Reds (almost) re-United in pre-season action as speculation mounts



Manchester United’s Euro 2012 contingent finally returned to action on Sunday as the Reds drew with Norwegian side Vålerenga in Oslo. With just two weeks before the big Premier League kick off, Sir Alex Ferguson’s players were reunited as an almost complete squad for the first time this summer after injury and international commitments disrupted United’s preparations for the new season. Except, of course, the 70-year-old manager, who wasn’t there, with rumours abounding that Ferguson remained in Manchester to conclude summer transfer business.

Despite Ferguson’s absence on unspecified “club business,” Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck, and Ashley Young played some part against the the Bohemians, as United began the European leg of an extensive summer programme. Meanwhile, with just three matches remaining in the Reds’ pre-season, long-term injury victim Nemanja Vidić joined the party as the Serbian works towards full fitness before the season’s opener against Everton on 20 August.

While Patrice Evra returned to Manchester on Sunday, with his wife due to give birth this weekend, Ferguson will be pleased to have something like his first choice XI back together after a fragmented, globe-trotting, pre-season.

Still, there was little fluency from United on the pitch against a team that finished seventh in Tippeligaen last season, and currently lies just a place better in the current campaign. Much as in matches against AmaZulu, Cape Town Ajax, and Shanghai Shenhua on tour this summer, United struggled to convert territorial dominance into goals; surely a concern for Ferguson ahead of the new season.

Three goals in four games will set no alarm bells ringing at Old Trafford just yet, but it’s a habit that Ferguson cannot tolerate once the real action gets underway later this month.

Indeed, striker Welbeck missed a host of chances in the Norwegian capital, while Vålerenga goalkeeper Gudmund Kongshavn impressed with three outstanding saves to deny United a third win on tour this summer. Mexican Javier Hernández was less culpable, but did little to improve on a muted pre-season in a 15 minute substitute appearance.

But goals or not there were positives for stand-in manager Phelan, with Vidić paired at the back alongside Rio Ferdinand, Michael Keane – deputising in an unfamiliar role at left-back – performing encouragingly, and substitute Shinji Kagawa bright once again.

Vidić’s return, in particular, is vital with Chris Smalling out for weeks after suffering a broken metatarsal in pre-season training, and Jonny Evans still recovering after foot surgery forced the Northern Irishman out of United’s tour of South Africa and China. Reporting no reaction after eight months on the sidelines, Vidić told MUTV that his knee felt fine.

“After eight months without a game it’s obvious that you have to get used to your positioning, and still fitness-wise it’s not as hopefully it will be in a few weeks, but I’m pleased,” said Vidić.

“It was frustrating, but obviously I knew I would be out for six months. I tried to make the best of it, to work hard and when I come back to be the same as I was before the injury. It’s hard, but it’s part of the football career. Any sportsman has the risk of injuries and hopefully this is the past and better days are coming for me.”

Back in Manchester it’s not yet clear whether Ferguson was involved in the widely rumoured bid for the Brazilian youngster Lucas Moura, or on other club business. There is, after all, a New York IPO to flog.

The Scot’s media mouthpiece Bob Cass claimed on Sunday that a £30 million United bid had been accepted by Moura’s club São Paulo, and a medical had been arranged in Manchester for Sunday. Claims that were trashed by both the Brazilian football association and local media inside the day to leave Cass, not for the first time, short of credibility.

“Lucas has not been sold by São Paulo,” claimed ESPN’s Brazilian commentator Paulo Vinicius Coelho. “The thought is that it will be difficult for the British club to reach the amount required by São Paulo: €45 million.

“Lucas is more willing to go to England than he was three months ago, but nothing is decided. Manchester United must reach the fee desired by São Paulo, or someone will have to convince [São Paulo club] president Juvenal Juvencio to close the deal for less.”

United supporters of a world-weary nature may reserve judgement until the player is pictured at Carrington next to a beaming chief executive, David Gill. After all, when it comes to smokescreens, United has a long record of bluff and counter-bluff.

Further discrediting the Mail, the Brazilian Football Federation said Lucas will not be allowed to take part in any medical during the tournament.

“The Board of the Seleção Brasileira has not received any request from the English club,” said a CBF statement on Sunday. “If we receive one, we will not allow a player to leave the camp to do it.”

Further backtracking on Sunday, the Mail then claimed Ferguson had in fact not stayed in Manchester to oversee Moura’s transfer, but that of Arsenal’s Robin van Persie. Take that one with a very large pinch of salt.

On the pitch United next face Barcelona in Gothenburg on Wednesday – the second pre-season in succession that the teams have met. While the Reds walked away with a 2-1 victory last summer, no pre-season win will ever make up for the thumpings the Catalan side handed United in two Champions League finals.

Still, Ferguson, Phelan or whomever is in charge on Wednesday, will look again both for an improvement in performance, fitness and – hopefully – a few goals. But whatever the result, it’s unlikely we’ll have a conclusion to this summer’s tiresome transfer speculation.

United 0-0 Vålerenga, Ullevaal Stadion, Oslo

Lindegaard; Valencia, Vidić (Anderson 61), Ferdinand, M Keane; Nani, Carrick, Scholes (Powell 75), Young (Lingard 75); Rooney (Hernández 76), Welbeck (Kagawa 61). Subs not used: De Gea, Jones, Berbatov, Macheda.

Revised tour squad to play Barcelona in Gothenburg, and Hannover 96, in Hannover

De Gea, Lindegaard; Evra, Ferdinand, Jones, M Keane, Vidić; Anderson, Carrick, Nani, Powell, Lingard, Scholes, Valencia, Young, Kagawa; Berbatov, Hernández, Macheda, Rooney, Welbeck

Share Button
  • Andrew

    Its like Sneijder last year all over again

  • Andrew

    Its like Sneijder last year all over again.

  • Andrew

    It’s like Sneijder last year all over again.

  • Andrew

    I hope I made my point clear. Ffs…bloody internet.

  • bruce thomas

    It’s like deja vu all over again.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Commenter said:
    I hope I made my point clear. Ffs…bloody internet.

  • 19 and Counting

    Commenter said:
    Its like Sneijder last year all over again

    …except that we needed a player like Sneijder and not another fookin winger.

    This summer has been one long nightmare!

  • Damian Garside

    I have scoured the house for every hat of mine plus all of my wife’s.

    When Moura is photographed signing for us and wearing the shirt I will happily eat all of them.

  • 19 and Counting

    Commenter said:
    I have scoured the house for every hat of mine plus all of my wife’s.
    When Moura is photographed signing for us and wearing the shirt I will happily eat all of them.

    Forget Moura or RVP – all ‘buzz’ to generate interest in the IPO and boost ticket sales.
    All I know is that if SAF plays Valencia at RB and Jones at CM this season I think I will rupture a nut.

    • Damian Garside

      Have you ever felt so, what’s the word: flat/neutral/empty/unexpectant/jaded/dulled/cynical before the state of a new season. Generating interest in the IPO through transfer spin is one thing, but it seems to be having exactly the opposite effect on us: we KNOW United will be linked to between 5 and 10 world class players and we will be lucky, can sing “hallelujah” if we get one (and to be fairer have one, who looks good but may not quite be works class. Oh, and then there is the spin put out on the very players who didn’t quite come up with the goods last season, telling us that this is their time…

      I think I’ll wait for the American football season to start, 49er fans seem to have a year to look forward to.

  • Lucas

    Heard Phil Jones left the tour due to illness. Guess, with Jones short of fitness and Rafael coming late from Olympics, we might end up playing Valencia at right back when the season starts. Still not the ideal starting XI.

  • bman

    Tony V at right back and Nani in front of him is a perfectly acceptable solution. But I’m glad that we’re starting the season with our annual defensive crisis. Apparently Fletcher is training with Scotland now, so there’s goes any hope of midfield reinforcements.

  • Bill

    “Tony V at right back and Nani in front of him is a perfectly acceptable solution”

    Playing a right winger at right back for Manchester United isn’t acceptable! If we can’t even afford to buy another full back for 5 mill to cover injuries there we are probably in worse shape financially than we thought.

  • marlon

    Bill said:
    “Tony V at right back and Nani in front of him is a perfectly acceptable solution”

    Playing a right winger at right back for Manchester United isn’t acceptable! If we can’t even afford to buy another full back for 5 mill to cover injuries there we are probably in worse shape financially than we thought.

    Don’t think the problem there is money. Fergie doesn’t buy squad players. He buys young players with potential or players who are going to have an immediate impact on the 1st XI – ideally both.

    At RB we have Rafael and then Jones and Smalling who can play there. If any of those are fit they will play ahead of Valencia. A utility guy like O’Shea who can plug the gaps (ie. LB) would be handy, but I think when looking for backup roles you should at least look at your reserves + youth system before buying a guy who in all likelihood will play 5-10 games in the entire season in all competitions.

  • Denton Davey

    bman @ 3:43: “Tony V at right back and Nani in front of him is a perfectly acceptable solution.”

    I’d like to see TheLads organized into some version of a 3-5-2, which could quickly morph into a 5-3-2. To my way of (warped ?) thinking, that kind of formation would make the best use of UTD’s personnel:

    NinJaEvra already plays in that way;

    AV7 ditto;

    Playing TheWayneBoy as a lead-the-line striker is a waste of his talents while benching both Chicharito and DannyTheLad would be discouraging;

    KagawaBunga (and Lucas Moura) work best as part of the middle-3 of the 5;
    Nani and AshleyYoung makes more sense as part of a middle-3;

    Michael Carrick already plays as part of a back-3.

    AND SO ON.

    The best match in the EuroFootie was Italy’s draw with Spain – and Italy played that match with a 3-5-2 formation; better finishing and they would have won, too.

  • BiscuitBarrell

    marlon said:

    At RB we have Rafael and then Jones and Smalling who can play there. If any of those are fit they will play ahead of Valencia. A utility guy like O’Shea who can plug the gaps (ie. LB) would be handy, but I think when looking for backup roles you should at least look at your reserves + youth system before buying a guy who in all likelihood will play 5-10 games in the entire season in all competitions.

    Of the three you mention only 1 is a specialist full back. In modern football, whether 443, 433, 451, 352, fullback is the single position whose influence has increased more than any other. look at the rise of Ashley Cole, Dani Alves, Ramos, Lahm and the influence they have on the game. Then ask the question, if it’s worthy of spending 10s of millions for the other big names in Europe, why not us? It smacks more to me of having lots of utility players to plug gaps, so there’s less big name players to pay big wages.

  • BiscuitBarrell

    Sorry meant 442 :oops:, but 443 would be an advantage!

  • Bill

    We should go in for Willems of PSV – young enough to be happy behind Evra for a couple of seasons and be mentored by Patrice. We could get him for 10 mill max and his wages wouldn’t be ridiculous. He is Evra’s natural successor.

  • marlon

    The importance of the modern fullback has risen, but is still not on the level of any other position on the pitch. However good Lahm/Alves have been, you never hear about a fullback winning a game as you do with every other position. The rise in importance is because they were woefully underused.

    We already have Evra, who despite his decline, is still one of the best in the PL. Rafael and Fabio have the potential to be two of the best players in their positions in a few years and deserve the playing time to reach that potential. Given the age of Rafael and Fabio, who do you bring in? Evra is a good age and ability to be able to act as mentor for Fabio, but who would you bring in at RB? Rafael is our 1st choice RB – who would you bring in to play second fiddle to a player who will outlast you and who the club have a long term interest in developing? Who would there be of sufficient quality willing to play that role? If you bring in a player of similar age/experience to compete you will merely be hampering both of their development.

    Jones is our 5th choice CB; Smalling our 4th. They are young players who need playing time to continue their development. They both played well enough at RB last season (certainly against lesser opponents) to render a ‘backup’ unnecessary.

  • marlon

    Bill said:
    We should go in for Willems of PSV – young enough to be happy behind Evra for a couple of seasons and be mentored by Patrice. We could get him for 10 mill max and his wages wouldn’t be ridiculous. He is Evra’s natural successor.

    Fabio?

  • BiscuitBarrell

    I agree Willems looked like he had more potential than the Da Silva’s at the Euros when he played.

    Both the Da Silva’s are suspect positionally, Fabio more so. Raphael has been promising to come good for so long, I’ve stopped waiting. He’s got the pace and skill to make it, but will always get caught out against the best players (E.g Robben), because he’s the 2nd least intelligent player in the team (after Nani). His decision making with tackling is suspect also. Fabio will never make it imho, he’ll be heading to Sunderland (or similar) soon enough permanently. He’s one of the £5-£10m per annum the IPO prospectus says we’ll make from the Academy each year.

    If you want a ready made replacement, and personally I think we need a RB and an LB, I would suggest they should have pushed the boat out for Jordi Alba or Bale (but with the Glazers that would never happen), Philip Lahm who we’re continuously linked with or a more realistic Kyle Walker not a bad shout for RB.

  • Bill

    Fabio isn’t left sided, Willems is and is the better long term option.

    To be honest the twins will rotate the right back spot with Rafael getting more playing time.

    Fabio will have a role as a cover left back as well as and at a stretch cover centre centre mid or right wing.

    Would be nice to have both of them at OT long term, have good ability and energy plus will be good in and around the dressing room. Would hate to have them split up!!

  • marlon

    Alba wanted to go to Barca, Bale is a winger (and will cost £40), Lahm is 29 and is never going to leave Bayern. Walker is not an upgrade on Rafael – try and look past his nationality – and can you imagine Levy’s price, especially when you add the extra for being English.

    Willems had an awful Euros. Comfortably the worst dutchman in a poor defence. If you’re going to gamble on potential, why not on the potential already at your club. I don’t think we’re a club who are about to start buying for buying’s sake.

    Obviously we need another defender, at least while Fabio is away. Got to say though, writing off a couple of obviously talented guys who’ve just turned 22 is madness. Potential can always go either way, but players always have a breakout season (which Fabio hasn’t had yet) and 22 is well in the window for that to happen.

  • marlon

    BiscuitBarrell said:
    he’s the 2nd least intelligent player in the team (after Nani)

    Calling Nani our least intelligent player? He is our 2nd best player and with Rooney, one of our only reliable match winners. If you want stats to back it up, he had the third lowest mins per goal/assist last season behind Berba and Rooney. He’s effective on both wings – our only winger to prove that – two footed, our best distance shooter and our most skilful player. The usual criticism of Nani is inconsistency which (other than being untrue) is born out him being our most exciting player, which naturally drives expectations up every time he gets the ball – somehow people don’t see how effective he is as well as being exciting.

    Personally, I don’t think he does all that in spite of his intelligence.

  • BiscuitBarrell

    I picked my words carefully. Nani is skilful and quick, but makes poor decisions – shooting, crossing in inappropriate situations. You can make stats do most things, most reds I know would agree with my assessment ( to a lesser or greater extent)

    The Dutch team had a poor euros generally, but in spite of that Willems impressed in a couple of games, certainly offensively.
    Bale started at left back, and is probably the closest thing to Alves in England, just because that’s not where Spurs play him, doesn’t mean he couldn’t play as an attacking full back, particularly in a 352. The price for united should (but clearly isn’t) be irrelevant.
    Alba has chosen Barca because they made overtures early, could afford the wages and fees and have a team that isn’t on a steep down curve. We should be all of these things.
    I chose lahm, because he would be a “ready made” replacement, who could easily give another 4 seasons.
    Walker is better defensively and less injury prone – a definite upgrade.

  • uncleknobheadforfucksake

    nani is our best winger by a laughable distance, the only one who isn’t a one dimensional xfactorless machine of generic crosses to nobody in particular

    rafaels better than walker

  • squigs

    Laughable, Walker far superior to Rafael. How many games last year did we win down to Nani? When we play well he can look good, but when we are not playing well he is usually the worst player on the pitch.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Nani’s got the tools to be awesome… but he’s as thick as shit… as long as we replaced him with quality, I’d ship him out.

  • Damian Garside

    Some nice analysis here and you all have come up with some interesting permutations: but it all reminds me of preparing a meal using leftovers and spices. What we have will take us through 90 mins but nothing there to scare the opposition (especially ones with decent central midfielders, still our chronic area of weakness). Agree with posters wanting to move away from 442

  • BiscuitBarrell

    Nani has the smallest head of any man playing professional football. I would suggest it is a physical impossibility for him to have enough brain material to improve his game.

    I agree with the comment about leftovers. If I see Phil jones, fabio or Raphael in midfield this year I’ll put my foot through the telly. Similarly Giggs and Valencia should never be playing fullback, except in cases of sending off. At least we’re spared the spectacle of Park “in the hole”, great player though he’s been.

    Speaking with a modicum of knowledge, Fletcher will be lucky to play professionally again, never mind Champions league. It all smacks of the “Hargreaves syndrome”, tantalising us with a returning hero, masking the shallowness of options in midfield.

  • marlon

    BiscuitBarrell said:
    I picked my words carefully. Nani is skilful and quick, but makes poor decisions – shooting, crossing in inappropriate situations. You can make stats do most things, most reds I know would agree with my assessment ( to a lesser or greater extent)

    The Dutch team had a poor euros generally, but in spite of that Willems impressed in a couple of games, certainly offensively.
    Bale started at left back, and is probably the closest thing to Alves in England, just because that’s not where Spurs play him, doesn’t mean he couldn’t play as an attacking full back, particularly in a 352. The price for united should (but clearly isn’t) be irrelevant.
    Alba has chosen Barca because they made overtures early, could afford the wages and fees and have a team that isn’t on a steep down curve. We should be all of these things.
    I chose lahm, because he would be a “ready made” replacement, who could easily give another 4 seasons.
    Walker is better defensively and less injury prone – a definite upgrade.

    Where do I start – you want to buy Bale (a winger) based on a formation that we’re simply not going to use. Then you want to buy a fullback who is better defensively for such an attacking role and I don’t know what Euros you where watching but Willems was culpable for so many goals in three games its unreal – he certainly wasn’t good enough offensively to make up for that. You don’t even know what kind of defender you want – apparently just not ours. While our finances should mean (w/o Glazers) we can buy who we want, it doesn’t mean you should get ripped off every time you buy a player – the fee is never irrelevant. Alba is another la masia graduate who has returned to the club. He wanted to go there like many others from la masia – definitely not a case of Barca paying more.
    It’s all very well choosing Lahm, but we could just as well choose Schweinsteiger and Iniesta to come into our midfield – they’re about as likely to come.

    As for Nani, I’ll compare him (yes, with stats) to Silva.
    All per min Nani vs. Silva
    Chance created 31 27
    Assist 210.3 188.6
    Goal 262.9 293.4
    Combined g/a 116.8 114.8

    So not bad compared to one of the best in the league. Personally I think his decision making has improved a lot over the last couple of seasons and last season provided more goals + assists than any player other than Rooney (I only have PL stats).

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    In the wrong hands, stats are rubbish… two years ago Charlie Adam was one of the best players in England… based on stats.
    No one disputes Nanis talent… but he’s not an 18 year old project any more.
    Football skills can be taught and learned… but football intelligence isn’t as easy to teach, as some players just don’t have the ability to juggle multiple thoughts… playing with the ball and reading the play of the game at the same time… Scholes is “the master” of this.
    As good as Nani is with the ball at his feet, he’s not known for a clever pass… he doesn’t have great vision… and he never will.
    He’s naturally better than Valencia, but Valencia plays within himself, and knows how to play with those around him… that makes Valencia a better team player… Nani, just doesn’t get 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.”

  • uncleknobheadforfucksake

    valencias a better team player, so what, i want match winners on the wings not team players, valencias not a match winner, he’s a one dimensional push and run merchant, a better lennon, he’s not playing within himself, knock it to the byline and run is all he can do, when he can’t he does those embarrassing outside of the right foot passes to scholes inside because he’s completely one footed and can’t beat a man, nani tries stuff cause he can do it, he fucks up often trying it, so has giggs for 20 years but he’s still the one most likely to produce magic, its only through taggarts increasing lack of bollocks he’s playing the percentage player ahead of nani

  • Denton Davey

    uncleknobheadforfucksake: ” its only through taggarts increasing lack of bollocks he’s playing the percentage player ahead of nani”

    Not sure I agree with that assessment – Valencia is one-footed; so is Young; but Nani can use both feet to a very high level of skill. So, the real issue is not why Nani isn’t played on the right but why Young is played, on the left ahead of Nani. Like TheWayneBoy, Nani should play whenever he’s fit.

    I’m no fan of Ashley Young – his lack of balance (ahem !) or his outrageous price-tag. Why he gets games ahead of Nani is simply astonishing.

    Like i wrote earlier, BOTH Nani and Young would be outstanding in a 3-5-2 formation. Valencia is strong enough, defensively-minded – and right-footed – so he could easily adapt to playing up-and-down the right wing just like NinjaEvra bombs forward (alas, not back) on the left touch-line. But since it seems unlikely that that will happen the conundrum that is SAF’s game-by-game selection will no doubt continue.

  • uncleknobheadforfucksake

    well youngs a different kettle of fish, he’s just pointless player and moreover the biggest cheat in the prem, a nothing signing that sums up the direction we’re heading, serves no purpose except to discredit anything we do on the pitch with his cheating (and score the odd 30 yarder every six months)

  • bman

    Your criticisms of Valencia are comical. You apparently don’t realize that he got 4 goals and 13 assists in 22 PL starts last season. Yeah stats are overrated, but in a winger goals and assists are called “end product”. He’s one of the best wingers in the game. “push and run merchant”. How many players do you see “pushing and running” past fullbacks like Ashley Cole on a consistent basis like Valencia does? Plenty of room for players like Nani and Tony V both in a top team. Is Nani a better overall player? Yeah. Can you count on Valencia to repeatedly get to the goal line and put in dangerous crosses against even the best opposition? Fuck yeah.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    valencias a better team player, so what, i want match winners on the wings not team players, valencias not a match winner, he’s a one dimensional push and run merchant, a better lennon, he’s not playing within himself, knock it to the byline and run is all he can do, when he can’t he does those embarrassing outside of the right foot passes to scholes inside because he’s completely one footed and can’t beat a man, nani tries stuff cause he can do it, he fucks up often trying it, so has giggs for 20 years but he’s still the one most likely to produce magic, its only through taggarts increasing lack of bollocks he’s playing the percentage player ahead of nani

    There are very few players that are worth having if they’re NOT team players… Ronaldo was one, but even he knew how to use his team mates… Nani is NOT Ronaldo, and even though he can produce the odd bit of magic, he’s also one of the most wasteful players we’ve got… some players lose the ball a lot, because they’re just not very good… Nani loses the ball a lot, because he’s a stupid fuckin Wally, who doesn’t know when to pass… and what’s worse is, because he’s largely an attacking player, he almost always destroys a promising attack when he loses it.
    No other player pisses me off as much as Nani…
    “PASS THE FUCKIN BALL, YOU STUPID FUCKIN TWAT”!!!

    “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.”

  • BiscuitBarrell

    I couldn’t agree more Alf.

    I’m a simple man. I simply believe the better players you have, the better the team plays. Provided you don’t have 11 left wingers, the formation will sort itself out. Look at Spain, they choose to play without a centre forward, because their better players are all midfielders. 

    The players I’ve mentioned are all to a man better than the Da Silvas, the fact that they are all different in style is irrelevant. I’ve been watching football long enough to see wingers that can defend, and full backs that can attack. Unfortunately the list I’ve given of superior full backs is by no means exhaustive, Fabio in particular isn’t in the top 30 in Europe. When we’re looking at a player like Baines to replace Evra – a jobbing prem player if ever there was one – that should tell you everything you need to know about the clubs opinion of him. As I’ve stated before Raphael is the better player. But answer this question, what do you think Barca or Real would pay us for Raphael? £5-10m at a push. All of the players I’ve listed have a market value of 1.5 to 5 times that. 

    The suggestion, despite the stats, that Nani is in any way, superior to Silva lacks credibility. 

  • marlon

    Kudos for being a ‘simple man’ but your just wrong. There are so many examples in Europe of teams punching above their weight with inferior players because the system they play is effective. Dortmund is filled with several undeniably talented youngsters, but on paper the better players of Bayern should comfortably beat them. Throughout those teams you can compare players and you’d have maybe 2-3 players you could move from Dortmund to the Bayern starting XI. We’ve been outplayed by Bilbao and Ajax. Even before Messi was the unstoppable force he was today, Barca toppled Madrid’s expensively assembled team. Closer to home we’ve seen Swansea comfortably over perform – they were nailed on to be relegated at the start of last season.
    To be fair to Alf, you’ve misunderstood him completely – he was saying he values a team player over a selfish player, even in the face of a quality deficit. Ribery and Robben are better wingers than Blaszczykowski and Großkreutz – you can go on throughout the team – but the team work of Dortmund overcame that gap in quality. Spain are the ultimate example of team work – everything they do is as a team which is what makes them so effective.
    Clearly a player like Nani needs to be ‘carried’ by the rest of the team – at United (off the top of my head) you can add Giggs and Hernandez to that list – and 442 is the most brutal formation with which to carry a player. Formations that pack the midfield are much more suited to that and even then you don’t want to carry more than one player at a time – personally I believe Nani brings more to the table than Hernandez or Giggs (although Hernandez will get away with it more as a striker). Nani is definitely a player worth carrying – we’re just playing the wrong formation – hopefully that’ll change this season.
    On the full backs, it all very well pointing out some better players (you can do that in every single position of our team), but if you’re going to suggest a replacement they surely have to be attainable. If you don’t think Fabio will be ready to take over when Evra runs himself into the ground how on earth is Willems (the only attainable player) supposed to make that meteoric jump? Your list doesn’t need to be exhaustive, but try to come up with at least one realistic suggestion.
    Also, who said Nani was better than Silva?

  • marlon

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    In the wrong hands, stats are rubbish… two years ago Charlie Adam was one of the best players in England… based on stats.

    No one disputes Nanis talent… but he’s not an 18 year old project any more.

    Football skills can be taught and learned… but football intelligence isn’t as easy to teach, as some players just don’t have the ability to juggle multiple thoughts… playing with the ball and reading the play of the game at the same time… Scholes is “the master” of this.

    As good as Nani is with the ball at his feet, he’s not known for a clever pass… he doesn’t have great vision… and he never will.

    He’s naturally better than Valencia, but Valencia plays within himself, and knows how to play with those around him… that makes Valencia a better team player… Nani, just doesn’t get that.

    What stats were they (about adam)? Sure it wasn’t just Fergie duping the scousers with the old £10m corners?

    Nani is not a playmaker – he’s not the link between midfield and attack – he is a focal point of the attack. Problem is, we’re playing him as a left/right mid which he is not.

    This is the last thing I’ll say on Nani as it seems everyone has their opinion and is sticking to it. Some players are worth the frustration. I don’t want United to be filled with functional workhorses like Valencia and no flair. Got to have balance – one Valencia and one Nani seems good to me. No one will convince me that we’ll be better off without players who can do this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60dcO003ZAQ

  • 19 and Counting

    Nani is selfish, doesn’t defend worth shit and wastes possession more often than not instead of making a pass or cross – never mind the occasional dive and theatrics as well. Tony V has none of these qualities and is both a top player and a top pro. I’d still take Nani over AY on the left but I also wouldn’t shed a tear if he was sold either.

  • madmax

    Nani is like the current Arsenal. Always promising and flamboyant yet utterly pointless and goes missing when needed the most. His skills are an utter waste when he can’t decide whether to shoot or pass. How many times has he skied the ball in the final ‘match winning moments’ when a simple pass would have put Rooney in much better position. Not just last year. But that’s how he’s been over his entire career with us.No improvement in his decision making at all. Plays well for a time then lets that get into his head and spends the rest of the season trying to prove he is as good as Ronaldo which he is not. Infuriating player to say the least.

    Valencia might be a generic winger, but he does what he can ‘consistently’. Over a season that matters more. Also he doesn’t fuck about in crucial moments.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    “What stats were they (about adam)?”

    The same pointless stats that show Valencia was a better player than Nani last year.

    Look, I’m not defending stats… I’m saying they’re a useless tool for an argument… clearly Adam is an ordinary player, but his stats for Blackpool were excellent… but that was Blackpool… stick him in a better team, and he gets exposed for the bollard that he is.

    And comparing Nani with Giggs is outrageous… fuckin hell…

    And it really does amaze me how the people defending Nani, are the same ones who slam Berbatov…

    And while we’re at it Knobby… such a big fan of Nani… he makes Young look like a pillar of virtue, with all his falling down and feigning injury… he’s one of the biggest pussies in the league, never mind just United.

  • BiscuitBarrell

    I made two assertions.

    1. Nani lacks intelligence and makes
    Poor decisions
    2. The Da Silva twins (fabio in particular) are not good enough for United. A team based on history, revenue and recent success, should lie within the top 4-5 in Europe. By inference the fullbacks should be amongst the top 15-20 in their position, even allowing for their “added value” as team players. Incidentally you couldn’t come up with worse examples of team players from the united squad than the Da Silvas and Nani.

    “Kudos for being a ‘simple man’ but your just wrong. There are so many examples in Europe of teams punching above their weight with inferior players because the system they play is effective” – I never stated that team play or tactics were unimportant, just that better players adapt to both. Were team play the only factor, then Swansea would have a shot at the league, which IMHO they don’t. I hope you agree.

    I did understand exactly what Alf was saying – thanks – personally I find his position (ie Nani is stupid and hence a poor team player), closer to my assertion than yours (Nani is worth his place in the team). I guess we all read what we want to read, ehh?

    Finally on to point 2. I infer from your final paragraph that you acknowledge that neither Da Silva is in the upper echelons of fullbacks (at least not yet). Who is unattainable from my list? I may concede the point on Alba, although its not unheard of for ex Barca players to go elsewhere. However are you seriously suggesting that either Bale or Walker are unobtainable? Spurs always sell when the price is right, we’re a bigger club and we’re in the CL. They’re “unattainable” because we can’t compete in the market. Let me just repeat that we, the biggest, largest fan base, highest turnover club, can’t compete in the transfer market. So we’re left with mediocrity, and forum debates about how slightly more or less mediocre they are. I think Willems is a better player, you don’t, fair enough.

    Btw I think if I was stating that Nani’s worth his place in the team and then quoting stats that are superior to Silva’s, I’d qualify that by saying who you think is the better player. Otherwise everyone might get confused. Who do you think is the better player?

  • marlon

    I think we’re just going to disagree. On obtainability – the Glazers are a reality that we have to work around – no point playing fantasy football.

    On Nani Silva stats, the misunderstanding is my fault. I mislabelled them as per minute, rather than minutes per. With that knowledge, the stats show Silva was better (obviously):
    Nani vs. Silva
    Chance created 31 27
    Assist 210.3 188.6
    Goal 262.9 293.4
    Combined g/a 116.8 114.8

    Point I was making is that there wasn’t a gulf in production between a player considered one of the best in the PL and Nani. I don’t see our team getting better if Nani leaves – best case scenario is we sign another ‘project’. A team that wants to challenge for titles shouldn’t have too many of these. In our starting team we already have De Gea, Rafael and Welbeck (no point talking about CMs). Two is OK, three is already pushing it. If you told me Nani would go and say Bale would replace him I’d take it but we all know nothing could be further from the truth. More likely Young was bought in anticipation of his exit – for me Young is a good depth player to rotate, but not one to start the big games.

  • marlon

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Look, I’m not defending stats… I’m saying they’re a useless tool for an argument… clearly Adam is an ordinary player, but his stats for Blackpool were excellent… but that was Blackpool… stick him in a better team, and he gets exposed for the bollard that he is.

    I had a look at his stats from Blackpool in the season before his liverpool transfer. He had good stats for, say a winger – 12 goals, 8 assists – he took the 11th most shots in the league to get to that total though and took all of Blackpool’s set pieces as well (pens inc. I believe). Already not so impressive.
    Other stats show he was dribbled past a lot, made lots of fouls (2.1 tackles per game and 2 fouls per game). He hit lots of long balls, but his pass accuracy was only 72.1% – not the stats of a good CM. He was dispossessed a lot but made a decent amount of blocks and was strong i the air.

    They are not the stats of one of the best players in England.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    No, you’re right… 12 goals and 8 assists for a midfielder is gash… ffs Mate, let it go, you’re talking shit…

  • Just1n

    I’m with Knobby on this. Give me a match winner over a reliable work horse any day of the week.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Where does this “Nani is a match winner” nonsense come from?

  • marlon

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    No, you’re right… 12 goals and 8 assists for a midfielder is gash… ffs Mate, let it go, you’re talking shit…

    12 goals: 8 penalties, 2 free kicks, 2 from open play.
    8 Assists: 4 set-piece, 4 open-play.

    I’m sorry, but for a team’s go-to guy, that’s not that impressive. He was never going to get the pens at Liverpool and would likely have to share set-pieces. 2 goals and 6 assists this season in a team who has had terrible finishing is not much of a drop in production (take away he 8 pens), especially when you include the fact he played 7 less games.

    If you want a comparison of his Blackpool season then look at Hoolahan for Norwich this season. 4 goals, 7 assists (no penalties) from CM. Scoring 8 pens does not make you a great player.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    FFS MATE… WHO GIVES A FUCK ABOUT CHARLIE FUCKING ADAM???
    THE POINT WAS STATS AREN’T THE DECIDING FACTOR IN A FUCKIN ARGUMENT ABOUT A PLAYERS ABILITY!!!
    RIGHT?????????????????

    “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.”

  • squigs

    Nani is a fair weather player. When we playing well he will look good. I wouldn’t question his ability as he has it in spades but how many big games has he taken by the scruff of the neck and won for us? how many late winners in important games?

    This is a 25 year old who is a senior player and wants to be considered a top player. He hasn’t pushed on from a couple of years ago and is probably even more frustrating.

  • squigs

    Reliable work horse = Our player of the season.

    People who are giving Valencias performances stick are really foolish. Ask a rational fan of any other team who would they rather have and you would get Valencia every time.

  • BiscuitBarrell

    Marlon- It would be boring if we all had the same opinions. But there is much we can agree on.
    We’re hamstrung by the debt and cashpoint attitude of the Glazers. There needs to be a mix of “projects” and producers. Young is worth having around, but not top drawer. No-one thinks Charlie Adam is a good player. And finally stats can only tell you so much. Lies, damn lies…….

  • BiscuitBarrell

    Valencia is the epitome of substance of style. I love him.