My previous post was signed off with the words “Back on track United!” Clearly this message didn’t sink in(At United per se). Three weeks ago, a 1-0 loss to the English Champions was described as our best performance this season. Save for their goal, it was hard to argue; nearly tripled their passes, more possession and more shots against Chelsea determined to plant themselves in their own half, and box. A week later, the tag “best performance” vanished but the stats still stood sturdily;right next to that very dark red L on the form table.
With two losses on the trot, a home crowd and against a Baggies’ side that has already packed their pre-season tour bags, the stage was set. We were also seeing the return of Robin who had missed through injuries. With the Dutchman, you can never know. Indeed if his jersey number is to be analyzed. He can either be a 2 or a 0; a Hero or a Zero. And on a late Saturday evening in Manchester, he certainly carried a pocketful of zeros.People will talk about his fitness but is fitness needed for a penalty??
Right from the first whistle, West Brom moved to defensive. It was always going to be tough. Against a rigid defence, there was no way sideways passes were going to open up this Lescott-martialled bus.
United has now gone six games without a clean sheet. 6 games!! And the other stats are not so good either with the PFA goalkeeper having a shutout on only 10 occasions. Its another summer when a Centre Back will be on top of United’s list, despite the recruitment of Rojo and Blind. Rojo has the tenacity and ability to be a Vidic but an injury-blighted season has slowly fazed him out. Hopefully next season he will be fitter so as to partner whoever will be brought in. Surely, there must be one.
Antonio Valencia. If I gave out a coin for every mistake he made, the recipient would be on my payroll. You don’t know where to begin: City at Etihad, Swansea at Trafford, Arsenal at Trafford, Everton at Goodison, amongst others. The need for a right back has never been more dire. There’s the outside defence that he is playing out of position but when you can’t do simple things like tracking your man and delivering the ball, you are not good enough for a starting place.
United also amassed 42 crosses on Saturday. David Moyes, is that you? For a team under the stewardship of a master tactician, 36 more crosses than a B-List opposition is unacceptable and depicts a lack of idea. With Lescott, Yacob and co, Where were our fowards going to get time and space to connect with an aerial ball? Which brings us to another big(or rather, tall) problem. Fellaini. I felt I had tackled this last week but it seems LVG didn’t read the memo, or my post. Is he good enough? After three games, its been rumoured that once you pocket Fellaini, you have United scrambling around like blind rats. This makes it sound as if he is our target man, a statement that makes me sick. For a team that barely two seasons ago had one of the best counter attack units in Europe and Fella’s lack of pace, that’s a slap across the face. DROP HIM. There is no but.
It was another case of possession. 70%-30%: Same story different cast. Indeed banter was going round that if there was a trophy for possession, United would be head and shoulders above the rest. It doesn’t matter the number of times we have the ball, football is a result business and to be honest I am a bit tires of the “we were the better team but we lost” shenanigans. Herrera had 111 passes, more than the whole West Brom team! The Baggies won the match with the lowest possession stats ever in the premier league history 20%. We have either doubled or tripled the opposition passes in the last three games. Has that earned us a thing? Yes, Nothing!! Cross Field passing against a team that came only to experience the atmosphere of a 75,000 stadium capacity was a bad attempt at a joke. Its for this reason that Saturday’s performance has been shelved in the “worst game this season.” Category. The lack of incision play is quite strange. With the likes of Mata, Herrera and Rooney who can splice defences with just a pass, its dumbfounding that we should continue playing crosses.
The lackluster flair of the team has caused the spotlight to fall onto Mr United himself; Wayne Rooney. Ever since that missed penalty at Anfield, Wayne has never been Rooney. He looks a pale shadow of himself and the glaring miss at Stamford exhibits the lack of confidence. Herrera playing deep meant Rooney was pushed upfront to do what he does best. However, he is not at his best. 92% pass accuracy, 0 chances created and 1 shot are not numbers you associate with a top class experienced striker. There have been calls for him to be dropped from the team. For me he will always been captain fantastic and he should be given another chance, probably with players like Carrick with whom he is on the same wavelength with. There is no man who has given more blood, sweat, and energy for the team than Rooney this season. Nobody’s perfect.
Our next game is against Palace at Selhurst park. Selhurst park is like that one unit that you really hate but in the end, you have to sit for that exam. Make no mistake, if we haven’t been punished this season, then it happens this weekend. Palace are one of the worst teams to lose the ball too and with our nonchalant passing outside opposition areas, players like Bolasie and Zaha will certainly give us something to think about. United have now gone three games without scoring for the first time since 1989. Its no argument that someone should take their place on the bench and other should come on. Fourth time lucky maybe??