moscow

    15 November 2012 at 17:26

    No, the reason why the defence is being picked apart is because the midfield is now being completely overrun by pretty much every team. While a marquee signing like Hummels would be great, the side is in desperate need of steel in midfield. We should buy Fellaini AND Gundogan. Even the best defenders would struggle to cope with being left one on one with every single opposition attack. Carrick has been terrific in the holding role but he can’t do everything on his own.

    I think we will be humiliated in Europe due to this weakness.

    • ForeverRed

      16 November 2012 at 02:26

      @Moscow: We’re relatively weak (by European standards) in both positions, but I, like Moscow, have been arguing for a while that the defense gets constantly exposed because there is such little midfield cover, especially against a fast counter attacking side. Tightening this up would make a big difference, even with a sub-optimal back-four.

      I think the broader issue this whole discussion highlights is the consequences of our questionable transfer policy over the last 4-5 seasons. We have as a result a 5+ year age gap in key areas of the field, especially at the back and MF (Vidic, Ferdinand, vs Jones, Smalling & Evans; Scholes, Giggs & Carrick vs Anderson, Cleverly, Powell etc). We’ve no players at peak age (25-30)in these key areas because we have only brought in youngsters over the last few seasons(and not always cheap ones for that matter!). The risk with this policy is that you get at least as many who don’t make the grade at Utd as those that do, for various reasons. Obviously buying someone at, or close to, their peak age with proven ability is going to cost more per person (but not necessarily in aggregate compared to the above attrition of younger players), but comes with greater level of certainty that they will do the job you need doing and do it well. So I would argue that our policy of being heavily biased towards buying ‘potential’ vs ‘proven’ players has had a large impact on both the defensive and MF situation we currently face. To try and put a positive spin on it, our succession planning has been a little over ambitious.

      Don’t get me wrong, I am all for bringing in/through the academy young, exciting talent and turning them into great players – that is what our club is about. However, it is very high risk if used as the only/major strategy. To witness first hand how breaking the transfer policy of the last 5 years has had an immediate and dramatic impact, look no further than RvP’s effect on the attack. Now just think what we could be like if we had a similar quality player in MF and defense…

      • The_Philosopher

        16 November 2012 at 08:10

        @ForeverRed: Very well put. I am completely with you on this one.

        I had a united fan ask me at the time of Van Persie’s deal “Why are we buying another striker, who’s also almost 30 years old, when what we really need is a midfielder?” And my response was “Van Persie is quality. And our strike force isn’t exactly world class”

        Its a great point you make about the age gap between the old and the new guard. And thats why I would support a motion to break the bank again and buy a proven quality central defender and midfielder.

        We need some quality players to bridge the gap between the young and the old.

        I love the point you make about it costing us just as much to buy young as it does to buy proven quality because of the number of youngsters who leave and don’t quite work out. We should balance our tranfer policy by developing youngsters but also buying finished articles.

        I’m hearing a lot of positive noises about Ilkay Gundogan and, although he doesn’t fit the age and experience criteria that you’re talking about, if he’s good enough to play as a first choice midfielder then I say lets break the bank for him.

        We shouldn’t be affraid of spending money if its gonna improve our standing in the league and in Europe.

        I’m all for a bargain but we can’t always be buying on the cheap. We must not be affraid to spend lots of money on quality. The Glaziers can go fly a kite.

  2. Racs

    15 November 2012 at 17:49

    Im sorry but I beg to differ on this one.

    Completely agree with Moscow’s comments above that we need a combative midfielder who has the ability to break up opposition attacks and pass it on to our more creative players for them to do what they do best. Not only this but that player would need to also be tactically and positionally good too which would offer protection to our back 4 and therefore minimise the possibility of being overrun in the midfield. Ball playing and technical ability is also key if you ask me.

    Our midfield nowadays, at some stage, has generally been overrun by every team we have faced so far this season. Check out this article over at from the Villa game last weekend which provides us with photo evidence of our midfield being caught out:

    Players in the mould of Kevin Strootman (PSV), Arturo Vidal (Juventus) and even Joan Moutinho (Porto) in my opinion would definitely allow us to be more competitive in the midfield zones and I think it will be essential we get one of the players especially if the likes of Scholes and Giggs will be looking at retirement come the end of this season! I also think its also crucial that we look at bringing in a top class central defender and the prospect of seeing Hummels at OT would be brilliant.

    Fine, we have bolstered our attacking options this season with the signings of RVP and Kagawa which will allow us to create more opportunities which will hopefully mean more goals, and so far this season we have done well in this department. That aside, I still feel we have not addressed the underlying issue and problem which is our midfield…..hands down. We need to realise that this is currently our main weakness and the prospect of signing a midfielder should be our top priority come the January transfer window. If this is not possible then certainly next summer.

    And as Moscow rightly points out at the end of his post,…..if we get drawn a stronger club in the knockout stages of the Champions League (which we will!) then I feel we will get slaughtered….does Atletico Bilbao ring a bell to anyone?

    • The_Philosopher

      16 November 2012 at 08:59

      @Racs: What do you think about Ilkay Gundogan?

      My goodness;Kagawa, Lewandowski, Gundogan, Hummels? We’re just raiding Dortmund. Don’t know that they will take kindly to our greedy eyes.

      If we got all these players we would have to be called Borussia United!

      • Racs

        16 November 2012 at 17:03


        To be perfectly honest, Gundogan is not a player i’ve heard off! Why has his name popped up? Is he a central midfielder and if so what are his strengths?

        Thing is Dortmund have a really impressive team and their style of play is attractive and a breath of fresh air. They have been holding their own in the Champions League this season and I think they should be considered as contenders!

  3. united

    15 November 2012 at 17:55

    i suggest we buy a defensive midfielder like yaya toure, song or tiote
    and i would love to see united buy Fellaini. he wins every single header. he can attack and defend. so he is perfect for us.
    united has youngsters like nick powell, cleverly and kagawa in mid, even rooney can play in mid so we dont need any attacking mid at the moment. and if we sell nani i would like to see james rodriguez as his replacment. 😛

    • The_Philosopher

      16 November 2012 at 09:24

      @united: I would also love to see Fellaini at United but isn’t he busy transitioning into an attacking midfield/striker role at Everton? Would he want to fall back into a defensive midfield position at United.

      I would buy him either way.

  4. Opti

    15 November 2012 at 18:10

    I’ll add to Moscow’s tally. Defense sucks because our midfield is overrun. How do we prove this? Look at the goals we concede: no screening midfielder, no midfielders available to defend.

    If De Gea was exposed on 1-on-1s then the defense would be to blame, but the problem we have stems from midfielders going AWOL during defending counters.

    In fact, calling for defensive signing is equivalent to asking for new goalkeeper, when neither is the problem.

    • Ian

      15 November 2012 at 19:29

      You’re confusing what I’m saying with vacancies versus blame. I’m not from the new school of blame culture, I think we’ll be light in defense next season if we don’t purchase a CB, I’m not saying a new CB will solve all our problems.

      • Craig Mc

        15 November 2012 at 19:48

        @Ian: I’m more worried at the moment about Mourinho wanting Chicharito in straight exchange for Benzema. Wondered how long it would take Real Madrid to come sniffing for the Little pea. If Fergie is daft enough to let Chicharito go, well I won’t cover this page with swear words about what I would think about that. I want the Pea to stay, and I don’t want Benzema who would not be loyal to us in any sense of the word 👿 . What would you all think of this Mourinho would be exchange?

        • Moscow

          15 November 2012 at 20:22

          @Craig Mc: I would trade Benzema for Chicharito.

        • The_Philosopher

          16 November 2012 at 10:29

          @Craig Mc: I have always wanted Benzema.

          I could swap Danny Welbeck for Benzema.

          But I’m not sure I want him at the cost of Chicharito.

          He seems a bit over priced at that rate. 😉

        • Larmuck

          21 November 2012 at 14:21

          @Craig Mc: I would take Benzema for Chicarito anyday,its Benzema we are talking about here people!!

    • Redrich

      16 November 2012 at 01:02

      @Opti: Defense sucks party because they have no DMF cover, not the only reason though.
      A solid central partnership at the back is vital to any teams defensive efforts and as Ian pointed out, Rio and Vidic are unlikely to continue theirs for much longer. It’s time to focus on the immediate future and bring in an experienced player that can move directly into their shoes.

      The MF issue is harder for Ferguson to solve than would otherwise seem possible. I say make this job one and let the MF settle into itself without the the burden of protecting a dodgy back 4.

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  7. Andrew

    15 November 2012 at 20:49

    This is a very difficult situation because we don’t know if Rio Ferdinand is leaving. Ferdinand might be thinking about America or China next season. If he ends up playing 35-40 games this season then Ferguson will want him to stay. I can also see Ferdinand being convinced to sign a new 1 year deal as well.

    In regards to Blanc he was 36 when he played alongside Ferdinand. Ferdinand has just turned 34, still younger than Blanc was when he arrived at Old Trafford. Blanc was a big influence on the young defenders we had in Ferdinand, Brown, Silvestre and O’Shea. Ferguson will want Ferdinand to be the same influence for Evans, Smalling, Rafeal, Jones and Keane.

    Vidic has had a tough 18 months and didn’t look great when he returned. It was clear he was not comfortable which is why he is out injured again and doing rehab. I think he lost too much weight and that would have been an issue for Ferguson. However I wouldn’t say he is definitely finished yet. We have to see how the medical team work on him and what condition he finally returns in. I wouldn’t say he can be the same force he was 2 years ago, but he can still be important.

    We need another two years and that is what Ferguson will be pushing for from Ferdinand and Vidic. It won’t be easy but they are both still needed before they can ride off into the sunset. They have been massive players for Man Utd and are a big part of our history. Its clear time waits for no man and the future is Evans, Smalling and Jones. However we need another 2 years of their experience and knowledge before passing the mantle on.

    Evans will be 26 in two years and ready to undertake the challenge of being a leader. He will play more and be the main centre back now in my opinion. It will be Ferdinand and Vidic who start to rotate in order to partner him. To be a top player you have to play and Evans needs to play every week. The same applied to Dea Gea in that regard. Smalling will be 24 in two years and he will be more experience. Jones will still only be 22 but he is an outstanding talent, even if people have been quick to forget. I think he can grow and partner Evans long-term.

    • Stephen

      16 November 2012 at 09:02

      @Andrew: Blanc was also passed it when we signed him. Fergie messed up letting Stam leave and Blanc was a panic, always wanted him signing.
      The Premier league is based around pace and power, if you lack pace at the back you are going to concede a lot of goals, regardless of who you have in midfield.

    • The_Philosopher

      16 November 2012 at 09:41

      @Andrew: We still do need one more quality centre back.

      I’m not saying lets toss Vida and Ferdinand. I’m just saying lets get another quality player to ensure we’re solid at the back.

      I was thinking Martin Srktel before he signed a new contract.

      Mats Hummels also seems flavour of the week.

      With the FA cup and Champions league hopefully we’ll have enough games to blood the likes of Smalling and Evans.

      It might get a bit tricky finding a solid and consistent partnership whilst growing and developing our up and coming defenders if we bring in yet another CB into the mix but I still feel we still just need one more.

  8. Sam Hall

    15 November 2012 at 21:14

    I think this needs to be assessed after Vidic gets some games under his belt in the new year (hopefully!) and we will see if he can still perform at his best. However, if we were to dip into the transfer market for a new centre half I’d certainly advocate Mats Hummels.. top defender for me.

  9. tose

    15 November 2012 at 21:16

    the staff with the manager know for sure ewerything in advance for a few years how to strenghten the squead wisely,with the learning process involved and fresh energy involved,so i have absolutly no worry about this issues

    • ForeverRed

      16 November 2012 at 03:01

      @tose: Are you Fergie in disguise? 🙂

  10. munk

    15 November 2012 at 21:35


  11. Ismail N

    15 November 2012 at 23:32

    I don’t mind if continue to leak goals as long as we capable to continue to outscore our opponent. Love it.. goal galore every time Man Utd play. Would love to see Gareth Bale in united’s shirt. Valencia on right, Bale on the left. Rooney and RVP in the middle.Frightening!

    • Redrich

      16 November 2012 at 01:50

      @Ismail N: Yeah, we’ve done this many times before – just score more than the opposition. It’s so fundamentally basic it’s almost beautiful (and beautifully exciting to watch).
      Problem comes when the well runs dry up front. Be it injuries or slumping strikers or coming up against teams that are built around their defense, you can’t always guarantee that you can score a bundle.
      The best approach is to always assume that if you score 1, it should be enough to win the game. A lot less sexy, I admit, but a better way to win trophies.

  12. Redrich

    16 November 2012 at 01:17

    I disagree on Evans being a good bet for the future. To me he’s a moment away from a disastrous mistake at all times.
    Let’s face it, he’s only in because Vidic is out and not because he’s commanding that position with his own greatness. He is hesitant with 50/50’s and prefers to let the ball bounce before making the effort to clear it.
    He’s a backup at best, and not what we should be thinking of for our future.

    • The_Philosopher

      16 November 2012 at 10:22

      @Redrich: Evans isn’t that bad. Yes he makes mistakes but he can be taught to play better. I also think he is solid back up rather than first choice.

      But give him some credit. He has had times when he really put in a decent shift for the team and helped out when Vida did his knee the first time.

      Under Alex Ferguson he is still useful as a pawn. I’m not sure he will ever be a general but as a pawn he has his uses.

  13. Redrich

    16 November 2012 at 01:23

    Another element to the reason we are so poor at the back is DDG. Cat-like reflexes but a ball watcher when the high ball comes in.
    I don’t see a big improvement over last season and it could well be that this is part of the game he just won’t be able to master.
    It doesn’t give CB’s any confidence when the guy behind them is a flapper!!

    • The_Philosopher

      16 November 2012 at 10:38

      @Redrich: He punched a ball or two against Villa.

      De Gea will get there. He just needs to put on as much weight as is possible without losing or impairing his cat-like reflexes and he’ll be good to go!

      He is a world class talent. He just needs some experience.

  14. Redrich

    16 November 2012 at 05:11

    The great Roy Hodgeson has suggested that Rooney could emulate the great Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
    Nice, Roy. The rookie England manager has laid down the gauntlet to his very last hope of getting himself a shot at the Rio finals.
    So Rooney says “sorry Roy, I’m Wayne not Zlatlan, and your big moty chip has made me feel a bit wanting for your Rio glory. And Roy says, “well you’re English and you need to make yourself a national hero. And Wayne says “I’m already a hero at Old Trafford and my manager has managed to give me a strong supporting staff that is helping my career by the game. And Roy says “but don’t you think that England is more importnant than Manchester United? And Wayne says “prove it”.

    Roy of the Rovers cannot dictate to the likes of Wayne Rooney. A man of moderate means. He played most of his games at the powerhouse Gravesend, and then went on to manage no less than 20 clubs in the span of 35 years. Clearly a man of impeccable standing, and with a resume that could tell this young pup to stand up and face the big stage – I think not. 🙂

    If England are to achieve anything in Rio, then they need a team that can bring the England players together and make a unit out of them. Roy of the Rovers is not that force and and not a man that has the right to put a needle in Waynes ability.

  15. Stephen

    16 November 2012 at 08:48

    Personally I think we need a midfielder, obviously and keep talking about Hummels is pointless, he is German.
    I agree we do need a centre half as well, Smalling and Jones are the future, Evans will provide good cover. Vida’s best days are gone and Rio are far from the player he once was. I do think the defence is still not confident in the keeper, he may have all the ability in the World, but he is needs to command more. I saw him on Saturday punch the ball away for the first time, but he needs to be more authoritive, this will give the two centre backs more confidence

  16. Jay wire

    16 November 2012 at 09:09

    I agree we need a central midfielder. Highest priority being a holding midfield. I also agree that it.s not our defenders that are causing us to leak goals,but the huge gap left in midfield. If you concede frequently on the counter,its a problem in midfield. So we desperately need a holding midfielder. But recently Ferguson said he is against a holding player and believes more in attack,even though a holding player actually makes it easier to attack. Point is,will getting a holding midfielder be any help if he is not used as one?

  17. Robbie

    16 November 2012 at 09:12

    Id say what the others have said which is that our defence looks poor because the midfield really doesnt protect it whatsoever in most games…The spurs game is a clear example…too many gaps and I think Gary Nev explained it perfectly when he said the space between our players was far too wide because the midfield didnt have the legs to close the gaps Bale and co were opening. We could have very easily rectified this problem I feel with a very reasonable 15 million Dembele signing because he showed in that game how hard he is to get past when he destroyed Cleverley a few times, as well as being one of the hardest players ive ever seen to win the ball off.

    I guess its also got a lot to do with team selection, If we play 3 midfielders, two of whom can get about the pitch ie Anderson and Fletch, then our defence will be covered a bit better. Our system also of not pressing and allowing teams to get close to our area means we will concede loads of chances, but then the positive of that is we are fitter going into the last 10 mins because we dont waste much energy pressing during the beginning of the game. I think If we signed a defender we would have a fuck load of CB’s. We actually have lots of CB’s compared to most other teams, they just all seem to be made out of the cheapest glass available. Would be crazy to think having spent what 19 million on Phil Jones that a year or two on we need to spend that money again because we discovered hes not a CB, thing is I think thats the only spot Philly can take, certainly not a DM, being able to charge around the pitch doesnt make a player suited for that role for me, he is good at defending and like Rafael just needs to hone that skill and become a bit wiser as well as improving his aerial game.I have huge faith in them 3, Smalling Jones and Evans and really Vidic and Ferdinand should be able to help them mature into great CB’s. All 3 are very comfortable on the ball for centre backs and with better protection as well as De Gea’s improvement we should be fine.

  18. Stephen

    16 November 2012 at 10:30

    The squad in an ideal World needs a bit of tinkering, the likes of Macheda and Bebe need to be moved on. The midfield naturally needs rejuvenating, but Cleverley and Anderson need an opportunity in a make of break season. I agree with Ian that we do need another centre half, who can at least stay fit. I have hope in Jones and Smalling and Evans is a good squad player. Out wide it looks certain that Nani will go, which is a shame, but inevitable. Out front we are fine, I am not a Welbeck fan and would sell him as he would command a healthy fee. The jury is still out with De Gea, he has had a good run but he needs to be more assertive. This is a decent side, RvP is the player we have all dreamed of. Lets not moan and groan we are top of the league and things are looking good.

  19. paddy

    16 November 2012 at 10:49

    red rants is a joke.smalling and jones are the future mentored by vidic and rio ,we have wooton and keane.jeez,some weeks ago this blog was on about selling chicharito ,i dont even see an apology,try write objectively please.

    • Ian

      16 November 2012 at 12:09

      Why would anybody apologise for having an opinion?

      And how can Rio and Vidic mentor players IF they’re either injured or sold?

      The article is based on Rio and Vidic being unable to mentor or play enough games alongside Jonny Evans.

      I think you just thumbed over the article instead of reading it.

      • Stephen

        16 November 2012 at 14:30

        @Ian: Sorry mate but I can’t agree that “O’Shea for me could’ve gone on to be one of the best leftbacks the country has ever seen” He firstly wasn’t left footed, he couldn’t cross and had no pace..
        I will bow down to you on Victor Wanyama, you spotted him early! 😀

        • Ian

          16 November 2012 at 21:30

          You really believe O’Shea had no pace and a right footed player couldn’t make it as a left back? I watched Newcastle v United today, finished 6-2 to us I think, it was a Happy Birthday Scholes tribute show on MUTV, Scholes scored a hat-trick in the match, I’m sure you remember it….4-1 up at HT. Anyway, watch O’Shea’s performance in that game, outstanding player, imo one of the biggest shames the way his career went, Mr Ferguson should be a little ashamed of how O’Shea was treated despite him racking up almost 400 appearances.

      • Stephen

        17 November 2012 at 10:24

        @Ian: I do remember that game mate it was a classic!
        Mate Sheasy had no pace, he was really a centre half. Fergie as usual played him out of position, for a top class left back you need pace, he had none, ideally be left footed, he was right, athletic, he wasn’t, can cross, he couldn’t.
        He was a good squad player, but no more I am afraid.

        • Ian

          17 November 2012 at 11:45

          I think he had more potential than that tbh, great attitude too, but as usual mate we’ll agree to disagree 🙂

      • The_Philosopher

        19 November 2012 at 07:15

        @Ian: I hear you on O’Shea. I think he was great.

        I don’t think he would have been the best leftback in the world but he would have been good.

        I do believe though that a right footed player shouldn’t play on the left flank.

        In a tight situation when you make a break its impossible to cross quickly if you have a right foot. You’d be forced to cut back and cross with your right, which would mean you lose your advantage and a chasing fullback could shut you down. Or you would have to hazard a wild swing with your weaker left foot which isn’t as acurate or as reliable as your natural right foot.

        Its awkward it doesn’t work. Its gonna kill Fabio’s career too if he doesn’t make a change.

        John O’Shea was a high quality player though. He was a so called squad player. He was really good and I agree that Fergie could have managed his career better.

        I thought O’Shea was great at right back.

  20. Jay wire

    16 November 2012 at 11:48

    No Stephen,Carrick can hold.He just hasnt been doing that because Ferguson wants almost the whole squad to attack,except at least one CB. By the way holding simply means standing your ground or maintaining a deep position.Whether you tackle hard or have a scary face is insignificant.You need someone that stays deep in central areas as the team attacks. Whenever Carrick did that,we never had defensive problems.So I dont know how you figure a new CM will help when one of the worlds best holding midfielders is already at United but is not being utilised as one.There was a time when Carrick would spend an entire season without a shot on goal,but since last season he is shooting,creating scoring.And this has coincided with our recent porous nature.Say we get a hard tackling menace,do you really think we will improve defensively without a holding mid?Our midfield is not being overrun,because we dominate possession every game.We are just vulnerable to counters because the whole team is in the opposition half.

    • Stephen

      16 November 2012 at 12:02

      @Jay wire: Yes I do, simply because Carrick can sit in a deep lying playmaker role, Tiote for example can win the ball and feed him. The issue is we do not press the ball anymore, the midfield is either pushing forward or retreats, hence someone who can tackle would be an asset.

  21. Jay wire

    16 November 2012 at 12:17

    And by the way,Scholes,is very far from ever being a holding midfielder. Keane,Butt etc,were what you guys call a box to box player. The first time United used a holding player was 2nd half of 05/06 when OShea played with Giggs.The next holding player was Carrick from 07 to around 2010.In 06-07 we used the Double Pivot,which is 2 deep lying playmakers,Scholes and Carrick which actually results in a double screen.Check our defensive record then.Then from 2011,the holding role vanished with the highly mobile Giggs and Carrick.Check the record until now.As Moscow showed,Ferguson doesnt believe in a DM and the effects are the pre 00s United of goals and conceding.It tells me when he is in technical control,we will never adopt the continental platform. When we used deep players CQ was there.When MP took over one of his first interviews he said we would initially keep CQs winning formula then gradually change to something else which explains why we didnt drop the holding role immediately.

    • Stephen

      16 November 2012 at 12:32

      @Jay wire: Roy Keane when he was younger was box to box, as he got older and his injuries took hold he held in midfield. But was far from box to box, Pele in the World Cup hailed him in that role. CQ came up with the idea that Phil Neville against Arsenal sat to stem Veira attacking us, Fergie also deployed Quinton Fortune in a similar role. Scholes obviously was an attacking midfield player, now he is a deep lying playmaker, so I am not sure where you are with this. People are obsessed with a holder, we are very successful with or without one so far. We do need another midfield player, but this is turning onto somewhat overblown.

  22. Jay wire

    16 November 2012 at 12:50

    I dont see how someone who can tackle helps when no one is sitting deep. If all the CMs are attacking,a gap will still be there,and your tackling is useless if the opposition is already ahead.You are talking about Tiote defending and feeding a deep lying Carrick so we are wishing for the same thing.Problem is Ferguson doesnt believe in deep anything,so both Tiote and Carrick will be attacking and if we lose the ball in that case,the fierceness of Tiote is useless because the opposition simply counters from wide and theres noone for our CMs to legally tackle because the ball is wide and they are high up the pitch.Try and check the goals we are conceding. The midfielders are nowhere to be found because they have advanced too far up and the opposition’s attackers have a massive headstart because of the central gaps and the wide spaces created by our ever attacking fullbacks.So when does Tiotes tackling apply?A midfield dominating possession isnt being overrun,just outsmarted

    • Stephen

      16 November 2012 at 13:07

      @Jay wire:
      I said, if Carrick sits which is hi natural role then Tiote ect can win the ball and feed him. The goals we conceded this weekend were down to bad defending, Smalling getting out muscled and and Rafael being out of position. For me we need a sitter Carrick who can play deep and pass and a ball winner Tiote who can win the ball and feed him.

  23. Stephen

    16 November 2012 at 14:31

    We did miss a trick with Cahill, he was cheap, English and local……

  24. RMJ

    16 November 2012 at 14:44

    i think the holding midfeilder era is over and its not just because of fergie. There isnt a top side in Europe save Shitty, Chelsea and Juventus(all who have struggled in Europe this year) to a certain extent who play this way to certain extent. I think ideally what Fergie is looking for is what Jaywire hinted on a few comments back. Two deep-lying play-makers with excellent defensive qualities from our 2006-2009 era where Scholes and Carrick dominated Europe to an extent. Scholes is almost done and there aren’t a lot on the market with the required skill-set to replicate this. Hence, why I believe the sudden obsession with 433 or the diamond lately which we will see more in the future. 442 will be most likely our default and we will switch it around when the need arises. What we need is someone to cover Carrick desperately and they are few and far in between. I think fergie will most likely opt for another youngster and groom him up. As for a defender, that will depend on if Rio signs a new contract. Either way we will most likely sign in the summer, in fact i doubt we will sign anybody in the winter this season.

    • Moscow

      16 November 2012 at 18:18

      @RMJ: Barcelona, Real Madrid each play with a holding midfielder. Spain also used a holding midfielder to win the World Cup and the Euros twice. The next World Cup winner will use a holding midfielder. Every top team uses one or two holding midfielders. Carrick does try and hold but he is played in a two man midfield where his partner isn’t even good enough.

      If we weren’t drawn in the easiest group in the CL, then perhaps you would see things more clearly.

      • Ian

        16 November 2012 at 21:25

        Moscow, Moscow…..(I shouted that and shook you at the same time…….)

        There’s more than one way to play football mate, that’s why teams and managers have philosophies, if we all played the exact same way then we’d all be pretty bored and have nothing to talk about. 🙂

  25. pjch

    16 November 2012 at 16:49

    The problems in midfield are being covered over because we are winning games. We will see for real only when we play top sides in the Champions League when the likes of Barca will pass us to death and Real will overrun us and score more goals.
    And i don’t want a repeat of the humiliation against the likes of City and Bilbao last season.
    We have to buy the likes of Wanyama if we are to compete at the highest level and repeat the trophy winning teams of the past.

  26. Moscow

    16 November 2012 at 18:20

    So we’re back to the chivalrous tactics of ‘I take a punch, you take a punch’? WOW

    I wonder what happens when we hit Barca or Real, and they hit back with 5-6 goals. Borussia Dortmund took City to pieces when they played with 2 holding midfielders, what would they do to us?

    • Stephen

      17 November 2012 at 10:25

      @Moscow: Lose 😆 😆 😆 😆
      Celtic who are poor at best did Ok against Barca, there is more than one way to skin a cat.

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