So it is that night tonight, away at Liverpool, after meeting four times in the Premier League, winning four times in the Premier League, now it’s for European glory. Only, it’s only the round of 16s and only the second European cup. No worries, a tie against Liverpool is always one of the best moments of my life – there was only one exception when we were led by Mr. Moyes. I can forget those results.
Anyway, I wouldn’t have expected the four wins out of four under LVG either, still we could do that. Hope we can repeat that but I will be satisfied with a draw away.
Players are coming back but not as many as we could do with, and there’s the question again – should he (LVG) stick to those young guys who had brought wins or should he put back the experienced first team players? Will it be a WBA where we were ineffective and dull again?
I would send out this team.
Varela seems like someone having been playing there for years while Darmian started well at the beginning but somehow lost composure a couple of months ago. Smalling and Blind obvious choices in the middle of defence, Rojo needs (match-)time and we are without Fosuh-Mensah, so no choices, really. And the Argentinian can support Memphis if the latter has a good day.
Schneiderlin & Carrick is not the best of the possible partnerships there, but we need two of the likes to hold back Liverpool’s midfield.
And with the next four we could win it if we have a bit of a luck and the midfield and the defence won’t make big mistakes.
Martial in the middle and if it doesn’t work, change with Rashford.
Not an easy question, especially given our nice little injury list. We miss
Obviously, Smalling is suspended because of his stupid action but let’s forget that already, enough of that.
It must be de Gea in goal, and with his performances so far Shaw on the left. As CP are a supposedly easy opponent, if I were LVG I may give a go to McNair and Blackett as CBs, whilst having Valencia on the right.
To give a bit of a support for the CBs, I would play Blind and Fellaini as defensive midfielders, with di Maria on the left, Januzaj on the right, and Rooney behind van Persie or Wilson. I would probably go for van Persie and take him off after 55 minutes or something like that.
Valencia McNair Blackett Shaw
Januzaj Rooney di Maria
Fellaini should be given match time given his recent form, but Carrick should be on the bench to replace either of the CBs or Fellaini/Blind in case, just like Herrera if he’s match fit.
I would love to see the team score more than three but you never know. I do believe that they are improving from time to time, from match to match, but the points tally is not good enough, that’s for sure. It’s less than last year but everything apart from that looks brighter. The spirit, the cohesion, the team – only they have to convert that into goals and those goals into wins.
Well, I’m always a bit overexcited, but this time we’ll have a rout. Surely.
Well I can’t tell you anything about cooking now, partly because I just wanted to start this whole thing again, and I wanted to write something quickly – so it is just a short (but hopefully interesting) opinion about the situation.
Just to make it clear and start with something easy – I can’t say that I am satisfied, not at all. To begin with, I said when the fixture list was published that United needed to be in the first four (or in the first three, rather), after five matches, so against Swansea (h), Sunderland (a), Burnley (a), QPR (h), Leicester (a).
Not because of the good results of the summer tour – I don’t really count those matches, we were very determined, but others didn’t, so forget that. Beating Swansea and Sunderland should be done nicely but not easily, then a game against newly promoted Burnley away, which is a bit harder but can be done, QPR at home is a must, and Leicester, well there apply the same as in the case of Burnley – with an exception that one of them may be drawn, as it can be hard to play in the opening part of the season against promoted teams.
And that leaves us with 15 or 13 points, with what we would be top of the league. We could have lost even another three and would still be in the first three. And just to count those points again – it means that even with the lost match against Swansea, we could easily be there, in front of Chelsea (or at least close to them).
So that was my plan for the fist five matches – but not for later on. I expected more points lost on the way later and I expected us finishing in the first four, probably on the fourth or with a bit of luck the third by the end of the season.
And that didn’t go that well at all. We are sitting in the twelfth place, which is worse than the Moyes-year, as we all know.
Still, the future is much brighter, I think. We had a much better summer season – not talking about the matches but about the signings. To start with LVG – the difference is quite obvious to Moyes. After the latter’s five matches the air was starting to thicken around him, he was slowly loosing the team, and he was loosing the grip and his stance – somehow the more game passed the less he knew about his team and about how to turn things around.
The fifth game of the season, and that thrashing at the hands of the neighbours. He had a hard five games, Swansea (a), Chelsea (h), Liverpool (a), Crystal Palace (h), City (a), but from a year’s distance it is all too easy to see the signs. Easy with the contrast you can see if you watch LVG now.
Seems like in LVG we have a manager who has a plan prior to the match, he can change his plan during a match, and he knows what went wrong and what needs to be addressed after a match. Well, as I didn’t immediately wanted Moyes out after the first five games, I would not get carried away no, either. Five easy games (well, compared to those a year ago), and we don’t have many points, spent a hell of a money during the summer and we score enough goals, still don’t win enough – and that leads us to to main point and the fault of the summer – defence.
Luke Shaw and Marcos Rojo. Both of them to the left. Minus Rio, Evra and Vidic. And Keane, who plays during the summer, leaves on loan.
And now, before the West Ham match, we are left with Rafael, Shaw and Rojo because of injuries and suspension.
Anyway, the chemistry seems much better than last year, and it is much better since the QPR game. Even that last one v Leicester was a beautiful one – most of the time if you score three away, you can win that match. Clattenburg fucked it up, yes, but still, even after a penalty like that a team like United should be able to… blah-blah-blah.
So. Defence will be a problem, though not that big than one would think. Blackett is the winner so far, Rojo will improve, Shaw will get his chance, Rafael is good, Evans can be much better, we all know, well, Smalling, he can do good things – and if Carrick comes back to form he can be used in the middle of the defence. Not to mention Phil Jones – just hope that he doesn’t get injured that often.
So, we just have to score more than we concede. Easy one?