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What next for United?

The morning after doesn’t feel any better. If anything the feeling is even worse than last night, like a terrible hangover that will take some time to get rid of. Trouble is that, like all hangovers, some say it was utterly unexpected while some say that it had been coming for a long time.

Newspapers, TVs and fans have been busy analyzing the causes of United’s exit since the ref blew the final whistle last night and the conclusions will probably focus on the same topic that United fans have debated over and over for the last two seasons – an average squad capable of papering over the cracks, for those of you that have been on a 24 months holiday on Mars – but let’s leave that for another time.

Europa League. Thursday night. Manchester United. It just doesn’t sound right, does it?

Well, after last night debacle we’ll have to get used to it and, most importantly, so will the players because being humiliated in Europe once is bad enough, twice would be simply scandalous.

There’s nothing wrong with being knocked out, United have been there before, but there’s a lot wrong with being knocked out if an easy task is turned into an uphill struggle because of presumptuousness, sloppiness, laziness and complacency.

Fans have been complaining about the lack of world class players in the team but, after all, this is the team that, only seven months ago, won a record-breaking 19th title and only capitulated against the all-conquering Barcelona in the Wembley final where, let’s not forget, the Catalans were held to a draw at half time.

Furthermore, three players joined the club in the summer, two bright prospects for the future in DeGea and Jones and a player of proven Premier League quality such as Ashley Young. While DeGea will take a while to fill Edwin Van der Sar’s gloves, Jones, albeit a rough diamond, has been playing like a veteran at times.

An unchanged – arguably improved – team can’t go from final contenders to first round flop purely because of a lack of world-class signings so the reasons must lie elsewhere.

Attitude is the first answer that springs to mind. After a blistering start to the campaign, United have been largely subdued, stumbling to draws in the Champions League and failing to put games to bed in the league, in a slump in form reminiscent of the one that derailed Chelsea’s campaign last season.

While United have drastically improved their away record in the league, such attitude isn’t good enough in Europe, as it allows sloppiness and carelessness to set in. Making the final three times in four years doesn’t guarantee an automatic spot in the last 16 and an unprofessional approach such as the one displayed in Europe this year is particularly costly with teams that consider playing at Old Trafford as the biggest game in their lives, hence the draws against Basel and Benfica as well as last night’s defeat.

Did United underestimate Benfica, Basel and Otelul Galati? Did they think they could coast through the group before clicking into gear in the last 16? Based on what we’ve seen since September, the answer is “yes and yes”.

Fans blasting Fergie – quite frankly asking for his resignations is nothing short of ludicrous, and the club doesn’t need this sort of people on board – and his management for the lack of a central midfielder, as right as they might be they seem to ignore that, with the current squad and a professional attitude, United should have been still too good for this group. Maybe they wouldn’t have gone on to win the trophy but, last year’s group was harder and United cruised through with a weaker squad. A change in attitude is, again, the explanation.

So, where do United go from here? That every cloud has a silver lining is a cliché that, in football, sometimes seems too hard to understand but it’s worth mentioning that United always bounce back.

Getting knocked out in 2005-06 arguably was the wake-up call needed to blood a few new faces in on a more prominent role and the Carling Cup was the first step towards five trophy-laden years.

If an early exit was what the current squad, Fergie included, needed to take a good view at the situation and at possible measures to address it, all the better then. Long-term success is always preferable to short-term glory. Otherwise go and support City or Chelsea.

Some of the players have expressed their feelings last night and spoke of being “hurt” and “ashamed” – I’m looking at you, Rio and Pat – and that’s a positive. Now is up to Fergie to channel those emotions so that, come May, we can look back to this season as a successful one.

The Europa League might not be the most glamorous of trophies but we are in it, whether we like it or not, and Manchester United do not enter a competition without aiming to win it.

Defeats hurt, we’ve been here before and those “fans” that don’t like it – some social networks have been flooded with people blasting Sir Alex, too quickly forgetting what the man has achieved – are more than welcome to hop off the bus. Close the door on the way out.

For everybody else, let’s get our swagger back. Champions League or not, Manchester United FC don’t dwell on defeats. They come back stronger.






  1. Traverse

    8 December 2011 at 14:26

    It’s two very obvious things. Lack of creativity in front of goal, and that fucking cursed white kit. We’ve only won on important game in that fucking shirt, and that was 20 years ago. I hope United never ever play in white again.

    Red/White at home. Black/Red, Blue or Green/Gold away.

    • RedDevilEddy

      8 December 2011 at 14:31

      Sad fact: United have conceded at least 2 goals every time we have worn that kit! Every. Single. Fucking. Time.

    • Daniele

      8 December 2011 at 14:32

      That white kit is definitely cursed. Arsenal in the FA Cup semi in 1999 and Milan away in the last 16 of the Champions League 2009-10 are the only two important games i remember us winning when playing in white

      • Stephen

        8 December 2011 at 14:44

        Cup Winners Cup Final…..

        • Daniele

          8 December 2011 at 14:52

          Shit, 20 years already! Feels like yesterday! Sorry my bad, i thought we were talking about the white shirt/black-blue shorts combination.

      • Traverse

        8 December 2011 at 14:46

        Cup Winners Cup in 1991. ’99 we were saved by two moments of brilliance (Schmeichel and Giggs) but we were dire.

        • Stephen

          8 December 2011 at 14:56

          We also had Keane sent off, we were far from dire.

        • Traverse

          8 December 2011 at 22:36

          Phil Neville’s defending was!

  2. RedDevilEddy

    8 December 2011 at 14:30

    Well written Daniele, loved it.

    Must say though, that the injury to Vidic may have ruined our season. It smells like 2005/06 all over again… We lost our captain that year, and suffered many key injuries in midfield that led to Giggsy and O’shea taking up the spots. Now we may have lost Vida for the rest of the season, while it’s still Giggsy and our current potato, Jones, who took the positions. Hoping for a better future!

  3. David

    8 December 2011 at 14:42

    Good article. Enjoyed it. Anyone seeking only glory are simply big team gold diggers and are mercenary supporters who will go for any team that wins.

    To those hardcore tryhards, we salute you with a RED CARD.

  4. D MCC

    8 December 2011 at 14:45


  5. Mel

    8 December 2011 at 14:45

    This inevitable setback has nothing to do with shirts, but the inadequate midfield players inside them. SAF has had many months to replace this middling and muddling midfield with quality performers, but for no good reason has chosen not to. What does SAF actually stand for, could it be Stubborn Auld fool?

  6. Traverse

    8 December 2011 at 14:49

    The one saving grace is that Fergie takes going out at the group stages seriously. Defence was our big problem in that respect in 2005/6 and he went and signed two players in January. Vidic and Evra. Here’s hoping he does the same with our midfield this season.

  7. Traverse

    8 December 2011 at 14:51

    We better absolutely murder Wolves on the weekend.

  8. RedDevilEddy

    8 December 2011 at 14:58

    So what are we dealing with here?

    With Vidic injured we have a shit defence, and Evra is the biggest liability at this club.
    We have no midfield at all, nothing. Never mind the fact that we actually manage to dominate possession and create big chances against every team we face this season, and we’ve only lost 1 midfield battle during the last 12 months which was against Barca in the Champions League final. Yeah, never mind looking at that, our midfield is our biggest weakness and it’s because we manage to win the ball, and play it cleverly, getting more posession than anyone else we have faced this season, it’s because of this we don’t score goals.
    Ashley Young and Park, basically our whole left side along with Evra, are being ridiculed and told they are not United class. Far from it actually…
    We don’t have fearsome footballer up front. We have one of the most skillfull in Berbatov, but who can’t strick fear into any defender. Then we have Chicharito, who although being the best goalscorer in the planet, cannot control the ball or play a straight 5-yard pass without eventually losing it. Welbeck is too raw, and doesn’t seem to have the confidence to ghost past opponents, and when Rooney is off form he is as good as Gibson. Seriously, it’s just like playing Gibson. A good shot which rarely turns into goal, predictable passing, heavy touch, and running around like a headless chicken.

    I seriously think central midfield is the last area we should look to strengthen right now… Our defence sucks, our left wing suffers because movement up front is terrible, and we simply don’t have an attacking player who gives defenders nightmares! Nani CAN, but never does, as he is too “easy”. Probably the best footballer at this club along with Cleverley and Welbeck, but not one who can produce the brilliant game after game unfortunately.

    Reading Vidic may be out for the reminder of the season, wouldn’t surprise me if we never saw him play football again 🙁 Oh so dark times…

    • Stephen

      8 December 2011 at 15:01

      You are buring you head in the sand mate if you think the midfeild is fine. Welbeck is far from being one of the best footballers at the club, he is far from it bro I am afraid.

      • RedDevilEddy

        8 December 2011 at 15:17

        I’m not saying our midfield is brilliant or perfect, all I’m saying it’s not our biggest worry. With Vidic out we are woeful defensivly, fucking Johnny Evans for the rest of the season is suicidal! 🙄 Then we have Young who struggles to settle, and with Chicharito out we don’t really have a goal threat. Rooney is Gibson these days, simply put.

        We need a goal threat, we need someone who can score and actually do something with the ball at his feet. Stephen, I swear to God I would have had sex with you if it meant Sturridge or Ronaldo could come to United, we seriously need something special up front. Pace, power, skill, and deadly finishing. Too much to ask for? 🙄 Craig mentioned Neymar, but the lad is dumb as fuck and without the ball he’s a sorry excuse for a footballer. With it he’s as good as any, but his intelligence is poor and team-play isn’t good enough for a top team.

        • Stephen

          8 December 2011 at 15:22

          Sturridge is a good prospect but we need more mate. Eden Hazard, Javi Martinez and Rodwell would all be better signings. We are bound now with players being Champions League Cup tied, we need a new midfield ship out Gibo, Bebe, Kuz, Berba, Macheda, Diouf and you boy Anderson. Our squad it massive, but littered with dead wood, we need more quality and no more punts please. We are United lets not forget.

        • RedDevilEddy

          8 December 2011 at 15:48

          When was the last time we bought proven quality though, at the highest level? 😕

        • Stephen

          8 December 2011 at 16:00


        • RedDevilEddy

          8 December 2011 at 16:12

          Ronaldo, Rooney, Nani, Jones, Smalling, Anderson, Keano, Vidic, De Gea and Chicharito were all punts.

          Then we have players like Saha, Van Der Sar, Berbatov, Carrick, Rio and Young who are proven Premiership quality.

          Then we have our own produced players like Becks, Scholes, Butt, Welbeck, Giggsy, Wes, Gary Neville and Tom Cleverely who have come through our ranks.

          Seriously, Hargreaves and Tevez must be the last, if not only players this club has bought that were proven World Class players before they came to United, and still played that way. Could have mentioned Veron, but… 😛

      • Craig Mc

        8 December 2011 at 16:16

        Couldn’t agree with you more about Welbeck – he is not the answer. I think that our problem has a lot to do with our pace of the game too – we take thinks snail pace at beginning of game and up tempo in the 2nd half – so this means that visiting teams all come to play fast football and ATTACK us when we are not getting into them. At Villa we got stuck into them from the start and they couldn’t get past us, but then we sat back in 2nd half and invited them on instead of getting that 2nd goal. Still we are very shotshy – but what we needed was someone with height and heading ability in the area. The wingers get balls in often but our midget forwards are always outjumped by Titan goliath defenders!

  9. RedDevilEddy

    8 December 2011 at 15:19

    Want to see more of Ravel Morrison in the near future, he’s showed more footballing skills in 80 minutes against Aldershot and QPR than Park has done during his 6 years at the club.

    • Owen

      8 December 2011 at 15:36

      Too harsh on Park…Park is much much better than Anderson and that new purchase Young..

      • Onkar

        9 December 2011 at 03:21

        Hey OWEN bro you cant say that about the Ever Talented Talisman Anderson… You know what he is an answer to our 3 years old CMF problems… Btw apparently he is a better FIT to Man UTD System then Snider… I wonder which SYSTEM???

  10. Yang

    8 December 2011 at 15:41

    Without Vida, team turn into soft jelly. It feel like unreal stuff we score two goals 2-0 at OT and giveaway three goals and barely get draw. that is the problem.

    United turn into Arsenal, wasting chance in front of goal and keep giveaway silly goals.

    I fear Evans start for 3-4 months and opposition will target him. How can we cope is remaining to be seen.

    Defender and goalie stand alone. prepare more disappointments because there is no way that young players suddenly turn into war harden veterans in couple of days.

  11. Craig Mc

    8 December 2011 at 16:40

    Daniele – I haven’t heard many red ranters saying that Fergie ought to retire! Many including myself have talked about our football getting stale and formations outdated, and have tried to analyse where the problem really is and how it might be rectified. I personally think there are few glory hunters on red rants – or those who will just switch allegiance to go seek winning teams – though every club have the hangers on who remain as long as the team is winning. However on this blog most menbers are diehard reds no matter how much they rant and rave at what they think of all things United. However even as you say that we have the same players as last year when we won the PL and got to the final of CL – you surely cannot deny that performance level even while winning have dropped. We have suffered a lot of snooze football to get those results. Fergie has been apologetic quite a lot this season, so I think he agrees that there are problems – because United fans don’t just cry out about problems unless they are in their face. I have no doubt that United fans will be in full voice on the terraces against wolves, because at times like this no matter how big the problems are and going out of comps as we did – we rally and you will hear us against wolves of that I am sure.

    • Daniele

      9 December 2011 at 08:01

      I agree mate. My dig was aimed at people on facebook,twitter and other sources, where i’ve seen some disgraceful posts. Comments on this blog are always constructive, even if opinions differs, which, i guess, shows that our football knowledge is above average!
      Problems are there for everyone to see, but pointing fingers and moaning won’t solve anything. The team is not perfect, but let’s stick by Fergie and the lads, as you said true Reds keep the flag flying high, no matter what.

  12. john sweeney

    8 December 2011 at 16:55

    Complacency since the 6-1 drubbing by city, The whole club from the top down have been kidding themselves. A succession of unispiring 1-0 wins and a league position if not false is a statement of how the standards have dropped in the premiership. The media are as gullible also, with rooney’s appeal to eufa being the biggest problem to be resolved in switzerland this week according to everyone of the papers and the pundits on sky. Just turn up united and your in the knockout stages. If utd had gone through yesterday the illusion would be continued and if barca or real or bayern had beaten utd at a later stage, defeat to one of these clubs would only prolong the illusion. theres players who should’nt be at the club never mind wearing the shirt. For all the possesion theres a lack of creativity. young may look fine down the line but theres no incisive through balls no defence splitting passes. he’s not alone but just an example. schnider wants to much sod him but mata went to chelsea and he would have been ideal. truth is we are going to have to wait till after euro 12 ends to get a world class midfielder and thats only if we are willing to pay the fee and the wages. ferguson can start raising the cash by clearing out those who not good enough.

  13. Moscow is my heaven

    8 December 2011 at 17:21

    What next for United?

    I think we need someone special at this club. And there is only one guy who is special enough.

    The Special One will take on Barcelona, the greatest evil in world football (apart from Anderson’s passing) at the Bernabeu, in a showdown which will serve as an audition for the retiring gaffer’s throne.

    • Onkar

      9 December 2011 at 03:25

      apart from Anderson’s passing

      Total Fu***ng PRICELESS…..

  14. Moscow is my heaven

    8 December 2011 at 18:25

    We need to sign Seydou Doumbia from CSKA Moscow. Great pace and power, ball sticks to his feet on the dribble and most importantly, demonic finishing. He can play up top on his own, and he doesn’t mind a strike partner (he’s working well with Vagner Love at the moment).

    This player is fit to lead the line for us, even with poor supply from midfield. He creates chances out of nothing, an ability none of our strikers have, but all our rivals have at least one of these super strikers.

    • Owen

      8 December 2011 at 19:07

      We just need to bring our players back from retirement.Charlton will still do better job than likes of Anderson and Fletchers.

  15. Owen

    8 December 2011 at 19:04

    It is right time to welcome back Keano again as our Captain…

  16. toshe

    8 December 2011 at 20:12

    talk is cheap as we can see after the last game ,if they want to show they should show it on the pitch

  17. Jay wire

    8 December 2011 at 20:25

    I tried posting this after the Palace game, but I think it’s applicable here as well. I think it was in response to Eddy or someone else.

    I respect your respect for Ferguson. Reading your post I can see there’s deep respect. It also reflects the general attitude of fans. “Fergie knows best”. It’s a statement based on sentiment and empathy more than anything.

    People are genuinely afraid of Ferguson and/or respect him too much to place any blame on him. No one wants the Alan Hansen syndrome, don’t know if I got his name right. The poor guy made a perfectly reasonable statement based on historical analysis and got eternal egg for it. But today people say the same thing about Arsenal. Rafa Benitez was called Rafa the Rotator but when Ferguson started it, immediately articles in newspapers were written analysing the importance of rotation. Benitez didn’t even do as much ridiculous rotation. In the media it’s mostly fear. He’s an icon and he can chastise you in a press conference or simply storm out if you ask a less than complimentary question.
    He can boycott a whole media house for years, and that’s bad for business.

    With fans it’s the trophy cabinet. But I guess one advantage I may have is that for me, it’s football first and everything else after. With most fans, particularly English football fans, it’s the team first, then the team history and rivalries. The football itself isn’t really a big deal. It’s not a judgement, neither is it something to despise or praise. We’re all wired differently. But what it means is, to many, it’s okay if you have a trophy cabinet to “show off” in the pub and scorn others with. Everything else is a bonus.

    For me, I want to see football. I want to see tactics, style, player development, philosophy. Everything else is a bonus. It’s ironic that I’ve been called a glory hunter but perhaps understandable. But anyway, I’m not gonna be blinded by icons and trophies. If Ferguson is screwing up, I call it screwing up. His mega rotation policy has had an adverse effect on our football. His constant, largely illogical tinkering, has damaged player development. His lack of tactical expertise is not his fault. Well not fully. But it’s a problem. A problem because, Mike Phelan and his assistant are assigned the roles of training the first team and have displayed an absolutely shocking and wondrous lack of competence in that area.

    So we’re now one of the most awful teams technically in all of football. I have been watching QPR,Swansea City and others. They’re way above our technical standard and to me that’s not odd. It’s shocking. They can actually put together passes in a clear technical strategy, with players that would never qualify to be back up in our line up. If we can be tactically outwitted and outclassed by teams like Crystal Palace and Otel Gulowhatever at our own ground, to me it’s an absolute travesty. For the past 3 years, it has taken a lot of first half tinkering and guesswork, to find some form of winning formula in the second half of the season. That’s a clear sign of technical confusion and incompetence. We’re still employing, 80s tactics, mixed with Phelan’s own warped interpretation of modern techniques. Result. Comic confusion of unglorious proportions.

    I’ve been watching United in total shock for the past 3 years. We don’t even learn from past mistakes. The rest of football has been coming up with technical development strategies to match up to Barca’s technical superiority and the gap is closing fast.

    Attackers that press hard from the front have become prevalent. Deep lying midfielders are a prerequisite. Short, passing on the freakin ground is being seen, even in freakin England, from promoted teams like freakin QPR,meaning that even in the freakin Championship, technical adjustments are being made. The bloody Championship for crying out loud. Have we honestly come to that? Really?

    If Getafe can beat Barcelona, you’d expect a team like United, to at least lose respectably in two finals in a row. If a second stream Arsenal, can lose marginally to City, you’d expect Manchester United to not be humiliated at home. But the main logic is to blame the players. Inferior teams with obscure players are competing more respectably from a technical perspective. QPR demonstrated how to deal with City. Pressing. Short passing. Dynamic movement. City were completely dominated particularly in the first half. What do we do?

    We still practise zonal marking,waiting to absorb the pressure. In 2011. This is not 1991. Football is now about spaces. Any space available is optimized and exploited. I’m sure most teams can’t even believe they can come to Old Trafford and face a perpetually crossing attack, which has midgets upfront. A backtracking defensive setup that only begins to act in the box, when it’s mostly too late. Since February, no holding midfielder. If you think Palace was a once off, you’re mistaken. Old Trafford is now definitely a place to gain points for every obscure team that knows anything about modern day football.

    And no, I don’t want us to play like Barcelona or Madrid. I want us to play like we’re in 2011. Like we know football has evolved. I want players to be logically positioned and given roles that actually make sense and are complimentary to the team set up. I want to see a constant first team line up, not to be shocked everytime I see the squad sheet. I want us at least to stop acting like a team from the 80s that was magically transported to the present and are trying to adjust to the technical shock. Because I don’t think we’re a team from the 80s that was magically transported to the present. But we sure look like it. Is this too much to ask?

    We DEFINITELY need to replace CQ and apart from the goalkeeper coach, every coaching post should be made vacant with immediate effect.

    • RedDevilEddy

      8 December 2011 at 20:48

      Would have liked that comment 10+ times if I could. I agree, on every account. I’ve become astounded by our play this season, and somewhat last season as well. We did well at the start, as it was new and exciting, but right now we are the exact team we were last season, only without Vidic and a player on the left who crosses to the back post time and time again only for him to see it reach nobody. It’s painful, but it’s understandable. It’s the system we play, and it’s the way we want to play.

      Personally, I want United to play a wide game. That’s our philosophy, and why I fell in love with this club. But as you said, it has evolved, and I want to see us evolve our game as well. To me, it actually looks like we have become weaker since then! Overlapping fullbacks were raiding our sides every game, now I rarely see them as a threat unless one of the twins play. Rooney is great when on form, but I’m becoming really worried lately. If he is to continue this sort of form, and plays like a monkey having the brain of a goldfish, I would have no qualms seeing him leave. I still don’t think creativity in midfield is a major issue, I’m fine with Carrick and Cleverley in there. But that role Rooney plays these days is not for him. He seems to be comfortable being a supplier, but is it for his best? The team doesn’t seem to gel then, and without another star he fades. If this keeps up, I wouldn’t waste a second starting my own personal “sign Gøtze!” brigade. Having him play behind Chicharito would have been a dream, and our overall attacking play wouldn’t lack technical ability then.

      You say modern day football is about space, and I agree. I’m surprised United haven’t picked up on it, as my own fucking local team teaches that from an early age these days. Chicharito is a master of getting into, and creating space, so despite him being an absolute shite footballer he does know how to make the game being played. Can’t ask much more from him, despite me preferring Welbeck or someone like Sturridge to take his place as a starter.

      I respect Fergie for what he has done, what he is doing, and what he will do. I undestand his point and wish for our play, although I don’t agree with it all. Right now we have a squad full of players who can give the team new offings, and make us beat any side. European game where you want to play football AND keep posession? Play Carrick. Want goals or runs from midfield? Play Fletch. Want some energy and pace into a game? Play Ando. Want to actually play football that is beautiful on the eye, while also being effective, play Cleverley etc. Same goes for our strikers and wingers, play Chicharito if you want to press their defence back, or play Welbeck if you want to play a possession game which brings everyone into play. We have so many options, but we lack creativity and core. As long as we keep winning games I won’t complain, because I still think our football can be pretty on the eye. But will the club be recogniced as a real threat to every team in the footballing world having players of the highest quality? No. Part of me wants that, but part of me wants to stick with the history of this team by plaing wide and being a “United” team. If we could combine that it would be absolutely brilliant, but right now Rooney and the management looks like the biggest threat to this happening.

      • Moscow is my heaven

        8 December 2011 at 20:52

        Right now we have a squad full of players who can give the team new offings, and make us beat any side. European game where you want to play football AND keep posession? Play Carrick. Want goals or runs from midfield? Play Fletch. Want some energy and pace into a game? Play Ando. Want to actually play football that is beautiful on the eye, while also being effective, play Cleverley etc.

        🙄 🙄 🙄

        Eddy mi man, you are burying your head in the sand with your player valuations.

        • RedDevilEddy

          8 December 2011 at 20:58

          No, I’m burying sand on my head!!! 😀

        • Moscow is my heaven

          8 December 2011 at 21:04

          Next you’ll be saying: ‘Want goals? Play Berba.’ 😆

        • RedDevilEddy

          8 December 2011 at 21:09

          😆 😆 😆 😆

  18. colver

    8 December 2011 at 22:06

    I dunno Jay Wire. We are a very British team at the moment and as we have seen with the national team Brits are very unsophisticated tactically. You’ve seen at Chelsea the difficulty AVB has had getting Chelsea to play a different system. Look at all the trouble Quieroz had trying to get us to move away from 4-4-2. He succeeded eventually but it was a long slog. Ferguson did try to get us to play more like Barcelona in the summer and it worked for a little while with our explosive start to the season but we soon lapsed into old habits.

    Buying some continental midfielders who know how to use the ball the way that Scholes did would go a long way towards improving our football. After all the best tactical instructions in the world are useless if players do not have the intelligence to make the right decisions or the right skills to execute them.

    Vidic is a huge loss. But what would we do with another central defender? We already have Evans, Rio, Smalling, Jones….that is way more cover than any other team in the world. Look at Barcelona they play makeshift defences every time they play us and still thump us every time.

    Same with our attack. Who can boast a forward line as good as Hernandez, Rooney, Welbeck and Berbatov?

    But then United teams have been built around a prolific forward line and a stingy defence for the last five years.

    With a strong midfield we would be less reliant on our strikers for goals and less reliant on our key defenders staying fit.

    Whichever way you look at it midfield is the problem.

  19. RedDevilEddy

    8 December 2011 at 22:24

    Some real badass teams in the Europa League… One team called Metalist. I mean, fucking Metalist?! Dude, that’s frucking awesome, I wanna call my team some Ironfist!

    • Andrei

      9 December 2011 at 12:58

      Metalist means metal worker – it is a well respected team from Eastern Ukraine. They worked hard to earn the stop in Europa League and they play pretty decent football. Eddy stop being so condescending … United are no in position to take any team lightly anymore. And do you think that Idrettsforeningen Fram is a better team name 🙂

  20. colver

    8 December 2011 at 22:29

    Eddie, I also love wide play but when you have Welbeck and Berbatov scared of the box and Rooney and Hernandez so small they only really do well with low crosses we have a problem there. We could go back to the 90s and buy some tall physically imposing strikers to get on the end of Nani and Young’s crosses. But that would cost at least £50 million and be a total waste of the forwards we already have.

    Far better we shift our focus and get some creativity in midfield so we can unlock defences and make use of Hernandez’s ability to find space.

    • Fred the Red

      8 December 2011 at 23:30

      If I was Sir Alex, this is what I would do. In the short term, given Uniteds injury problems, I would look to be playing a 4 5 1 or 4 3 3, to me its the same thing. Starting with the lone sriker, Rooney would be the man. Two seasons ago he played this position and for three quarters of it, he had arguably his best season in a United shirt. He can do it, and an do it well.

      In the centre of Midfield I would start with Carrick as the anchorman. In frnt of him I would play Nani and Giggs with Ravel Morrison replacing Giggs when needed. Valencia right side, Young on the left.
      At the back, Ferdinand and Smalling, Evra or Fabio on the left, Jones or Raphael on the right. De Gea in nets.
      This leavea two of the fullbacks who dont play, plus Park, Fletcher, Fryers, Evans, Wellbeck as cover. Stick with this system for at least two or three games and allow the players to find thier form again and rythym again. It might take a while but I believe this system and players will allow United to control games better and offer the greatest attacking threat possible. I believe Young and Nani can do a good good going both ways on the flanks and Nani definately has the game to play in the middle, he just needs the game time to learn how to be really effective in there. Given the injury situation I think this team is the best of the rest, any takers?

      Long term,any two from Sneijder, Ericksen, Goetze, Modric, Ganso or Elm would be a good place to start. My preffered two would be Sniejder and Ericksen.

      • Fred the Red

        8 December 2011 at 23:34

        I believe Young and Nani can do a good good going both ways on the flanks( That was meant to be Young and Valencia)

      • RedDevilEddy

        8 December 2011 at 23:43

        When Cleverley is back I wanna see him in there, thankfully just a week or two left now!

  21. Eddie Griffin

    8 December 2011 at 23:32

    Along with buying Vidic and Evra in the January transfer windcow following that last CL exit, we bought Carrick the next summer, then went for Haregreaves (big, big reason for our success in 07/08), Nani (one of our most talented players now), Anderson (seemed like a good idea at the time!), and Tevez the summer after that.

    Maybe last night will have the same effect. Sitting on their hands won’t accomplish anything, that’s for sure.

    • RedDevilEddy

      8 December 2011 at 23:55

      It also sparked the end of Ruud’s United career. He used to be a beast in the Champions League, our record scorer as well(I think), but Fergie wanted a more flexible team and started to use Saha and get him into the team.

      There is a big difference between now and then though… We had a very, very weak squad back then. We only had 3 strikers, one of which was injured all the time, and when Keane retired Smith became first choice in there along with Scholes. Then he got his eye-thingy and lost the reminder of the season, meaning we had to use Giggs and O’shea in the middle. Heinze lost the whole season as well, so it forced Fergie’s hand into buying Evra at the time.

      I do want change though. Not necessarily a drastic change, but a more flexible team is something I wouldn’t mind! If Wazza hits top form again, he could be the player that makes the difference, but without him it’s just sad to watch our attack these days. As I said, if Wayne doesn’t hit top form SOON, I would start calling out for Gøtze. An off-form Rooney is as good as Gibson, and I definately want some world class creativity in there. Not in midfield, again noted, but in the last attacking third.

  22. colver

    9 December 2011 at 01:33

    Nani is not a central midfielder. We saw at Basel how effective he can be on the wing so we should keep him there.

    Much as I hate to admit it we are a better side with Carrick in the team. Carrick and Giggs is our best midfield with Cleverley injured.

    I would go with a 4-4-2 with a midfield of Valencia, Giggs, Carrick, Nani and have Rooney and Welbeck upfront with explicit instructions to stay in the damn box.

    Then in January Giggs can give way for Cleverley and Hernandez can come in for Welbeck.

    4-4-2 is tried and tested in the Premiership and that has to be our ultimate aim now we are out of Europe.

    Once we have all our central midfielders fit again (or ideally we sign someone in January) we can start to experiment again with single striker systems.

    De Gea-Fabio, Smalling, Rio, Evra-Valencia, Carrick, Giggs, Nani-Rooney, Welbeck

    Not a perfect team by any means but in the Premiership it will see us through to 2012.

  23. colver

    9 December 2011 at 01:37

    Checked out the injury lists. How is it possible we have nine injuries while City only have a single injury? They’ve even got Hargreaves listed as fit! And they rotate half as much as we do!

    Oops make that EIGHT Bebe really does not count in my book!

    Do we have the worst physio team in the world? Are our players made of glass? Is our style of play particularly conducive to injuries? These are all questions that need to be asked.

    • [OPTI]Madschester United

      9 December 2011 at 02:08

      good question… maybe Arsene Wenger poisoned our well with his physios?

  24. Jay wire

    9 December 2011 at 09:11

    @ Eddy-
    Rooney is actually playing in his best role. He is a creator first and a goalscorer second. You can bench him all you like, but he’s not the problem. Our attack was designed in the 80s and is as predictable and unsophisticated as the MS DOS. Nani and Young stay out wide, crossing. The midfield is illogical and disoriented 90% of the time. If he has a strike partner, esp Chicharito,he stays uptop, clearly and evidently waiting for a ball played in behind the defence. What is Rooney supposed to do? The defenders can see what Chicharito is trying to do, so they just play the offside trap. Solved. So Rooney in possession, either has to shoot Ronaldo style, from impossible distances and angles, or do the sensible thing of a cross field ball to Nani or Young. But it’s still predictable, because 9 out of 10 times, the wingers will cross. So the defenders just congregate in the box, because there’s no cutting in. Solved.

    The midfielders also have very little to no options, but to spread it wide or pass to Rooney the only player who seems to be in a more autonomous role. So you can joyfully have all the possession in the world, but if you and I, who are not even semi-pro, can predict every pass we make, be sure the opposition’s coach can as well. People want incisive, creative and penetrative passing when there’s no movement upfront or anywhere else. The only player you can make a through pass to, is Chicharito,but the opposition already know that, so they set the trap, Giggs makes the pass,Hernandez chases and everyone starts cursing at the assistant ref. It’s so predictable.

    I don’t dispute that Rooney is the key man. But he’s being asked to be a miracle worker. Everyone is looking to pass to him because he’s the only one with some autonomy and freedom. But as a creator, his options are predictable. So whilst everyone is looking to give the ball to him, who provides his outlet? Javier “Offside” Hernandez,the eternally wide Young and Nani. That’s it. And when he plays it wide, he is the only player who seems to have the freedom to move dynamically, so he rushes towards goal and because he’s the go to guy, the winger with the ball crosses to him. It’s a lot of burden to be honest. And credit to Nani, who seems to keep finding Chicharito and Rooney with his crosses. It’s a real wonder he keeps succeeding at it.

    I also don’t believe our attack has gone stale because Rooney is not in form. I believe the key issue is to change tactics, to take advantage of our wingers. Both Nani and Young are significant goal threats both inside the box and out. We have attack minded fullbacks as well and we never use them to attack. If Evra and Young, take turns to attack and wiggle their way into the box, the opposition will be overwhelmed. On the right, Jones or whichever twin is available, all can dribble into the area and with Nani you have a potent threat from the right. This makes us unpredictable and dynamic and also relieves Rooney of unnecessary pressure. With Carrick screening, you know you can attack. We played something similar in the first 6 games and noone could handle us (minus defensive screen). Why we decided to time travel to the 80s after the Chelsea game, is a very big mystery, but I can’t see any justification whatsoever. The only two logical conclusions I could come up with are 1. The coaches are definitely on serious drugs. 2. They are sabotaging the club for unknown malicious reasons.

  25. Jay wire

    9 December 2011 at 09:15

    oh sorry. I’m not even semi pro. You’re on the road to pro. Didn’t notice that.

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