Somebody mentions Paul Scholes and everybody writes in with those quotes from Zidane etc. Dull dull dull. We've ignored them. There's plenty more to enjoy here...
It does seem logical that the best thing to do with the best players is to play them from the start, when they have the most time to make an impact, rather than the last 15 minutes...
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United vs Shakhtar conclusions
1. United started brightly, full of attacking intent and controlled possession well. For about 20 minutes. Then it was business as usual as we tried to soak up the pressure and hit them on the counter-attack. If this is plan A, we urgently need a plan B.
2. Rafael has developed into an excellent player. Barely anything came from the Shakhtar left last night, with the unfortunate exception of the goal, but Rafael was totally blameless in that one.
3. United's midfield three were pushed deeper and deeper as the match went on. I don't pretend to know a lot about defending, but even I could see that our players needed to start defending further up the pitch and start closing the space in front of our defence.
4. There was nothing "unlucky" about Shakhtar's goal. It had been coming for a long time, and United's defensive ineptitude cost us. Similar to the City match, no one picked up the spare man in the box (Taison), which ultimately allowed him the time and space to score.
5. I'm still not quite sure how Fellaini managed to get booked for a foul by Valencia.
6. While Moyes was right to bring Fellaini off after the booking, he was completely wrong to bring on Giggs as his replacement. Giggs isn't the man to organise or add steel to a midfield which is being penned in. Jones would have been a better option.
7. Nani should have been brought on for Valencia at the same time as the first sub, to help relieve pressure on the defence by carrying the ball upfield, as he proved in the Real Madrid match last year. United couldn't keep Shakhtar away for long enough but this could have helped.
8. Is Moyes on a cash-for-subs scheme, where he gets paid a bonus for every unused substitute? The tide had turned and his only idea was to bring on Giggs. He needs to learn to be more reactive to the match situation. He waited until it was too late against City, to a much greater cost, but that is a worrying trait of his.
9. Van Persie looked lively, but desperately needed more support. If he had been injured as well as Rooney we would have been in trouble last night.
10. We've been credited with interest in Douglas Costa before now; after his display last night I can see why. He should be very close to the top of our (very long) shortlist.
United were lucky to come out of that match with a draw (dodgy throw-in leading to our goal) but, as I said before kick off, I would have taken the point. Having said that, it was frustrating to have been in a winning position with 14 minutes to go only to let it slip through Moyes' inaction. We won't make it very far after the group stages on that form, if (and it's still a big "if") we manage to qualify.
A Few Biters...
Your front page greets me with the query: "Are we at the stage with Manchester United yet where a draw against Shakhtar Donetsk can be considered a good result?"
Yes, when you consider no English team has ever won at Shakhtar in the Champions League, I think a draw has always been considered a good result. And without our most in-form player, too. Not bad. Plus don't forget the goal came from open play! In fact, United have scored from open play in 3 of their last 5 games in all competitions. Hard to remember that when F365 is continually banging on about no goals from open play in the Premier League. It's a convenient stat, isn't it? I guess they all are.
I know some of your writers have been enjoying the "Moyes is a shambles!" narrative a bit (clever line about United-West Brom being a mid-table clash, Stanger) but you have to admit now, the ginger got it right this time for a tricky away fixture. Worst start in 24 years is one stat, sure. Another is that Moyes has come away with more points from his first 6 games than Fergie did in his first year. And although Fergie didn't have a squad as good as this, he also didn't have as difficult of a starting schedule. I'm not making excuses for Moyes, of course this has been a disappointing start to the season, but cool it with the fire and brimstone talk and have some perspective.
Vishnu (taking the long view), NYC
..."Are we at the stage with Manchester United yet where a draw against Shakhtar Donetsk can be considered a good result?" Is a draw away to Shakhtar not a good result given their home record, especially having beaten Chelsea and Arsenal previously, and our recent performances? I'm not sure there is any need to have a sly dig which would be more suitable for the playground. The bookies had Shakhtar as favourites and they aren't a bad side who are tough to beat.
Fergie would've been happy with that performance/result away in Europe. Win your home games, don't lose your away games. Second match in CL proper and Moyes sets up a team to get a result in Europe but the hacks still aren't happy. For shame F365. For shame.
The headline on your site should have been, "Mighty Davy Moyes Unbeaten in the CL Proper". Change it or I'll remain mildly upset for at least another 10 minutes.
Garey Vance, MUFC
...A very creditable draw in Europe in what is most likely the toughest away fixture in our group and your asking "Are we at the stage with Manchester United yet where a draw against Shaktar Donetsk can be considered a good result?". Really? Since when has an away draw in the CL against quality opposition ever been considered anything other than a decent result?
Come on lads, I know pretty much any stick can be used to beat David Moyes with but this surely isn't one of them?
I'm hoping that this is just some kind of ploy to prompt lots of angry responses from Utd fans in which case, I've been merked by F365.
Nick (very happy with the draw actually, I'd prepared myself for another defeat) Salt, Durham
But Someone's Not Satisfied
Kagawa, Chicarito, Young all sitting on the bench. No, Jones for Welbeck with 2 minutes left of extra time after the game has already gotten away from us. Inspiring stuff from Moyes. The worst thing for me is when watching Manchester United is that I have no idea where a goal is going to come from. We have no one to create anything.
I feel sorry for RVP just running around up the top waiting for Carrick or Fellaini to hit a ball into a defender. Here is hoping Cleverly somehow turns into a good player over night.
Liam - MUFC - Brisbane
A Hypothetical United Quandary
In an attempt to not repeat the Moyes out/Moyes in conversation of the last few days i thought I would mix it up a bit and make a positive prediction. I was going to do a negative but i feel they have been a bit overdone....
United to finish top of their champions league group while at the same time sitting in 8th in the league.
After failing to sign any of their 15 january transfer targets it is announced that darren fletcher is full fit and ready to play again.
An end of season 'arsenal-esque' charge leads to Utd fighting with tottenham for fourth place in league and they just miss out on the last game of the season. Whilst this seems awful to utd fans there is one twist of fate that sees them in the champions league the following year.....
an incredible, completely revived Darren Fletcher alongside Felliani and Kagawa in Utds midfield lead Utd to a champions league victory beating barcelona in the final.
Just to finish it off for Utd Everton and their glorious new manager(who liverpool fans keep on pointing out is better than moyes) end up higher than liverpool.
Would that count as a good season for utd fans?
Tom, tractor boy in switzerland
A Valid Question In The Brackets
Im watching Shaktar V United and it's just a classic United away performance. Poor scrappy unimaginative football, backs against the wall, any time United get possession it's either lost to a desperate clearance or another poor attempt at a counter attack, you can see Shaktar's equaliser coming a mile away.
Then Moyes brings off Fellaini for Ryan Giggs. Just why?
Ciaran, Dublin. (Does any United fan enjoy seeing Ryan Giggs in a starting line up/come on as a sub anymore?)
Everyone seems obsessed with destroying Joe Hart at the moment and to be fair he has dropped a few bollocks over the last couple of seasons. I'm sure the people saying he should be out of the England team are the same knee-jerkers that a couple of years ago said he was a future England captain and the best keeper since Shilton (mainly the tabloids).
I think a lot of the criticism is fair but I think suggesting Fraser Forster should suddenly be promoted to England No. 1 is a bit short sighted. The job of a goalkeeper changes dramatically depending on what team you play for and their style. Being in goal for Celtic against Barca when your team is playing deep forcing the opponent to shoot from the edge of the box is always going to make a keeper look good. However, playing for a top side or playing for England in the type of international fixtures we play he won't have the team sitting so deep. There will be more one on one type saves and he might only need to make a couple of saves in a game from counter attacks, but they need to be top class. I don't think Forster's performances against Barcelona this season and last, albeit very impressive, give any indication that he would be better for England than Joe Hart.
That's just from a technical view, I haven't even mentioned the mental aspect, which clearly is worlds apart when playing for Celtic in a game they are expected to lose. For a great example just look at the difference in performance from Ben Foster when he was given a go at the keeper job at United compared to his excellent form on his various loan moves and at Birmingham and West Brom since.
It can be frustrating when Hodgson seems to only pick players from big clubs but I think when it comes to the goalkeeper that is totally justified. The hardest part of being a goalkeeper is staying cool and confident under pressure and Fraser Forster will never be tested fully in this regard if he stays at Celtic. It is unfortunate that Hart is the only English goalkeeper starting for a big club, but his still the best we currently have.
Simon (Probably the only mail today defending him) London
Leave Us Be, Football's All About Dreams
So based on yesterday afternoon's mailbox it seems Arsenal fans are not allowed to celebrate one of their best performances of the last few years. This is because some fans had the audacity to question Wenger / The Board after 8 trophy-less seasons. What an absolute load of rubbish.
Dave, London attempts to belittle Arsenal's start to the season by listing the opposition, suggesting the start has been nothing more than "solid". Arsenal can't do any more than beat the teams put in front of them. Bar the Aston Villa result they have done that and dominated the majority of those games. Of the teams listed - Stoke, West Brom and Swansea all took points off teams we would consider rivals. Why can we not celebrate this new found consistency?
Lydia Lunch has decided there is no middle ground with Arsenal fans. I admire that she took the time to survey the whole Arsenal fan base, but guess what? Her findings are bullsh*t. There is an element of our support that feels 8 years without a trophy is too long and that the manager should go. There's another element who feel Arsene should have a job for life based on previous achievements. Fine - it's an opinions game. The majority of Arsenal fans I know acknowledge he has made some mistakes; breaking up the Invincibles too quickly, effectively throwing the domestic cups and some dodgy signings like Santos and Gervinho. However, they also recognise that he has overseen the move to a new stadium and kept us in the Champions League every year with a net spend of £9m in 10 years. Think about that for a moment. Just because these fans don't spend the majority of their life phoning TalkSport, doesn't mean they don't exist.
HP, London seems to think we can't celebrate a win in October, because of fan reaction at a game in August. Arsenal fans (myself included) were suicidal after the Villa defeat. We'd had 3 months to do our transfer business and by the opening day all we had was Yaya Sanogo. It was a cock up and many fans were fed up of paying the highest ticket prices whilst seeing no investment in the squad. But the Ozil signing changed everything. It didn't fix all our problems, but it did demonstrate the money was available and that Wenger had the balls to spend it. That was seriously debatable at the beginning of the summer.
We've made a good start and we're in October and not out of the title race. Some fans might be getting excited and starting to day dream, isn't that what football is about? We've just beaten one of the form sides in Europe and the atmosphere in the ground is finally positive again. Stop trying to sh*t on our parade by telling us we can't celebrate that.
Ed Lyne, (reserve the right to watch Ozil's goal with my hands down my trousers) North London
...I wonder if Lydia Lunch and HP, London are aware that when some arsenal fans get printed in the mailbox, they don't represent every Arsenal fan in the world. It's almost as if they are millions of people with differing opinions. Crazy right?
As for Dave, London, I agree. Arsenal can't be considered tested until we have played everyone in the top 4. But if we can keep winning against the average sides like Palace, Citeh, Norwich and Manyoo, then even even if we drop points against the top 4 sides we have yet to play (Everton and Liverpool) then we should do ok.
Adonis (Enjoying it while it lasts) Stevenson, AFC
Hey, Critics, Leave Our Pole Alone
Don't want to add to the inevitable fall out from the latest terrible performance from 'England's number one' as I'm sure he will get all the criticism that he deserves. However the point I wanted to make is my annoyance with the constant criticism and dismissal of Arsenal's Wojciech Sczcseny. Woj didn't put a foot wrong last night and has been extremely solid all season except for the penalty he gave away against Villa. His confidence has come back after taking a bit of a knock on that front last year when he was dropped and his performances have been great this term.
Still, every pundit says we need a new goalkeeper and that SZCZ doesn't inspire them and that we should have signed someone like Begovic. It was funny then that after Begovic had a terrible game against us last week aswell as letting Johnny Howson's shot squirm through his hands in the most Joe Hartlike way that he barely received any criticism at all. If SZCZ had committed one of those mistakes he would be torn apart and ridiculed.
In one newspaper even though SZCZ dealt well with what little he had to do last night, it described him as 'looking dodgy even watching his team dominate in front of him.' What complete and utter dross. He gets much too much stick and we are very lucky to have a young goalkeeper who can undoubtedly improve but is a lot more solid and reliable then people give him credit for.
Leave him alone.
Peter(Even De Gea had a clanger against Leverkusen a couple of weeks ago and not one thing was said), AFC
One for Ref365...
After reading of the FA's latest disciplinary non-decision over Fernando Torres, I find myself once again bemused by the explanation given, and wondering whether the Chelsea front man has been let off as a result of a semantic ambiguity.
As with Callum McManaman last season (and others previously), it's stated that retrospective punishment hinges on whether a match official "saw the incident". In both of these cases, we are told that no further action was taken due to the officials having seen the flashpoints, despite TV replays showing Mark Halsey's line of sight was blocked at the crucial moment last year and the official on Saturday stating they saw it "not in their entirety".
Surely it would be more correct in each instance to state that the official saw an incident (indefinite article, e.g. the general coming together of Torres & Vertonghen), but did not see the incident (definite article, Fernando's errant raking finger), which is the specific issue being evaluated and would thus leave the door open for a retrospective ban. It's a subtle but crucial difference that currently seems to be escaping the capabilities of those in charge.
I was under the impression that the law was set up so as not to undermine the judgement calls a referee makes on the pitch, regardless of whether that judgement is correct or not. Its current interpretation goes far beyond that and is not fit for purpose.
Andy Craig (LFC)
Is Stick Is The New Twist?
I've always wondered what risk is there to a team from bringing in a new manager. Given that we've all seen the new managers and players for this season, I'm going to go out on a limb that on average Arsenal, Spurs and Liverpool will do better than Chelsea, City and Utd this year. They certainly look better teams. Is the greatest benefit a club to not to have a new manager at the beginning of a season?
The Kids Are Alright
I'm sure City's defeat will be discussed at length so instead I wanted to mention the UEFA Youth Cup. This runs in tandem with the CL and follows the same format with the same teams but their Youth teams play instead. So a few hours before Bayern destroyed City these Youth teams met in Manchester and the final score was 6-0. The winners simply dominated the game through ball retention, clever and incisive passing, intense pressing and clinical finishing - basically the losers were simply outclassed. Sounds incredibly similar to the first team match however the difference was that this time it was City who were the winners.
With a high number of English lads in the team (including in goal Angus Gunn, son of Bryan for you older readers) City were outstanding. So whilst we lick our wounds and rebuild confidence we can take some hope that this 'holistic' approach is showing signs of working already at the bottom of the City pyramid. Incidentally the approach appears to follow the Barca principle and considering the hat-trick hero from the game was a small, tricky and unplayable South American it is a near carbon copy. Hopefully we'll see a lot of these youngster make step up and (more importantly) be given a chance so that in a few years we might see the first team doing to Bayern what Bayern did to us last night.
And A Question For The Mailbox
Has any player had their career turned around so dramatically by a single non injury related incident as Joe Hart's seems to have been by Andrea Pirlo taking the p*ss out of him in the penalty shoot out at Euro 2012?
Before that he was a young probably overly confident but highly impressive goalkeeper (not the world's best as the English press claimed but very good nonetheless), after he is an error prone nervous wreck for club and country.