Game week 8; 2 losses, 1 draw and 5 wins. its surprising that we find ourselves where we are. United have been branded ‘lucky’ in getting the results and looking at it, they might have a case. United have not really dominated and we have been unable to see out games. I will look at the 5 things we need to change before we go up against Everton.
5) Centre backs should play as Centre Backs
At the start of the transfer window, a Centre back was always on the top of our must have list and we did get linked with numerous backs. From Sergio Ramos to Nicolas Otamendi. However we got none. I have a feeling this was largely influenced by our preseason. United were in their normal habit of excelling in their pre-season appearances and at the heart of it was Daley Blind. Fast forward to 8 games later and the Dutch seems to have forged a decent partnership with Chris Smalling. However quite simply put, I don’t feel as though he’s good enough. Don’t get me wrong. His ability to read the game is almost second to none. He is a tidy player and when the situation calls for it, he will contribute a significant bit attacking wise. He has a goal and three assists to his name. However his conduct against tougher opposition will come into question. There’s always the issue of being challenged vertically. It will be a nightmare when we come against a team playing with two strikers. Everton is a team capable of doing this, but modified. With a 4-2-3-1 type of play, Barkley will ideally play as a no 10 but will be pushing as a second striker and Blind might have his plate full against the 6’ 2” foot Englishman.
Phil Jones is fit and raring to go. Marcos Rojo is touch and go for the weekend. LVG should consider playing either of them for the trip to Goodison. We know the endearing affection that exists between the gaffer and Blind. Ashley Young clearly struggled at Full back and I wouldn’t mind blind playing as Full Back. However this brings out something else to the equation that I will tackle shortly.
4) The Carrick-Schweinsteiger Midfield should be done away with.
I was honestly disappointed with LVG’s tactics against Arsenal. With Carrick and Schweini, it was clear what united was set to do. Sit back to try and contain Arsenal’s usual possession nature and strike on the counter attack. However, this tactic all went down the toilet because of how Wenger had organized his team. You have to take a step back and look at the team from a different perspective. From an aerial point of view, Juan Mata, Michael Carrick and Daley Blind expose the lack of pace in the team.
This is haven for the opposition. Case in point Arsenal’s first goal. Mata lost the ball at the far end of the pitch and in about 6 seconds the ball was being crossed for Sanchez to tuck it home. Arsenal had exploited the lack of pace in Mata tracking back to (try and) recover the ball and Carrick’s immobility when the ball takes a quick change of direction. He was caught flat footed. Blind was lured out by Ozil and Walcott and from the edge of the box, there was no way he could go back and cover his position in time.
Schweini’s problem is his lack of discipline to play as a holding midfielder. Many a times you will find him in a very attacking position. With a marauding German and a leggy Englishman, what you’re left with is acres of space for the opposition to enjoy. This can be solved by the re-introduction of Schneiderlin into the team. Morgan brings back youth into the team and boosts up in terms of pace. His ability to hold his position is a plus for any coach.
Morgan’s main job at United has been to protect the back four and he particularly covers up for Blind’s lack of pace. He tracks back into the box to help mark the forward allowing Smalling to drift to cover the Full back’s position who has pushed up to help the Right Winger in attacking. It was such an intricate system. I wonder why the gaffer decided to deviate.
3) Play with more directness.
If it’s one thing United fans are ashamed of admitting is that we are not playing the Manchester United way. United was all about attack attack attack. However we have been transformed into something else. A well-oiled passing machine. 8 games in and we have not been able to score a goal inside the first 20 minutes of a game. Actually in our last two games, we have conceded a total of four goals inside the first 20 minutes. I get the whole philosophy thing in that we are supposed to absorb pressure and get a feel of the opposition’s style of play then start to dictate play once we gather possession and control the flow of the game then pass the ball around until something happens. Quite simply, pass till we score.
With pacy players like Memphis and martial, this system does not favor their style of play. We should look to be more direct. Our pace should be quickened so as to catch the opposition out. With all due respect to all LVG stands for, the premier league is a result business. We should avoid dropping silly points because at the end of the season they will come back to haunt us.
Saturday’s opposition bring something different. A genuine flair and will to win. Coupled with the fact that they are playing at home, then united will be in for a torrid afternoon. Everton’s front six play as a unit and are notorious for pinning back the opposition with their quick pace, incisive passes and a dynamic style of lay which allows goals to pop up from anywhere.
2) Memphis should be benched.
Back to what I had mentioned earlier, in order for us to play Blind as a fullback, we will need to tweak the system. For one, we have to have a left winger who will be willing to track back whenever we don’t have the ball so that Blind won’t be isolated in a 2 v 1 situation. With Memphis playing as a winger, I do not think this will be possible. Memphis is good (enough) but his lack of defensive duties has not gone unnoticed. Van Gaal’s decision to chalk him off at half time against Arsenal was largely due to the fact that he was not tracking back and United’s left side was a happy hunting ground for the Gunners.
Memphis should style up. He came to the club with a Super Star status. I expected him to keep his head down after that because of the number of quality players in the dressing room but he doesn’t see to have changed. LVG’s decision to start him in every Premier League game this season despite a solitary goal doesn’t do much to help.
Alternatively, if Van Gaal doesn’t want to bench the lad, he can consider tweaking the midfield. Depay will probably not improve his defensive committments in about two days. Van Gaal can consider playing a 4-3-3 with a flat line midfield with Schweinsteiger playing at the left side of the pitch. This way he will easily drift to help out in the flanks and he can act as the intermediary between Blind and Depay in terms of passes.
1) Drop Rooney
One of the notable things this season is how the tag “Captain Fantastic” has conveniently dropped when Rooney has featured for the Red Devils. Rooney looks a pale shadow of himself. He seems leggy and unsure. Ferguson in an interview categorically stated that he felt as though Rooney was struggling. “I felt during my final year in charge as though He was struggling to get past forwards..” Looking at the current situation, it’s hard to argue. With only one goal in over 10 premier league games, it’s hard to argue that the club and country captain is not good enough to feature virtually in any starting 11. Van Gaal was praised when he first came because of his dictatorial nature and the ‘steel balls’ to make decisions, no matter their magnitude, for the betterment of the team. This was exhibited in his decision to axe Fletcher, Evans, Van Persie and others. However he has chosen to ignore the elephant in the room. It seems he is the only human oblivious of Rooney’s mind-boggling and gut-wrenching form.
However on our bench lies our hope in the form on Ander Herrera. the Spaniard is a direct replacement for Rooney. The l;ad can pick a pass, Knows his way around the oppostion’s box, Won’t hesitate to stick his boot through it, is not afraid to go in for the tackle and possesses the genuine hunger for success.
Who wouldn’t weant to have such quality on their side. I have been a big fan of the lad ever since his Bilbao days because I know what he is capable of. Saturday’s game is no place for players in two minds(no names mentioned). It will definitely be end to end stuff.
I know of how LVG looks down upon Herrera probably because technically speaking he was not his signing. If we cannot give him game time, we should let him leave. He is relatively young and still has a lot to axchieve in his career. I will not bear to see us turn into Chelsea: Buying top quality players and wasting them on the bench.
PLAY OR SELL!!