Unlucky United Drop Valuable Points to Arsenal

Manchester United failed to take all 3 points against Arsenal but there are signs of optimism at Old Trafford. 

“Sickened”, “robbed” and “deserved to win” were just some of the words used on social media by Manchester United followers after the 1-1 draw with Arsenal on Saturday afternoon. There were right we should have won comfortably and United boss Mourinho stated we are the “unluckiest team in the premier league”.

However it may have been a disappointing and frustrating result, there were positive’s to take out of the game. Some in the United squad are finally showing their true potential. Paul Pogba displayed glimpses of why he was Mourinhos number one target in the summer and a world record buy. He showed greater physical ability compared to his opponents and was able to dominate them with ease while influencing the game. Another player to shine was Juan Mata, who many thought before the season began was surplus to requirements under Jose Mourinho. Find out more here. He scored the crucial goal, played some beautiful football and contributed effectively to the game overall.  Antonio Valencia energised the Old Trafford faithful with his pace and should have been awarded a penalty after being fouled in the first half.

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Jose’s reaction after no penalty was given to the home side. Source: Goal.com

In general the red devil’s style of attacking display was pleasing to watch, they showed intent and it was a change from the dull, boring football that has taken place over the last year. They were a much better side compared to Arsenal and we have to remember they have not lost a game since the opening day of the season to Liverpool.

The only faults in Uniteds performance was their failure to convert their chances to goals and their tendency to back off once Mata had scored.  They allowed Arsenal back into the game with a late header. Man United are an attacking team and sitting back with a 1-0 lead is always risky business and they paid the price. But if they play with the same style, passion and intensity like they did for most of the game, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t start picking up the wins and return to winning ways once again.

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Mata celebrates the opening goal of the game. Source: Youtube

 

 

 

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Major Rebuild for Mourinho

1 win in the last 8 games for the red devils isn’t title winning or even champions league qualification form.  The United boss admitted winning the Europa League is now a viable option to clinch qualification for the 2017 group stage.See more info here. However losing 2-1 to Fenerbahce tonight, they will be lucky to remain in the competition. Jose Mourinho who I have no doubt is the best man for the job has a major rebuilding task to do at the club. It is becoming apparent this is no quick fix and the problems are deep within the club. Here are some of the things I feel he should work on.

Find out the Players he can rely on

Although they might not have the quality of previous years, there is still a decent squad at United to at least compete and should not be losing to Watford or drawing with Burnley.  Pogba still is not showing his class but is a quality player so too De Gea. Martial, Rashford, Herrera, Shaw and Mata all have their strengths but they need to perform regularly. If not they will be out the door next summer. Jose is finding out quickly whom he can and cannot rely on and so far very few are in the former. On a personal note, I am glad to see Schweinsteiger back training in the first team squad something that I called for in my previous post. Read about it here  Here’s hoping he can repay the chance he has been given.

Buy Quality not just Names

Since Alex Fergusons retirement United have spent over half a billion on player recruitment with the majority not living up to the hype or standards they have previously set in their careers. Stars include:

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Source: goal.com
  • Radamel Falcao who looked set to dominate the premier managed only 4 goals in 29 games. Not surprisingly, he was realised that summer with United spending £6 million on his loan deal or £1.5 million per goal, staggering stuff!
  • A united transfer record at the time of £60 million, Angel di Maria looked the real deal and I was certainty convinced United found the solution to the lack of pace and quality in the team. Again, the success he already gained did not materialise with problems adapting to Louis Van Gaals tactics and the lifestyle of Manchester. He moved to PSG a year later.

Under Mourinho United will find the quality they need for the club to be successful again as he has shown at Madrid, Chelsea, Inter and Porto what he can do with the right players at his disposal and his man management is second to none.

Change the Culture at the Club

One of the most worrying signs in recent times is that there seems to be problems at Old Trafford that money alone will not cure. The team spirit is flat with no entertainment for fans. The players do not want to take responsibility on the pitch and lead like a Roy Keane, Gary Neville or Nemanja Vidic. They have put in too many unconvincing and demotivating performances. Jose described his team in the defeat to Fenerbahce as one who “isn’t prepared, not ready and not concentrating” Source: Telegraph Sport. That sums up the attitude of the squad and Mourinho knows it.

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Not pleasing to watch but Jose has the ability to turn the club around Source: Manchester Evening News

This truly is Mourinho’s biggest task in his managerial career to date. If he can turn Man United into a formidable opponent again, he really will be the special one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Suffering for United and Mourinho

Worrying times for United as team fails to show up yet again.

I missed the first 3 minutes of the Chelsea Man United game. When I turned on the TV United were already losing 1-0 and a quick check on social media I was able to get a picture of what had just happened. “Poor”, “shocking” and “amateur defending” were just some of the words used to describe the goal conceded.  By the 21st minute Chelsea scored a 2nd, game over. It finished 4-0, humiliation for the red devils and Jose Mourinho who was returning to Chelsea for the first time since his sacking as manager at Stamford Bridge.

Under Alex Ferguson losing 2-0 to any opponent in the first 20 minutes of the game rarely happened.  If United did go behind there was always genuine belief that we’d come back and win 3-2 or 4-2. It happened time after time and added to the excitement and intensity of the match. It was the united way. Read more here not anymore. Once they go a goal down now the player’s disappear. It happened under David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal and now under Mourinho.

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Mourinho watches his team stumble to Chelsea Source: The Independent

However the starting 11 didn’t disappear against Chelsea, they didn’t even turn up!  Chris Smalling had an appalling game, as captain he showed a lack of judgement for the opening goal and his positioning was questionable throughout. Daley Blind a player I admire had a similar afternoon and was well below the high standards he has set in his United career to date. Zlatan who is a world class player failed to hit the back of the net yet again missing a glorious chance while Lingard, Pogba (who is still disappointing in the big games) and Fellaini seemed lost and bewildered.  The players are letting their manager down yet again.

As a United fan however I would like to see some tactical changes. Martial would seem a better option on the wing for Lingard, Mata playing in in the number 10 role would be welcoming and Carrick or Schweinsteiger  partnering Pogba in midfield might get the best out of him. It might be wishful thinking hoping Schweinsteiger would get a look in since Mourinho has banished him to the reserves Find out more here but I still think he could do a decent job in midfield and it cannot be any worse than some of the other performances so far this season.

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Schweinsteiger Source: Sky Sports

One win in the last 6 games in the premier league isn’t good enough and Mourinho knows it, he made sure to have words with Chelsea manager Antonio Conte at the final whistle which looked like he was trying to deflect the real issues making the headlines. There seems to be a bad culture embedded in this United team since Fergusons departure, something Mourinho has to solve. If the players don’t start performing for their manager they’ll be out the door come summertime. Let’s hope that’s all it is and that we’re not saying goodbye to a 3rd united manager in the space of 4 years.

 

 

 

It’s Time to Stand Up and be Counted

 

Man United resume their premier league title challenge tonight away to Liverpool, one of their fiercest oppositions in football but will the united players show up or disappoint yet again?

I was lucky enough to witness this rivalry first hand back in 2014 at Old Trafford. The excitement sitting at the Stretford end witnessing the build up to the game, the players warm up and the stadium filling before kick-off set the tone for the match. The noise was surreal and the atmosphere accelerated when we scored. The game finished 3-0 to Man United, a great day all round. I would recommend to anyone to go see their favourite team or sportsperson in action as the experience will not disappoint and it creates lasting memories!

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Sitting at the Stretford end at Old Trafford

Now back to tonight’s game, if somebody said to me it will finish 3-0 to Liverpool id be disappointed but not surprised.  United’s form under Mourinho so far has been poor with defeats to Man City, Watford and Feyenood and drawing to Stoke. What promised to be an exciting time for us when Mourinho was appointed and who would bring instant success has so far turned out to be fairly ordinary at best!  It’s easy to blame the manager but the players need to take responsibility for this one.

Wayne Rooney has been off form for over a year and nobody seems to know his best position anymore. Mkhitaryan who showed his class and

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Henrikh Mkhitaryan Source: Pundit Arena

potential in pre-season has disappointed since and had a disaster of a game in the Manchester Derby. He looked overwhelmed and was replaced at half-time. Read more. Paul Pogba who signed for a world record fee of £89 million in the summer has likewise failed to shine with mediocre performances and has not commanded or controlled any of the games in a red shirt to date while Martial hasn’t reached the heights of last season.

If similar performances are on the cards at Anfield, Liverpool will tear United apart. Begrudgingly they look like proper title contenders, playing good football and they have a manager in Klopp who I really admire, he looks the real deal.See more here.

Klopp Source: AFP

With fixtures against Fenerbahce, Chelsea and Man City to come in the next 9 days United need to lay down a marker. A win and a decent performance would be the perfect way to kick-start their season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Top 10 Influential Footballers to Play for Manchester United

As a life long Manchester United fan I’ve come up with 10 players who I consider the most influential to wear famous red shirt. I hope it brings back some great memories for United supporters, great footballing moments for football fans in general and that it ignites debate. Enjoy!

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Rio Ferdinand Known for his sophisticated and technical style of play, uncommon for a defender Ferdinand was a rock at the heart of United’s defence; he captained the side to victory in the champion’s league final in 2008 before leaving United in 2014 with an array of trophies to his name. He’s regarded as one of England’s greatest defenders. Find out more here: here
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Sir Bobby Charlton One of the greatest attacking midfielders ever to grace the game Sir Bobby would be an automatic starter for any club in the modern era. United’s all-time leading goal scorer with 249 goals, he won the European cup, first division and the world cup with England in 1966. A living legend!
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Ryan Giggs Mr Man United, player, captain, coach and Interim manager, Giggs has done it all. From his remarkable solo winning goal in 99 knocking Arsenal out of the FA Cup to making the most Premier league appearances, while bagging 13 premier league for good measure . A future premier league manager a given.
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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Known as the “super sub”, Solskjaer saved United from the brink on many occasions most notably the 99 Champions league final in which he scored the winner in added time. He admitted studying teams while on the bench to inflict damage on the opposition. Now that’s commitment! Find out more here
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Wayne Rooney 5 premier leagues and a champion’s league winner, Rooney has won it all and has been instrumental in United being dominant post the Roy Keane era, versatile and adaptive Rooney can play anywhere and his famous bicycle kick against Man City sums up his remarkable career to date.
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Cristiano Ronaldo Arguably one of the world’s greatest ever footballers, Ronaldo enjoyed 6 glorious years at Old Trafford scoring 84 goals in 196 appearances which included 3 premier league titles and a champions league winners medal . He was pivotal in United winning the double in 2008 before leaving for Madrid that summer. Find out more: here
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Peter Schmeichel Recognised as one of the best keepers to grace the game, Schemichel was known at Old Trafford for his dominating and intimidating presence. He rescued the team on many occasions including a penalty save in the FA Cup semi-final in 99 and remarkably chipped in what the odd goal.
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George Best Made the number 7 shirt famous, Speed, ability and poise he had the perfect attributes for a winger. He was able to excite fans, create moments of magic and it led to him winning the European Cup in 68.
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Roy Keane Although never short of controversy Keano was the heartbeat of United’s success on the field in the 90’s & early 00’s. He led the team to the historic treble in 99 and his heroic display against Juventus in the champion’s league semi-final will go down as his finest hour in football. A true leader!
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Paul Scholes A football genius, is known for his ability to read a game and to “pull the strings” from midfield, along with his passing and eye for goal. Regarded as one of the best midfielders to play, he won a total of 25 trophies at Man United before retiring in 2013. Find out more: here