There is no doubt that the current Manchester United team is in transit.
The number of youngsters present in United’s starting squad means that the use of the phrase ‘transitional phase’ has been coughed, spluttered and uttered by every fan, journalist and footballer in the game when describing Manchester United, but how can you pinpoint a ‘transitional phase’ in a sport that is constantly in transit?
No matter how sparingly he was used last season, the departure of Paul Scholes has indeed left gap. As well as being highly talented technically, he was a tough tackling midfielder, but, judging from United’s successful ventures this season, that kind of player is being left by the wayside in favour of an emphasis on a somewhat less aggressive short game, surely inspired by the current masters of passing, Barcelona. While United are experiencing a dip in form and their momentum has slowed, their preseason games (especially the Charity Shield win over Manchester City) show a merging of both United and Barcelona’s footballing philosophies.
So United’s style is indeed in a subtle transition period, and perhaps these small tweaks are what Sir Alex Ferguson feels will make the difference against the top European sides, namely Barcelona, but the club has more pressing issues at hand.
Defensive injury problems have now become the norm for United. With the aid of niggling back problems, United stalwart Rio Ferdinand may be edging closer towards the end of his career. Likewise, his defensive partner, Nemanja Vidic has also struggled with injury, meaning the two have rarely played together for long periods since the 2008/2009 season.
In the past this has meant the likes of Jonny Evans, Wes Brown and John O’Shea would plug the gaps, but since Steve Bruce snapped up the two latter players, youngsters, Evans and Phil Jones are the most likely candidates for the center back partnership, with Chris Smalling regularly appearing at right-back.
Whilst the word ‘tough’ has been used regularly to describe Jones, his lack of experience, combined with Jonny Evan’s occasional defensive naivety, has led to United leaking goals, and more worryingly, the amount of chances being created by United’s opposition appears to be higher than most fans would care to remember.
Now, questions are being raised over how a young and inconsistent back line can perform in Europe, and until United can hold down a regular back four, fans can expect the amount of chances created in United’s defensive third to retain their ferocity, in both type and abundance.
Ironically, the man who was scrutinized most heavily for his ability at the start of the season, has also been United’s saviour on several occasions. David De Gea, another figurehead of United’s cataclysm of youth, has made a myriad of fine stops, often saving United’s blushes both domestically and on the continent.
United head into tonight’s clash against Otelul Galati in a lowly third place in the Champions League group C table, behind both Basel and Benfica who United suffered two uncomfortable draws against. Ferguson has labelled this as a ‘must win’ game for United and can call upon the likes of Vidic as well as recall Wayne Rooney to make sure they seal the win.
Perhaps the biggest is question is : can United’s youngsters match the spending power of City?
I would just like to ask a simple question!
Does it make us as United fans to feel proud that our young goalkeeper to date has had the highest amount of shots to stop in the Premier league?
If you dont see something wrong with that forked question….Well!
I think him having the highest number of shots to save is a masked stat.
Initially managers were sending their players out to take stupid long range shots against United so they will have boosted the stats but if we are going to look at that and use it as criteria to chide our defence/midfield we have to praise De Gea for stopping most of those shots he has faced.
Dear Moderator, Oh you highness! lol. There in is the problem, the old chestnut, the midfield.Its a specfic gripe of mine and many as you know.The lack of midfield particularly after the unfortunate injury to Tom Cleverly.Its still very apparent take out the speed vigour and carefree attacking from the centre, we revert to clogging up the midfielf with numbers.Its still there, and as his raised in Mr Hymans excellent article more apparent than ever when minus the artist Paul Scholes.
Excuse if this is a quick response its not neccesarily conveyed in my normal cheeky and fun manner.
Lets see how we fair tonight In Romania and get this show back on the road, after 5 very sluggish and well, un United type games, if you compare the early burst and style we played with.
Cmon United, Cmon you Reds.
I simply asked the goal keeper question , with regard to stop the shots raining down on the goal keeper should be the staple part of the midfield defence, in my opinion.
Phil Jones did not really achieve this although I recognised what Sir Alex was attempting to achieve, it simply clogged up the congested midfield at Anfield further.
We need to invest sooner rather than later in a world class defensive midfielder, and hope Tom Cleverly returns, where he left off.
There is a clear leakage in the back work. Im sure the big Serb will be a a quick fix for the time being.
I agree Yosh, with constant rotating of the defence its impossible for there to be any unity.Its bad enough for the new players to merge their games at United, but this ‘tinkering’ its not helping the players.I realise there has been injuries, but some continuity would help.
As I said and dont care to labour the point you think Uniteds midfield is going to beat Basle in Switzerland yer not on my wave length.
Cmon United, sort this out!
As most of you have already stated, the constant tinkering with the defence is cause a lack of communication and consistency within the back 4. Not to mention the constant changes in the mid field. I understand players need rest once and a while. i have yet to see the same lineup more than once.