Baffling decisions could cost United the big prizes



In the aftermath of another crushing defeat for a weathered United side yesterday, an inquisition has begun into exactly what went wrong for Ferguson’s team over the past week. Defeat in Munich was by no means a ‘European result’, with an away goal the crucial, but it proved a demoralising experience and tactically a complete shambles.

With Ji-Sung Park deployed out wide, United was unable to force any pressure on a dominant Mark Van Bommel on Tuesday night. The stalwarts, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes, very much looked as if their ageing years have caught up and remained a liability throughout the game.

The golden oldies aren’t the only ones at fault. Michael Carrick seems to lack the big game impetus and Darren Fletcher appeared overwhelmed by the task in the Allianz Arena and was largely a passenger.

Even the normally reliable Patrice Evra got caught napping by appalling moment of complacency in the final minute, a characteristic that has sadly crept into his game.

Four days on and Chelsea’s visit to Old Trafford brought much of the same. United simply did not do enough and the visitors played through Sir Alex Ferguson’s side with little resistance.

The expected ‘hairdryer treatment’ at half-time spurred on United, with the players finally realising they were in it for more than their place in next week’s team sheet.

Despite a much improved second half display it was insufficient to overcome an impressive Chelsea.

Managerial and refereeing decisions played their part. Once again Ferguson selected Paul Scholes to play a holding role, something that the United legend clearly struggles with. The midfielder’s physical presence hardly strikes fear into the opposition, although what he lacks in stature Scholes makes up for in his passing.

However, Scholes struggles with some of the key responsibilities in this role – in particular tackling and working harder off the ball than on it. It’s an expectation that Scholes failed to meet at Old Trafford on Saturday and against Munich last week.

Even though United lost to an awful call by the linesman against Chelsea, Ferguson’s side must take responsibility for defeat. Ferguson got some key decisions wrong this week and only he can turn things around for the team.

The return leg at Old Trafford Wednesday against Bayern offers United a wonderful chance to exercise these demons and prove the side’s champion credentials once again.

Fans cannot expect a hesitant performance from either side, with Bayern not revelling in defence this season. United should approach the game planning on outscoring the opposition in an open attacking game. Perhaps an early prediction of 4-2 to the home side is not unfair, although this is of course a biased aspirations.

Something not in doubt is United’s record over the course of a season. No side has ever won the Premier League having lost seven games. That’s a fact even Ferguson cannot deny.

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  • SKW

    I think it’s obvious that Rooney’s form and the confidence this injects has peppered over cracks in this team that are now catching up with it.

    Specifically, we have an exception midfield, but it’s still one without top players in it. That’s good enough for 85 percent of the matches, but against the Bayern’s and Chelsea’s of the world, it can and has been exposed for its lack of quality (not one world class player). After watching Tuesday, I had little confidence we would look better Saturday, and unfortunately, I was right.

    Something, I feel, must also be said by Fergie’s failure to get a striker. Berbatov is clearly not up to the task of being a first choice player and Owen was never going to carry us through us a season. With Rooney down, I feel United will continue to labor for goals, and one has to say, this is down to the manager not bringing in more talent.

  • http://google tommy

    spot on the linesman yest f——- me

  • Real Red

    My lad is not given to much talk, especially during matches.

    But towards end of yesterday’s 1st half he turned to me at mumbled ‘dire dad’.

    Somehow all the noise from surrounding Stretty End seem to mute around those words -
    I couldn’t have agreed with him more.

    Before game I thought it would be won in midfield.
    Even without the White Pele, the likes of Fletch and Park running their guts out filled me with hope.

    Alas at that moment I looked up and saw both looking world weary with Park especially looking heavy. What amazed me was that they somehow found the where-with-all to pick up for 2nd half. That hair dryer must have blown something that’s unknown to methodrone science, let alone hot air.

    Regards officialdom. Well once again Chelsea et al prepared the psych with their anti-Dean propaganda before the match. That’s what cost the big pen decisions, certainly. Otherwise Dean did ok imo. It was always his line assistants that concerned me. They were noticeably uncertain on several occasions during first half (something cameras would not have picked up) and that set scene for that bungling offside call in 2nd.

    Onto Wednesday. Rumours about Rooney’s itch to feature don’t surprise. But imagine stick from rest of country. Hell to ‘em. Sprained ankle or not, his very presence is worth a dozen of those intoxicating hair dryers. I’d kill myself to play in that one. If only.

  • Cecil

    exorcise rather than exercise i should hope

  • Col

    Hey, it hardly came as a great surprise when United took control of the 2nd half in Milan against their bunch of once great 30 somethings. So starting an exhausted Gary Neville (3 games in a week), Paul Scholes (3 games in a week) and Ryan Giggs (first start) against Chelsea was asking for trouble. Chelsea were fresh, we left too many fresh players on the bench.

    Sir Alex has got his team selection wrong for both big games this week. Park on the left rather than being used centrally, gave Bayern control over the midfield.

    As for Evra, his form is dire. He needed to be rested in Jan but Sir Alex wasn’t prepared to risk Fabio. We are now paying the price for over-using Evra. He is a vital player for us in big games and we can’t afford him to be contributing little going forward while making basic errors at the back. He and Gary Neville have been wretched these last two games.

  • http://twitter.com/nyxpru nicorn7

    Reckon SAF should get a few more youngsters on and keep Fletch in midfield with carrick. Macheda and Diouf upfront with giggs in the hole. Nani out wide. Back 4 – Vida, Rio, Rafael and Fabio(?) / Evra

    Thats just me though. I know these youngsters are not the same as that from the Becks, scholsey, giggs era.

    Praying for the win. C’mon you reds, get stuck in.

  • GH

    This season has seen some tactical masterclasses from Ferguson, but he was outmanoeuvred by Van Gaal last week. Despite United having playing 4-3-3/4-5-1 and Bayern playing 4-4-2 Bayern still managed to have the extra man in midfield. The plan for Fletcher to help Neville mark Ribery made some sense, but in practice it didn’t work. It nullified United’s best midfielder and prevented him from bursting forward to provide valuable support to Rooney, who was isolated as a result. Meanwhile, because Rooney was isolated, Demichelis was able to burst regularly into the midfield to form the extra man. Scholes and Carrick were overrun as a result of these tactical nuances.

    If United are to progress tonight, they need to ensure they get a grip of midfield. This will mean risking the full-backs one-on-one against Ribery and Robben, with the wingers tracking back when necessary. United cannot afford to lose Fletcher’s influence in this way. It may be an idea to play Rafael at right-back to counter Ribery’s pace.

    Saturday’s defeat was rather different. Rather than tactics, it was a desperately poor first half performance that cost us. The second half was better, especially after Nani came on. I’m not sure we can say the decisions cost us a point – there were too many 50/50 calls for each side, but we can certainly say that over the two games against Chelsea, we’ve been very unlucky with the refereeing indeed.