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Sorry / not sorry
If Jose Mourinho did in fact apologise to Dier, my question is, why? Spurs were 2-0 down at home. Dier’s job as an alleged DM is to stop this happening. Now obviously the whole team were playing badly but they needed goals so a change was made. Simple as that in my mind.Maybe it was embarrassing but maybe Dier should play better? Not that he’s Champions League quality anyway (that time he flattened Sergio Ramos aside).
Defending our defence
Tom K made a number of points earlier about United’s current state and the players brought in, with one of the main criticisms being that Maguire and AWB were not the right players for the club. I have to disagree, Maguire and AWB have improved our defence and this has been one of our worst attributes over the past few years. To challenge for titles you don’t necessarily need the #1 defence in the league, but you do need to have a strong defence (look at Liverpool’s improvement since signing VDV and Allison for instance).
Before Sunday, a match where I think Ole got his tactics wrong to try to compensate for the loss of McTominay, we had only conceded 12 goals. League leaders Liverpool have conceded 11 (or 10 before the weekend). As it stands we have conceded 15 (1.15 per game); this time last year it was 21 (1.62 per game). So, ultimately, the defenders Ole has brought in have improved our defence. I don’t agree the defence have dropped back 10-15 yards to compensate for Maguire’s lack of pace, compare positions from this season and last season for instance (whoscored.com, not exact but roughly the same) – if both CBs lacked pace they would need to drop deeper but Lindelof can cover if required. However, we were too deep on Sunday but I think that was more to do with the change in system rather than to compensate for a lack of pace.
In terms of AWB getting forward, he has actually been a decent outlet. Not in terms of his final ball, that definitely needs work, but in terms of making runs and being an out ball for the MF. The system we have been playing, with James wide right, means he isn’t required to get forward as much as it takes up the space that James wants to operate in (i.e. it is better to leave James 1v1 with the full back). On the other side it is the opposite, with Rashford cutting in and leaving space for our LB. Having said that, he is young and hasn’t played a lot of first team football so I expect him to develop his attacking game more over the next few years.
In general, our defence has improved but our attack needs work. The thing we need most is a #10 who can pick a pass, score goals and link our midfield and attack. When he’s fit, Pogba should play that role until the end of the season and then, assuming he still wants to go, we can get rid and buy someone who wants to be there. Eriksen would be a good fit but not sure if he’ll come to us. Nevertheless, we have just started a rebuild and it’s clear Ole wants to sort out the defence and build on that. He also had to clear the decks and start again – getting rid of Sanchez and Lukaku was necessary, they weren’t working out. Losing Herrera was a mistake by the hierarchy. The suggestion that Smalling could be better for United than Maguire is ironic, given this is the same Smalling who contributed to a lot of our poor defensive displays. Although don’t get me wrong, I think Smalling can be a good (if somewhat inconsistent) defender on his day and take the point he perhaps suffered from who he was partnered with. Maguire and Smalling might in fact make a good defensive partnership.
You can’t build a new squad in one window. So he’s brought in three and we’ll keep building, giving experience to the youth and bringing in a handful of players who can add depth and quality to the squad which is currently lacking.
Garey Vance, MUFC
Pep’s midfield dilemma
After a series of seemingly lethargic performances this season, I think most of our problems this season stem down to Laporte’s injury and consequently, having to play Fernandinho at CB.
Because of the shift, Pep lost his general in midfield and feels the need to play 2 midfielders in front of the defense to screen the defense, Gundo and Rodri, since playing only one of them alone isn’t an option. Relying on Gundo alone means we leave our defense pretty much exposed, while Rodri isn’t really quick when the other team turns over possesion and is still learning how to dictate the tempo (first 15 minutes, Chelsea).
Having those two positions taken up, there is space for one other midfielder up front. Which brings De Bruyne into the picture. He’s probably our best player right now and needs to be in the team, but the problem is that his best position isn’t really behind the striker. (Think back to 17-18 when he played alongside Fernandinho, but more of a free role, with his long range passing but with freedom to make late runs in and around the box).
At that position, we’ve always had a player who can play in between the lines and operate in tight spaces, and help to create overloads on wings when combining with the winger and the fullback (a là Silva or maybe Foden). But with him ageing and only one midfield spot free, De Bruyne is our best bet as a creative force. Plus with the injury to Sane, we don’t really have explosive running into space and therefore don’t really need him further back.
The problem with this is that our attack becomes all about driving to the byline and crossing it in (De Bruyne’s strength), which doesn’t really work against teams which can defend crosses. Neither Rodri nor Guno have the ability to play the Silva role even when they push up, which means our attack becomes really one dimensional with the ball, unless someone comes up with an individual piece of brilliance (Mahrez v Chelsea).
Crosses can prove really useful for our team when switching between different approaches, but isn’t really our best attacking strength, given the physical stature of our strikers. Having had our attack stunted, we don’t really do much better in defense because even combined, those two offer less screening than Fernandinho alone, whose ability to read the game defensively is unparalleled. Add to that the fact that B. Silva is now forced to hug the touchline playing as an out and out winger, where I don’t think he’s at his most effective.But again with no space in midfield, we lose his bubblegum touch and his terrier like ability to hound the opposition in midfield. Hence, the end result is that we look extremely disjointed at both ends of the pitch.
With all the increasing clamor to play Foden, I think it’s a really tough dilemma, to be fair to Pep.
Oh to be a goalie or a hero
In recent years, TV commentators seem to be unaware that a goalkeepers job is to make saves as well as dribble and pass. Every save is commended, A hard shot straight at the keeper is a “brilliant” save. It isn’t, is his job. A slight dive to the left or right to stop a shot at mid-level is replayed over and over with oohs and ahhs. Can we have some judgement in the commentary? A flying leap to the top corner – yes – amazing, a push around the post is not. And while I’m on it, can we please get them to stop using the word hero. Last night the bloke who got Spurs equaliser was described as a hero. For scoring a goal.
Gareth Gates and Jordan
Despite the slightly predictable anti/Mourinho f365 vein running through it, I did bloody enjoy Sarah’s date analogy (simile, metaphor?) about Spurs and Mourinho. It led me to thinking about celebrity couples and their premier league manager equivalents Solskjaer and United as Gareth Gates and Jordan immediately came to mind. Then I realised I don’t pay any attention to celebrities and who they’re having coitus with. So this entire mail falls flat on its face.
John (Get away from Nuno, you b*tch) Collins WWFC, London
Transfer gossip Bruno style
Now that Bruno Fernandes has signed a new deal at Sporting Lisbon can we finally put to bed all of the “Fernandes to United” rumours that all the newspapers fill their columns with daily…………as I type this I realise that they will replace these rumours with “10 players who signed a new deal only to still leave their clubs” articles.
And we are approaching the January Transfer Window too, oh here we go again.
F**k you cancer
In the light of recent results and footballing news I am not surprised that this has been overlooked.
But can we all take a moment to appreciate the win that young Max Taylor had against cancer?
I am no United fan and have no idea what this kid’s future holds. But a year ago, at the age of 18 he has had to fight off testicular cancer that had spread to his abdomen and lungs.
And tomorrow, he may well be be playing a part in the team playing against Astana in the Europa League.
That is a remarkable turnaround. For someone so young to have to go through that and come out the other side and be in the squad in such a short space of time is frankly amazing and testament to the young man.
I imagine most people have been affected by cancer in some way, either personally or through a loved one, so I am sure we can all agree that this is an lovey win against the scourge of that horrible f****ing disease.