The debate: United’s season

Roberto Mancini

Dear Tatiana,

There are many positives from the season as it draws to a close, which will presumably include securing the Premier League in the coming weeks. Yet, it is an open question whether United has actually progressed this year. Silverware is silverware, and nothing is more important than regaining the Premier League, but  United has still failed in three competitions.

Moreover, the statistics do not paint a pretty picture of United’s campaign – in too many areas the side has actually regressed this season. There is, in fact, a strong argument to say that City’s failure, more than United’s improvement, is the primary cause behind the Reds’ romp to the Premier League.

True, Ferguson’s side leads the title race by a healthy 12 points, even counting for City’s victory at Old Trafford on Monday night. Then there are the 25 league wins in 31 games – an outstanding record – and a campaign that at times has included some exciting, vibrant football.

City has been left in United’s wake, despite becoming “Champions of Manchester” on Monday.

Yet, the narrative of the season, presuming United doesn’t completely blow the title of course, may still not be as positive as Ferguson has sought to make out in recent weeks. The Reds’ oft-mentioned determination to regain the Premier League crown is admirable, but there is also ample evidence that it is others’ failure that really counts.

After all, 31 league games into the campaign and United is just a single point ahead of the total gained at the same time last season – 77 to 76 points.  Given United’s shaky form the side will do well to beat last season’s tally of 89, let alone smash Chelsea’s Premier League record of 95.

Much has been made of the ‘record’ 25 wins in the league this season. So what? Last’s year’s less-than-vintage breed secured 24 at the same point.

Worse still, Ferguson’s side has actually scored less – 71 to 76 – and conceded more 33 to 27 – than at the comparable point last year. Despite Robin van Persie’s hugely expensive acquisition, the Dutchman’s principal contribution has seemingly been to shift Wayne Rooney into a deeper, far less productive role.

Goals have been reasonably spread between four forwards this year – van Persie, Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernández. Just as they were last season: van Persie an upgrade on Dimitar Berbatov, but Welbeck and Rooney are now far less productive.

In fact many of the key statistics don’t look healthy.

Defensively, Ferguson’s outfit concedes more per game, wins less 50-50 challenges, and makes less interceptions on average in each fixture than last season. On average United is making a defensive error every 148 minutes this year, compared to every 224 minutes last season.

United has lost possession less this season, with open play pass success a percentage point greater than in the previous campaign. But where 40 per cent of passes were forwards last season, that number has dropped to just 27 per cent in the current campaign.

United is keeping the ball marginally better, but it is hard to argue that the side is being more effective with it. In fact pass accuracy in the final third is down season-on-season.

Creatively United is far less potent, perhaps reflecting the troubling campaign suffered by Ashley Young, Nani and Antonio Valencia. That Shinji Kagawa has rarely played in his ‘natural’ trequartista role even when fit says much about United’s confused approach.

Indeed, the side is making almost 35 per cent fewer successful dribbles per match than last year, and succeeding with far fewer crosses too. Clear cut chances created are up over the campaign, but the data tells us that this is largely a factor of superior set piece delivery.

Despite van Persie’s addition, shooting accuracy is down, as is chance conversion over the season.

And if the statistics don’t paint a compelling tale then perhaps the soft evidence does. After all, while United is streaking away with the Premier League, exit at an early stage in three cup competitions wasn’t exactly in the plan.

Unfortunate against Real Madrid perhaps, but at no stage over two legs was progression guaranteed either. Meanwhile, exit to Chelsea in two cup competitions certainly stings.

Moreover, the aforementioned exciting football has certainly dried up post-Christmas, with United’s focus shifting to running a tighter ship as the season progressed towards its dénouement. No longer prevalent is the free-flowing ethos that the Reds will ‘always score one more’ than the opposition.

Most tellingly the wind has been taken completely out of the team’s sails post that Madrid quarter-final. If the response to unfortunate defeat says one thing it’s that the character of Ferguson’s side is not as robust as he claims.

Perhaps, then, the true narrative of the campaign is not that United has been universally brilliant – 12 points worth of brilliance – but that others have failed?

Certainly Roberto Mancini’s outfit is nowhere near as potent, with City scoring 18 goals less than at a compatible stage this season to last. The goal drought has translated into points too, with City six points down after 31 games. Goals, or lack of them, are the major contributory factor in City’s demise.

Indeed, City’s stats are down year-on-year in almost every key category: defensive errors, pass competition, final third balls, chances created per match, shots, and most importantly chances taken. It is a completely damning tale of failure, driven not by injury, but something more fundamental.

Sir Alex deserves credit  for driving United relentlessly on until the past month. It will be a successful season. By contrast it is Mancini that must surely look over his shoulder for the coming reaper: his failure is brutally conspicuous.

- Ed

***

***

Dear Ed,

Lies, damned lies, and statistics. While this side isn’t as great as the 1999 or even 2008 versions, despite what Sir Alex says, United have absolutely improved since last season. The stats do not tell the whole story.

There can be no doubt the last five United games have been immensely disappointing, going from potential treble winners to feeble and insincere performances. Still, nearly every major weakness United displayed last season has been, in some way, improved in 2012/13.

The most significant improvement is that after failing to win a match form one down last season, United has claimed 13 comeback victories this year. This doesn’t include dramatic victories over Chelsea and City away. Euphoric wins against Southampton, Newcastle United, Reading, and Aston Villa are the defining characteristic of this United side.

Another major improvement is United’s creativity. There have been more clear-cut chances created per minute, more passes per minute, and better pass completion. United’s counter attacks, which used to be a major source of frustration, have been effectively utilised as a strategy against tougher opposition.

Unlike last season United look dangerous at set pieces. “I think I’ll have a shot,” anyone?

And speaking of van Persie, he has easily been the biggest influence on the Reds this season with his first touch, sublime passes, and season defining goals. Yes, the striker is in the midst of a goal drought, but van Persie has quickly become United’s most vital player. Even during the dry spell, van Persie forced the own goal versus Sunderland and the assist against City.

The other big signing, Kagawa, has not thrived in England yet, but adds major creative options which United lacked last season. More importantly, Kagawa’s arrival has helped Sir Alex shift his tactics this season to a flexible 4-2-3-1 or a 4-4-1-1. While Ferguson’s tactics have been experimental, due to out of form wingers and few central midfield options, United boasts much more depth than the prosaic 4-4-2 last year.

Moreover, with Kagawa, Rooney, Welbeck, van Persie, and Chicharito competing for similar positions, United has attacking options on and off the bench, which are capable of changing a game.

Chicharito, specifically, has improved, rectifying the issue with a poor first touch and frequency with which he was caught offside. The Mexican’s shots on target and goals per minute have nearly doubled, and his shooting accuracy has increased.

Others have improved too. Rafael has been a revelation this season, adding much needed stability to United’s defence and a brilliant counter-attacking option from the right side. The Brazilian has been one of the best full-backs in England with three goals, as many assists, and he has created over three times the amount of clear-cut chances per minute as last season.

And another player who has improved since last season is Phil Jones. The youngster was immense against Everton and Real Madrid, where he shut down players such as Marouanne Fellaini, Mesut Özil, and Angel di Maria from midfield. Against City, he proved that he can be trusted to play as a central defender as well.

Meanwhile, Tom Cleverley has become an important asset in midfield, especially with Paul Scholes, Darren Fletcher, and Anderson unfit. Cleverley’s ability to win and hold possession has increased in particular, and his time spent on the pitch is three times more than last season.

The weaknesses in this side have also been exaggerated. United’s chaotic defence earlier this season was less to do with the strength of Ferguson’s players and more to do with injuries, and an experimental formation that created gaps in midfield.

Defensively, Ferguson’s options are stronger. Both Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling have improved individually, and Patrice Evra has been solid. Evra’s challenge in balancing his attacking and defensive duties has been rectified. The Frenchman has increased his tackle success rate and has improved in the air. Going forward, Evra has improved his crossing accuracy, scored four and made five assists this season.

Despite improvements all over the pitch, this United squad is not yet the finished product. The team has scored less, conceded more, and is only a point better off than this time last season. Perhaps the side only plays at the level necessary to beat the opponent at hand; complacency showing against weaker sides?

Up until Madrid, United had beaten every top team faced, except for Tottenham Hotspur. And generally this strategy has worked, except for ties against Norwich City, Swansea City, and Spurs. The consequence is less intensity, more mistakes, and more goals scored out of necessity. It does not make United’s a worse squad than last year, but simply exposes a character flaw.

Perhaps it is this squad’s mental strength that needs most improvement; a statement open to ridicule considering the glorious comebacks and last minute goals of the campaign.

However, the biggest disappointment has been the side’s response since Madrid. One match flipped United from a team capable of conquering Europe to a lacklustre outfit going through the motions. It is for this reason that fans can conclude the squad is still in transition, despite the huge Premier League lead.

Changes need to be made on the wing, with Valencia, Young, and Nani each out of form or perennially injured. And a central midfielder would certainly be welcome.

The truth the team is probably only a couple signings away from being the next great United side. That’s something to be excited about.

- Tatiana

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  • Pikey McScum

    What’s Tatiana’s number?

    (Unless he’s a bloke and therefore his name belongs at the head of the queue for Benders Names)

    In all seriousness, interesting post Ed – what’s its origin?

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed Barker

      1-800-not-going-to-tell you.

      Dunno, just some things I’ve been thinking about in the last few weeks…

    • http://twitter.com/tatianamufc Tatiana Nahai

      I’m a girl! :)

  • Evan

    Interesting piece, I’ve been debating the merits of this United team with my friend recently. They have a lot of good pieces but I’m not sure how they all fit together. I think that lack of cohesion is what keeps them out of Europe’s elite at the moment.

  • Amnon Zohar

    This is not one of the best United team. 25 wins are impressive but how many of them were “ugly wins”. The dominant fast attacking style was missing. Except for RVP, Rooney when healthy, Carrick and Chicarito and less so Evra and Jones, Giggs the rest were disappointing: Nani, Valencia, Young, Anderdon, Kagawa did nothing this year. Wellbeck is a mystery to me. No one dares criticizing it because he’s the teacher pet of SAF. No first touch, no dribbling skills, no shot on net, no headers or crosses and yet a starter preferred to Chicarito who scores, energizes, disrupt opponents, works hard and focused on the goal. Please explain – Anybody! Just think of the 2 on 1 with Rooney in the derby loss. Pathetic.

  • RobDiablo

    Commenter said:
    Wellbeck is a mystery to me…. No first touch, no dribbling skills, no shot on net, no headers or crosses and yet a starter preferred to Chicarito who scores, energizes, disrupt opponents, works hard and focused on the goal. Please explain…

    Welbeck makes most of his starts on the wing, a position he plays pretty well, and one Chicharito isn’t suited to play at all. I would guess that Chicharito has more starts and sub appearances as a striker than does Welbeck this season.

  • Anantax

    Whoever Tatiana may be, I agree with her (him?) and will gladly buy her a pint (or fancy dinner depending on how good looking she is)

    I truly believe we are 2 signings away from being a great side

    - RVP has been massive for us. I think his current drought is more mental – he is not used to the intensity and pace of being champions-elect. I think once he becomes champion he will become even more confident and that will show next season. His age is a factor but hopefully we can keep him fit and producing for mext 3-4 years

    - we have a really good core of young players: Jones, Smalling, DDG, Evans, Rafa. They will br around for 5-10 years. Tey will form the future backbone of United

    - once we buy a quality CM and a quality winger, We’ll be an absolute monster to beat, at least for next 2-3 years

    • Yugal

      Agreed!

      Regarding Tatiana, she is gorgeous. @TatianaMUFC on twitter.

    • http://twitter.com/tatianamufc Tatiana Nahai

      Cheers! Definitely agree.. I think Van Persie feels the pressure of being one of our most important players… I’d like to see Chicharito and Kagawa start the next game(s). Give Van Persie the rest he needs. And spot on about the young players. We have a brilliant backbone of talent. Just need those few acquisitions. There’s a lot to be excited about.

      Oh, and yes, I’m a girl!

  • Anantax

    Whoever Tatiana may be, I agree with her (him?) and will gladly buy her a pint (or fancy dinner depending on how good looking she is)

    I truly believe we are 2 signings away from being a great side

    - RVP has been massive for us. I think his current drought is more mental – he is not used to the intensity and pace of being champions-elect. I think once he becomes champion he will become even more confident and that will show next season. His age is a factor but hopefully we can keep him fit and producing for mext 3-4 years

    - we have a really good core of young players: Jones, Smalling, DDG, Evans, Rafa. They will br around for 5-10 years. Tey will form the future backbone of United

    - once we buy a quality CM and a quality winger, We’ll be an absolute monster to beat, at least for next 2-3 years

  • RobDiablo

    Anantax said:
    I truly believe we are 2 signings away from being a great side… once we buy a quality CM and a quality winger, We’ll be an absolute monster to beat, at least for next 2-3 years

    And where will be if that new CM or Carrick is injured? The same place we are now. We need two quality CMs and a left-footed left wing.

  • Jorge Curioso

    This United team is clearly better than the treble winning side of 1999. That side was exceptionally lucky. This side has been unlucky.

  • Coach Herbie

    SAF is not interested in signing midfielders. He loves to buy strikers. Did you read the news today? We just put a down payment on Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao. He will cost us 42 million. The story is coming out of Manchester and Spain and I surely hope that this is just a rumour. Other newspapers are saying they believe this was done in order to block Chelsea from buying the player, who at 27 years old is rated as one of the best strikers in the world. SAF speaking on bbc sports said Chelsea was our biggest threat next season, with Mourinho taking over from Benitez. SAF also said United will spend this summer because in order to compete in the champions league, you need quality and experienced players. If this story is true, than SAF has lost his mind cause we need quality midfielders and a left winger. If we got 40 million to blow, buy Garath Bale. If this deal has gone down, than we must have a lot of money and must be spending a hell alot of money this summer on new signings.

    • Felwin

      ‘We just put a down payment on Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao. He will cost us 42 million’

      Don’t believe everything that you read. The Spanish and British press are the worst in the world for maunfacturing and self-reinforcing false stories about player transfers.

  • Anantax

    RobDiablo said:
    And where will be if that new CM or Carrick is injured? The same place we are now. We need two quality CMs and a left-footed left wing.

    There’s always Giggs and Scholes,,,

  • reddread

    Commenter said:
    This United team is clearly better than the treble winning side of 1999. That side was exceptionally lucky. This side has been unlucky.

    What? Have a word with yourself, eh?

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Commenter said:
    This United team is clearly better than the treble winning side of 1999. That side was exceptionally lucky. This side has been unlucky.

    Daft post of the day… congatulations sir, you have won a slap upside the head… please contact Mike Tyson to clam your prize.

  • Pikey McScum

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Daft post of the day… congatulations sir, you have won a slap upside the head… please contact Mike Tyson to clam your prize.

    Cool username though…

  • Damian Garside

    So I read on the ESPN site that we wish to compete with City and Chelsea for the striker Falcao, who will probably cost around 40-60 million (law of supply and demand, and there is clearly demand). If we land him, it will probably swallow all of our transfer budget.

    Now it strikes me that given our ridiculous paucity of what we have in midfield going for a striking `big gun’ as first priority is a bit like a country thinking about what it needs to spend on defence and going for state of the art nuclear weapons and their delivery systems — whhich can only ever be used in retatliation, and perhaps not even then, whilst their conventional forces are so undermanned and badly equipped they could be invaded by a coracle of hobbits carrying sharpened sticks.

    Just think about it — we are on track still to achieve the impossible — we are on track to win the title without a midfield. If City do not cut the 12 pt gap, Fergie will have worked a miracle and some of the basic axioms of how to play the game will be overthrown.

  • Philip Gatt

    Excellent write-up by both of you, as I think that though this United side is not great (yet), it’s a whole lot better than some of the sides we were brought up on.

    Apart from a couple of signings needed in midfield, a few tweaks is all that’s needed to be able to compete with the best sides in Europe again.

    Couple of simple things I’d say to some of the players…
    For example, Danny Welbeck needs to pass the ball quicker and make space for others, as he’s dwelling too long on the ball when there’s better options.

    As for Wayne Rooney, I’d just tell him to relax a little, and not make it look like he’s carrying the world on his shoulder. He should revert to what he did when younger, and go with his instincts when he’s got the ball.

    Well done on a very good post, and as always… COME ON UNITED!!!

  • Pikey McScum

    Tatiana Nahai said:
    I’m a girl! :)

    Indeed you are.

    Might I direct you this way? http://www.unitedrant.co.uk/forum/topic/women-ranters

    And welcome to Rant

  • uncleknobheadffs

    this whole ‘pressure of being an important player’ stuff is a bit close to saying hes bollockless

    i hope its not true, he is from arsenal though, and hes dutch

  • sidney

    He’s a typical Arsenal player; started well then slowly petered out

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Tatiana Nahai said:
    I’m a girl! :)

    Oh my… a girl… huh, huh…

    Do you like ice cream?

  • sheesh

    FFS.
    I know you haven’t dated for 60 years, Alf, but even for you that’s lame

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    It was meant to sound lame, you numpty… ffs…

  • sheesh

  • brianofnazareth

    Pikey McScum said:
    Indeed you are.

    Might I direct you this way? http://www.unitedrant.co.uk/forum/topic/women-ranters

    And welcome to Rant

    FFS. Like a rat up a drain. Rant’s sex pest!

  • http://twitter.com/dosdamt Ben Hulston

    Alf’s gone very creepy uncle

    crazy rants about Fergie
    using …. PERIOD a lot
    that post up there
    drinking all the gin

  • Coach Herbie

    The Falcao story is gaining momentum, as Guillem Balague has confirmed that Man United have made a deal similar to the deal that they did when they got DeGea. The word is they do not want Chelsea or Man City to buy Falcao. These two clubs had already expressed interest in buying the player, but SAF jumped in and Falcao prefers a move to United over Chelsea and City. Atletico Madrid are saying they are interested in Hernandez. SAF is also saying he is going to promote Adnan Januzaj from our reserve team as he is a natural left winger doing some good stuff in our reserve team, along with Nick Powell. My friend tells me we’ve got money to compete with Chelsea and City. Fans are already talking about a strike force of Van Persie and Falcao but it could end up to be just a dream.

  • uncleknobheadffs

    ‘but it could end up to be just a dream’

    nice little get out there mike for when this ‘deal’ obviously doesnt happen

  • http://twitter.com/dosdamt Ben Hulston

    herbie i think you live in delusionville

  • RobDiablo

    Commenter said:
    SAF is also saying he is going to promote Adnan Januzaj from our reserve team as he is a natural left winger doing some good stuff in our reserve team, along with Nick Powell.

    I found a player profile for Adnan which does indeed indicate that he is left-footed, but it also confirms the impression I have formed from the four or five under-21s matches I’ve seen: Adnan’s primary position is on the right wing. Nick, on the other hand, has consistently been wearing the ’9′ shirt for the under-21s, so it doesn’t look as if he is being groomed for a place in United’s midfield.

  • Coach Herbie

    Yes, Adnan has been playing on the right wing but he is a left-footed player. Nick Powell needs more playing time in the premier team, ahead of Cleverly who is just an average quality player. Its a disgrace to continue to play senior citizens Giggs and Scholes in our midfield. When is SAF going to wake up and realize that this is got to be the worst midfield in the premier division. SAF is stuck on stupid. I hope this Falcao talk is rumour cause we need to spend money wisely and strengthen where we are weak and that is midfield and a world class central defender for Vidic or Ferdinand who are injury prone. If we can get Bale and a defensive midfielder, that would be two great signings for the summer. But SAF is striker crazy, he loves to buy strikers and that seems to be his priority,, unfortunately. As for money, have not heard the Glazers name come up recently. How many players if any will we sell at the end of the season? There are at least five players I would like to get rid of but thats just my personal opinion.

  • Pikey McScum

    Commenter said:
    The Falcao story is gaining momentum, as Guillem Balague has confirmed that Man United have made a deal similar to the deal that they did when they got DeGea. The word is they do not want Chelsea or Man City to buy Falcao. These two clubs had already expressed interest in buying the player, but SAF jumped in and Falcao prefers a move to United over Chelsea and City. Atletico Madrid are saying they are interested in Hernandez. SAF is also saying he is going to promote Adnan Januzaj from our reserve team as he is a natural left winger doing some good stuff in our reserve team, along with Nick Powell. My friend tells me we’ve got money to compete with Chelsea and City. Fans are already talking about a strike force of Van Persie and Falcao but it could end up to be just a dream.

    You really a first-class twat, and not just for the ‘insider’ crap you spout.

    The very fact that you give credence to Guillem Balague speaks volumes about the amount of shite you are filled with – regardless of what stories he reports on which just happen to be accurate (due mainly due dozens of other journalists reporting on the same thing I should add) Balague will always be the cunt who stated that Fernando Torres was categorically, without question on his way to United for two years before he went to the Scum.

    He’s a bell-end, and so are you for taking his word on anything

  • Denton Davey

    Anantax @ 2:51 a.m. “I truly believe we are 2 signings away from being a great side”

    I think that what’s missing is a monster, box-to-box midfielder – like De Rossi. If – somehow – De Rossi had been signed then the whole personality of the team would be more aggressive and SAF wouldn’t be pussy-footing around with never-will-be Anderson or YoungTom or the ancient legends partnering MC16.

    If you look at UTD’s in-coming transfers in the last five years then only RVP has been a ready-made player who could be inserted into the first-team and immediately have an impact. It seems obvious to all of us couch-managers that adding a De Rossi or a Schweini or a Javi Martinez would have been a great investment, plugging the gaping hole in midfield while making all the other players better. There’s a statistic out there noting that six of UTD’s seven losses this season have been in matches in which Scholes/Giggs are playing in midfield. (I don’t think that I got that statistic from Calvino, either !)

    And if we’re playing fantasy footie, then the second change I’d like to see is a jettisoning of the old-fashioned reliance on wingers-for-width. The three main wingers have been awful this year – some of it due to injuries and loss of form (although I think that AshleyBloodyYoung never had “form”). Furthermore, setting the team up in a 4-4-2 usually results in getting over-run through the middle.

    However, in the best-of-all-possible worlds – like the one Tatiano inhabits – I don’t think that NewUTD can reach the heights of the 2008 version which featured not only an attacking trio of CR7, TheWayneBoy, and Carlitos but was anchored by Edwin/Rio/Vidic in their prime. Perhaps the attack might somehow reach those heights again but the central defence has a long, long, long way to go before one has the sense of calm confidence that Edwin/Rio/Vidic exuded. Certainly, a defence of a timid DDG, LittleRedRafa, MrJones, Evans/Smalling, and ButtNuts is hardly even a shadow of the 2008 model.

  • uncleknobheadffs

    ill believe his stuff when he posts a picture of himself laying at the cones at carrington

  • chocolatteballs

    The real troubles in life are apt to the things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle tuesday.

  • chocolatteballs

    Someone sort that picture.

  • BT

    I think this is Fergie’s thinking: “we lost the title in 2012 because we didn’t score enough goals – RVP has fixed that, but he’s run out of steam. So buy another version of RVP and play them in half the games each, selling Rooney to fund the new player and giving Kagawa the slot he needs, playing behind one striker.” I think Fergie believes that the only players that matter are defenders and attackers. He is genuinely trying to build a SQUAD that can win trophies in spite of not possessing a competent midfield. When people have achieved everything, sometimes they set themselves weird tests to prevent boredom.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2013/apr/12/manchester-united-attendances-police-figures

    Question for Ed… is this a recent trend under the Glazers, or have we allways done this, even when we were supposedly full to capacity week after week?

  • sheesh

    Edited – This isn’t something that is unique to United.
    Other clubs like City and Arsenal have been misleading about attendance figures, not just us.
    It does make our song “the city is yours…20,000 empty seats” look rather silly though, when we don’t even sell all our tickets.
    Don’t know if we only started misrepresenting attendances since Glazers took over. We used to have an actual waiting list for season tickets before they took over, suggesting that there would have been no reason to lie.
    I’ve seen the odd seat unfilled but didn’t realise that actual attendances were as low as that.

  • https://twitter.com/onepablo mongoletsi

    She really DOES LOVE Utd!

  • https://twitter.com/onepablo mongoletsi

    Commenter said:
    SAF is not interested in signing midfielders. He loves to buy strikers. Did you read the news today? We just put a down payment on Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao. He will cost us 42 million.

    Nope. We rely on you to tell us what’s what.

  • Spudiator

    Commenter said:
    Anantax @ 2:51 a.m. “I truly believe we are 2 signings away from being a great side”
    I think that what’s missing is a monster, box-to-box midfielder – like De Rossi. If – somehow – De Rossi had been signed then the whole personality of the team would be more aggressive and SAF wouldn’t be pussy-footing around with never-will-be Anderson or YoungTom or the ancient legends partnering MC16.
    If you look at UTD’s in-coming transfers in the last five years then only RVP has been a ready-made player who could be inserted into the first-team and immediately have an impact. It seems obvious to all of us couch-managers that adding a De Rossi or a Schweini or a Javi Martinez would have been a great investment, plugging the gaping hole in midfield while making all the other players better. There’s a statistic out there noting that six of UTD’s seven losses this season have been in matches in which Scholes/Giggs are playing in midfield. (I don’t think that I got that statistic from Calvino, either !)
    And if we’re playing fantasy footie, then the second change I’d like to see is a jettisoning of the old-fashioned reliance on wingers-for-width. The three main wingers have been awful this year – some of it due to injuries and loss of form (although I think that AshleyBloodyYoung never had “form”). Furthermore, setting the team up in a 4-4-2 usually results in getting over-run through the middle.
    However, in the best-of-all-possible worlds – like the one Tatiano inhabits – I don’t think that NewUTD can reach the heights of the 2008 version which featured not only an attacking trio of CR7, TheWayneBoy, and Carlitos but was anchored by Edwin/Rio/Vidic in their prime. Perhaps the attack might somehow reach those heights again but the central defence has a long, long, long way to go before one has the sense of calm confidence that Edwin/Rio/Vidic exuded. Certainly, a defence of a timid DDG, LittleRedRafa, MrJones, Evans/Smalling, and ButtNuts is hardly even a shadow of the 2008 model.

    I never thought it was possible, but your nicknames for the players get more and more retarded with every passing day! ButtNuts? LittleRedRafa? MrJones? Fuck me, what are you, 12??

    United Rant’s original returning eternal optimist!

  • sidney

    DentonDickhead

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    What’s wrong with “Buttnuts”?

  • captainhormone

    All this bollocks about scholes is irrelevant as he ain’t played for 5 months

  • uncleknobheadffs

    whats wrong with him

  • Tapiwa Mubonderi

    I think that this team has improved from last season, but all the games this season with the exception of the loss to Totenham, the team has not raised its game and swept the floor from opponents. The biggest margin against any opposition has been a 4 – 0, no outright maulings delivered. If that extra bite had been present we would have dispatched Real and progressed in the domestic cups.

  • captainhormone

    Commenter said:
    I think that this team has improved from last season, but all the games this season with the exception of the loss to Totenham, the team has not raised its game and swept the floor from opponents. The biggest margin against any opposition has been a 4 – 0, no outright maulings delivered. If that extra bite had been present we would have dispatched Real and progressed in the domestic cups.

    Regardless of that, what we want to know is what’s wrong with scholes