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Saturday, 31 October 2015

Crystal Palace vs Manchester United

Pre-Match Analysis:

Let’s take a look at our opposition today for our 11th game of the league season: Crystal Palace. Sitting in 7th place with 15 points, they certainly have had a good start to the season.

In their last league match they lost 1-0 to Leicester City. They definitely have vulnerabilities within their team which is where we need to exploit today if we have a chance of winning. Selhurst Park is a noisy and atmospheric stadium so today’s opponents will be tricky ones. Not only do they have a clever and experienced manager in Alan Pardew, they have beaten Chelsea away from home in August and West Brom at home this month.

The threat that they pose predominantly comes from their attack. With Cabaye, McArthur and Sako who started in midfield in their last league game and Puncheon, Bolasie and Campbell led their attack. Our defence with certainly need to be focused and alert to deal with their attacking threat.

Now onto our team. After a disappointing game during the week in the Capital One cup, United definitely have a point to prove. After 10 games we are currently fourth in the table with 20 points. Our last league game saw us draw against our neighbours, Man City. Everyone will be expecting nothing less than a win so we need to be at full throttle.

Onto the team selection- De Gea has to start. We are more solid with him in goal after all he is a world class keeper. I would play our strongest team today because we need a win. Against City, Valencia started at right back but Darmian will start today since Valencia is out injured. Jones and Smalling should start in the centre of our defence to improve their partnership with Rojo at left back.

Personally I would then have Schneiderlin and Blind as CDM’s to nullify the attacking threat of Palace. Mata and Herrera should retain their places for me as they are building a unique relationship in midfield. Rooney if he is to play should play as a CAM since his days as being an out and out striker are coming to an end. If Martial is fit for today then he should start as our central striker. Depay is an injury doubt but should at least be on the bench, ready to inject some energy later on.

In terms of tactics, LVG needs to keep it simple. Less possession, more attacking. As we saw on Wednesday night, it just doesn’t work. We need to get the ball up the field higher and complete less sideways and backwards passes.

Overall we need to start building a successive run of form in the league, starting with today so hopefully we can get a win! #GGMU

Pre-Match Line-Up Analysis:

To begin with, De Gea is starting in goal, no doubts before about that. Once again, Darmian is starting at right back as Valencia seems to still be injured. On the other side, we have Marcos Rojo at left back after a solid display last weekend against Manchester City. Now onto the CB pairing. We have gone back to Smalling and Blind. Jones isn't even on the bench today which suggests that he may have picked up another injury. Poor guy, whenever he gets into a poor bit of form, he gets injured. The big news in terms of the back line is that Axel Tuanzebe is starting on the bench today. He won the player of the year award for the U18s team last year and is a natural leader at the back. 

Now onto the midfield, the Schmidfield and Herrera (in CAM) start again after a strong display against City. Hopefully today they will be more creative and more attacking from the whistle than last week. 

Our front three remain unchanged from the game against City. It looks like Wayne Rooney is still not going to be dropped and will continue to start up front. On one wing we have Mata who will be hoping to regain his good form. On the left wing we have our huge young talent, Martial. I can honestly say he has been our brightest spark all season. Wherever he plays, he produces magic and Van Gaal still hasn't realized that he is currently more of a goalscoring threat up front than skipper Wayne Rooney.

First Half Analysis

As per usual, we made a slow, sloppy start into the game. Crystal Palace were piling on the pressure for the first twenty minutes so much that we couldn’t find a pass and whenever we got the ball, we lost it immediately. We should have had better movement and we should be creating more space. Bolasie had a huge chance where he blasted it towards the goal and David De Gea got a fingertip to it, just enough to tip it onto the crossbar. From the following corner, again we defended poorly and De Gea tipped the header from Scott Dann over the crossbar.

David De Gea saved us in the first half, we could have easily been at least two nil down. Darmian has been poor. Most of Palace’s attack came down their left hand side and Darmian clearly couldn’t handle it. Whenever we got into a good position with a cross into the box, there was nobody there to attack it. This is due to Rooney dropping too deep.

Our biggest two chances were Wayne Rooney and Ander Herrera. Anthony Martial slipped in a great ball to Wayne Rooney, tearing Palace’s defence apart, but Wayne Rooney was too slow to get his shot away. A few years ago, there would be no other player that you’d want on the end of that ball, however, his poor form continues. Also, towards the end of the half Ander Herrera was presented a great chance in the box after some great build up play by Juan Mata and a good ball by Martial. However, he slipped and did not make the contact he wanted with the ball.

There is clearly some changes that need to be made. The main substitution we should make is Rooney off for Lingard, which would allow Anthony Martial to go up top, but I can’t see that happening. Our best player in this half has to be Mata. He’s creating some great chances and is actually attacking the palace back four. We’re hopeful for a better second half where we can hopefully grab a goal or two along with three points.           

Second Half Analysis

Okay, so after our poor start to the first half, you’d think we’d start the second half better. But, we didn’t. We started poorly. Darmian had been shocking for the entire game. To top it off, he received a yellow card, which ended up being his fifth of the season. So now we will go into the game against West Brom next week without our two right backs, and if Jones is still unavailable for selection, that’s three players that can play in right back that will be out. However, Ashley Young came on to replace Darmian as he was very close to getting sent off. Young had great positioning while defending and put in a good shift. Maybe we’ll see him as our right back next week.

It’s sad to say this, but we actually got lucky in this game. Palace had by far the most chances and throughout the game looked the more likely to score. In the second half they had a few good chances, some of which were saved by David De Gea. Again we continued with our sideways and backwards passing with no penetrating passes. Lingard came on, but didn’t have enough time to make much of an impact. I can honestly say that we deserved to lose that game today and we were lucky to get a point. 

Overall Analysis

To conclude, this was once again a poor performance, probably a worse performance than against Middlesbrough. Starting Wayne Rooney as a striker proved costly. He was constantly dropping too deep and couldn't get involved in the game or make much of an impact. His free-kick was our only shot on goal for the whole game. When he finally decided to switch him with Martial, it was too late to make an impact. 

Crystal Palace deserved those three points today and the draw today will seem like a disappointment for them. Whereas for us, we were lucky to get one point. Our only player that played to their best was David De Gea. He made some amazing saves in both the first and second halves to deny Crystal Palace what they thoroughly deserved. 

When we did have control of the game (in those rare moments), we passed the ball sideways and backwards just as we did in the previous fixtures. This is not Manchester United. Fergie would never let us play such boring football. We are known to attack and play wing football. This is something which we are not able to do under Louis Van Gaal's philosophy. We as Manchester United fans have the right to be angry!

Games: 3
Goals: 0

Thursday, 29 October 2015

World Football and Money

As the premier league gains momentum, talks of the January transfer window seem set to begin, managers are given their budgets to spend on players that may be interested in joining new or in some cases leaving their respected clubs. Many teams splash their cash on potential youngsters and current world superstars. But once we put it into perspective, the amount of money spent by Premier League clubs and many others around the world has blown out of proportion, spiralled out of control and has been caught in a vicious circle that can no longer be escaped.

In the summer (2015), Premier League clubs spent a record £870million on players alone. This record breaking summer saw global superstars flock to big clubs, some for sky-high prices that seem unjustified. The transfer of Kevin de Bruyne cost Manchester City £55M alone to lure him away from Wolfsburg. So the question we must ask is why FIFA, and the FA allow such absurd deals to occur. The answer lies in many things and one of those is sponsorships.

Whether it’s sponsorships for individual players, entire teams or simply down to the jerseys players wear on the pitch, the money in sponsors is so huge that spending £100million on one for a team like Liverpool is simply pocket money for them. Fans who spend money on their team’s jersey are not only supporting their team but are also helping to advertise the company on the front of the shirt. In most cases, the sponsor’s name is far bigger than the club’s name on the jersey, in fact many young fans identify ‘authentic’ club shirts by the correct sponsor’s name even more than the team itself. But what the sponsor’s name does best is advertise the company when the players take to the pitch. The millions of fans who watched the 2015 Champion’s League final between Barcelona and Juventus spent over 90 minutes staring at 'Qatar Airways’ and ’Jeep'. In 2014, Barcelona earned almost as much from merchandising as from ticket money. Their teams could play in an empty stadium and still make millions of pounds worth of profit.

Barcelona FC, one of the world’s finest clubs has historically bypassed the opportunity of putting corporate sponsors on their shirts. Barcelona has in fact taken a higher road in the past by donating the front of their shirts to UNICEF, in a deal that paid the UN’s charity over £100million annually. In 2013, Barcelona donated the front of the jersey to Qatar Foundation, another charitable foundation that gives its time to improving education, science and research. Although both charitable organisations, Barca received £232million over the course of two years from the Qatar Foundation. Barcelona could have taken higher moral ground by taking advantage the money that was potentially at stake. However, in today’s game, with clubs trying to make as much money as possible, moral standing doesn’t compete against the gravity of the almighty euro. Today, Barcelona appear to be running in parallel with most other top flight clubs by migrating to a large multi-national in the form of Qatar Airways. Although I have only scraped the surface of money through sponsorships, one can’t forget the importance these days of having a rich owner that essentially funds the majority of the club.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is reportedly worth £13.7billion, a man with such wealth that buying Chelsea seemed like nothing more than a past time to keep him occupied while he looks through the latest yacht catalogue. His extreme wealth saw him buy players for Chelsea that other clubs could only dream of. Just major flop Fernando Torres alone cost the Russian over £50million. This kind of behaviour of owners is not rare amongst Premier League clubs. Rich owners buying the club and funding it with tens of millions of pounds to spend on players is becoming ever more frequent. Not long ago, Manchester City were only a decent side that hardly ever got into the top 4. Now, with thanks to new Arab owners, the club has gained Champion’s League spots almost every year since, and have won the Premier League twice in the last four seasons and could be set to potentially finish as champions this coming May. This bankruptcy in my opinion ruins the game and exploits the fact that in today’s world of football, only the richest teams can to do the best. And as the richer clubs become richer, the poorer clubs seem to be becoming even poorer, and it becomes ever easier to predict the teams to finish in the top 5 at the end of the season.

While money does play quite a large role in today’s football, in the end, the game itself is still at the forefront of the sport. Many of the teams could very well play to an empty stadium and still make money, there is indeed a reason why football is so profitable. Money may be the god to footballs religion, but it’s the fans who are the followers and if there’s isn’t any faith in the game, then there is no money to be made. So all in all, it’s the game itself that really matters.

This was written by our guest of the week: J.Stack (twitter: @Footy_Poll)

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Manchester United vs Middlesbrough

Pre-Match Analysis:

To begin with, our opposition, Middlesbrough are currently fourth in the Championship, only one point away from being joint second. They look to be a team that will be battling to get promoted into the Premier League at the end of the season. This in itself is a reason why not to underestimate them. They are one of the top teams in the Championship and will have analysed every game of our season. They will be looking for a win to take them a step closer to Wembley Stadium.

This Capital One Cup fixture is against an opposition in a lower division, we should seriously consider starting with our best young talents that don't really get game time. However, we still feel that we should not take it easy as Chelsea and Arsenal have both been knocked out by lower league oppositions due to underestimating their capabilities, so we should be wary. Since these two big players in the competition are out, we think that this may be our year to win the cup and we should definitely try hard to do so.

As for who deserves to start, Lingard was impressive against City although he didn't have much game time. Wilson should also start as Martial needs to be rested so we don't burn him out. Darmian should almost certainly start due to Valencia being out injured and Darmian having done well for us so far this season. Other than Darmian coming in, the back line should stay unchanged as they were solid against City. Herrera needs more game time as does Memphis so both of them definitely need to start. Pereira should be starting alongside our other young stars. We think that Rooney should also start to try and score some goals and then regain his confidence.

The subs bench needs to be strong just in case the match starts to go bad, since this is a match that we definitely don't want to lose. Also, we’ve seen from Arsenal how important it is to still have big names on the bench. That is what cost them the game against Sheffield Wednesday.

Hopefully this will be a good chance for the young players to show their capability to Van Gaal as they are our future. Let's see what the lineup actually is, so until then, Live Long and Stay Red!

Pre-Match Line-Up Analysis:

WOW. What a line up! So many unexpected changes! Let’s start with the keeper. I can’t be the only one that’s shocked about David De Gea being rested for Romero. I for one am not comfortable with him in goal. He makes me nervous whenever the ball goes near him.

The back line is as expected really. Valencia has been changed for Darmian as he picked up an injury against Manchester City. Blind is back in the starting line-up chosen over Jones. Van Gaal is probably as he doesn’t want him to get injured. At least we have Mike Smalling at the back to lead our defence.

Fellaini is also back in the starting line-up. He’ll be playing alongside our skipper for the day, Carrick. Pereira is set to make a start today, he’ll be very keen to impress and produce some magic like he did with his free-kick against Ipswich Town. It’s a great opportunity for the youngster to show Van Gaal what he’s made of.

The front three look deadly. That amount of pace would frighten any team in the world. With Memphis looking to start on the left wing after being dropped to the bench for the last few games, he’ll be keen to impress and to show that he deserves to be starting every game. Lingard has been getting quite a bit of game time recently and it looks like he is starting to impress Van Gaal. Let’s not forget that it was on the Dutchman’s first game in charge, he started Lingard as a full back, but he unfortunately got injured very early on. There is also an opportunity for Wilson to show off his talents today as he’ll be starting up front.

First Half Analysis:

An exciting Wednesday night which saw Old Trafford host the Capital one cup fixture for the home team Manchester United against championship side Middlesborough. It is always a pleasure to watch the Red Devils in action, but this is a particularly anticipated fixture given that United have been quite shaky in domestic cup games in recent years.

LVG picked a strong line up which is sending a message out to the other teams in the competition- a message of intent. United are in the competition to win. He has also found a good balance between youth and experience. We have a realistic chance of winning this game as well as having the luxury of giving our younger players some more first team action.

The first ten minutes started just as we wanted. We dictated play and dominated possession, swinging the ball from left to right and making intelligent passes with the ball. Pereira and Lingard were particular bright sparks. Pereira’s attempted chipped pass into the penalty area in the 8th minute showed signs of intent, to get the ball forward and make things happen. This is the United that the fans want to see and the united that we are used to.

Darmian is looking particularly impressive as he wins a free-kick. I have enjoyed watching Perreira in the opening minutes, he is not afraid when he is in possession but rather cleverly uses the ball. Let’s look at Romero, since De Gea’s return to the first team we have not had a chance to see much of Romero. So far so good from him. Rojo is looking solid as he heads out the pass from the middlesborough player into the left flank.

Middlesborough are now pressing high up the field but United are resolute in their defending, confident and calm- exactly what is needed. Memphis has been criticised of late so it is important that he proves himself in this first half.

High studs from Jesse Lingard but that is down to inexperience. Fellaini’s presence in the midfield is crucial, big and strong to cut out the threats in the middle of the park.

Brilliant save from Romero but sloppy defending from United. I would like to see United play with more intensity, move the ball higher up the field and quicker. It’s important to maintain a good shape but equally we need to get some shots on target. The only stat that counts in football is the number of goals scored.

20 minutes have passed but we are yet to see any attacking threat from United. Too many sidewards passes.  24 minutes- no shots on target. Just not good enough. 39 minutes have passed, United have not been poor but have not been anywhere near their levels.

Middlesborough once again had a good opportunity with Kike shooting straight at Romero. Fellaini had a good shot but was unlucky, he used great chest control only for his shot to be blocked by George Friend. There was a magnificent save from Romero after Stuart Downing hit a deadly strike.
Finally, there was one minute of extra time. Overall, Middlesborough had the majority of chances, their best being from George Friend’s shot just outside the six yard box which was saved comfortably by Romero. United’s best chance fell to Fellaini whose shot was blocked by George Friend. It was a very average half and performance from the Red Devils. There was a distinct lack of attacking intensity combined with a few shaky defensive moments.

Second Half Analysis:

We started really positively with Memphis and Periera seeing more of the ball and Rooney becoming a nuisance to the middlesborogh defence.

While on the other end of the pitch Smalling using his strength and awareness to get rid of any danger. Lingard was a constant presence on the left flank, it shows that he's more comfortable playing there and that LVG needs to play him there more usually in premier league matches so that Lingard can thrive. Periera reminded me of another Carrick in the second half he picked his passes incredibly well and displayed maturity which you would find in the more experienced players.

Blind was good defensively however the problem he has is that he is totally left footed which means he can only play on the left hand side of the pitch and this limits his versatility in a kind of way. Sergio Romero had a good half after the Devastating  slip which nearly resulted in an own goal, he made some pretty great saves in the end of the second half and kept United in the game. Darmian kept on trying to whip the ball in to Fellaini while still doing his defensive duties efficiently.

Overall the second half effort was pretty good offensively and a tiny bit shaky defensively after a few blunders and a couple of good chances for the opposition

Extra Time Analysis

We started extra time looking like we were playing to win the game. We were making positive attacking runs, which is something we failed to do throughout the majority of the first 90 minutes. Middlesbrough were defending well and it was clear that we were finding it hard to break their defense down. 

We had two massive appeals for a penalty, one of which was for sure a penalty. But, the referee didn't give it. We often threw lots of players forward, but Middlesbrough counter attacked at some points and we found it hard to cope with. Romero made some amazing saves throughout the game, but he also made some almost costly mistakes. However, 120 minutes was not enough to decide a winner, it had to go to penalties.

Penalties Analysis

That's why you never let English players take penalties because they have a record of not being able to score them. Young, Carrick and Rooney took disgraceful penalties. There was no composure and no sense of confidence. There was no passion visible on their faces. Pereira gets off the hook because he scored his. The opposition took wonderfully placed penalties that Romero just couldn't get to even though they weren't hit high. 

My gut instincts were right; Romero is not good enough to be in a united goal. He made too many blunders during the game and didn't save any penalties even though they were beautifully taken (learn a thing or two Rooney). 
Now Rooney's miss brings out the question: what is he good for?

A goalkeeper doesn't have to be rested and that's why De Gea shouldn't be benched. He's earning a reportedly £200,000 a week! The problem is we're looking to give away Valdes, who is a good goalkeeper, this January because he hasn't got used to LVG's philosophy yet. We can't be resting key players because we need to win something this season and the capital one cup was our greatest chance.

Martial and Lingard should've taken penalties instead of Young and Carrick.  Carrick lofted his penalty and made it look like we were the championship team not them. A player like Carrick who has so much experience, should not be bottling it and skying a penalty like that. Both Young and Rooney placed their penalties too low and close to the middle of the goal. Even Pereira didn't take a good penalty and was lucky to score. This is due to a lack of penalty practice on the training ground. And that is down the Louis Van Gaal. 

Overall Analysis

To conclude, we are utterly disappointed with the performance and the final result. Before the game, when I looked at the line-up, I was sure that we were going to play good, entertaining football. Our four players playing highest up the pitch (Pereira, Memphis, Wilson and Lingard) looked as if they were going to inject pace and power into our football and be creative. However, that is not in Louis Van Gaal's philosophy. We ended up playing sideways passes and possession football, which was getting us nowhere. I think that everyone at Manchester United is now having second thoughts about the "philosophy" and the style of play which Van Gaal likes. 

Sunday, 25 October 2015

The Manchester Derby

Pre-Match Line-Up Analysis:

To begin with, we’re fairly happy with this line up. We’re slightly shocked about Valencia starting over Matteo Darmian. Maybe LVG’s thoughts were that Valencia would then be able to match Sterling’s pace. However, Valencia isn’t good enough at set pieces and is not defensively sound in a 1 on 1 situation. Choosing Jones over Blind seems like a good decision as Bony is a physical striker so it’s important that we don’t have a weak link in our back line. The Schmidfield is starting. This will either be a complete failure or a huge success. Hopefully the latter. Ander Herrera at CAM is a great decision in our opinion. He has the creativity to make good chances and he is also a very good attacking player. The main controversial decision by Louis Van Gaal is playing Martial on the left wing. He’s been in great form recently and as we saw from his debut, he’s fast and can tear centre backs apart. However, as we learnt the hard way against CSKA, he’s not good enough defensively. Wayne Rooney starting up front still after a poor run of form shows that LVG is determined not to drop our skipper. However, we will soon learn whether this is a huge mistake or not. One thing that is on our side is that Memphis can come off the bench and change the game. LVG has made a statement by benching him for all these games. This shows that Van Gaal does not want Memphis to become another Di Maria/Falcao. 

First Half Analysis

There were no clear cut chances in the first half. Both teams were compact in their defending. There were two stand out player during the first half for us: Marcos Rojo and Anthony Martial. To begin with, Marcos Rojo has been defensively sound. Nothing has been able to get passed him and he’s had De Bruyne in his back pocket. He has also been a threat going forwards occasionally, whipping in a few good crosses. Also, on the other end of the back line, Valencia has been destroying Sterling. Every battle has been won by Valencia and Sterling can’t seem to find a way past him. Valencia has been decent going forward but as expected, he can’t produce any pin-point crosses and he does seem to be going forward quite a bit. Our three in centre midfield have been doing well cutting out passes from City’s midfield. Juan Mata has been finding it hard to find a way into this game. Towards the end of the first half he gave away a needless free kick in our half after he lost the ball. Anthony Martial has been absolutely amazing. Whenever he gets the ball, he isn’t afraid to tack on Sagna and produce some magic. However, we need to get the ball to him more often, his pace and skills are frightening for defenders. Up top, Wayne Rooney has been dropping deep to get the ball. He hasn’t really had many chances but as a single striker, he needs to do a bit more. 

Second Half Analysis

No goals either in the second half and it was clear that both teams were content with a point each. Manchester United were clearly the better team in the second half. City had no chances at all. On the other hand, Manchester United had two very good chances. The first chance was a Kolarov mistake which left Jesse Lingard and Wayne Rooney free in the box against Joe Hart. As the cross came in, Jesse Lingard took it first time and tried to dip the ball over Joe Hart into the net. It was so close and he just hit the crossbar. The second chance came from a free kick which was floated in towards Fellaini, who then headed it down for Chris Smalling, who shot the ball towards the bottom right corner of the goal. But, Joe Hart done well to get down and save it. Jesse Lingard was lively when he came on for Mata but I was shocked to see Memphis as an unused sub. Maybe LVG will start him during the week in the Capital One Cup against Middlesbrough. City’s best player on the pitch was Otamendi who was defensively solid. Valencia came off having taken a knock earlier in the first half. He was replaced by Matteo Darmian who done the job reasonably well. 

Overall Analysis

This was overall not a bad result. One thing that we think is very important is that Martial should be moved into the centre forward position and Rooney (even though he didn’t have a bad game today) should be benched as we can’t afford to accommodate him if it isn’t benefiting our team. Martial was our best attacking threat on the pitch, consistently holding off the defenders and creating chances. As a team, we do need to make more runs into the box. Jesse Lingard was the spark that we needed earlier today. Maybe we should’ve been braver towards the end because we needed the three points more than they did. On the plus side, we were passing the ball around much quicker and we were more direct than when we played against Arsenal. However, there is still a lot of room for improvement. Juan Mata couldn’t fit into this game which is why he was taken off. He is arguably our most creative player. Therefore, we should’ve played him more centrally instead of wide. He thrives when he comes into a more central position and that’s why he often tries to drift more into the centre. Overall, the performance was good from Manchester United. It wasn’t a great attacking display but we were defensively sound against an attack that are known to tear defences apart every week.

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Friday, 23 October 2015

Welcome to The United Devils


We are a team that are dedicated to writing articles about the greatest football team in the world, Manchester United.

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