Three into two for Kagawa, RvP and Roo

There is more than one way to win a football match, it is often said, although at Manchester United leading from an attacking front has so often been the club’s purpose. Not always in recent times though, with manager Sir Alex Ferguson turning to more pragmatic ideals when, on occasion, faced with more limited resources at his disposal.

Yet, whether from a quixotic viewpoint or otherwise, Ferguson can have few reasons to retrench into a defensive mindset this season, with United blessed by the most dangerous attacking line-up since the Reds won the European Cup in 2008.

Two games into the new campaign and Ferguson’s summer decision to revamp his attacking resources has already impacted on United’s forward play, even if his side’s performances have been a little underwhelming to date. There is surely far more to come from an attacking eight that promises creativity, goals and more than a little thrill.

Indeed, new signings Shinji Kagawa and Robin van Persie have each impressed. While Kagawa has offered fluid movement and subtle creativity, van Persie’s promise of goals came to fruition in spectacular fashion against Fulham at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Each may positively affect the title race this season as Ferguson seeks to wrestle silverware and domestic supremacy away from Manchester City. Closer to home van Persie, and Kagawa even more so, will affect Wayne Rooney’s role and place in United’s side this season.

Ferguson’s team is taking time to knit – not least because defensive injuries have disrupted both the Scot’s back-four and midfield. But the most interesting area of change has been in attack, where Ferguson has rotated his resources and implemented a new tactical system. Indeed, while fans – and probably even the manager – figure out the best attacking combinations in a more fluid 4-2-3-1 this season, it seems unlikely that Ferguson will ever fit all his attacking resources into the same side so plentiful have they become.

United’s two games in the campaign to date are the case in point, with only Kagawa – of Ferguson’s attacking octet – starting both games. van Persie began his time with United on the bench, as did Ashley Young, while Ferguson dropped Nani from the Reds squad altogether for Saturday’s victory over Fulham after a hugely disappointing performance on the opening weekend. It remains to be seen whether the Portuguese remains at the club beyond Friday’s transfer deadline.

Rooney has started one, and failed to finish the other, while Antonio Valencia has switched between defence and attack. Danny Welbeck was picked to start against Everton, but came off the bench in the other, while Javier Hernández and Dimitar Berbatov are yet to appear in the first team.

Constant amid the flux has been the Japanese, whose ability to float between the lines has been the highlight of two contradictory team performances to date. Deployed in the space between midfield and attack, Kagawa could yet become the pivot around whom Ferguson builds a title-challenging side. And if that is so, then it is Rooney who may find his place in the Reds’ attack under threat.

Already there are signs of a blossoming relationship between Kagawa and van Persie, with the former providing the link between central midfield and an attacking triumvirate, whomever Ferguson selects to fill the roles.

“I was pleased with both of them,” beamed Sir Alex after United beat Fulham 3-2 at Old Trafford on Saturday.

“It’s early doors and they’ll have a better understanding as time goes on. It’s normal for us to play one up front with one in behind, whether it’s Wayne who plays in that role or Danny Welbeck. Ashley Young can play there too, Ryan Giggs can… we’ve got options that way.”

It was Rooney who so often dropped deep behind Welbeck last season, with many supporters presuming van Persie would slot into the young Englishman’s place this season. Instead, the former Evertonian is now under the greater pressure, with Kagawa influential between the lines in defeat to Everton, and then scoring against the Cottagers at Old Trafford.

Kagawa’s team-mates appreciate the selflessness of the 23-year-old Japanese internationals play too. It points towards a more flexible attacking unit than the 4-5-1/4-4-2 that United’s manager deployed in defeat last season.

“I love playing with him – one and two touch, high-energy football. We’re on the same wavelength,” effused midfielder Tom Cleverley of Kagawa’s rapid influence.

“He’s brilliant. He has settled in really well. He links defence with attack. He gets on the half-turn and creates chances. I can’t speak highly enough of him.”

Cleverley has taken a deeper role this season than performed for Great Britain at the Olympics this summer, or indeed in England’s victory over Italy earlier this month. But it is a challenge that could yet offer Kagawa the platform upon which the Japanese playmaker’s skills will truly flourish.

Whether an ageing Paul Scholes, perennially inconsistent Anderson or ill Darren Fletcher can give enough support is moot. More likely, United will again rely on Michael Carrick’s experience once Ferguson has enough central defenders at his disposal to move the Geordie forward.

But it is the attacking third on which the manager’s focus has locked this summer after City claimed the Premier League title on goal difference last summer. Only silverware will decide whether the manager’s decision not to strengthen in central midfield is a strategic error, or an inspired gamble.

“We have been low on goals from midfield in recent seasons,” Ferguson wrote in his programme notes this weekend.

“There was a time when Bryan Robson would give you a dozen through the centre of the park and Paul Scholes in his heyday was good for 10 or so but lately we haven’t seen that kind of tally. I believe that Kagawa will put that right, which should ensure that we don’t lose any more titles on goal difference.

“He is very much an attacking player, nominally from midfield but perfectly capable of taking a front role. One thing for sure is that he will add a scoring dimension if he plays central midfield, as he showed last season for Borussia Dortmund.”

Yet, Kagawa’s best work is done in and around the ‘D’, with the former Dortmund star unlikely to drop deeper unless further injuries strike. Sunday’s trip to Southampton is likely to pair van Persie and Kagawa together again, with any two from four deployed in wide areas.

The trip south is also the first of between six and eight matches Rooney will miss for the Reds while he recovers from a deep gash to the right thigh that required surgery under general anaesthetic in Manchester on Saturday night.

Then again, given the form of Ferguson’s new acquisitions, the £27 million Englishman may no longer be guaranteed a start for United when he recovers from the surgeon’s knife.

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Comments

  1. marlon says

    Don’t see why Rooney can’t play on the left. No way he or RVP is on the bench come the big CL games and Kagawa could earn himself that status too. Probably won’t have to make the decision often though. Injury and form will likely pick the team when the big games come around.

  2. Andrew says

    I do disagree with this theory and believe the whole Rooney situation has been blown up wrongly. I don’t believe there is any break down in relations between Rooney and Ferguson. This story keeps doing the rounds and its ridiculous. We cannot even put Rooney on the bench without some papers suggesting he will be sold the next day. It shows how stupid the media is in this country and the desperation to create a story.

    Rooney was put on the bench and was probably being given a kick up the bum. We do have van Persie and Kagawa now and that means the whole team doesn’t evolve around Rooney any more. The team against Fulham was to help Kagawa and van Persie settle in their first home match. Rooney was probably being shown that he will have to perform well to play in this team, as he is no longer automatic choice.

    I do believe that Ferguson will use Rooney, Kagawa and van Persie in the same team. We saw that the team is lining up with 4-2-3-1 formation. Rooney will slot into the role of the attacking striker from the left side. Hazard and Mata play that role for Chelsea and Poldoski plays it for Arsenal. I believe Ferguson will want Rooney is play in this position.

    …………….Dea Gea………..

    Rafeal…Ferdinand….Vidic…Evra

    ……….Carrick….Cleverley….

    Valencia……..Kagawa…….Rooney

    …………..van Persie………..

    I also have to stress that Ferguson programme notes about being ready to move players on was not a hint about Rooney. Every journalist who picked up those quotes quickly pushed them as a message to Rooney. The message was aimed at Nani who was not even in the squad. I believe that he could be sold this week if the right offer is made. I would expect Man Utd to request £25 million.

  3. Sidsidney says

    marlon said:
    Don’t see why Rooney can’t play on the left.

    He’d be even shitter on the left. If he can’t control the ball and pass it with any consistency in his best position then having him bodge on the left will only make it worse. The only plus I can think of is that he’d have more time to see the ball and control it if he hugged the touchline, but still a professional footballer should be able to do that anyway unless you’re a total cunt like Carroll or Davies.

    I don’t think this is a personal thing between Fergie & Rooney… He’s just shit. And fat. Like Knobhead said, his basic instinctual aggression has gone. He’s been a Prem player for 10 years now and it shows – in a bad way. He hasn’t swelled into the Ronaldo role and become our biggest pair of bollocks yet he’s claiming those kind of wages, and that shit matters nowadays. This is the third time he’s been dropped (he was left out twice toward the end of last season remember). How many more kicks up the arse/in the face does he need. If he doesn’t find some form this season and look like the Rooney of old – even just for a few games – then it’s time to consider his future.

  4. RobDiabloRobDiablo says

    Commenter said:
    …………….de Gea………..
    Rafael…Ferdinand….Vidic…Evra
    ……….Carrick….Cleverley….
    Valencia……..Kagawa…….Rooney
    …………..van Persie………..
    I also have to stress that Ferguson programme notes about being ready to move players on was not a hint about Rooney… The message was aimed at Nani who was not even in the squad. I believe that he could be sold this week if the right offer is made. I would expect Man Utd to request £25 million.

    I like this lineup, but I wonder how often we will see it. I also agree that Nani was the intended recipient of Sir Alex’s veiled threat. I would love it if he sold Nani, and I’d love it even more if he got £25M for him. He could then pick up Dembele for £15M and have £10M to put toward a genuinely left-footed winger in the next transfer window. That would allow him to sell Young to QPR or Sunderland, and, suddenly, United would have about as good a squad as could reasonably be hoped for under the Glazers.

  5. Bill says

    All things considered that line up is the most palatable one to get all 3 in. Not that bothered if Rooney went with his wages as long as it was outside of the UK.

  6. jason_uk says

    RobDiablo said:
    I like this lineup, but I wonder how often we will see it. I also agree that Nani was the intended recipient of Sir Alex’s veiled threat. I would love it if he sold Nani, and I’d love it even more if he got £25M for him. He could then pick up Dembele for £15M and have £10M to put toward a genuinely left-footed winger in the next transfer window. That would allow him to sell Young to QPR or Sunderland, and, suddenly, United would have about as good a squad as could reasonably be hoped for under the Glazers.

    No point hoping United sell Nani to put the cash towards any other players…If United sell Nani for £25mill, not a single penny of that will be used to buy another player this summer.

  7. Scott says

    What about Rooney in centre mid?
    He’s played there before and done well and could be the dominant ball winner much missed in recent years. Certainly able to muscle and bully his opposite number.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/15567076
    Would solve midfield situation and let all players fit in together. When things are going bad he drops deep anyway which leaves no outlet on occasion.
    He wouldn’t like it I’m sure but it would be less trouble when he is not scoring and may make the attack even better as well as midfield.
    Rooney alongside carrick or clevs with kagawa just behind rvp. He could also then interchange with wings.

  8. Scott says

    I interesting point Sidney where you say his instinctual aggression has gone. When people have hair transplants as Rooney did they are often put on finesteride aka propecia. That drug inhibits the production of testosterone which is linked with male pattern baldness. He would need to be on this for life or the hair would fall out worse than before his procedure and some clinics require patients be on the drug for 2 years prior to the operation in order for the hair to thicken so it doesn’t fall out when the new hair is transplanted and leave an inverted image look. If you look up the side effects of this drug and the time frame of Rooney’s dip in aggression in particular it may explain his change. If propecia is not taken the hair will simply fall out again over a few years.

    • Damian Garside says

      We should tell him that we love him more bald and brilliant than hairy and hopeless . But who are we compared to whichever she-devil of an O.A.P. who is insisting that her sex-shrek have a full head of hir?

  9. says

    Scott,
    you are saying that a player on humongous wages preferred his facial/hair appearance to his performance on the pitch? And the technical and medical team allowed him?

    Come to think of it I actually agree somewhat especially cos of the way his skin split on saturday – steroids used for some form treatment make the skin very flabby and watery as I can tell from personal experience. This is staggering. It is downright infuriating actually!!

  10. BiscuitBarrell says

    Another perspective is that he’s played a massive amount of football since he’s 16. Players don’t last forever and he looks jaded – either mentally or physically. There’s no rule saying players have to peak in their late 20s. He’s been overly relied upon since Ronaldo was sold, and it’s showing.

    Either way he could do with a break, physically and mentally. Whether he’ll come back as good. That’s a different question. I’d argue his peak season was 2007/8 – that’s a long time ago now.

    I do think the testosterone argument has some merit though.

  11. Scott says

    All I said was facts.
    Rooney admitted he had a hair transplant.
    Anyone with Rooney’s level of hair loss would be on finesteride.
    Finesteride blocks testosterone, which is linked to aggression.

    Rooney will definitely be on Finesteride and that blocks testosterone.

  12. Bill says

    Both points are interesting. Rooney does rely on aggression as a key part of his game. He will get a break in the next month, hopefully he will come back reinvested.

  13. says

    BiscuitBarrell, can you stop making rubbish excuses for Rooney. How long has Messi been playing football? How long has Ronaldo been playing?

    If Wayne does not understand how rubbish he has been lately he needs to understand that not many Manchester United fans are worried that he might be out for long. I am certainly not worried cos I think and believe even that we have THAT base covered.

    And what ’07/08 season are you talking about? The one that saw Ronaldo score 44 goals and win the European and World Footballer of the year awards?

  14. BiscuitBarrell says

    Calvino said:
    BiscuitBarrell, can you stop making rubbish excuses for Rooney. How long has Messi been playing football? How long has Ronaldo been playing?

    If Wayne does not understand how rubbish he has been lately he needs to understand that not many Manchester United fans are worried that he might be out for long. I am certainly not worried cos I think and believe even that we have THAT base covered.

    And what ’07/08 season are you talking about? The one that saw Ronaldo score 44 goals and win the European and World Footballer of the year awards?

    I think you misunderstand me, I’m not making excuses, and I agree he has been crap of late. However the squad is not big enough to rely on RVP for the whole season, particularly with his injury record. If Rooney has peaked, they should be buying a replacement.

    Just because Ronaldo had a better season, doesn’t mean that wasn’t Wayne’s best.

    • Daniel says

      He struggled for goals that season, 06/07 was a better season for him (without Tevez) but 09/10 was quite obviously his best. It’s not only about goals, of course, he was at his frightening best in 09/10.

  15. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    The problem for me, is if Rooney is sold, it’s one step forward and one step back…
    It’s great that we’ve added some class attacking talent in van Percie and Kagawa, but they should have been brought in to ADD to what we’ve already got… not replace… especially as van Percie is 29… that’s a daft replacement for a 26 year old… but then some will say, that Kagawa was THE Rooney replacement, and even if Kagawa works out to be good enough… it’s not an improvement… just another example of Glazernomics, because Kagawa cost £15 mill and Rooney will be sold for twice that… and then what if Berbatov and/or Anderson and/or Nani are shifted as well?
    It’s about time we made some quality signings… but they’re only an improvement if we don’t then go and sell our best assets… if there is a problem with Rooney, let’s at least try and fix it… he’s shown many times over that he’s worth it.
    I think Berbatov should be let go… I wouldn’t even miss Anderson, and I could see the sense in selling Nani… but Rooney has been the crown jewels at United for 10 years… he’s still on course to break big Bobbys scoring record.
    For me, Rooney is still non negotiable, and he’s got some way to go yet before I’m willing to give up on him.

    “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.”

    • vwoodley says

      “just another example of Glazernomics, because Kagawa cost £15 mill and Rooney will be sold for twice that… and then what if Berbatov and/or Anderson and/or Nani are shifted as well?”

      So, you’re alluding to the idea that the replacement has to be more expensive than the outgoing player? That’s nonsense you know. What matters is whether the change leads to a better balance or function of that particular role. You don’t pick or judge players on their price tag especially when we have good scouts gauging young talents who go on to make it big – as it has been done many times at United. I dislike Glazermonics too, but in this case you’re exploiting the term as a vehicle to pass an irrational view.

  16. says

    If Rooney is on something that inhibits testosterone just to save his hair, Fergie needs to absolutely rollock the living bejebus out of him. Testosterone has plenty of other benefits for men too (I think it’s linked with strength as well as aggression).

    Seriously, he can grow his hair back after his quit the game. Christ, no one actually gives a flying muck about his hair other than him (as a gent who is also quite bald, I believe the shaven headed look is for winners)

    • Stevie D says

      Whatever happened to wearing a good old toupée? So much easier to maintain, plus it has no side-affects, such as the shrinking of one’s bollocks.

      But then again, real men don’t worry about their hair. Look at (arguably) our finest player ever; Sir Bobby Charlton. A real man, a genius on the field….and he possibly had the worst comb-over ever known to man. They just don’t make ‘em like Sir Bob any more.

      • Damian Garside says

        And some of those goals that Bobbie Charlton score my have been helped by defenders being distracted by the comb-over locks flying all over the place as he lined up another trademark thunderbolt.

  17. Bill says

    Rooney on form is worth keeping, but at the end of the day he is a Scouser who threatened to go to City, as well as having questionable character issues. In short if he wasn’t giving us value for money performance wise I wouldnt shed a tear if he left for Madrid. I would expect him to stay at OT for the prime years if his career though. A move to cm would something that could benefit all parties.

  18. Julian says

    There was not a lot wrong with Rooney at the end of last season and now after two games, well barely that for him, the knives are out. Absolutely absurd given that he is United’s best player and a big influence on how the team plays. What I find extraordinary is that Fergie has bought Kagawa and RVP knowing, it seems, that three, Rooney included, into two won’t go. Whilst Kagawa looks an excellent player he’s really an old fashioned inside forward rather than a midfielder. That means there has to be two midfielders playing as well.

    Rooney, nor Kagawa, nor RVP for that matter can be expected to start most of the season on the bench. Room has to be found for all three. That means dropping a winger, say Young, or getting Rooney to play deeper alongside a ball winning midfielder whom we don’t have at the moment.

    Whilst nobody can be unhappy about Kagawa and RVP joining United’s ranks, getting someone who has presence and the ability to hold things together in midfield should have been a priority. It’s still not too late of course, but I doubt there’s too much left in the kitty.

  19. Stevie D says

    Ah Rooney’s not going anywhere. We’ve been far too over-reliant on him in the past few years, and he’s probably suffered the burden of our expectations resting on his shoulders. He, as much as anyone, needed Kagawa and Van Persie to arrive to share the creative burden.
    Yes, it’s also a welcome bit of competition for him, no harm at all in making him fight for his place for a change. An automatic place in the team could easily breed complacency. Where Fergie will fit in him to the team is an interesting talking point….personally I wouldn’t mind seeing him out on the left, interchanging with Kagawa, mixing things up a bit.
    Totally agree with Alf and others; there’s no way we can give up on Wazza yet, and I don’t think Fergie will either. This lay off might do him some good; the frustration at being laid up will hopefully rekindle that fire in his belly.

    • Julian says

      Yes there is some validity in competition for places but that doesn’t mean dropping one of the three to make it work in every game. They mmust start together, surely?

      I would prefer a sort of flexible front three say – Rooney, RVP and Valencia with Kagawa just behind. I would not want to see Rooney or Kagawa for that matter pushed into a permanent wide left role. One problem that arises is that Valencia is essentially a right winger who never pops up on the left – or the middle except on rare occasions. Ironically Nani would be more suit to the role but who knows what his future is right now.

  20. BiscuitBarrell says

    Commenter said:
    “just another example of Glazernomics, because Kagawa cost £15 mill and Rooney will be sold for twice that… and then what if Berbatov and/or Anderson and/or Nani are shifted as well?”

    So, you’re alluding to the idea that the replacement has to be more expensive than the outgoing player? That’s nonsense you know. What matters is whether the change leads to a better balance or function of that particular role. You don’t pick or judge players on their price tag especially when we have good scouts gauging young talents who go on to make it big – as it has been done many times at United. I dislike Glazermonics too, but in this case you’re exploiting the term as a vehicle to pass an irrational view.

    The idea that you can buck the relationship between wage/transfer expenditure and success long term doesn’t stack up. The incoming player doesn’t necessarily have to cost more, just that there’s only so many times you can go to the well of undiscovered talent and come up trumps. Particularly as everyone is doing it now – the reason we’re now trawling the “undiscovered” regions of Central America and Asia – South America and Africa are developed markets (Moura and Oscar for example).

    At the end of the day Hazard cost £32m. It’s no guarantee of success – just much more likely than shopping around at £5-6m. What do they say about washing machines? – Buy bad, buy twice.

    Next you’ll be trotting out that old Glazer favourite – we don’t buy players at United, we develop them (except Ferdinand, Cantona, Cole, Yorke, Veron, Rooney………They don’t count). Personally I don’t think the scouting system is all that, unless they’re supposed to be scouting for Sunderland and QPR.

  21. bman says

    Except for the injuries in defense, I think Fergie showed us more or less what his ideal set-up would be against Everton. He’d like an attacking trio consisting of Roo/RVP/Nani or Welbeck up front, with Kagawa feeding them from an advanced midfield position. The main three attackers could interchange to confuse defenders, but also provide attacking width, and all of those players are pretty good at those jobs since they are clever enough to move about, pass well, and go wide if need be. If we sell Nani, his replacement is Welbeck not Kagawa, because Fergie clearly wants to play Kagawa centrally and has tried out Welbeck on both flanks on plenty of occasions.

    The central midfield behind Kagawa would then be ideally Carrick and Clevely. Carrick to link the play with his passes, Cleverly to link the play with his movement and ball carrying, and Carrick to provide defensive screening.

    What’s really interesting is how committed Fergie seems to be to attacking fullbacks. I think one reason why we are criticising Evra and Rafael a lot for defensive failings lately is that Fergie is essentially instructing them to err on the side of being attacking. That’s why he sometimes plays Tony V in Rafael’s spot, since it’s a fairly like for like switch in Fergie’s mind for the role he wants to fullback to play. I’ve heard also that Buttner is much stronger as an attack than a defender, which may be why we went for him over other options, apart from money.

    The weakness in all this is that this leaves our defense relatively undermanned, but I think that this is where Fergie’s attacking philosophy comes into play. His strategy for a good defense is basically to have two bloody good central defenders and only a relatively defensive midfielder in front of them like Carrick or a box to box type. He doesn’t seem interested in a pure defensive midfielder who offers little to the attack (Carrick offers more of a screen than a brick wall), let alone two defensive midfielders like some European teams in particular often play. He’s definitely made it work in the past, but it relies on having a fucking impressive central defensive pairing, like we did with Ro and Vidic in their prime.

  22. steggo says

    The problem with Rooney is that he has lost his edge. Whether that is down to hair enhancing drugs or lack of form the point is he is not the player he was. When did he last have two good games on the trot? His form from February until now has been poor, his first touch terrible. Most worrying is his inability to beat a player one on one. He just seems to have lost his form totally. Also his ability to influence a game has diminished over the months. Agreed, United have relied on him too much and I hope this loss of form is temporary and not due to some deep seated problem of which there are only rumours-wasn’t he promised world class players would be joining the club after his new contract was signed? However I doubt very much if any of the summer signings were made to replace Rooney but that may be the ultimate outcome.

    That Dembele would be a great asset to Uniteds midfield!

  23. bman says

    Rooney’s just suffering from the post-England hangover he always gets and is not yet in full fitness after what seems to have been a bit of shit bodged per-season for us. The bigger problem is that he needs to find his enthusiasm again, which will hopefully happen Kagawa and RVP making him feel like he’s playing in a properly exciting team again. TBF I don’t think it’s that odd for him to need a little motivation after playing in the PL for 10 years, it’s all he’s known basically. I can understand him wanting to be part of something that’s exciting, like we were with Ronaldo, not just getting by and staying fairly competitive with dire fucking football.

  24. Bill says

    SAF must be going off the theory that every summer there are decent central midfielders available so we can wait until Scholes/Giggs/Fletcher retire before replacing.

    In the meantime he is hoping Cleverley and Anderson will come through so he doesn’t have spend big.

    Dembele at 15 million is a great price and he is better than all our current central midfielders as an overall package.

  25. says

    I like Dembele but having bought Kagawa and the kid Powell there is no chance of that happening.

    On the attacking trio of Rooney/van Persie/Valencia with Kagawa behind and supported by Carrick and Cleverly. It seems beautiful and workable. If Fletcher was fit and raring to go I will be salivating at all of that. But our scotsman is not. At least not yet. For that I will actually prefer Nani up along those three and with Rooney injured Welbeck. Nani might be infuriating but I honestly think he is still good enough for our team. I would really like Valencia infield alongside Carrick instead of Cleverly as he does for his country regularly. He has the energy and defensive nous to play well in a central midfield role.

    When one looks at it closely we actually have the makings of a fantastic team. The biggest problem is how they are set up. By the way, does anyone know if Buttner is left footed? Seriously, if he is not then someone needs to be fired in our scouting system/set-up.

    • DamnedUnited says

      Valencia in CM? I’ve never seen an Ecuadorian game, but if he plays in CM he must be dire.

      Any professional footballer who can’t pass with both feet doesn’t deserve to be called a professional.

      Pre-season and two official games in, Kagawa already has raised the problem of not getting the ball/being trusted enough. Some poster mentioned how United look so terribly un-coached compared to Swansea that it’s unreal. I agree with this.

      And btw, what is up with Smalling being injured in training? It’s happened too many times over the past year. Does he also have some ‘mystery’ illness like Fletcher? Or is he a glass statue like Hargreaves?

  26. Bill says

    Buttner v left footed. If we are looking at wing backs in a 4-3-3 we have three in Rafael, Evra and Buttner – all good going forward for sure. Defensively, the jury is out.

  27. Denton Davey says

    Bill @ 7:15: “Dembele at 15 million is a great price and he is better than all our current central midfielders as an overall package.”

    No question that Moussa Dembele is bigger and stronger than any of UTD’s midfielders but is he therefore “better”. I doubt it but that doesn’t mean that his performance wasn’t eye-catching on Sunday however did his eye-catching performance result in any goals ?

  28. Bill says

    Rate each midfielder out of 10 in various categories – Dembele would score higher overall than Carrick, Scholes, Anderson, Fletcher and Cleverley at the moment.

    Scholes in his prime was obviously one of the games greats, but he hasn’t got the same engine and is probably good for 20-25 games a season. Fletcher, Cleverley and Anderson played 40 games between them last season, Dembele played 45.

    Less injury prone and the better player. Don’t worry SAF will continue to give Cleverley, Anderson and Fletcher another go this season. Hope he is proved right but the odds seem long.

  29. Herbie Simms says

    I agree with everyone. I found it disturbing that the season just started and all the newspapers are writing Rooney off as FINISHED! Some papers are even saying that SAF has given him a warning. I don’t believe none of that.
    At least 90% of all players are not match fit after just two games played. Dembele would be a good signing. And whats happening with Nick Powell? One thing for sure that when SAF retires and either Mourinho or Guardiola become the new manager, all the average players will be sold. That means Macheda, Wellback, Young, Anderson,Bebe and Jones will be gone. These managers look to buy superstars because they are fixed on Champions league football. They want the Champions league trophy, their first priority. Man United will have a team with superstars in every position. Its no other way for these two managers.

  30. RobDiabloRobDiablo says

    I think I have finally figured it out. Some guys at UMIST working to create the first artificial intelligence program capable of passing the Turing Test have inflicted their Human Emotion, Reasoning, Behavior, & Intelligence Emulator on this forum in the hope that we would accept and interact with it as a fellow United supporter. Unfortunately, HERBIE (given the surname Simms in a nod to the wildly popular Electronic Arts game) has failed to convince us that he/it has any intelligence at all (artificial or otherwise).

    • Mongoletsi says

      That… that makes perfect sense! It’s the only explanation. No actual human could make less sense. You’ve cracked it by jove!

  31. Herbie Simms says

    You can say what you like but I know what I’m talking about. Do you just look at one side of a picture? If you think Bebe, Macheda, Wellbeck, Anderson, Young and Jones are such great players, something is really wrong with you. These players are not of United quality. What team are you supporting? All the diehard fans can tell you that!. SAF is trying to make something out of these players, but the bottom line is they are just not good enough. I will come back in a couple of months and everything I have said will come true. Same problems in midfield and a very shaky defence.

  32. RobDiabloRobDiablo says

    Okay, I’ll play along. It’s too early to retire, and I can type while listening to music.

    • “You can say what you like but I know what I’m talking about.”
    All evidence to the contrary. Any random sampling of your past posts would be sufficient to prove that the opposite is true.

    • “Do you just look at one side of a picture?”
    As a picture has only one side worth looking at, yes.

    • “If you think Bebe, Macheda, Wellbeck, Anderson, Young and Jones are such great players, something is really wrong with you. These players are not of United quality.”
    With the exceptions of Welbeck and Jones, I agree with you entirely. This assertion, however, was not even close to being the most egregious made in your previous post. That honor would have to go to, “One thing for sure that when SAF retires and either Mourinho or Guardiola become the new manager, all the average players will be sold,” or “Man United will have a team with superstars in every position.”

    Now, I have to ask what team you support, because the team I support is hamstrung by owners who are bleeding it dry. If there will be money available for the £1B reinvention of United in the not too distant future, where will that money come from?

    • “I will come back in a couple of months and everything I have said will come true.”
    No, you’ll come back in a couple of months and pretend that whatever has happened in the interim is exactly what you predicted, even if it means making a complete about face, as you have with your unwavering support of Bebe.

  33. bman says

    Commenter said:
    I agree with everyone. I found it disturbing that the season just started and all the newspapers are writing Rooney off as FINISHED! Some papers are even saying that SAF has given him a warning. I don’t believe none of that.
    At least 90% of all players are not match fit after just two games played. Dembele would be a good signing. And whats happening with Nick Powell? One thing for sure that when SAF retires and either Mourinho or Guardiola become the new manager, all the average players will be sold. That means Macheda, Wellback, Young, Anderson,Bebe and Jones will be gone. These managers look to buy superstars because they are fixed on Champions league football. They want the Champions league trophy, their first priority. Man United will have a team with superstars in every position. Its no other way for these two managers.

    To be fair I mostly agree with the first half of your post, until you get into Mourinho/Guardiolo managing United. That shit’s never going to happen. Those kind of managers will only play for the gravy train teams, of which there’s at least five at the moment (City, Chelsea, Barca, Real, PSG), where nearly every whim is paid for. Look at Mancini openly moaning about the lack of signings at the moment, as Mourinho does on a regular basis — could you imagine the likes of that working under the Glazers? We’ll be lucky — and I’m serious about this — to get David Moyes to replace Fergie, because he’s a good eye for value and a good manager. He might achieve a lot with our fairly big but artificially constrained budget.
    But anyway, yeah for once you’re talking sense. The papers talking about Rooney being on the way out are just talking the usual wind-up shit, and a lot of our players do look out of shape. Did we even have a preseason ffs? And all those players you mention are fairly shit except Jones — it’s fucking moronic to talk about selling a 19 year old who’s shown as much as he has already. He’s probably going to be one of the greats TBH.

  34. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Commenter said:
    “just another example of Glazernomics, because Kagawa cost £15 mill and Rooney will be sold for twice that… and then what if Berbatov and/or Anderson and/or Nani are shifted as well?”

    So, you’re alluding to the idea that the replacement has to be more expensive than the outgoing player? That’s nonsense you know. What matters is whether the change leads to a better balance or function of that particular role. You don’t pick or judge players on their price tag especially when we have good scouts gauging young talents who go on to make it big – as it has been done many times at United. I dislike Glazermonics too, but in this case you’re exploiting the term as a vehicle to pass an irrational view.

    Fuck off…

    I hate when some knob pinches just a piece of a post, thereby taking it right out of context to make an irrelevent argument.

    If Kakawa “IS” to be Rooneys replacement, then fair enough… it’s a good bit of business… but that’s based on the idea that I don’t care if we sell Rooney… and I do.

    The point of my post, before you fucked about with it… is that I hope and expect Kagawa to be a quality addition to the team… not a replacement for a quality player we already have… that’s the sort of thing the Glazers would do, especially when it actually makes them money… and since you claim to “dislike Glazermonics too”, that means you more or less agree with me… which sort of makes your post look stupid… doesn’t it?

  35. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Commenter said:
    The problem with Rooney is that he has lost his edge. Whether that is down to hair enhancing drugs or lack of form the point is he is not the player he was. When did he last have two good games on the trot? His form from February until now has been poor, his first touch terrible. Most worrying is his inability to beat a player one on one. He just seems to have lost his form totally. Also his ability to influence a game has diminished over the months. Agreed, United have relied on him too much and I hope this loss of form is temporary and not due to some deep seated problem of which there are only rumours-wasn’t he promised world class players would be joining the club after his new contract was signed? However I doubt very much if any of the summer signings were made to replace Rooney but that may be the ultimate outcome.
    That Dembele would be a great asset to Uniteds midfield!

    It could be that Rooney’s just getting sick of the game… it’s something I’ve thought about for a while… the one thing that all the pundits used to go on about is, “Rooney just loves playing footaball… he’d play for free… he’ll play anywhere, as long as he plays”. etc…
    Well, that was when he was just a shy kid, who looked like he’d just been dragged off the pitch down at the park, to do an interview about the latest, amazing goal he’d just scored… several years later… after endless advert promos, a few scandals, having his private life exposed to the public, the heavy load of carrying England into tournements that we allways make a mess of… I’d be willing to bet most of the real joy has been sucked out of the actual game.
    This injury could be a blessing… it’s not an off season holiday, where even the game takes time off… the football carries on without him, and he’ll have no choice but to sit and watch… he’ll hate 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.”

  36. says

    Commenter said:
    Valencia in CM? I’ve never seen an Ecuadorian game, but if he plays in CM he must be dire.

    Any professional footballer who can’t pass with both feet doesn’t deserve to be called a professional.

    Pre-season and two official games in, Kagawa already has raised the problem of not getting the ball/being trusted enough. Some poster mentioned how United look so terribly un-coached compared to Swansea that it’s unreal. I agree with this.

    And btw, what is up with Smalling being injured in training? It’s happened too many times over the past year. Does he also have some ‘mystery’ illness like Fletcher? Or is he a glass statue like Hargreaves?

    He plays in midfield for Ecuador as part of a three and he is excellent there. Once saw him batter Brazil in a world cup qualifier and this was before we signed him. He is strong, very quick, can tackle, has a fierce shot and has a fantastic engine. How much does Evra do with his left foot? Why is being predominantly right footed so bad/poor?

    We seem really uncoached and that is a legacy of the age of our manager and in the sheer incompetence of Phelan. You watch us after watching other teams and you shake your head. We are probably the only top team going that you can drive an Express Coach right through the middle and straight into our keeper. Look at how Arsenal dealt with Crouch – they had Diaby jumping with him ALL the time leaving the centre-backs to mop up his knock-downs. I bet you all that when we play Stoke, Paul Scholes and Cleverly will be in midfield and we will have no plans really for the man. It is embarrassing!

    • DamnedUnited says

      It’s jarring to see a player unable to pass with both feet. Even Evra is excruciating to watch because he does this robot pose when passing/receiving the ball. It screams his inability to use his right foot at all. There’s a bit of hyperbole in there, but you get the drift.

      Often times, you’ll see a player use the outside of his ‘good’ foot to pass to a player, whether he’s on the other side of the pitch or 5 meters away. I mean, in all those years of playing football, they still dont have the confidence to use the other foot?

      For me, ambidexterity is the most obvious sign of a high quality player.

  37. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    That’s a lovely story… but it makes me wince to watch him… I could be wrong, but watching him run just looks so painful.

    “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.”

  38. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Commenter said:
    Anyone else see the news Barcelona scouted Brazilian boy with no feet?
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-19395252
    Thought it was Kleberson when I read it.

    By the way… that’s exactly the type of thing I think United should be doing… it’ll never happen under the Glazers, but without their load weighing us down, United could afford to maintain a world class team, staff, facilities, etc… and still have money to get involved in worthy causes… even from a selfish point of view, it would do wonders for our global image… something else the Glazers don’t give a shit about.

  39. marlon says

    Valencia as a box-box CM is interesting, but he’s not a good enough passer of the ball to play there. In a two, I wouldn’t play him over any of our CMs except maybe Giggs. Both CMs in the two need to have the ability to find any of the front 4, whether it’s the striker playing on the shoulder of the last man, a winger in space on the wing or an accurate pass to a closely marked Kagawa. I don’t think Valencia has that. For most games we are going to dominate and it’s very important our CMs are useful in possession. I’d have similar concerns about Jones.

    Rooney is a great player and we shouldn’t assume that RVP is untouchable and will only play as a striker. We have already seen him drop into the hole against Fulham, whilst playing Rooney up top. I think Fergie would want a flexible front line and I can see the front three rotating with each other – this could be the reason Valencia has seemingly been working on his left foot. Perhaps Fergie has told him that he needs to be more versatile to fit into the new system.

  40. Sidsidney says

    Valencia put in 3 crosses with his left against Fulham. Up until then I’d never seen him touch the ball with his left.
    It got a bit ridiculous last season when he kept going down the line. You could show him inside, and say go on then you cunt, but he’d still go on his right every time. Now he’s mixing it up.

  41. BiscuitBarrell says

    Commenter said:

    For me, ambidexterity is the most obvious sign of a high quality player.

    Luis Suarez is the only ambidextrous outfield player I can think of, but I kinda think the bloke is a verminous cheat.

    I agree though, a player who is ambipedal is a real bonus, yet the strange thing is, how many top players favour one foot or the other. I suspect it’s reflection of the fine margins at the top level. I think many of the players you think are completely one footed, would be able to use both, at a lower level of the game. One of the best performances I’ve ever seen at OT was from Rivaldo, who could barely use his right for standing.

  42. says

    Commenter said:
    It’s jarring to see a player unable to pass with both feet. Even Evra is excruciating to watch because he does this robot pose when passing/receiving the ball. It screams his inability to use his right foot at all. There’s a bit of hyperbole in there, but you get the drift.

    Often times, you’ll see a player use the outside of his ‘good’ foot to pass to a player, whether he’s on the other side of the pitch or 5 meters away. I mean, in all those years of playing football, they still dont have the confidence to use the other foot?

    For me, ambidexterity is the most obvious sign of a high quality player.

    King Diego Maradona. Lionel Messi. Obviously poor quality players.

  43. Ichiro says

    yeah what was up with Valencia? it was like that false limb syndrome in reverse, he woke up and realised his left had not been amputated

  44. Sidsidney says

    Fergie must have said to him ‘look, Val, defenders are literally giving you an open path to goal if you cut inside and go on your left, so fucking do it’

    He’ll get an extra 2 or 3 goals a season if he does

  45. Pikey McScumPikey McScum says

    These Rooney to be sold stories have come off the back of being dropped for one game. I’d be more concerned had he been left out of the squad but this is yet more British tabloid muck.

    He’s still a cunt though

    • Scott says

      The Sun has had this as a big story and as far as I can tell started the lies.
      In their latest piece they say only city are interested but no bid will be made until January.
      That’s convenient as by then Rooney will be back in the side and no one will remember the lies they printed.
      Anyone buying Rooney would be cutting it fine with FFP I would have thought. Especially city.

  46. Herbie Simms says

    What has really got me pissed off is that I cannot understand how a big club like Man.United can go into a season without a fit central defender and an injury prone right fullback. How the hell could SAF knowing that he has three central defenders out from the end of May until October, with all summer to bring in either players on loan that play in this position or buy a replacement, start the season in this manner with players playing all out of position and then turn around and make excuses if we lose like blaming Rooney for having a bad game or Van Persie did not get service from the midfield. Yet he praised the defence for doing such a great job. SAF is really an asshole. He spent 40 million on players. What did he do with the other 60 million? Did he and Mike Phelan go out and blow the money on hookers? SAF is got to be out of his mind to put a team on the field at the start of the season with no defence. Vidic was never fully fit to play. Should have been looking for an experienced replacement for Ferdinand since last season. Jones is not the one yet, he is too young. Ferdinand did not make the Olympic team because of his recurring injury problems. So now we have problems but SAF is too old to fix them. Can SAF for once get everything right so we can challenge for all trophies? Smalling is a quality player, but you can’t pair him with Jones. This is not the time to be fucking around with the team. SAF should have sorted this out during the summer. Now the fans have nightmares at every game. BULLSHIT!

  47. Scott says

    I was going to say Nani is two footed, remember MOTD couldn’t work out which was his stronger foot but then Lawrenson and Hansen were still trying to resolve the arse v elbow debate.
    Judging by Everton game though Nani is two footed as one is a dire as the other.

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