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Low block absolute b****cks
With my wedding anniversary coming up I’m about to ask the wife the yearly question of “do you want a quickie or the full two minutes”. You lot don’t get a choice, I’m going to require a full 2 minutes reading for this email. I think there’s plenty of content in it that F365 can link to other articles for them to post it. Otherwise, go here, here and here for fantastic and thought provoking content by the talented F365 writers.
Last season, pre-January, Utd played mainly on the counter attack as they had only pacey forwards and no creative midfielders. Fernandes wasn’t there, Pogba was injured and Mata is past his best, so we had Matic, McTominay and Fred providing extra cover for our defence and not so much in creativity. We had Pereira and Jlingz too….. Hence, counter attacking was the default tactic that gave us some good wins against some good sides (although I am sick of hearing about PSG 2019 as there was a lot of luck there, it will not get into my top 1000 Utd games). We struggled against those with a high block for our lack of creativity. However, The minute Bruno arrived, things changed. Does no-one remember the ridiculous knee-jerkery of Utd suddenly being serious title contenders for this year because Fernandes and Pogba (who had just returned from a long injury) formed a great partnership after lockdown and we won 6 games by at least 2 clear goals (only one, Leicester a top 6 side) and drew the other 3 (Spurs / Soton / Hammers) to finish in that 3rd place? Utd no longer struggle against a low block, we are just as prone to struggle against anyone, we’re not fussy, we struggle to get the best out of the personnel we have.
The problem at the back end of the season was more down to a lack of squad depth and a lack of Solskjaer rotating his squad properly. He played practically the same starting XI for all the league games and the big cup games we still had. While it worked for the first 2 or 3 weeks of games coming 2 or 3 a week, by the end of the season they were knackered and we duly got swept aside in the latter stages of the cup competitions. All this time, our most dependable midfielders pre-Bruno/Pogba of Fred and McTominay could not get a look in. Pogba should have been eased into the squad with rotation of Fred / McTominay / Matic who add more to the defence (which Ole seems to have remembered now, or maybe stumbled upon).
The end of last season showed the squad had a lack of depth but also that Ole was not good at rotating the squad he had. When you have 2 games a week you need players that can slot in and out of the team and you need different personnel depending on who you are playing. Sparked by the debate about our Donny, I agree with someone from yesterday that Donny and creative midfield is definitely not the problem. As the old adage goes, it is a good problem to have.
Here’s the squad and the assessment:
Goal Keepers: David De Gea, Sergio Romero, Dean Henderson – I just feel sorry that one of the best keepers in the premier league, Romero, is now number 3 in the pecking order. Utd should reward him with a move somewhere else if they’re not going to play him.
Centre Back: Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelöf, Eric Bailly, Axel Tuanzebe – Utd have spent big here, they need to make these players work to their strengths. There is enough talent there and they have looked good for large parts of last season. Axel deserves a few more games following his PSG performance.
Left Back: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Timothy Fosu-Mensah – For the myth of AWB not being able to attack, I’d take him any day over an Alonso or Roberto Carlos that are great at attacking but can’t defend for sh!t. He’s still young, he scored his first goal recently, I think he’s already getting better at attacking (but the myth will remain for long whatever he does).
Right Back: Luke Shaw, Telles Alex, Brandon Williams – I feel Telles was an unnecessary signing with Brandon challenging Shaw already but better to be too strong than too weak. Maybe Telles will be an improvement…
Defensive Midfield: Scott McTominay, Nemanja Matic, Fred – Matic can’t have many seasons left but 3 DMs is plenty and all 3 are quality. McTominay for me is also capable of pushing forward and seems more of a box-to-box midfielder than anyone at the club. He would be one of my first names on every team sheet.
Attacking Midfielder: Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Juan Mata, Donny van de Beek – Clearly Bruno is the favourite and Pogba remans the problem child. Donny deserves his chance to show what he can do but there’s nothing wrong with easing a player into a team. Fernandes cannot play every game, Ole needs to figure out how to interchange Donny or Pogba with him every 3 or 4 games.
Forwards: Marcus Rashford, Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood, Daniel James – A lot of quality and pace. James hasn’t kicked on and needs to improve, Cavani could offer a different way of playing and also help with getting the odd goal in a tight game.
On paper and largely proved in spurts, Man Utd do not have any major weaknesses. Yes, we have also been shit in spurts and specific games but I wouldn’t blame the squad on that. However, I think that our biggest problem is that we have a lack of wide midfield players and so we try and play 3 Forwards every game to offer the width through James and Rashford. James may be one for the future, but he’s a weak link at the moment. This means that we predominantly play 4-3-3 (with 2 of those midfielders lately in the holding roles), we should be more flexible to adding an attacking midfielder instead of a defensive midfielder when we play against a side more likely to defend for 90 minutes or play just 2 forwards and add a creative midfielder – ultimately, stop being so predictable and get the midfield to play out wider – Pogba may well be much more suited to a wider role and much less of the defensive liability he can be.
Now we are a handful of games into the season, I’d say that is the usual pre-season out of the way. Utd have some catching up to do but they have the squad capable of doing it. I hope Ole can get the best out of the squad on a consistent basis because he’s proven they are capable but without consistency we won’t win anything and he won’t last much longer no matter how much money gets spent.
Klopps last piece of his puzzle was consistency and that is exactly what Pep has lost and can’t get back. While not the only missing piece to Solskjaers puzzle, it is definitely one that would make a big difference.
Jon, Cape Town (Starve a kid, save a quid (UK), Farmers lives matter (SA) – just adding some politics for the hell of it, don’t respond – you’re wrong)
High line nonsense
John in the morning mailbox suggests United cannot defend with a high line as we get caught on the break by so called lesser teams. A quick look at whoscored stats from last season tells me Utd only conceded 3 goals from counter attacks last season in the league. This is the same as City and one less than Liverpool.
Actually the most notable difference was set pieces, conceding 4 more than Liverpool and City (7). And this is an area of the game that can be worked on (pace cannot).
So in the words of Will Hunting, how do you like them apples?
Garey Vance, MUFC
I’m gonna bite…
Don’t remember anybody crushing Fabinho’s hamstring in a full force, off the floor, scissor tackle?! As Liverpool fans said at the time, it was the complete lack of any care, remorse or punishment regarding Pickford that was the major issue with most supporters. Not all injuries have blame attached as well you know, but I think we can all agree there’s only one person to blame for van Dijk busted knee – and he’s still flying about with carefree abandon.
But yeah, you get on your fu**ing banter wagon using a player’s injury to try to wind people up.
Obviously a man yoo fan
On the subject of sorry…
Sorry United are a complete mess of a club
Sorry United spent £35m on Donny when it was not necessary
Sorry United spent £80m on a cruise liner
Sorry United have a shockingly poor manager
Sorry United won’t finish top 4
Sorry united fans are so bitter
Ade ( feel better now) Guildford
Johnno mate, let it go. Our best player got injured and it upset us. For some reason this upset you. Just let it go and move on with your life. There’s a helluva lot of stuff going on in the world right now and patrolling the amount of grief you deem sufficient really shouldn’t be a priority.
Appreciate the concern, we’ll handle it from here
So ever since the Everton game, we’ve been getting hit with injuries after injuries, our first and second choice defence is basically a happy thought now; and unsurprisingly when such major changes are forced upon a team, it’ll upset the balance of any side, even the reigning premier league champions.
But the cries and moans about Liverpool being shit is just annoying; say what you must we were robbed in the Everton game (Marginal rules that IITs in Mumbai don’t bother with), the Sheffield game penalty was LOL and we were off the pace in our first UCL home game with Fabinho limping off.
Anyhoo, we got maximum points, by being shite with an out of form CB and an academy graduate as his partner in Central defence.
I think that’s what champions do, getting the job done even when the odds are hilariously stacked against you.
We’re good, thank you.
Mihir Nair, Mumbai, LFC (Need a proper CB signing this January)
Crisis? What crisis?
In response to all the doom and gloom with the defensive Injury crises.Those LFC fans worried. Those rival fans like a pack of hyenas excitedly waiting for us to crumble…
Since our excellent draw away to that Dirty Everton we have won 3 and lost none. Scored 7 and conceded 4. Quite good considering the injury situation.
With our patched up defence we can still be a difficult team to play against.Hopefully we can keep it together until January. When we can bring in defensive cover. Luckily the challengers are also dropping points.
Is the title race wide open or are we still favourites?…
Here for VAR, stayed for the maths
I’m writing this, the most dull of VAR offside mails, in a hope that the ridiculousness of a mm accurate line drawing is put to bed. We have had a few emails defending it for its effectiveness but none of them even got the offside rule right. We all know its two players to play someone onside right? The mm line is so ridiculous as not even the pitches are the same size, or the penalty spots in the same places. Just nonsense. See the most interesting article F365 has ever written here.
In athletics, players starts are measured with a pressure plate. If that plate is activated within 0.1 seconds after the gun has fired then the athlete has false started. This is because it takes that long for the brain to hear the starting gun and tell the legs to move. Athletics have figured out that just because you can measure it to a certain accuracy it is not right to.
With offside, just because VAR can measure the gap between the t shirt line of two players to a mm it is not right to. So what is the right amount? Lets do some maths. Picture this coming from Rachel Riley.
There is currently no mm measurement of when the ball is played. The current technology seems to show the ball being played across about 3 frames. Including the bits in between the frames at 25 frames a second is about 0.2 seconds. This means that the tolerances of the line should allow for 0.2 seconds of movement whilst the ball is being played as the tech cannot see when it has been played. Manes sprint speed according to Opta is 34kph. In 0.2 seconds he could travel about 2,000 mm. This means that whilst technology is unable to determine to the mm when the ball left the boot the accuracy is to about 2000 or 200cm.
The human eye can see at 30-60 frames per second. This means that Mane can sprint 161mm without you physically being able to see it.
Even taking the frame as gospel, a frame, including half the bits in between the frame is 1/25th of a second. Or about 38 cm of Mane at sprint. This means that VAR for offsides has a working range of 38cm when Mane is sprinting. Now, not every player is sprinting and not every payer sprints like Mane. If you halved and a bit that to say 15cm or 6 inches. VAR could be enhanced to have the lines as it is now, with the computer applying two lines 6 inches either side. Inside that line the players and refs are forgiven. If the lino calls it, and its within that line fine, VAR can’t prove or disprove it. If they don’t call it VAR picks it up. Even halving it again to +/- 3 inches would be more effective than what we have now. We need more tolerance in this world.
This doesn’t take into account t-shirt lines, or how much someone moved to make them active, or where the VAR numpty puts the line, or which frame they chose. But like athletics it takes into account the human’s ability to physically interpret the information and disproves the current VAR offside methodology.
Its been a while since I used the conversion brain muscles so if I am wrong with the numbers do write in. There needs to be more maths in the mailbox. Quick brainteaser for everyone: 6 > 3 and 1 = 19.
Alex, South London
Hate to be a pedant (actually that’s a lie, I love it) but we don’t set our clocks back in the winter. We set them forward in the summer. Winter time is standard GMT and British Summer Time is GMT+1. Daylight Savings time occurs over the summer, not the winter. Think of it this way Sid, we make your life a bit easier for 6 months of the year, then it’s back to normal.
Mike, LFC, London
Prick of the Week
Isn’t it funny how Dave Tickner copped loads of flack for his ‘Prick of the Week‘ segment when the targets were Frank ‘Frankie Lamps’ Lampard and Jose ‘seems to have achieved symbiotic understanding between Son and Kane’ Mourinho, but since then nobody has complained and everybody is content?
It’s almost as if the problem wasn’t with Tickers at all, but the rose-tinted specs affecting their viewpoint and inability to take a joke.
Lee (Bartomeu must be a shoo-in for next week), LFC
What about this hat-trick?
I thought for sure that this one would make the list but you had some really good ones on there so I really have no room to complain.
Stephen Naismith vs. Chelsea, September 2015. Comes on as an early substitute after Besic goes off injured. Scores with left foot, right foot, and head. Everton win 3-1. Jose wondering what just happened.
Thought he should have gotten the Ballon d’Or for this alone but no one asked me.
TX Bill (loved Mikey CFC’s mail about players doing it later in their career) EFC
So Patrick Bamford got us thinking about absolutely random Premier League hat-trick goalscorers. Justice for “busy” Kevin Lisbie.