Smoke and blank mirrors

After seven games where Manchester United has deceived more than flattered this season there was perhaps no surprise that the Reds came unstuck at Old Trafford on Saturday. After all Tottenham Hotpsur has enjoyed something of a renaissance in the past week, while Sir Alex Ferguson’s men have picked up points and not plaudits in the campaign to date. No surprise either that Ferguson’s side began Saturday’s match in much the same fashion it had spent much of last weekend’s fortuitous victory over Liverpool: disjointed and lacking in urgency.

It is tempting to ponder whether something is not right at the Theatre of Dreams; Sir Alex certainly has much to ponder. Not least his role in failing to provide a midfield platform on which the Reds’ plethora of attacking players can effectively perform, nor addressing the worryingly complacency that has creeped into the Reds’ game.

Instead, the 70-year-old Scot offered an old-time diversionary tactic following United’s first defeat to Spurs at Old Trafford since 1989: blame the officials for the lack of injury time awarded. Was the excuse not quite so risible, supporters might find humour in Ferguson’s classic smokescreen.

Yet, it took barely two minutes for Ferguson’s bizarre midfield plan, such as it was, to come unstuck against Andre Villas-Boas’ side on Saturday, with Jan Vertongen waltzing through United’s defence to score at the Stretford End.

By the time Clint Dempsey prodded home Tottenham’s third early into the second period the game was very much afoot, despite a valiant attacking effort by the hosts in the final half-hour.

Shinji Kagawa scored a fine goal in the moments following Dempsey’s strike – and United struck both bar and post in a breathless final third – but the real damage had already been inflicted. Much of it self-flagellatory.

It was certainly not the first time this season that United’s open formation, in which the Reds’ midfield offers minimal defensive cover, has contributed to a costly performance. Nor, one suspects, will Saturday’s misshapen defensive unit be the last seen in the campaign ahead.

Yet, for all of Ferguson’s many gifts self-scrutiny is seldom one of them. In 25 years at Old Trafford’s helm the 70-year-old has rarely, if ever, admitted an error in judgement. Saturday tea-time, Ferguson’s decision to select Ryan Giggs and Nani – two of the squad’s least productive players at Anfield – wide of ball-playing Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick, looked every inch a glaring error come the game’s end.

No surprise, then, that Ferguson railed not at self-inflicted wounds, but the officials who “insulted” the game by providing ‘just’ four minute’s of injury time at the end of a pulsating match.

“They gave us four minutes, that’s an insult to the game,” claimed Ferguson after United’s first home defeat of the season.

“It denies you a proper chance to win a football match. There were six substitutions, the trainer came on, so that’s four minutes right away and the goalkeeper must have wasted about two or three minutes and they took their time at every goal kick.

“That’s obvious to everyone today and it’s a flaw in the game that the referee is responsible for time keeping. It’s ridiculous that it’s 2012 and the referee still has control of that.”

In that Ferguson’s argument has some technical merit, although William Gallas and Steven Caulker defended with such determination that there is no guarantee that 40 and not four minutes of added time would have brought United an equaliser.

Indeed, for all United’s possession – 75 per cent on average and rising fast by the game’s conclusion – it was Spurs that offered the greatest cutting edge. At least on the break.

While Vertongen drifted  into United’s box without challenge for the visitor’s first, the second was a lesson in incisive attacking play. Moussa Dembélé’s pass cut through the Reds’ midfield, and Gareth Bale’s pace swept the Welshman past Rio Ferdinand, before the winger proffered an expert right-footed finish.

“The most important thing was the first half,” Ferguson admitted.

“We didn’t start, we were lackadaisical and lost a goal after two minutes, and you give yourself an uphill fight with that situation. In the second half we were terrific, it was a great performance by them, and we were unlucky not to win it. If we had held the scoreline at 2-1 for a few minutes I think we would have won the match.”

By the end Ferguson had thrown on four strikers as United chased an equaliser. Wayne Rooney’s introduction for the highly ineffective Giggs at half-time changed the balance of United’s attacking play, if not the fundamental shape.

With Kagawa now operating from a narrow left-sided position, Rooney was at his creative best 10 yards deeper than Robin van Persie. But it was 36-year-old Paul Scholes that caught the eye, commanding United’s tempo and pattern of play as Tottenham regressed into defensive entrenchment following Kagawa’s 52nd minute goal.

There were a more than a few United supporters pondering the stark change in the game’s pattern, although this had more to do with Spurs’ changing ambitions than United’s tactics.

Defeat – United’s second of the Premier League season – inevitably brings with it questions, not least the Reds’ inability to retain a clean sheet. More worrying still, this was the third occasion this season in which United has conceded at least twice. This time there were no injury excuses to fall back on, with Ferdinand and Jonny Evans starting for the second week in succession.

Nor too has Ferguson addressed the fundamental, and potentially season-defining hole in a central midfield that is now packed with ball-players, but appears ill-equipped to deal with opponents that attack at pace.

After all, this was a game that United thoroughly dominated except in the most telling aspect. The hosts hogged three times the visitors’ possession, making three-fold more passes, taking 60 per cent more shots, and forcing Tottenham to make almost four times as many clearances.

The key statistic, however, has always been goals. On Saturday, Spurs’ triple was aided on each occasion by United’s lack of defensive nous.

“This is what happens when you only play for 45 minutes,” said Patrice Evra on MUTV with telling introspection.

“The game is 90 minutes long and we deserved to lose because we only played for 45. To concede three goals at Old Trafford is not good enough when you want to win the game.”

Nor, some might add, is failing to address a very long-term weakness.

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  1. lionel says

    great article – think fergie has lost the plot…united falling apart already with the old foggies..wont be surprised if they end up mid table this season

  2. ForeverRed says

    Nice summary Ed. It’s hard to disagree with any of your points, which makes it all the more baffling that the man who matters acts oblivious. I think he’s already convinced himself that all is rosy based on the second half performance. Sadly, I don’t expect much to change.

    • BiscuitBarrell says

      Another dire midfield performance, at least for 45mins. I disagree that Ferguson is oblivious though. Given his defence of the Glazers, what else is he supposed to say? If he admits the midfield are past it collectively, then the question asked is why hasn’t it been strengthened? He says he gets money for players whenever he asks………

      BTW anyone who was arguing we were strong in defensive positions at the start of the season, might be changing their mind after 9 goals in 6 games, and one clean sheet. I’ll say it again, neither full back is good enough defensively and we’re short at least one top quality centre half. Vidic is not guaranteed to come back the same player (and is over 30 anyway), Rio won’t play 2 games a week, two of the others are long term injuries and Evans is a guaranteed mistake a game.

  3. says

    I think a midfield 3 of Scholes, Carrick and Giggs was asking for trouble. Neither of them could be classed as box to box, so they either sit back and defend, or if we are attacking – attack slowly.
    When Rooney came on, it gave Spurs defence more than just Van Persie to think about, forcing Dembele and Sandro to drop deeper.
    I think if we are to play with 3 in the middle, then Anderson or Cleverley should have been one of them. The second half showed what we are capable of… First half was pathetic.

  4. richard says

    Arm chair critics are just that–you sit in your favourite chairs, be it at home watching the tele or in the stands with all of the other fans, not players, not managers and not ex-players or ex-managers and after watching a game, offer the obvious. Hinsight is indeed 20/20 vision.I do believe that if you really had something to offer, in real time, i would hazzard a guess it be managing a real team and not wrting this blog.

    • Violent Banana says

      When somebody can’t spell or construct a sentence properly, it’s hard to take their argument seriously. Especially one as ridiculous as this.

    • says

      Personally, I prefer listening to and reading the opinions of fans like Ed rather than pundits who just go through the motions and are too afraid to offer criticism.

  5. Damian Garside says

    Who has the best plan: Sir Alex’s plan to win the league or Dr Evil’s plan for world domination?

    Isn’t it possible that the real AF has been replaced by an android replicant taking its orders from the Etihad, the Emirates or Anfield?

    Watching old DVDs beats watching United come horribly unstuck.

  6. AK says

    I think we might regret these strange performances, I think SAF was the main reason we lost the league last season.. The way he fore-reads games is very strange … And the young players in the team (who are not young anymore) like Cleverley n Ando will wonder when SAF will ever trust them… n maybe eventually move on to other clubs.

    • Mongoletsi says

      I thought one of the prime reasons we lost the league was Vidic being out, plus our only “hard man” in midfield out too.

      We lost on goal difference. People forget this.

  7. StretfordEnder says

    I feel that this was this perfect game for Anderson to stake his claim. He had a good 75min against Newcastle before he tired. I honestly believe that Giggsy should pull a Neville and retire. I cant understand why Sir Alex plays him.. surely he’s wise enough to see he’s not effective?

  8. Catcher says

    How can Man Utd not have bought a quality mid fielder when all Fergie has been saying is Scholes and Giggs cant go on forever. When you realised we would not sell you Modric you had to find an alternative, the fact you didnt is unbelieveable and you will pay the price for that mistake by winning nothing again this season

    • says

      We’ve got Anderson, Cleverley, Fletcher Carrick and Scholes who are all more than capable of holding their own against anyone.
      Plus there’s Kagawa who could do a job in the middle as well as young players coming through like Powell.

  9. Josh says

    Beyond the obvious problems, particularly in midfield, one thing that continues to worry is the over-reliance on crossing. United attempted 43 crosses yesterday (!). They completed 4. I don’t mind a good cross, but to be attempting it that often is ridiculous, and to complete only 4 highlights that it’s largely ineffectual and usually results in conceding possession.

  10. Macca says

    I personally don’t read to much into scholes’s performance. Yes it was a master class in passing etc but the way Tottenham set up in the second half scholesy could do that at 68 let alone 38. And how many of the passes hurt spurs? The game was crying out for Anderson/cleverleys incisive, 2 touch passing to break through an organised and determined defensive set up. It was a very dissapointing result and agree with most that you cannot start giggs/scholes together but I do feel there is a place for giggs in the squad still.

  11. Macca says

    I personally don’t read to much into scholes’s performance. Yes it was a master class in passing etc but the way Tottenham set up in the second half scholesy could do that at 68 let alone 38. And how many of the passes hurt spurs? The game was crying out for Anderson/cleverleys incisive, 2 touch passing to break through an organised and determined defensive set up. It was a very disappointing result and agree with most that you cannot start giggs/scholes together but I do feel there is a place for giggs in the squad still.

  12. machedinho says

    Was gutted Anderson didn’t start to be honest! Was the perfect game t for him and the perfect tome to tesurrect his MUFC career! He started last season and scored vs Spurs at OT and I like so many United fans just can’t seem to understand why Fergie would start Giggs with Scholes and Carrick??? Giggs was terrible! I actually don’t even remember seeing the lad on the screen that’s how poor he was. Says it all really! Was sidcussing it with a few mates today…is it time for Giggs to call it a day? I’ve been a big fan of Giggs these past couple seasons and he’s performed alright and delivered a few decent assists and goals. I’ll give him another chance though. Just hope he doesn’t start another big game this season! He surely can’t! He’s a bench player and a good bench player in my opinion! He changes games and that’s what Fergie needs to use him for this season. Hope he sees he made an error yesterday! Couldn’t believe how we were so poor in the 1st half! Never seen a worse 45 mins from a United side like yesterday in a long long time!!! It was simply disgraceful!!! Couldn’t believe I was watching an MUFC team on my screen. We looked like a pub side besides for 2 or 3 players! Christ! Where was the energy, commitment, passion and determination! Your playing for Manchester United – the greatest football club in world football imo, infront of 76 000 + people, what more could u want to get u buzzing and going???? Bloody hell! 2nd half a different story altogether and it was unreal how we didn’t get something out of the game! Oh well, hopefully its a lesson learnt for the manager and players although how many lessons do we need to be taught already?? Wake up lads!

    Onto Cluj now and I fukin hope Fergie doesn’t fuck about and play a weak side! They’ve beaten Basel in the qualifiers and braga away. Its a massive game for us! Play RvP and Rooney from the start please Fergie! And either ando/clevz as well. And do the same on sunday! Absolutely huge week for MUFC! Come on United!

  13. Cantona says

    Tottenham sitting back in the second half is what made United look good. Had Spurs continued to play as they did in the first half we would have been mullered.

  14. baloobaloo says

    Commenter said:
    great article – think fergie has lost the plot…united falling apart already with the old foggies..wont be surprised if they end up mid table this season

    Jesus Christ……

  15. baloobaloo says

    Commenter said:
    What kind of argument is this? It would rule out football journalism, film criticism etc.

    To be fair, most football journalism is a bit shite!

  16. TheHumbleGent says

    As always, a great article Ed. Thank you.

    It’s quite sad having to witness such a shambolic performance as yesterday.

    The previous poster (Macca) was right. As great as Scholes’ passing was, and it was, ultimately it’s just window dressing. If it isn’t hurting anyone, you can pass the ball 50 yards all day long, but to no effect. It needs to be high tempo, quick short passes, not telegraphed ones that look pretty but generally do little.

    The start we made last year, with Cleverley and Anderson, was a joy to watch. This season, and the majority of last, has been turgid and so unlike any United I’ve ever watched (and in that I include the Dave Sexton era).

    What kind of message does it send out to the younger players when two near 40 year old players are anchoring the midfield. Surely Anderson and Cleverley, and Powell to a lesser extent, need to be given the chance to develop and grow. No wonder Pogba cleared off.

    One has to ask would the situation of 95/96 (you win nothing with kids) ever happen now. Maybe it should be ‘you win nothing with old men’. I’m a great fan of the maxim ‘if they’re good enough they’re old enough…’. Maybe we’re just not good enough?

    I wonder what RvP must be thinking. Not what he expected I’m sure. And who can we put faith in other than the boss, Mike Phelan? Hardly sets the pulses racing does he. Maybe Fergy’s going senile, he is 70 after all. And maybe, rather than stuck in a cold dugout, he just wants to sit in a Shackletons High Seat Chair and watch Mrs Brown’s Boys and have his dinner. You never know.

    Thanks for the great blog.

    Up the Reds.

    LUHG. X

  17. baloobaloo says

    sidney said:
    90% of football journalism is shite guff churnalism bullshit that is a total waste of time

    Opinions for money from people who know less than your average fan to my mind. But hey, all hail journalists because, as we all know, they only tell us the truth…

    • Damian Garside says

      Baloo says I’m parentless and condescending 
      means there is a 
      head for breaking or 
      fence for mending 
      I hope he will forgive, and not read cowardice, if I 
      pursue the latter option
      since my real quarrel is
      with Ferguson, who all
      his skill he (apparently) 
      has forgotten. 

  18. machedinho says

    We should get rid of Phelan and promote Warren Joyce to assistant manager. He looks a mean bastard does Warren! He’s done wonders with the reserves. He doesn’t take any shit and really knows what he’s doing by the looks of it! He was offered the Hull City job and rejected it. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him get promoted 1 of these days. Nicky Butt was with the Reserves warming them up vs NUFC, who knows, maybe he might be in for a job with the reserves and Joyce gets promoted. Somethings not right with Phelan! I like Meulensteen though! He’s a good coach but we lacking something in our setup! Surely both of them can’t let Fergie play Giggs, Scholes and Carrick all together on the pitch from the 1st minute? Surely! Bloody hell, still absolutely gutted with the defete yesterday!
    Fukin role on Tuesday night and I hope we give Cluj 6! Gwa’n lads!

  19. CoombesOn says

    Good article as ever Ed.

    As you pointed out, the real issue yesterday was starting with Giggs and Nani. The former was particularly poor. I can’t remember the last time he impressed me for United. His Indian Summer seemed to coincide with knocking off that girl from Big Brother. But he’s been terrible for the last year at least. Unbelievably bad ball retention and consistently poor decision making. It’s sad to see a true United legend decline so swiftly. Just wish Fergie would hurry up and put him out of his misery.

    We can now only speculate on how the game would have unfolded with Anderson, Cleverly or Rooney starting in his place. But I do feel like there is a good team that can be assembled from that squad of players. Blind faith perhaps. Possibly ignorance. Yet we really aren’t all that far off being a terrifying prospect for all opponents. There were times yesterday where we cut through Spurs at will. And ultimately we were just the woodwork and a bit more composure from RVP away from getting a result that our first half performance didn’t warrant.

    The good news is that we are at least level with Citeh in spite of losing twice already. And there is a LONG way to go. Let’s just hope that Fergie realizes the side he put out didn’t work the 1st or 2nd time of asking and shows no signs of ever coming good.

    Open question – any idea why Cleverley isn’t getting the nod at the moment? Has he upset his lordship in some way? I just can’t otherwise make sense of his absence.

    • CoombesOn says

      *swiftly – meant to type ‘slowly’ – the decline of Giggs has been unfolding for years now. It’s like keeping a favourite pet alive when the humane thing would be to put it down.

  20. machedinho says

    Next summer is gonna be crucial for the club! Please God Ryan Giggs will call it a day and Fergie goes in and buys a Kevin Strootman or some1 like that! A real quality strong midfielder who can take us forward! AND also Fergie must break the bank and do whatever it takes to bring Gareth Bale to United! 50 mill would prob be enough in my opinion! Fergie sign him up! We can’t realy on players like Nani, Valencia and Ash Young who all seem to get a decent run of games under their belts then get injured and miss another 6 games or so, then start from scratch trying to get back their rythem! We missed Valencia big time yesterday though to be fair! He’s an absolute beast! Just wish hed be fit more often! He’s a real asset though! And also another priority for next season is a world class centre back! Not some1 who’s 30 or so but a 25 year old beast of a centre back, with energy, pace etc. Bloody hell that Vertongen was incredible yesterday for Spurs! Would love a similar player to him at United! Vidic’s best days are prob past him and it looks as if he’s not going to recover from his knee problems and Evans has a mistake in him every game and basically Phil Jones who I don’t know why we bought him to begin with, some1 I don’t rate as a footballer whatsoever…and Smalling are 2 sicknotes, fukin hell! Just so frustrated with the way things are going at United! Seems like we’re losing the plot in a way. When was the last time you saw a MUFC 1st team absolutely annialate the opposition…a game when u finished watching and didn’t have 1 bit of criticism of our team, players and manager??? A agme when a United player or 2 score a couple rippers!!?? Just seen this PSV player Mertens score 3 world class goals on highlites. Something needs to change and fast…

  21. steggo says

    Great player that RVP is, why did we buy him. The priority was very obviously a defensive centre midfielder. Why didn’t we go for Dembele? Giggs has been abysmal for some time.His performance at Anfield last week surely gave cause for concern.I really hope RVP was not bought to give Rooney a kick up the backside. On the subject of Phelan, it is about time he left.Remember at the beginning of April we were 8 points clear! We would never have lost such a lead with Queerarse at no 2. It would have been dull,technical football but we would have got the necessary points to win the league. Anyway,what is it Phelan actually contributes. It cannot be anything to do with tactics!

  22. steggo says

    By the way-totally agree about smokescreens etc. What the hell is Fergie on about. That game was lost in the first 45 minutes.Perhaps he should concentrate on what happens then.

  23. Coach Herbie says

    Grear article by Ed. He said just what I have been saying.
    SAF has made far too many wrong team selections and its costing us dearly. I have never seen a manager put together so many wrong team selections over the last two seasons. I take it further that its time for SAF to retire. Iam now convinced that we will never be a great team until SAF is gone. He is past 70 years old and has run out of ideas. Powell has a wicked left foot, a two footed player. Should have started as left wide midfielder with Kagawa in the middle and Anderson right attacking midfield and Nani the right winger. Fletcher, the central defensive midfielder and Buttner, leftback and attacking left winger. Buttner is a great attacking fullback, he can cover that whole left side and get back in his proper position. Rooney and Van Pearsie should have started up front. We had and have the players to deal with Tottenham but SAF just does too much crazy shit. I went to a football game today and the United faithful there just could not understand what SAF was thinking with that midfield. And I agree that Nani is playing like he don’t want to be there. If his heart is not United, we need to sell him come January. I agree that Bale would be a great buy at any price. But first lets get a new manger, Moyes or Guardiola.

  24. Denton Davey says

    Joash @ 7:46: “United attempted 43 crosses yesterday (!). They completed 4. I don’t mind a good cross, but to be attempting it that often is ridiculous, and to complete only 4 highlights that it’s largely ineffectual and usually results in conceding possession.”

    Macca @ 7:57: “I personally don’t read to much into scholes’s performance. Yes it was a master class in passing etc but the way Tottenham set up in the second half scholesy could do that at 68 let alone 38. And how many of the passes hurt spurs?”

    Interesting, complementary comments. Put them together and you get the pattern of UTD’s reliance on wing-play.

    It’s all well-and-good to control the ball, to ping it out to Nani/Rafael from 50 yards away but it was only when Nani interchanged with TheWayneBoy and attacked-the-goal that this roundabout had any final product.

    Furthermore, there’s been a lot of criticism of Nani’s crossing BUT on a number of occasions neither RVP nor TheWayneBoy was making the run into the box. What’s the point of Scholes 50 yard diagonal if the rest of the team is on a different page ? Should Nani be expected to play the ball sideways and back to Scholes to start the same process or should the central forwards be central AND forward ?

    What’s particularly frustrating about this style of non-striking forward play is that it is the same problem that plagued the team when Dimmy was playing non-central and non-forward. As I see it, there’s only one striker who will actually play centrally and forward and that’s Chicharito – why was he only used for two minutes ?

    These “formations” and “strategies” are very perplexing.

  25. says

    Thanks a lot Denton!! There are people wanking over Scholes playing passes wide to Nani and Rafael not realising that Spurs were content with that. How many of his so called passes hurt Spurs. Nani gets the ball crosses but no one is making a run into the centre – interpreted that Nani is briainless. He starts a move and gets into the box and scores from Rooney’s cross, it is because Rooney laid it on a plate. It is staggering how people watch this same game.

    This season has all the hallmarks of the ’01/02 season were our manager was tinkering for no effects at all and we finished third. If we continue like this we will be lucky to get fourth!!

    I challenge anyone to find me any side in the top five of the top four leagues in Europe that started a game this weekend with FOUR players over the age of 30 and two of these over 35 like we did on saturday.

  26. Denton Davey says

    The Guardian report is sensationalism-after-the-fact. What I saw was a half of one-way traffic, punctuated by a single counter-attack that led to Spurs’ third goal. To call that “vibrant” is to miss (or wilfully ignore) two shots that rattled the goal-frame and one stone-cold penalty (on Nani) and another less certain one for a handball – not to mention William Gallas’ over-the-ball, studs-up challenge on RVP.

    Spurs had a game plan and, unfortunately, UTD complied – from the starting line-up it was clear that UTD’s midfield didn’t have the speed-of-foot (or turning-circle) to get a grip on a fast counter-attack. The fact that this “strategy” led to three goals speaks more to the defensive weakness of Rio, Scholes, and Carrick – these three guys were over-run and out-run.

    Apart from those three moments it’s hard to think that Spurs possessed much “vibrancy” BUT those three moments led to three goals AND goals-change-games. However, for a match-report, the Guardian’s journalist saw what he wanted to see (and his readers wanted to read) rather than an accurate assessment of the balance-of-play or the refereeing.

    Why should we be surprised ? ANY loss by UTD seems to bring out this kind of nay-saying and one-eyed “reporting”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not overlooking UTD’s deficiencies BUT, on the other hand, these are not deadly problems as long as SAF goes-to-school on what was evident to most of us.

  27. colin says

    Personally I thought that Kagawa looked good on the left (albeit just 45 minute sample size), but it does again bring up the question regarding our best formation. I am not sure we have the right players in Scholes (longer, diagonal balls) and Carrick (shorter, possession keeping balls) to effectively utilize Kagawa as a No.10. He needs passes with pace, at his feet, like the one from RVP prior to his goal. Even though a midfield four of Valencia Carrick Scholes/TC23 Kagawa could work, it would leave our left flank really exposed.

    If we had the CL final tomorrow, I am not sure we’d have any idea how to line up.

  28. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    if the cl final was tomorrow and everyone was fit taggart would line up lindegard jones rio vidic evra valencia carrick scholes giggs rooney persie, rightly or wrongly, well wrongly

    maybe hed drop one of the strikers to shoehorn fletcher in somewhere

    • CoombesOn says

      I wish I could disagree with you

      But that is blatantly the side he’d pick

      And then, following the inevitable defeat, he’d blame the ref for not adding on more time

      And the foreigners for diving

      • Damian Garside says

        That he would pick this team thinking it was his best team and would win shows his brain had turned to stone.

  29. gabagool says

    Fergie must go at the end of this season if he carries on like this, looks like too much sentiment or pure blindness with his constant selection of giggs.
    For the cluj game I really hope he goes with cleverly and ando with kagawa out left supporting rooney and rvp up front.
    Dunno what to do about Rio after the weekend though, he was massively exposed on a few occasions

  30. blackknight says

    Commenter said:
    I thought one of the prime reasons we lost the league was Vidic being out, plus our only “hard man” in midfield out too.

    We lost on goal difference. People forget this.

    City scored 4 more and conceded 4 less. At best, it’s half and half responsibility…

    Or just that one game where we conceded SIX at home to them…

  31. AnantaxAnantax says

    It was an absolutely horrific first half and a very bad loss.

    The silver lining is that, despite our poor start, we are still level on points with City.

    I am still cuatiously optimistic…lif we can figure out RVP + Rooney + Kagawa we’ll be fearsome indeed. Maybe a shaky defense wont matter as much then!

  32. bman says

    Calvino said:
    I challenge anyone to find me any side in the top five of the top four leagues in Europe that started a game this weekend with FOUR players over the age of 30 and two of these over 35 like we did on saturday.

    Inter Milan had 5 over 30 including a 39 year old. And I didn’t even try very hard, there could be others.

  33. Stevie D says

    I understand people are upset that we didn’t sign a big midfielder during the transfer window, and yes a serious problem. But, when you play fucking Giggs in the middle ahead of much better players like Anderson and Clevs, well that just exasperates the issue. I just don’t see what Fergie is doing. I just hope, after whipping Giggsy at half time, that Fergie has finally realized the err of his ways.
    Also, Nani had an appalling game, even by his standards. He gave the ball away nearly every time he got it, second half in particular. In fact the only time we seemed to lose possession was when Nani was on the ball. I’ve always tried hard to look at Nani’s positive points and ignore the bad; but this is becoming an increasingly difficult task.

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