Date: 22nd February 2011 at 1:00pm
Written by:

There is always a consistent gripe with many Manchester United fans after a particularly poor performance from their team. Certain players tend to be picked out and focused on more than usual, unfortunately it is for all the wrong reasons.

Every club has fans that will choose scapegoats and blame them for everything that is wrong with their team.  United are no exception to that, fans’ current favourites are what you would call the ‘squad’ players.  John O’Shea is often the first point of reference, Park Ji-Sung has come in for much criticism throughout his career at Old Trafford and Jonny Evans is now suffering the same treatment after a particularly poor season.  I have to say, I disagree with all three.  I am not claiming that I don’t get on players’ backs when they under-perform but I refuse to blame certain players for poor ‘team’ performances.

We have all seen or heard the rants about how Fergie needs to have a clear out and bring in world-class stars, as if it is a genuine possibility.  In some circumstances that argument may be valid, the squad does need improvement in areas and we also need to come to terms with the fact that Giggs and Scholes will eventually retire.  What we don’t need, though, is to ‘get rid’ of players that are an integral part of our squad.  Do people not understand that having a squad full of world class superstars is not a possibility?  World class stars will obviously be expecting to play every week.  That cannot be guaranteed.  This is why O’Shea, Park and Evans are vital components of what could be another trophy-laden campaign.

First of all, Jonny Evans.  The young centre-half is in the worst form of his relatively short career.  After assured performances in some of the biggest games last season, his confidence has been shattered by poor individual errors that have led to goals for the opposition.  With Ferdinand and Vidic forming their partnership on a much more regular basis and the emergence of Chris Smalling, Evans fell out of favour.  This, however, does not warrant selling one of the most talented young defenders in the league.  Lots of players have had terrible blips in form or a bad season.  Jonny Evans will be back to his best.  Fergie has taken him out of the firing line and protected him before the media jump on him and proclaim him a liability.  I fully expect to see a refreshed player next season, ready to stake a claim for the starting eleven.

Park Ji-Sung is still, unbelievably, another who is often criticised for not being ‘United class’.  It is completely beyond me as to how fans still have this opinion of the South Korean.  He is Fergie’s big game player and who are we to argue with him?  Look at some of United’s big victories over the past few years; the Arsenal demolitions, the 4-0 win over Milan and you can also look at this season with his two-goal performance in the 2-1 over Wolves for three vital points.  His engine is ridiculous, he can run all day.  Absolutely perfect in the big games when dangerous players need negating.  Not only that, he has a tendency to score vital goals.  No, he isn’t Lionel Messi but that doesn’t mean we don’t need him.  Just ask the players at United, they love him.

The player that is always the first one to get all this from the fans is John O’ Shea.  This is one that annoys me more than others.  Yes, he has shortcomings as a player but he is surely one of the most important players in the United squad.  Anywhere across the back, in the centre of midfield, thrown up front for desperate last minute equalisers and even in goal!  John O’Shea has featured almost everywhere for Manchester United and, most of the time, he does a fine job of it.  Solid, reliable and raring to go.  This was highlighted perfectly in the game against Crawley Town.  Starting at centre half, O’Shea was moved to right back when Rafael went off then when Fabio (who is apparently made of glass) was forced off, he made the switch to left back.  Is there another player in the United squad who could do that in one game with such ease?  He remained as solid as ever as United kept out a spirited Crawley side.  How can a player who will fill in wherever he is asked, be surplus to requirements?  Anyway, even without that overwhelming evidence in favour of Big John… he nut-megged Figo.  Say no more.

Not that any of this will ever stop, we always need somebody to blame.  We have had many over the years and they’ll be more in the future.  I distinctly remember Darren Fletcher being the root of all the problems at United a few years back.  A squad player at the time, he was always one of the first that we needed to be rid of.  Now look at him.  So next time we put in a bad performance maybe we should look at the whole team’s performance?  That way we won’t need scapegoats.  Just collective improvement to move forward.

And Roy Keane back in the middle of the park.

If you enjoy Sam’s work he can be found on Twitter here: @SamIanHughes


13 responses to “Worrying trend as more and more fans play ‘the blame game’”

  1. bruce thomas says:

    And you didn’t even mention Gibson, Carrick, Bebe and Obertan — we’ve got a whole other team of underperformers.

  2. dibils says:

    I dont see a defense for OShea tbh, sure he is versatile but that doesnt mean he can play like crap

    this season 9 out of 10 games he is awful defensively and attacking. cant count the number of times he made me shout in frustration at his awful passing or decision making this season, and now when ever i see him in the team sheet i am worried. he has improved slightly in recent games but that isnt hard to do after the way he has been

    • Pish says:

      Am in defense of o’shea for once, he’s the only utility player we have at Man-united. That’s what other teams luck and thus why we outran teams when heat with injuries. I agree the likes of Carrick, Gibson are not Man-united quality, they hav had a lot of time to prove themselves but nothing is coming out of them. For now i will save Obertan and Bebe, i will be a little bit patient with them to be given more time before i pull out ma verdict on them!!

      • Yashi says:

        Carrick has won 3 Premiership titles and an European title while being first-choice in midfield for 3 and a half season (he was out of form in the second half of last season, nothing to do with class). What do you mean nothing is coming out of him? As far as I am concerned, he is still one of our first-choice midfielders. Only Fletcher has played more PL games than him this season.

        As for Gibbo, fair enough. He is no Xavi or Wilshere, if they are the benchmark. He is relatively young, he hasn’t had a lot of opportunities I think. He is still learning. Fergie seems to still trust him. I am intrigued as to what expectation of yours he isn’t satisfying and why you seem to assume it might not be advisable to give him more time.

        • deaz says:

          carrick has won 3 prem and european cos we had ronaldo papering over his poor performance. once ronaldo left he got found out simple as. he cant gt into the england team he shouldnt be in the united team.

    • Sam says:

      I’m not quite sure how Ronaldo papered over Carrick’s performances? If you don’t understand the role Carrick plays then I don’t think you could really comment on his performances. He isn’t about charging and hassling opponents. His positioning is exceptional which is why he intercepts with such ease. One criticism you could have is that his range of passing isn’t what it was a season or two ago. That could be down to lack of confidence since his poor form kicked in last season or that he is playing a different role nowadays. Tends to sit in much more and keep possession.

      • deaz says:

        im saying you didnt notice how crap carrick is cos ronaldo was winning games for us at the other end. so after another poor performance by carrick tonight against marseille are you still defending him??

        • Sam says:

          Well that is nonsense. I would argue that Carrick in the 07/08 Champions League winning season was one of our most vital performers. Ronaldo was utterly ridiculous that season but the solid foundations behind him – Carrick, Hargreaves etc – allowed him to have his best season ever.

          The team perfomance was that of a typical Euro away. I know lots of fans will expect United to win easily but that just doesn’t happen. Carrick wasn’t particularly great but – Smalling aside – who was? He apparently misplaces every pass but still touches on 80% success rate. I wish I was that shit.

          I just feel that he still plays an important role and will do so in the next couple of years when players retire/leave. Do we have another holding midfielder who can keep the ball, intercept attacks and do the simple things? Like I say, once players retire then he’ll be a senior figure. His uncomplicated use of the ball will hopefully give the platform for some of the more attack minded youngsters to flourish. He is not in the best of form but he keeps possession and therefore keeps the team ticking over.

          CARRICK FOR CAPTAIN! …I’m joking, don’t worry.

  3. Yashi says:

    Great article, but unfortunately, like you said, this will go on, as is evident from some of the comments above…

    Most Utd fans are just spoilt thickos who always fail to look at the bigger picture.

  4. realist says:

    well said yashi! ;s

  5. AAdeScholes says:

    The title is ours to lose and we have got sever problem with many players injured noticebly mid fielder…The decision of Fergie to sell Eikrem was absolutely wrong.

  6. Jonathan says:

    I completely agree about all these players. I’m sure there’s some educated fans who still don’t like them; but I think it’s a safe bet that the majority are pretty clueless as they don’t understand the role of a squad player. How often do you hear something like: “Get rid of Park and bring in Ribery” – or whatever star or hyped player come to mind. Is Ribery or whoever really going to be content playing 3 times a month and in different positions as needed?

    Park simply doesn’t deserve it, and O’Shea’s relative inconsistency for a couple months this season shouldn’t tarnish what he’s contributed for about a decade.

  7. philgatt says:

    Excellent post that brings how fickle us fans are to the fore.
    I usually criticise players when things go wrong, but do try to see it as a team performance rather than find scapegoats.
    As one who remembers most of the 26yrs United went without winning a league, I try not to get too whingey about it, we should realise how good we’ve had it over the past 20 years.
    Well done on a great article and keep it up.