crossing dross

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lkhmffsstopmovingabout
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7 years ago

Manchester United top the Premier League for crosses per game, swinging in an average of 26.65 of them in their 20 league games so far this season. In the New Year's Day defeat at home to Tottenham, they took the policy to new levels. A whopping 47 crosses were lobbed goalwards for Vlad Chiriches and Michael Dawson to deal with. That was a United high for the season and more than in any game they played last term. It isn't proving an efficient use of the ball in the final third.
This is precisely the area of the field where the best teams will play an intricate through-ball to find a breakthrough. Tellingly, that's exactly what the impressive Januzaj did to create Danny Welbeck's goal on Wednesday. It leads to better quality opportunities and United are eschewing plenty of them: 423 of the 533 crosses hurled in have failed to find their target (again, a Premier League high). That's 423 chances to do something better in the last third that have been wasted.


It's a disjointed tactic too. Firstly, an emphasis on crossing necessitates quality in wide areas. While United have the numbers, the world-class wingers of the past are missing. Moyes' team has become wilfully reliant on the most mercurial figures in the squad, with the ruthless Robin van Persie reduced to the role of waiting in the box for the ball to arrive from the flanks.
Not only is this supply a problem but these wingers are not a direct source of goals either. Ronaldo was a revelation, Beckham averaged more than seven goals per season and Giggs netted 81 goals in his first 12 Premier League campaigns. In the 1994/95 season, Kanchelskis was even the top scorer. In 2013/14, Giggs, Ashley Young, Nani, Antonio Valencia and Wilfried Zaha have contributed just two goals between them. Only young Januzaj - with three goals - has scored more than once.
The lack of goals from wide areas mean that goalscoring contributions from midfield are more important than ever - and here too there are problems. Michael Carrick is content in his role as a sitting midfielder but his regular partner Thomas Cleverley is showing little sign of developing into the regular scorer that his position surely demands. He has netted just one goal in 26 appearances for club and country so far this season.
At least that's one more than summer signing Marouane Fellaini. The Belgian midfielder has a reputation as a goalscorer after hitting 11 in the league for Everton last year but he has made a disappointing start at United. He is goalless after 11 games for the Red Devils with little more than a red card to show for his efforts. Most alarmingly, it seems that Moyes might envision Fellaini in a deeper role akin to that of Carrick with little responsibility to share the goalscoring burden.



United currently rank bottom of the Premier League for the percentage of their attacking play that goes through the central zone of the field. Last season they were up in eighth. If it's debatable whether that statistic should be interpreted as a negative, consider the company they are keeping - the next three teams on the list are Hull, West Ham and Stoke. This is not a template for a successful style of play.
Is that a product of not having a top-class midfielder at the club or is it just the way Moyes wants his team set up to play? Having spent £27.5million on a central midfielder in the summer, there is a real danger of throwing good money after bad. As a result, perhaps the biggest fear for Manchester United fans is that they are chasing a solution on the pitch to a problem that is standing on their touchline.
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lkhmffsstopmovingabout
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7 years ago

the highest in the league for crosses and failed crosses, 423 failed crosses in 20 games ffs

lowest for using the centre of the pitch

we are playing the worst football in the league tbf
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Alfonso Bedoya
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7 years ago

It's not like we've even got a Crouch, or a Carrol to aim at... I suppose there's always Fellaini to come back... "be like a new signing, he'll need a season or two to settle, one for the future, we're a big club", etc...
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lkhmffsstopmovingabout
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7 years ago

whys it happening then alf, them stats say it's worse than ever

who's fault is it
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Neil
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7 years ago

This is interesting... I had read something similar at the weekend saying United put more crosses in than anyone else in the league, but rank something like 17th for crossing accuracy... stats like this are too extreme to ignore and we’ve clearly seen this pattern in the matches this season.

There are so many factors in how badly this season is going but you'd have to say that the style of play, tactics and poor usage of the players at our disposal are right up there.

Tactically, there is no depth or sophistication and there is little variation.

It is interesting to think for a minute about what other coaches would do if they were to come to United, think for a minute about Guardiola, Pellegrini or Klopp... they would bring a specific style of play primarily based on accurate short passing and very considered patterns of movement in the attacking third. But this can't work too well without the right personnel, however you could easily imagine them all insisting on having both Januzaj and Kagawa figuring in almost every match, those 2 are arguably our best creative midfielders, excluding Carrick who holds a deeper role in midfield.

Kagawa has obviously not shown his best form yet in his United career but he has never been given a consistent or considered role in the team; he has potential to show his class given the right team setup and tactics.

A 4-2-3-1 setup with Januzaj, Kagawa, Rooney and Van Persie comprising the front 4 players could arguably be our best combination of attacking players, if a coach is inclined to play some good attacking football. I don't see how any of Young, Nani, Valencia, Zaha, etc could make any claim to be ahead of any of these guys in terms of levels of creativity based on their current form.
I'm not saying that starting lineup would be the best thing since sliced bread, I'm just saying that it would be an obvious way of better utilising the players at our disposal based on playing in a certain style. I don't think we have seen anything like this though because frankly our coaches are utterly shit, I can't quite remember such a devolution in quality of play at a club in terms of the same bunch of players regressing substantially in a relatively short space of time.

Instead we have seen a formula of a certain playing style imposed on the current squad, with scant regard for whether it gets the best out of current resources... well what about the following problems: none of our wingers are in form and all are relatively low on confidence, plus the bigger problem that we don’t have a quality central midfielder to play alongside Carrick.

If you were a coach, would you just ignore these 2 massive problems and carry on regardless with your pre-formulated style of play or would you adapt to the situation and change the style and even the formation?

We’re seeing the quality of coaching here exposed on a massive scale, this is a huge problem and in a way this will continue to override whatever signings are made.
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Alfonso Bedoya
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7 years ago

lkhmffsstopmovingabout wrote:whys it happening then alf, them stats say it's worse than ever

who's fault is it
I'm not disagreeing with you Knobby... what's your point?

It just seems to me that if you're determined to play crossing focussed football, then you best have a Duncan Ferguson type to get the best out of it... plus you need players that can consistently cross with accuracy... we have neither... whatever... the days of, "get it wide, and whip one in", reached it's peak with Beckham, and Shearer... what the fuck are we still doing playing that predictable shite?

A good cross still has it's use, but it's hardly progressive football, is it?
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Bill2
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7 years ago

Nail on head in some many ways here.

Crossing is the most ineffective way of retaining possession. The Spanish have ruled the world with their tika taka style of play, whilst England continue their crossing tribute to mediocrity. The German 4-2-3-1 style seems the closest we are going to get to a more sophisticated formation. That would enable us to start our best attacking 4 in Kagawa, Rooney, Januzaj and RVP.

New signings would help, but as mentioned the management and coaching staff currently are making all our players worse so an 8/10 player becomes a 6/7 etc.

Amazing how a culture of winning can be dismantled in such a short space of time.
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RobDiablo
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7 years ago

Neil wrote:There are so many factors in how badly this season is going but you'd have to say that the style of play, tactics and poor usage of the players at our disposal are right up there.

Tactically, there is no depth or sophistication and there is little variation...

... If you were a coach, would you just ignore these 2 massive problems and carry on regardless with your pre-formulated style of play or would you adapt to the situation and change the style and even the formation?

We’re seeing the quality of coaching here exposed on a massive scale, this is a huge problem and in a way this will continue to override whatever signings are made.
You have made some very good points. I, too, would like to see Januzaj, Rooney, RvP, and Kagawa up front in a 4-2-3-1 formation. It's January, and no one is coming in for Young, Nani, or Valencia, so, no need to keep them in the shop window. Buy one quality CM to partner Carrick, and a top four finish is ours. We'll probably get there anyway, but only because it's about the worst thing that could happen as far as fixing the squad goes.
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Sid
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7 years ago

Neil wrote: We’re seeing the quality of coaching here exposed on a massive scale, this is a huge problem and in a way this will continue to override whatever signings are made.
Spot on

Moyes has started immitating Fergie by playing 442 more and getting the ball out wide early to try and create 1v1s and 2v2s, and then a hopeless hoof into the box

But it's shite, the wingers are shite, it's too predictable

It's time to have a big rethink and come up with some new ideas
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Snoopcousins
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Sid wrote:
Neil wrote: We’re seeing the quality of coaching here exposed on a massive scale, this is a huge problem and in a way this will continue to override whatever signings are made.

It's time to have a big rethink and come up with some new ideas
True but how depressing is that!!
The so called biggest club in England (which we should be) has to rethink its ideas just so we can achieve 4th place!

We are now so far behind winning the CL or PL I can't see it happening in the next 6 years even... Our squad quality needs a complete overhaul and at the same time as City and Chelsea will also be strengthening theirs. We'll be buying 2nd rate or nearly retired players and hoping for a miracle.

The thing that the Glazers stopped us doing was Strengthen when strongest.
Instead we got weaker and weaker, something Fergie would never allow pre-Glazers.

Hope I'm alive for when we finally rid the Glazer family and get back to competing in PL and CL.. Not so sure tho
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