Manchester United Fan Blog
Well, it’s a crazy season all round but it would seem that Manchester United have even managed to make themselves a bigger talking point than Chelsea… go figure!
Fair play to Chelsea, because with all that has gone this season, and let’s face it, IT’S A LOT, they have managed to drag themselves into the knockout phase of the Champions League.
I’m sure that if Chelsea continue to struggle and can’t get themselves up the league the spotlight will return to them, but for now, LVG has become the focal point of the press, the pundits, the fans and all that is football.
So, how did United drive here? Well, Fergie didn’t leave United in a great shape that he claims. A squad half full of ageing players, youngsters that were not quite the level that he had suggested they might be, so although he left them as reigning Champions they hadn’t impress in Europe and were unable to make a dent in Real Madrid in the round of 16.
I’m not really sure what the haste was to retire, but the decision did seem like a quick one. Too quick it would seem as none of the managers that United really wanted were available, Ancelotti, José…… and Pep didn’t even bother to call after Fergie had bought him a meal in New York. So the ‘Chosen one’ was…..err chosen.
I will never forget the rally cry by Fergie as he stood on the pitch while his team paraded the trophy. It felt odd that he felt the need to rally the fans at all. Personally, I believe he knew the fans would be a little surprised and disappointed that they couldn’t attract better than Moyes so that’s why he felt the need to give them the line “Stand by our new manager”. Don’t get me wrong, I like and respect Moyes for his Everton days, but he was never going to cut it at United, you could see that almost immediately.
I’m going to skip through the Moyes months as they were insignificant to why they are where they are. What I would say is that he made a huge mistake on the backroom team and he totally got carried away with his transfer targets. Ronaldo, Fabregas, Bale… plus, he did end up paying all that money for Fellaini as a panic buy when he realised that his other targets were just pie in the sky.
After the retirement of Scholes, they did start to see just how poor some of Fergie’s kids were. Kamikaze Jones was clearly not up to it and still isn’t, Cleverley was regularly booed for being poor and Welbeck showed that he couldn’t carry the line either.
So, to LVG. Rio, Vidic, Evra, Kagawa, Buttner, Nani (loan), Zaha, Hernandez (loan) Welbeck all cut. RVP was not fit, nor Shaw. Some decent players were bought although it turned out that Di Maria never wanted to join them in the first place and the Falcao loan was a waste of time, but no attention was paid to defence and there was that 3 at the back thing.
Somehow they struggled to 4th place thanks really to a small run of games where they beat Sunderland, Newcastle, Spurs, Liverpool, Villa and City. They might have continued the run but for all their possession at Stamford Bridge, they were given a lesson in scoring on the counter attack and shutting up shop.
Ok target achieved in a very troubled season, now they could sigh their relief and the business of improving could be started.
Clear need for defenders, clear need for a good midfielder and need for a striker, more than likely a keeper too as De Gea was certain to go to Real. A budget to buy who we wanted, Champions League football again and a fully charged Ed Woodward.
A lot of money spent on decent purchases, more for the future than anything else but a very experienced Bastian Schweinsteiger who was surely going to be pivotal in their turnaround. No central defender though. Just the soap opera that was Sergio Ramos. The best bit of business for me was retaining De Gea. No one is sure what happened there but it happened and he’s theirs… for now.
To leave were RVP, Hernandez (permanent) Cleverley, Evans, Nani (permanent) Rafael, Di Maria got his wish to the club he wanted to go to in the first place, and a number of youngsters who hadn’t impressed. Januzaj had his chances but failed to impress and was loaned as was Blackett, James Wilson and Will Keane.
A decent start, Darmian looks good as does Memphis, Martial and Schneiderlin. Bastian easing his way in nicely too after some injuries, but then Shaw’s broken leg. I think this is the biggest factor to how their season has gone so far. Because United are still down to the bare bones when it comes to squad strength, Shaw is a massive miss and has really upset the flow, balance and set up of their first team.
Although it was glaringly obvious in the previous season that trying to win games with a patched up back four, here they are again with players ‘fitting in’ to form a make-shift defence. It is better this year, but not by much. They have been forced to rely on mind-numbingly boring tactics and the unbelievable David De Gea.
Smalling has improved, thanks I believe to Daley Blind, but playing Blind as a CM is a waste as he could be far more positive for them elsewhere.
Ravaged by injuries last season, they find themselves yet again down to the bare bones. Youth sold or loaned, utility players and experience sold.
I am not sure that United have any alternative but to play safe. They do not have enough players. They have to protect their goal as they are still very shaky at the back. If they came out playing attacking football I think it’s likely that they’ll concede more than they score, they got a taste of that against Wolfsburg.
Their players can not shine in this setup, Memphis and Martial have had the enthusiasm sucked out of them, Rooney, poor bloke is the target for all LVG’s indiscretions.
They need a solid, experienced centre back next to Smalling. They need a someone to play a Makélélé type job in front of them, perhaps Morgan and they can then allow their talented creative players to get on with the job of scoring goals. Rooney, Blind, Young, Bastian, Memphis, Martial, Mata, Herrera, Lingard…. PLUS they need to bring in someone who is already top quality to add to the experience they already have. A proven goal scorer, yes Ronaldo, Neymar, Bale, Müller, Lewandowski would be perfect, but it ain’t happening. BUT there are plenty of players out there that could come in and give them goals as well as inspiring united’s younger players.
I do think that LVG is with them to prepare the ground for Giggs and he is doing a lot around the club to rebuild the foundations but there are some schoolboys errors to consider. Their lack of transfers in the key positions, the sale and loan of players that could be doing a decent job for them now.
Their squad is so lacking in depth and experience, it is forcing the way that they play. That has to change and if LVG does see out his term he has one more summer window to get an effective foundation for Giggs to be able to hit the ground running.
I’m sure it’s paper talk, but if Giggs does go to Swansea I do believe that United will have a rethink. LVG would be under pressure and I think a plan B of someone like Pep or Ancelotti might be more likely, but as it is if LVG gets them no more than top 4, he’ll see out his term.
I do not see anything changing in the short term. This season is likely to end with them playing the same way that they are playing now. They’ll gut it out and hopefully make top 4. I don’t see a trophy coming their way, but I do see plenty of frustration and further criticism…
Oh well, it’s just my thoughts and I might be wrong, time will tell…