Date: 3rd September 2012 at 7:43pm
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Introduction

Hi folks welcome to the first post of the new season, apologies for failing to cover the first few games but rest assured I have been watching every game thus far and before I review today’s game, there will be a brief glance at the season thus far, as well as a mention of the ins and outs of the transfer window in general with regards to our title rivals.

  • The Transfer Window

What a transfer window for Manchester United, for me personally I reckon it’s been the most exciting since 07/08 when we signed Anderson and Nani. In addition to the actual arrivals of stellar names such as Robin Van Persie and Shinji Kagawa, there were a host of other names we were close to signing such as the likes of Eden Hazard and Lucas Moura.

In retrospect I’m glad we didn’t sign them as I don’t think they were Manchester United players in terms of personality, despite both possessing undoubted talent. Hazard will thrive being the main man at Chelsea and seems to enjoy being centre of attention; a bit too prima donna-esque for United in my humble opinion.

Anyway with regards to our rivals, Chelsea were the team who underwent the biggest transformation in terms of changing their entire style of play, seemingly going overboard in their attempt to emulate Barcelona with their signings of a variety of number 10?s in Oscar, Hazard and Marin who can also operate as a playmaker if needed, This is in addition to Mata whom they already possess.

One hopes RDM doesn’t completely go back to the ‘everyone back in defence’ approach in light of the recent thrashing by Atletico as patience is needed to bring through such a style of play, one which Roman Abramovich is intent on bringing to Stamford Bridge.

As for City, nothing mesmeric or eye-catching although I am shocked about them losing De Jong and signing Jack Rodwell – doesn’t strike me as particularly bright piece of wheeling dealing but I guess City can afford a few f*ck ups with the amount of money they have behind them.

Moving on, Liverpool’s signing of Joe Allen was a positive move but the lack of any other signings is a tad disconcerting. I have no doubt though that they’ll be building up a lengthy list of targets to work on come January.

As for Arsenal, the signing of Cazorla seems to be a masterstroke thus far but the loss of RvP and Alex Song is a hefty blow. That said, Arsenal’s great strength as a team is that they possess a collective style of play, as long as the system and philosophy remains, they’re unlikely to drop in performance to such a degree that they’ll fail to challenge for a Champions League place. Despite this I still think they don’t have a chance of winning the title based on the signings they have made and the players they have lost.

  • United’s Season thus far

Its not been a brilliant start for United results wise, but already I’m feeling positive about our ability to keep possession with a rejuvenated Anderson and a fresh from starring at the Olympics Tom Cleverley running the show in the centre, in conjuction with the indefatigable Kagawa finding space in the number 10 position.

But there is a worrying lack of physical presence in the middle to win the ball back or to change the dynamic of the game when things aren’t going as well.

In defence, we have been shocking but from a central defensive viewpoint that is understandable as we are missing key players through injury, thus I’d be more concerned with our defending from wide positions. The likes of Rafael and Evra need to seriously up their game in the 1 v 1 defending stakes. They’re getting beat far too easily and our makeshift centre-back pairings are having to be dragged out of position to cover for them. Anyway on to the current match review and 5 Things I Noticed about the Saints Game…

1. Foolish Fullbacks

Our full-backs were absolutely wretched against the Saints, with Evra doing his best to make Puncheon look like the 2nd coming of Lionel Messi, Rafael unaware his job description involves defending and the entire defence for that matter being so abject, Ricky Lambert  was being heralded as the next Alan Shearer.

Any time a cross is delivered into the box we look lost at sea and it is becoming incredibly disconcerting, as before we even have a chance to establish a foothold in the game, we find ourself behind and chasing. I think we need to bring Buttner in and I would keep faith in Rafael and give him regular games to iron out his kinks. He is capable of more than what he currently showing defensively but if he continues to struggle slot Valencia back in that position, because his crossing at the moment doesn’t merit him being played out on the wing.

2. Valencia’s overrated crossing

Much has been spouted of how Rooney once thrived off Valencia’s crossing and what a brilliant crosser the latter is in comparison to the rather more infuriating Nani. My own opinion? Valencia’s crossing really gets on my nerves. With the ability he has to go past a man and the space he has on the flank, he could be doing so much more with his crosses. At the moment all he is doing is floating the ball across the box, it works sometimes as we saw with RvP’s first goal but on the whole he wastes an awful lot of chances to create more. Often he hits it into the opposing fullback’s back or it is cleared away easily. He is however very good at crossing it along the floor when running onto a through ball but that alone does not spare his blushes. More Beckhamesque crossing please! And that applies to all our wingers as currently Rafael is our best and most consistent crosser.

3. Dropping De Gea

I personally thought it was a tad harsh to drop DDG in favour of Lindegaard (imo it was Vidic who was to blame for the goal against Fulham) but it is the boss’ call. Lindegaard done his cause no favours with an error-strewn performance. He’s a competent shot-stopper, of that there is no doubt, but his kicking was not even of Sunday League standard – it was awful quite frankly and I hope Fergie’s desire to punish or spur DDG to higher heights doesn’t backfire in the next few games.

4.  RVP… United’s MVP

Ignore the penalty, two of the three goals he scored were of an exceptional standard.  He rarely scores shite goals and I can’t wait to see what his next one is like. There’s an excitement whenever he has the ball which I haven’t felt in ages watching United, and I think that is one of the prime reasons why Fergie brought him. Yes he’s a finisher but he’s a magical one, truly capable of getting something out of nothing and a conjurer. Watching him and Kagawa flourish this season is going to be such a treat, I just hope the defence holds its own and doesn’t place too much pressure on this pairing to deliver the goods and then some.

5. Word on the Saints

A very fine technical team in my opinion and I really hope they don’t go down. Gave United a run for their money and they weren’t too shabby v Man City either.

Whether they have the toughness to beat lesser footballing sides is unanswered, but in terms of talent they have every chance of staying up. Their full backs are quality on the ball, they possess excellent young wingers and up front Lambert looks a handful. That said the League as a whole looks strong, so they’re going to face competition from other teams who aren’t poor in the technical stakes either.

Conclusion

A quick review to get us back into the groove but boy this season is already shaping up to be one of genuine drama and intrigue. All the top sides look really vulnerable defensively yet at the same time they look immense going forwards, so expect more of these silly encounters and lap it up.

United need to get that defence sorted and remove Evra from the firing line asap!

Written by

Raees (Follow me on www.twitter.com/redrae7)