Kagawa may be permanently consigned to the left

Shinji Kagawa

There should be no doubting Shinji Kagawa’s class. During the 2011/2012 season he was a genuine contender for the best player in the Bundesliga – a title that went to Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Marco Reus, the player who would replace Kagawa at Borussia Dortmund. The campaign marked the pinnacle of the Japanese player’s career to date.

Kagawa, who started his career as a defensive midfielder in the second tier of Japanese football, was initially deployed as a goal-scoring attacking midfielder at Dortmund. That changed with the absence of Nuri Sahin and Mario Gotze in Kagawa’s second season at the German club, which forced the Japanese to share the playmaking duty as well.

​Kagawa excelled in the role.

The Japan international is quick, agile, technically sound and intelligent. Combined with his excellent work ethic, these traits made him a highly effective playmaker. In fact, towards the end of Kagawa’s two year tenure at Dortmund, BVB manager Jürgen Klopp relieved him of all defensive duties and had him just prowl the field.

The former Cerezo Osaka player took up good positions, waited for the ball to find him and launched devastating counterattacks with the sort of quick, incisive passing Manchester United fans have seen just glimpses of to date.

​Sir Alex Ferguson clearly intended to use Kagawa as a number 10. The midfielder was deployed in the position throughout United’s pre-season programme. The trend continued when the Premier League started, Kagawa impressing many in United’s defeat at Everton on the opening day.

But he was soon back on the bench even as Wayne Rooney, the incumbent number 10, struggled to regain fitness. As it turns out, the Japanese failed to make impact and ended up injured himself.

​Since returning from injury Kagawa has been primarily used on the left. The form, or rather lack of it, of United’s wide players might have prompted Ferguson’s thinking, but given the Japanese has been used in such a specific way by the United manager there might actually be a genuine, tactical aim behind the move.

​Kagawa nominally starts on the left flank, but rarely hits the byline as a traditional winger might. Nor does he attack the box as ‘inverted’ wingers are wont to do. Instead, Kagawa almost invariably quickly drifts infield, offering a passing option in the middle. In United’s recent game against Stoke City, for example, the former Dortmund player often dropped back into United’s half in search of space and the ball.

​Deploying a nominal winger to retain the ball in the middle is not new. Andreas Iniesta performs the same role for both Barcelona and Spain. David Silva and Samir Nasri play the same role at Manchester City. Sir Alex has used Ryan Giggs in the role many times in the recent era. In fact, a modern history of ‘ball retaining wingers’ at United goes all the way back to the early noughties when Paul Scholes occasionally found himself on the left flank.

​Kagawa hasn’t yet convinced the fans that he can do a good job on the left. More enlightened United supporters argue that he can’t show his true worth as a left winger, citing Kagawa’s indifferent form on the left for Japan.

The key to this argument is that playmakers do their best work when the play is directed through them – the more time on the ball, the better the playmaker’s influence on the game. In fact, it is an argument that Kagawa made himself, shortly after joining the club.

“We seem to pass the ball sideways a lot,” said the 24-year-old. “I want team-mates to start giving me the ball from all areas and angles. I need to speak to them about this, because I want them to have the trust in me to play the ball forward. ”

Adding more recently: “I have the most experience from my time at Dortmund in playing behind the striker. However, I just want to be part of the team, I will play wherever the manager wants to me to play”

​The argument is true, but United’s players are more accustomed to channeling attacks through the flanks than through a central playmaker. Kagawa might even see more of the ball on the left than in the middle.

After all, while ​Kagawa starts on the left his movement into the middle can allow United a moment of dominance in central midfield. And there are few players in the world better than Robin Van Persie at making something of the inevitable through pass or quick one-two that takes the ball into the box.

​If Kagawa’s deployment on the left is indeed purposeful rather than temporary, the United manager must look at options during the summer to better take advantage of it.

​Key is a central midfielder who can break through the lines, adding further dominance in the attacking midfield area. Tom Cleverley certainly makes clever runs, but he is physically unimposing and lacks finishing skills. A midfielder who can strongly challenge for 50-50 balls and shoot from distance might also be welcome.

​Priority, however, lies on the other flank. If United play through Kagawa, and only Kagawa, it will be easy for opponents to stop. On the opposite flank, United’s right-winger must do his share of attacking to provide variety and unpredictability. The classic winger vis-à-vis Antonio Valencia at his peak would certainly do.

With Rafael da Silva more than capable of attacking the byline and providing crosses, a right-winger who looks to cut in and attack the box would also fit in well. It remains to be seen whether Wilfried Zaha, who primarily plays on the right, but cuts inside, can be groomed into a United quality winger of this variety.

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Comments

  1. captainhormone captainhormone says:

    Not even bothering

  2. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    This is actually an important point…
    “The key to this argument is that playmakers do their best work when the play is directed through them – the more time on the ball, the better the playmaker’s influence on the game. In fact, it is an argument that Kagawa made himself, shortly after joining the club.
    “We seem to pass the ball sideways a lot,” said the 24-year-old. “I want team-mates to start giving me the ball from all areas and angles. I need to speak to them about this, because I want them to have the trust in me to play the ball forward. ”
    Adding more recently: “I have the most experience from my time at Dortmund in playing behind the striker. However, I just want to be part of the team, I will play wherever the manager wants to me to play”

    Ferguson, in his “old school” wisdom, thinks he can just buy a player, and shoe-horn him into HIS idea of how we should play… ignoring the fact that Kagawa has developed under a progressive young manager at Dortmund… even Kagawa thinks he’s being asked to play negative football.
    Ferguson needs to go… we need some new blood, and new ideas to move forward as a club… I don’t know if the Glazers would support a new manager the way they should… but the “Glazers out”, is a different argument… I want shot of them even more than Ferguson… but in my opinion, from a purely football perspective, Ferguson is now our biggest liability.

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

    • Danny Salford Red says:

      Fergie out? Seriously? Give your head a shake. Utter Rubbish

    • Alf, I’m sorry mate, but you can’t ask for Fergie’s head without expecting a riposte and a call for your head. And in any case, hasn’t it sunk in yet that it doesn’t matter what any of us mortals want, the only way SAF is going to exit Old Trafford is in a body bag by design of the Lord himself?

      P.S Not that I’m religious or anything…

  3. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    Why? Cause he’s “Sir Fergie”?

    Wake up… he’s not the manager he was 10 years ago, and football isn’t the same game either…

    • Blackmore's boot says:

      Is that the same Fergie who brought Kagawa to the club in the first place?

      What have you been smoking dopey?

      He’s not called ‘Sir’ because of his services to the community you know…he’s called it because he is the best manger at winning football matches, something he has been doing all season yet again.

      Wake up and realise that you dont know how good you have got it until it is gone.

    • Dael Morris says:

      no, because he’s the most successful manager in British football history, completing yet another title win this season, after being brutally robbed of a win over one of Europe’s great teams in which home and away he demonstrated that he could out think and out plan them.

      he seems to have adapted quite well, despite your claim that it’s not the same game it was ten years ago.

    • Damian Garside says:

      I agree. Wonder what these Fergie devotees will say if we blow the title twice in a row? Wonder also what younger Fergie would think about what he has become?

  4. Pikey McScum Pikey McScum says:

    Kudos to Danny for setting Alf off on one

  5. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadffs says:

    look kagawa can obviously play even if hes a bit of a softshite and goes missing a lot, but while we play with taggarts 442 with endless hoofs and crossing dross, strikers in midfield, defenders playing off the striker, valencia on the wing and our one game raising sub being giggs he will have no place here, taggart doesnt and has never trusted his sort of player

    alfs right, the players just admitted himself the football we playing is 80s one dimensional shite

    and hes right taggart should leave

    • CollyhurstRedArmy says:

      Hoofs? Not sure what team you watch but it cant be United.

      That ‘shite’ football we play has been the best the premier league has to offer, this season or the last 20 odd for that matter. We played the best attacking football in england this year and absolutely pissed the league against big spending oil clubs. What more do you want?

      Taggart? You sound like a bitter praying for the day he leaves so your plastic blue mercenary brigade have a chance. Keep dreaming magoo.

    • Damian Garside says:

      Hadn’t seen how much Fergie has become.pure self-parody until you ma it absolutely clear.

  6. BigShimmeryWall says:

    “A midfielder who can strongly challenge for 50-50 balls and shoot from distance might also be welcome.”

    Well that Gibson lad from Everton might be worth a punt then :P

    • Mongoletsi says:

      Yes but we’d want a player who will WIN the 50/50 balls and at least get the distance shots near the target :)

  7. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    “Winning football matches”???
    Why don’t you wake up… listening to numpties like you, you’d think Ferguson was out there kicking the ball himself… the players have a bit to do with it as well Mate… and for the past 25 years Ferguson has had some of the best players to ever play in England… there have been seasons where we’d have won fuck all, if not for one or two special players carrying the team almost single-handed… best recent examples are Ronaldo and Rooney…
    Whatever happens in the future, Fergusons place in history, especially Uniteds history is assured… he’ll go down as one of the greatest ever managers the game has seen… but he’s 71 years old now, and the game is evolving faster than he can keep up.
    Open your eyes and accept that, his best days as a manager were when he could “hair dryer” his team, and bully them into bigger performances… he could almost by the force of his own will, drag United through a season… those days are gone… the players don’t respond to that shit anymore, and he doesn’t have that in him anymore anyway.
    Ever since Mourinho started pulling Fergusons pants down on a regular basis, other young managers have started figuring out how to beat him… Ferguson is “old fashioned football”… the best manager for the job in the 90s… but it’s 2013, and Ferguson is NOT the best manager in the game anymore.
    He just isn’t… and your pissy defence of our beloved “Sir Fergie” doesn’t change that.

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  8. Well said Alf. Fergie has done wonders for the club but anyone who watches Utd can’t argue with the fact that the football we offer up is shit when compared to what is been played on the continent. Hell when City and Chelsea are on top form they play a much better style of footy than we do. 44 fucking 2. Give it a rest mate.

  9. I think you’re being much to harsh on Fergie, he’s done an admirable job of staying pretty competitive over the past 5 or so seasons facing much better financed teams from Madrid, Barca, Chelsea, and City. He’s undertaken a fair amount of tactical experimentation during that period too. We’ve got two main problems that have frequently made us fall short against other top sides since Ronaldo left, or even before he left. (1) Central midfield, central midfield, central fucking midfield. (2) Rooney blows hot and cold, even though he’s supposed to be the main man. Obviously Fergie should be criticised for both those problems, well central midfield at least, but making bad transfer decisions for central midfield is a very different failing than being “past it” and “out of date”. Our first 11 is weaker than the other top sides’ first 11, and has been for a while.

  10. Also failing to get either Hazard or Moura this summer — is it fair to blame Fergie for that? Probably not. It’s just a fact that over the past few seasons, we’ve been better by the really big spenders to all the primo talent — just this summer that included, Hazard, Moura, and Javi Martinez, all three of which would have been brilliant for us given our dodgy midfield and dodgy wings.

  11. Just1n said:
    Well said Alf. Fergie has done wonders for the club but anyone who watches Utd can’t argue with the fact that the football we offer up is shit when compared to what is been played on the continent. Hell when City and Chelsea are on top form they play a much better style of footy than we do. 44 fucking 2. Give it a rest mate.

    Rubbish, we’ve had a lot of tactical variation this season – diamonds, 442, 4-2-3-1, Rooney in midfield, Rooney on the wings, Welbeck as a 10. As usual, we’ve had some pretty substantial injuries to deal with — especially in defense, like always. So tactics have to adjust to the players available. Who else varies tactics as successfully or adjusts to injuries so successfully? Mancini tried to change City’s tactics at the start of the season, look what happened there. The Chavs are “in transition” and just trying to get in the top 4. If SAF has relied on 4-4-2 recently, it’s because he is always just trying to get the job done in terms of winning the title. Fergie never writes off a season as a “transition” season, the only team to match United’s consistency over the past 5 seasons or so is Barca. Madrid, Chavs, City, PSG, Bayern — they’ve all been great one minute, shite the next.

    What the means is that in any given season, at least two of the other top sides in Europe are usually notably better than us, but except for Barca it’s usually always a different two or three. The price we pay for consistency is having a weaker first 11 in favour of a robust squad, and also sometimes losing young talent like Pogba.

  12. Lol.. Alf or who ever you are, Rooney and Ronaldo won us titles eh? Not Fergie? If players single handedly win titles, why didnt Cantona for the scum? van Persie for arsenal? Dont you think a team with Aguero, Silva, Yaya Toure and Nasri better than Nani, Valencia, Young and Rooney of this season? Look at Chelsea.. Hazard Oscar and Mata.. The squad isnt all that much stronger than City’s or Even Chelsea’s. Its Fergie whos the difference. Im not saying he doesnt make mistakes. He makrs more of it now than he used to. But hes still better than anyone out thete.

  13. bman said:
    Rubbish, we’ve had a lot of tactical variation this season – diamonds, 442, 4-2-3-1, Rooney in midfield, Rooney on the wings, Welbeck as a 10. As usual, we’ve had some pretty substantial injuries to deal with — especially in defense, like always. So tactics have to adjust to the players available. Who else varies tactics as successfully or adjusts to injuries so successfully? Mancini tried to change City’s tactics at the start of the season, look what happened there. The Chavs are “in transition” and just trying to get in the top 4. If SAF has relied on 4-4-2 recently, it’s because he is always just trying to get the job done in terms of winning the title. Fergie never writes off a season as a “transition” season, the only team to match United’s consistency over the past 5 seasons or so is Barca. Madrid, Chavs, City, PSG, Bayern — they’ve all been great one minute, shite the next.

    What the means is that in any given season, at least two of the other top sides in Europe are usually notably better than us, but except for Barca it’s usually always a different two or three. The price we pay for consistency is having a weaker first 11 in favour of a robust squad, and also sometimes losing young talent like Pogba.

    The only reason Fergie has to be consistent is cos he has to finish in the top 4 to ensure funds to pay his paymasters debt. You compare us to Barca but thats like comparing chalk to cheese. I would prefer giving players like Pogba a chance instead of having to finish in a certain position by playing mediocrity in midfield. And Pogba suffers cos Fergie would rather play an aging Giggs or a defender there instead of a proper midfielder. He would rather waste Wellbeck on the wing than play someone there. You talk about us tactically. Is this the same tactics that he does not change when we exiting cups and losing games? Is this the same forward thinking that has prevented us from signing a midfielder these last 4 years?

  14. gabagool says:

    Sell rooney, he’s in decline. Give kagawa the 10 role behind RVP, buy a fecking decent CM and winger. Simples.

  15. Just1n said:
    The only reason Fergie has to be consistent is cos he has to finish in the top 4 to ensure funds to pay his paymasters debt.

    Wrong. Chelsea and Arsenal have to finish in the top 4. We have to come 1st, and when we fail we come 2nd. It’s not since 2005-06 that we weren’t first or second. That’s first or second for seven season in a row, and if we go on and win this season, we’ll have won 5 out of the last seven. And these are supposed to be the years of Fergie’s decline, that’s a nice fucking decline.

    Just1n said:
    I would prefer giving players like Pogba a chance instead of having to finish in a certain position by playing mediocrity in midfield.

    You’d rather give Pogba a chance than win the league? That’s just fucking retarded.

  16. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadffs says:

    wed have had just a good a chance this year or last if any of the games in midfield given to anderson cleverley park rooney jones giggs fletcher were given to pogba

  17. Pikey McScum Pikey McScum says:

    Commenter said:
    Lol.. Alf or who ever you are

    Oooohhhhhhh

  18. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    Commenter said:
    Lol.. Alf or who ever you are, Rooney and Ronaldo won us titles eh? Not Fergie? If players single handedly win titles, why didnt Cantona for the scum? van Persie for arsenal? Dont you think a team with Aguero, Silva, Yaya Toure and Nasri better than Nani, Valencia, Young and Rooney of this season? Look at Chelsea.. Hazard Oscar and Mata.. The squad isnt all that much stronger than City’s or Even Chelsea’s. Its Fergie whos the difference. Im not saying he doesnt make mistakes. He makrs more of it now than he used to. But hes still better than anyone out thete.

    What a rubbish argument…

    And I can’t be arsed to point out everything that’s wrong with it.

  19. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadffs says:

    the top reds have taken over

    we’re not even allowed to call him taggart anymore

    horse rimming ginsoak jock twat it is then

  20. Pikey McScum Pikey McScum says:

    uncleknobheadffs said:
    the top reds have taken over
    horse rimming ginsoak jock twat it is then

    Aye, but can you put it to a tune for the terraces?

    “Fuck that… there’s something about him, gets on my wick… weasly little cunt, needs a good slap”

  21. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadffs says:

    hard to believe its still fergie, its taggart…

  22. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    LOL…
    Some casual Wally saw this thread and went running over to his REGULAR forum, and had a big whinge to all his “United-Kids-Wife, in that order” Mates… and they’ve all decided to pile in here and defend their beloved Fergiekins.
    You’re all full of shit… all you see is results… all you care about is did we finish above the Bitters and the Verrrmin… you’re all so “chuffed” that you’ve won summat, that you’ve not been paying attention to the actual football.
    Do you lot even watch the games, or just check out the scores and MotD highlights???
    Go back to your, “All Hail Darth Fergie” forums, and leave the actual football to the grownups.

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  23. Pikey McScum Pikey McScum says:

    uncleknobheadffs said:
    horse rimming ginsoak jock twat it is then

    Sounds like a country song

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    LOL…

    Some casual Wally red this thread and went running over to their REGULAR forum, and had a big whinge to all their “United-Kids-Wife, in that order” Mates… and they’ve all decided to pile in here and defend their beloved Fergiekins.

    You’re all full of shit… all you see is results… all you care about is did we finish above the Bitters and the Verrrmin… you’re all so “chuffed” that you’ve won summat, that you’ve not been paying attention to the actual football.

    Do you lot even watch the games, or just check out the scores and MotD highlights???

    Go back to your, “All Hail Darth Fergie” forums, and leave the actual football to the grownups.

    Shouldn’t we be encouraging these newbies, especially as they’re bell-ends?

  24. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadffs says:

    i assume auntymingeheadforcuntsake is hans alias

  25. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    Fair enough…
    Come one come all… step right up, and have your illusions of “Sir” dragged through the shit, and your opinions of him well and truly ridiculed.

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  26. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    Pikey McScum said:
    Shouldn’t we be encouraging these newbies, especially as they’re bell-ends?

    Fair enough…

    Come one come all… step right up, and have your illusions of “Sir” dragged through the shit, and your opinions of him well and truly ridiculed.

  27. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    uncleknobheadffs said:
    i assume auntymingeheadforcuntsake is hans alias

    I was thinking more like Dannii-tranny!

  28. Pikey McScum Pikey McScum says:

    I’ve fingers crossed that one of them might be Chris_1661

  29. Ferguson said it himself; from the beginnings of the club there has been a philosophy that they play attractive football. Stemming from the working class fan base from the factories in Trafford park decades ago. Busby said that those people worked hard and come Saturday they expect to be entertained. It’s on the Charlton documentary the BBC ran a couples of years back.

    It was one of the hallmarks of the Ferguson era too until the last couple of years when the team has started playing gripping football, if not attractive, with lots of goals at either end, then changed as they have leaked too many at the back like City at home last season.

    This has been one of the main reasons people have used against Mourinho asking charge, he doesn’t play attractive football or he didn’t before Madrid.

    The point about United not playing attractive football is apt.

  30. the only positive is that fergie is the one and only manager to handle this kind of squad (thougt he is the one who assemble them) than any manager out there but he should have donr better than this by buying good decernt players in midfield since the academy/reserve team players were never considered much

  31. I am not sure I will go as far as saying Fergie out….while I dont subscribe to the manager is the be all and end all of a winning team, I do believe he still is a large reason why ManUtd still have a winning record despite the Glazers loading us with LBO debt….

    I do however, agree that in some aspects SAF has shown decline this season, namely the use of subs. Where is the manager that subbed in the two scorers in the UCl final? Instead he subbed Kagawa, who was in good form, with Hernandez who proceeded to do nothing. jones shouldve been subbed…

    I am trying to think of instances this season where his selection and timing of subs have worked….and I cant think of any. His subs this season has either been too little too late or inffctive….

    Or am i being harsh?

  32. The first half of the season, with all the comebacks…
    plenty of games changed by bringing subs on.

  33. We really changed the way we played under Carlos Queiroz – wonder if its more of a training ground thing, Fergie has not had a decent no.2 for a while.

  34. Do all of the old managers in the Premier League play shit football, and the younger ones try and play

    I can’t be arsed to think about it more than a handful of old ones like O’Neil and Allardyce and Dalglish who played shite football compared to young ones like Martinez and Rodgers and Laudrup who are trying

    Dalglish saw fit to break the British transfer record on a shit lower league lump with a terrible attitude, whereas Rodgers got rid of him straight away

  35. Twisted Blood says:

    The Reds have consistently beaten or finished above teams who have outspent United, purchased players we were targeting or operate in otherworldly financial terms. You could argue Chelsea, City and Tottenham all have a first 11 better than ours and we top them all in the league table–the truest measure of overall quality. How can this not be down to the Manager?

    True, we lost to Real in the CL but tactically United had won the battle and got shafted by the ref. Jose kept his head and came out top but he’s a great manager too. No shame in that and by no means an indicator that the game has past Fergie by.

    As for Kagawa, I agree with Paul from the Rant. Play him as a 10. Either behind one or 2 strikers and buy one or two players to make that formation work.

  36. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    sidney said:
    Do all of the old managers in the Premier League play shit football, and the younger ones try and play

    I can’t be arsed to think about it more than a handful of old ones like O’Neil and Allardyce and Dalglish who played shite football compared to young ones like Martinez and Rodgers and Laudrup who are trying

    Dalglish saw fit to break the British transfer record on a shit lower league lump with a terrible attitude, whereas Rodgers got rid of him straight away

    I think this is largely true… the game is changing, and the likes of Gauardiola, and Klopp are taking football in a new direction… it’s beyond Ferguson, but the stubborn cunt either can’t or won’t see it… he’s allways claimed Uniteds makeup is to attack, but whenever he comes up against this new progressive football, he hasn’t got an answer, so he actually abandons his own ethos and plays negative shite… and more often than not, he gets his pants pulled down… even that one time he got the better of Guardiola, thanks to the Scholes winner, the only people that saw anything clever in Fergusons tactics, were the bloody Italians, who praised his negative stifling stategy… the world tuned in to see the great clash of attacking titans, but Ferguson shit himself, and parked the bus… we won, but it was horrible football.

  37. He created a winning culture over a period of time that pulls United through in close situations. His match tactics, selections and substitutions are questionable at times. We can beat 3/4 of the premier league without even playing well.

  38. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    “He created a winning culture over a period of time that pulls United through in close situations.”

    Absolutely true, and without doubt Fergusons greatest asset, and contribution to United… it’s what made him great… but it’s not enough anymore, and he needs to admit that… maybe if he had a better man than Phelan at his side… a younger, more progressive thinker… who knows???

  39. Phelan is definitely a yes man but perhaps that’s what Fergie wants. A decent number 2 at United normally gets recruited by other clubs to be their number 1 i.e. McClaren and Quieroz. Phelan brings stability and does take alot of the training leaving SAF to observe.

  40. Fergie’s not a coach. He’s a man manager – that’s what all his players say. The only tactical thing players say about him is how he well the team are prepared to play against a specific team – nullifying their strengths and exploiting their weaknesses. He’s not a manager with a philosophy, other than to win. His methods are designed to increase the chances of winning – not to entertain. We struggle against Barca, partly because they are a great team, and partly because their approach to winning games (suffocating teams with ludicrous amounts of passing, forcing errors and minimising chances against) is more effective than any of the little adjustments he can make to the team.

  41. Maybe it’s a sign of the times; results over entertainment, the need for success.
    Fergie has hundreds of millions of fans to satisfy, as well as the overwhelming burden of hundreds of millions of pounds of debt which has made failure unthinkable.
    He is essentially reponsible for the existence of the club (and he only really has himself to blame). If we have a bad couple of season – as happens at normal clubs – then the shit hits the fan.
    Say we got rid of him, is there a manager out there who plays exciting football (which is a subjective thing btw) that gets results? And how many of those could do a job at a massive club like United with all its pressures?

  42. Gopher Brown says:

    A lot of the usual vitriol. There are a few things which we must remember:

    1) I’d rather win the league playing dogshit football than come second playing beautifully.

    2) When SAF leaves, it is likely, very likely, that we will enter into a Chelsea style hire and sack, hire and sack period where we fail to get the right manager in time and again and cut our losses before any real impact has been made. Everyone has an opinion on who the right manager will be and whoever comes in will only please a small faction of supporters. You only have to look at some of the names banded around – Ole, Mourinho, Moyes, Klopp. There are reasons why none of these are suitable.

    3) Indulging in ‘golden age’ thinking doesn’t help anyone. I remember saying when we won the title in 08/09 how we no longer smashed teams and how I miss our old free flowing football. The same is being said this season, ‘Oh, I miss the good old days of the 08/09 season etc.’ You only have to look back at the treble year. We won the title on the last day of the season, we scraped through out Champions League group (2 wins, 4 draws), we had poor players like Ronny Johnsen in the team (who had shocking positional sense when you rewatch some of the games from that season), we conceded 37 goals in the league that year – more than anyone else in the top 4.

    My point is the team has always had problems and always will. It’s not due to lack of money or a bad manager, it’s that for sustained success you need to improve aspects each year, and to improve there must be areas to improve upon.

  43. RobDiablo RobDiablo says:

    Commenter said:
    You only have to look back at the treble year. We won the title on the last day of the season, we scraped through out Champions League group (2 wins, 4 draws)…

    I love the way so many of you apologists like to pepper your posts with ‘facts’ taken entirely out of context. To put it more accurately: United escaped from the “Group of Death” in the ’98-’99 UCL, and met the other escapee in the final. Don’t talk to us as though we have only been following United for a season or two.

    • Gopher Brown says:

      I’m not taking facts out of context, nor am I insulting your intelligence or longevity of your United support.

      The points I am trying to make are:

      1) The team will never be completed/finished, there will always be areas of weakness and this is something we have to accept (even the ’94 and ’99 teams had shortcomings).

      2) Winning the league is what 19 other teams have failed to do this year despite trying their hardest. We may not have done it in the most stylish way, but a win is a win.

  44. RobDiablo RobDiablo says:

    Commenter said:
    The points I am trying to make are:

    1) The team will never be completed/finished, there will always be areas of weakness and this is something we have to accept (even the ’94 and ’99 teams had shortcomings).

    2) Winning the league is what 19 other teams have failed to do this year despite trying their hardest. We may not have done it in the most stylish way, but a win is a win.

    Fair enough. We will have to agree to disagree on the style versus results question as well as the significance of the 20th vis-à-vis what it says about the relative quality of the current side.

    • Gopher Brown says:

      I fail to see how you could disagree with either of these points, and yet you call me an ‘apologist,’ presumably because you think I believe the Glazers are a good influence on the club. They’re not.

  45. @alf, ur a shitty fan, gerout of here! Sir alex sees all our flaws, n it has ntn 2 do wit old age. Hs ability 2 motivate specific players into world class performer as made us standout in english futbal.

  46. Coach Herbie says:

    SAF does need to retire. We need to play attractive, flowing football what the fans love to see and SAF cannot provide that. Kagawa is right in what he is saying. SAF brings in players and puts them in positions that does not suite them.
    Look what he did to Anderson. Anderson comes in as one of the best attacking midfielders in Brazil but SAF decides to play him as a defensive midfielder, thats why Anderson is shit! I feel sorry for him now, his career is finished!
    Young managers like Brandon Rogers and Guardiola bring attractive football to their clubs. What I hear is Moyes is still the front runner to replace SAF if or when he retires. I don’t know what the fans think of David Moyes.

  47. Damian Garside says:

    on the score of areas of weakness: this is true, but it is surely a prerequisite for a team to win trophies that the areas of strength outweigh areas of weakness, particularly at key moments and in key games. And this applies to individual players too: a fullback who is weak at heading better be a great tackler or great going forward etc and then the team is a total of different strengths and weaknesses and the key to victory is maximizing the former and minimizing the latter. Put simply, I do not believe Ferguson does this anything like as well as he used to, and playing players out of position obviously shows he is sacrificing individual strengths to some other idea, and this is not helping United play the kind of football now associated with Man City at their best (and not us at our best, because we no longer show our best)

  48. You have been told Alf. Shitty fan… Where the fuck do these cocksmokers come from.

  49. captainhormone captainhormone says:

    Commenter said:
    SAF does need to retire. We need to play attractive, flowing football what the fans love to see and SAF cannot provide that. Kagawa is right in what he is saying. SAF brings in players and puts them in positions that does not suite them.
    Look what he did to Anderson. Anderson comes in as one of the best attacking midfielders in Brazil but SAF decides to play him as a defensive midfielder, thats why Anderson is shit! I feel sorry for him now, his career is finished!
    Young managers like Brandon Rogers and Guardiola bring attractive football to their clubs. What I hear is Moyes is still the front runner to replace SAF if or when he retires. I don’t know what the fans think of David Moyes.

    Lol…wtf

    Tbf you make sense for a few lines

  50. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    Commenter said:
    @alf, ur a shitty fan, gerout of here! Sir alex sees all our flaws, n it has ntn 2 do wit old age. Hs ability 2 motivate specific players into world class performer as made us standout in english futbal.

    I’m a shitty fan?
    At least I watch the team play… you obviously don’t… because if you did, you wouldn’t say something this stupid… “Sir alex sees all our flaws”…

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  51. Commenter said:
    @alf, ur a shitty fan, gerout of here! Sir alex sees all our flaws, n it has ntn 2 do wit old age. Hs ability 2 motivate specific players into world class performer as made us standout in english futbal.

    Such disdain for the English language.

  52. uncleknobheadffs said:
    i assume auntymingeheadforcuntsake is hans alias

    sorry to disappoint you but actually it isn’t

  53. Actually the replace Phelan comments make loads of sense

    Fergie has had what is essentially absolute powerfor way too long….that is bound to affect one’s judgement

    Need a real quality #2 to help him…

  54. Alfonso Bedoya said:
    I’m a shitty fan?

    At least I watch the team play… you obviously don’t… because if you did, you wouldn’t say something this stupid… “Sir alex sees all our flaws”…

    Surely he was taking the piss

  55. Pikey McScum Pikey McScum says:

    Tommy said:
    Surely he was taking the piss

    Either that or he’s ‘intellectually challenged’

    Try reading this without thinking of Ali G:

    “Hs ability 2 motivate specific players into world class performer as made us standout in english futbal.”

  56. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    If Ferguson brought in a proper assistant, I’d be happy with that… but between him and Phelan… they’re not much better than Allardyce… they just have better players.
    Now… bring on the indignant outrage for that comment.

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  57. captainhormone captainhormone says:

    Alfs right tbf… Phelans influence has pegged us back and we are regressing..thing is its pointless having a Ryan giggs or scholes type as assistant either as they are indoctrinated to the ways of the club, which is sad currently tbf..

    We need a young outsider with fresh ideas to come in and add some fresh impetus, just as mulenstein did when he introduced the coerver principles all those years ago…thing is the old guard then were dead set against his ideas but fergie told them it was that way or the highway. He’s still there 12 years or so on… We need to cherry pick a good young coach from a Dortmund or a Porto to add some zest and vigor.

  58. I agree with that, aye.

    Football has gone through another a cycle and changed. Some fresh ideas would be nice. Someone with hair and personality too.

  59. Greenhoff the Great says:

    Regarding Mike ” sit- on -your -hands- and -watch ” Phelan ( Re :- 2009 and 2011 CL Finals ), I recall the clubs explanation for his appointment, after CQs departure, being that United now ” has a policy of bringing coaches from inside the club ” similar to that of Bayern Munich …Others might read into that claim something else :- Our owners , blinded by SAFs miracles for the time being, think that they will have similar success in the future by doing everything on the cheap ….and there will be a time in the not distant future when being cheap with the quality of any future manager (appointing Moyes or anyone similar ) and backroom staff , partial funding of transfers by player sales and removal of wages from the books etc., will show up in results at home and Europe…

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