Although they got away with a win, there are some concerns regarding United this season.
In the previous article The Whitehouse Address looked at the issues that came out of the game between Liverpool and Man Utd. In this article, The Whitehouse Addresslooks at the issues which United highlighted. Although they get away with a win, there are some concerns regarding United this season.
Quite simply Ferguson got it wrong. Whether it was because of the emotion of the day, a show of respect or something more, Ferguson’s decision to play a 4-2-3-1 was flawed.
In the past few seasons he has chosen a 4-5-1 against Liverpool at Anfield and has come away with a point. Not since 2007, under Quieroz have United won there. In what was perhaps their worst performance for a long while,. United managed to come out victors. It was a game which typified United and highlighted why they are title contenders.
Ferguson intended to hit Liverpool on the counter attack with the attacking three of Nani, Valencia and Kagawa. However, it just never worked. United could not get possession of the ball and when they did, passes were wayward. Up until the sending off it seemed just a matter of time until Liverpool would take the lead.
Ryan Giggs is a passenger & liability
The biggest error of Ferguson was to play Ryan Giggs. Giggs has been an impressive servant to the club, yet he is not the player he was and importantly is not a centre midfielder. He lacks mobility and the quality of passing required (especially under pressure) for this league and a game of this magnitude. Ironically his loss of possession enabled the red card which actually gave United a “get out of jail card”.
Giggs was poor, however, it was Nani who was replaced at half time by Scholes and Giggs was moved out left. Nani is not performing well this season and he looks distracted or perhaps over eager to impress which is having the opposite effect.
Scholes came on to settle the game, yet even with an extra man United struggled still. Scholes poor defensive clearance went to an unmarked Steven Gerrard who had too much time to bring the ball down and volley home. His marker, Ryan Giggs. The overreliance on Giggs and especially Scholes leads one to think why Ferguson has not improved and evolved his midfield in the past several years.
Midfield issue left unresolved means failure again
This issue, of which I have spoken about many times before, is the reason United will fail to win anything again this season. In the midfield area only Carrick has the class required to play against the best. Yet he cannot do it all himself. He is no Yaya Toure or Michael Essien. He is more like Busquets in how he plays.
Simply United lack a warrior in midfield, an Essien type player would transform United and make them more dominant. The past few seasons have seen them outplayed by Bibao, Wigan and Newcastle to name a few, sides who have overran them in midfield.
This summer was seen as a time for Ferguson to address this issue, yet a new playmaker and centre forward were bought with no centre midfielder in sight. Although United have Anderson, Cleverely, Phil Jones, the young Powell and a returning Darren Fletcher, they don’t have a player who can compete with Yaya Toure, which is why City have dominated the games last season and will do so again this season.
If Ferguson wants his attackers on the ball, he needs a player to win the ball and get them on it. When you see Javi Garia go to City, Dembele go to Spurs andTiote remaining at Newcastle, surely the £15m price tag on each of these was justifiable? Many say Ferguson does not “believe” in a defensive midfielder. This is ludicrous, he plays a 4-2-3-1 and thus requires those two to be defensive minded as well support the attack.
Crazily enough perhaps United’s best option is Wayne Rooney, whose role up tops look limited, perhaps he is the the answer to the biggest concern of United’s season?
The Evra issue
The second concern for United is the Patric Evra issue. He was clearly targeted as a weak link in United’s armoury against Liverpool and for me has been this way for two years. Ferguson’s continuous reliance on him may be why the 30 year old looks tired and jaded, yet perhaps he has simply lost his pace and quality.
He was never a class defender, his value came from attacking, yet he offers little in that respect now also. He has become a liability for United and when you see the performances of Baines this season, one wonders why Ferguson did not pay the £18m for a player of such quality.
Evra will continue to be targeted by sides and United will concede many crosses and goals from this area if he continues to play. Buttner may be a talent for the future, yet Ferguson needed to address the Evra issue this summer. He didn’t, and once again United have an area of the pitch will looks weak.
Same old United, title contenders once again
For all United’s faults they still won the game. Most teams would be beaten on that performance and yet United come out with points, a remarkable achievement considering the level of performance.
Perhaps the win should be credited more to Liverpool’s profligate ways, poor decision making and error prone defence, yet for Ferguson he has come out of a match with three points which he surely did not expect.
United will improve as the season goes on, they always get better after Christmas and so they will be challenging for the title again come May. Yet I feel there are too many concerns in midfield and defence not to be worried that United will have another trophy less season again.