Friday, 25 November 2016

Manchester United vs Feyenoord Match Analysis

3375
Manchester United hosted Feyenoord in the penultimate game of the Europa League group stage. The reverse fixture went the visitors' way in the first match with a scoreline of 1-0, but Manchester United and Jose Mourinho were looking to make amends.
Given United's home advantage, Jose Mourinho decided to switch things up in the squad with Sergio Romero replacing David de Gea in goal and Luke Shaw coming in at LB after quite a bit of time out. We also saw Wayne Rooney on the wing along with Carrick in CDM being paired up with Paul Pogba. The highlight of the match however, was the inclusion of new signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the starting 11 after what seems like an eternity. The fan favourite got injured at the start of the season, and got very little time on the ball but knowing his caliber, the fans wanted him to be included in the squad for longer periods of time and for this match at least, Jose complied.
4516
The first half started in an explosive fashion for Manchester United, having the goal in mind, and working towards it. One could see the Jose affect taking place on the team in the best possible manner, keeping possession for the most part and retaining it for the rest, but attacking simultaneously and dominating Feyenoord, at least on paper. This form has been present at most home games that United has played so far in the season. Mkhitaryan's presence was also felt almost instantaneously, his tactical ability and footwork seemed to be the missing piece in the puzzle for Manchester United's impractical lack of shots on target and behind the net.
I would seriously love to count the number of chances United players got and either didn't or weren't able to score, but given their sheer number, it would take a long time. For most of the half, the ball was in the visitors' half and got as close as just outside the box, and it took a swarm of Feyenoord players and a few lucky offside calls to keep the attacks at bay. However, between putting their heart and soul into their defence, Feyenoord got a chance on a wonderful counter, but a double save by Sergio Romero kept the score even and got him the respect and he deserves. It was fantastic to see him respond to a call of duty despite not playing for so long, and in such a wonderful fashion at that.
1869
It was perhaps that incident that stirred up the Manchester United players and it showed as 10 minutes later, the hosts got their first goal as Zlatan Ibrahimovic passed the ball to Wayne Rooney, who dinked the ball right above the charging goalie to give Manchester United the lead. Some might argue that Rooney was in an offside position, or that he pushed a player over to get into his position, but his "nudge" was extremely inferior to what the Feyenoord players were getting away with, so call it karma or whatever you will, but Wayne Rooney is just a couple of goals away from breaking Sir Bobby's record.
2129
The half ended at 1-0 with both teams searching for a goal for radically different reasons.
The second half was all Manchester United. In the Premier League, for the past few matches, whenever United have had a one goal lead at home, most teams have equalised, including Arsenal last week so United fans were rightly afraid that the same could happen in this game as well. However, it did not. Feyenoord got the half started and got the ball to the United box but that was all. That was arguably, the only chance they had in the entire half, the rest was all Manchester United. 
Pogba and Carrick did a brilliant job of holding the midfield as Mata, Rooney, Zlatan and Mkhitaryan did their jobs in a fantastic fashion. They seemed like a firing squad constantly shooting at the goal and that bore fruit in the 69th minute as Wayne Rooney's no look pass found Juan Mata right in front of the goal to make it 2-0. Relief was all one could see on Jose Mourinho's face. Things seemed to be slipping out of Feyenoord's hands as Mkhitaryan got a couple of chances but wasn't able to finish and  the goalie's foot compensated for a mistake as it stopped Zlatan's shot from heading into the goal, much to the Swede's frustration.
2653.jpg
He wasn't done though as he came to the edge of the box, assisted by Marcus Rashford, who came on as a fresh pair of legs right after Mata's goal, replacing the goalscorer. Zlatan shot right towards the goal from the "impossible angle", and the ball, hitting the goalie's inner thigh (ouch), headed right into the goal in the 75th minute. The game was done, or so we thought. Youngsters Memphis and Jesse Lingard came on for Wayne Rooney and Henrik Mkhitaryan to spice things up a bit and were explosive as soon as they stepped foot on the pitch. Lingard much more than Memphis though. 
3240
Jesse Lingard seems to have Paul Pogba as a friend, mentor and perhaps a role model and it seems to show as he looks like a miniature version of him while playing. Immediately after coming on, Lingard got a couple of shots on target, and it so had to be that he scored from right outside the box in the final minute, something that Pogba had been trying to do all game, but the latter was delighted as the two celebrated  in a more interesting fashion. I'm still all for the dab though. 
manchester-uniteds-jesse-lingard-celebrates-scoring-their-fourth-goal-with-paul-pogba

The Bottom Line

Bottom line, it was a good confidence booster for Manchester United, who head into a busy week after this match. They are now second in the group, at 9 points and one behind Fenerbache. This should carry them to the round of 32 if they are able to draw the next game against Zorya at their home. The problem for them is that the match is an away game and Manchester United and away games haven't really been the best of friends in the Europa league. 
Feyenoord face Fenerbache in the final match of the group stages and at 7 points, the game is a must win for them. Luckily, they happen to be at home for that game, but Fenerbache are arguably the toughest side to face in the group so the match promises to be an interesting one. Even if Feyenoord win, they're counting on a Manchester United loss to advance to the round of 32. Things, therefore are looking questionable for the dutch side in the Europa league.
Images : The Guardian, The Mirror

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Manchester United vs Stoke City

After Thursday evening's less than convincing win against Zorya at Old Trafford, Manchester United will be looking to put in a good shift in against Stoke City in the Premier League. With a tough set of fixtures ahead, it is vitally important to enter the international break with another 3 points. A poor start to the season for Stoke sees them at the bottom of the Premier League after being one of the lowest spenders in the Summer transfer window. Every Manchester United fan's ambition for this season is to win the Premier League and currently, only 6 points off the top and only 6 games gone, there is still a chance for us.

Manchester United starting XI: De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Bailly, Blind, Herrera, Pogba, Lingard, Mata, Rashford, Ibrahimović

In the second minute came a massive chance for Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Pogba slipped in a great ball to him but after choosing the wrong corner, Grant makes a good double save to deny the Swede a great chance.

Our next big chance came to the £89 million man, Paul Pogba. In the 16th minute, some beautiful build up play between Mata, Ibrahimovic and Lingard created a chance for the French International who dragged his shot just wide of the far post.

Juan Mata who was comfortable dictating the attacking play, attempted to chip Grant, who just got a fingertip to the ball to tip it over. Immediately after, from the corner, Paul Pogba was unmarked and headed just wide.

In the 27th minute, some beautiful skill from Ibrahimovic on the wing led to Jesse Lingard getting a shot on goal from point blank range, but was denied by in-form goalkeeper, Grant.

The first half was brilliant for Manchester United. Looking dynamic and direct, we were unlucky not to go into the break 3-0 up. One of the stand out players of the half was Jesse Lingard. Always running in behind the defence and drifting everywhere across the front line, Lingard was unlucky to see his effort on goal denied. Despite our terrific attacking play, we still look slightly shaky in defence and vulnerable to Stoke counter attacks, so lets hope we address that in the second half and are less careless in possession.

HALF TIME: MANCHESTER UNITED 0-0 STOKE CITY

Danger signs were showing two minutes into the second half when David De Gea made a top save to palm over Martins Indi's header but the flag was up for offside.

A controversial moment came in the 54th minute where Ander Herrera was yellow carded when his studs were high and went into Allen's thigh. Although there was no intent, some people are arguing that it should have been a red.

After several long shots, it was clear that we weren't getting anywhere. In the 67th minute, Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney came on for Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard.

Two minutes later, we finally broke the deadlock! The ball broke kindly for Anthony Martial who could softly curl in an unstoppable finish. Another unintended assist for Wayne Rooney...

Looking like we were about to win the game, in the 82nd minute, a mistake from David De Gea led to Joe Allen netting in from point blank range to equalise as the ball came off the bar.

Chances kept coming for Manchester United but things weren't going our way... Grant got down to parry a shot from Ibrahimovic in the 86th minute and a few minutes later, Paul Pogba rattled the woodwork with a powerful header. He could've had a hat trick today.

FULL TIME: MANCHESTER UNITED 1-1 STOKE CITY

"The best performance of the season" - Jose Mourinho

Overall, it wasn't a bad performance from Manchester United. We created several chances and played some good football. However, when it came down to it, the finishing wasn't up to scratch. Not taking anything away from the brilliant saves by Grant, but we should have scored at least 5 goals with the chances we had.

This weekend we could've reduced the gap on City at the top of the table to three points, but we didn't. We were unlucky today but it is no excuse, we should have won. In a week where we needed to go into the international break with a win, this draw is disappointing. With a tough set of fixtures ahead of us, it will be hard to now close the gap on Manchester City. Our next three games are Liverpool, Fenerbahce, Chelsea and Manchester City, all of which are must-win games.

Lets pray for an injury-free international break and come back stronger than ever and destroy Liverpool!

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Manchester United vs Leicester

I just can't believe it! Wayne Rooney has been dropped from the starting XI. After a disastrous performance midweek against Northampton, Rooney is starting on the bench. The pressure around Rooney has been growing particularly over the last few weeks. He hasn't been contributing anything going forward and has been a liability in midfield. He will always be a respected legend but he is not the same player he was 10 years ago and he's not good enough to get in this team at the moment.

After the win at Northampton midweek in the EFL cup, it's so important that we win three points today. Let this be a starting point for the new and improved Manchester United. We need to find our best starting 11 and stick with it for Premier League games.

After a positive first 15 minutes of the game, it looked for sure that Manchester United were close to scoring. The time finally cane in the 22nd minute where Chris Smalling rose highest to get on the end of a delightful Daley Blind corner.

From then on, Manchester United were clearly on the front foot and it only looked a matter of time before Manchester United doubled their lead. In the 25th minute the chance came to Marcus Rashford after a beautiful counter attack. However, the youngster miscued his shot miserably.

The next chance came to Ibrahimovic in the 27th minute which came from a cheeky chip from Paul Pogba, but the striker volleyed over. What a goal that would've been!

The man of the moment Paul Pogba came inches away from registering his first goal for United after his long range effort was palmed away by Zieler.

Our second goal was coming and the player to take it was Juan Mata! An 18 pass build up led to Juan Mata beating Zieler with a powerful strike from 18 yards.

Minutes later, Blind's short corner found Mata, who delivered a pin point cross for Rashford to tap in. That's 7 goals in 7 matches for Rashford for club and country.

In the 42nd minute came Manchester United's fourth with once again a great delivery from Daley Blind. This time, POGBA was on the end to score his first goal for us.

HALF TIME - MANCHESTER UNITED 4-0 LEICESTER

After an amazing first half performance, expectations were high for the second half. As expected, for almost the entirety of the second half, Manchester United dominated possession. However, out of nowhere Demari Gray managed to curl the ball, from outside of the box, into the top corner of a stunned David De Gea's net. The match finished 4-1

At last, Manchester United are finally playing some good football. We were creating chances left, right and centre and every player played with bags of confidence. Although most people will put the scoreline down to Rooney being dropped, it is clear that every player gave it their all today and played for the badge.

So, from 3 wins in a row, to 3 losses in a row, we have now recorded 2 wins in a row and we finally look like a team. Lets hope we can keep this good bit of form going as we are approaching some extremely tough games in the next month. But most importantly, today we have shown that the Manchester United that we all know and love IS still there!

Our next game is on Thursday in the Europa League, home to Zorya. This of course is a game which we are expected to win, and if we play like we did today, I can't see it being an issue.

Onwards and upwards!

COME ON UNITED!

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Watford vs Manchester United


After much a great start to the season with four wins out of four, things were looking great for Jose Mourinho's men. This week, things suddenly took a fall for the worst as we slipped to a disastrous defeat to Pep's Manchester City and then 5 days later, another embarrassing defeat to Feyenoord in the Europa League, a competition which we are expected to win. However, things aren't looking too bad for the Red Devils as a win against Watford this week could put us to 3rd in the League, 2 points behind Everton and 3 behind Man City. This game is most important for the fans, morale is low after two poor performances and it is now time for Mourinho's men to show that this last week was a blip in what could still be a title winning season.

At last, Marcus Rashford is starting a Premier League game! Today's line up looks terrifying. We are finally playing two wingers on the wings, what is going on?! Rashford and Martial will provide us with ecstatic pace and skill on the wings that would surely terrify any opponent. Also, after a poor performance last week against City, Blind (who was arguably at fault for both goals conceded) has been dropped for last seasons main man, Chris Smalling. It looks like this may be the first choice partnership in centre back for the remainder of the season. Everyone's favourite topic at the moment, Paul Pogba is starting after a poor last few performances. Hopefully it is only a matter of time until we see the Paul Pogba that we signed from Juventus for a world record fee.

In the first ten minutes, things weren't looking too bad for us. Despite creating no chances, we looked comfortable in possession and we didn't give the ball away carelessly. However, on the tenth minute Prodl's header almost fell at the feet of Troy Deeney who was unmarked at the far post. Just as we thought we couldn't get any luckier, poor communication between David De Gea and Chris Smalling led to Ighalo being given the chance of an open goal, which he somehow managed to miss.

From then on, it was clear that Watford were the team that deserved to be in front but De Gea didn't let that stop him from denying Deeney after a terrific powerful header towards the top corner.

Our only clear chance of the half came in the 21st minute where Marcus Rashford's deflected low cross found Ibrahimovic at the far post who shot into the side netting. A player of his quality should be hitting the target there.

In the 28th minute, a clash of heads between Anthony Martial and Janmaat led to Anthony Martial being subbed off for Ashley Young in the 34th minute. However, that was only after his naive decision to try holding the ball in our own half during a dangerous Watford attack, which inevitably led to him being dispossessed and Watford scoring through Capoue. Just before conceding, Paul Pogba came close with his long range shot rattling the crossbar.

The first half ended 1-0 to Watford after a pathetic performance by Manchester United. Jose Mourinho looks to have made a mistake by starting Wayne Rooney in CM. Not only did he offer nothing going forward, he didn't look comfortable in possession and was careless with his passing. Major changes must be made in the second half if we want to get anything out of this game!

As the second half kicked off we started by showing more intent, with Wayne Rooney going further forward and Marcus Rashford becoming more influential in the game, it looked like a matter of time until we scored an equaliser.

In the 62nd minute, we finally got what we deserved. Great play from Zlatan Ibrahimovic led to Marcus Rashford smashing the ball into the bottom corner of the net from close range. We were controlling the game and we were hopeful of getting another and continuing to win the game. In the 79th minute, Zlatan's header was brilliantly saved by Gomes.

From then on, we went back to slow attacks and allowed Watford to have more possession of the ball. In the 83th minute, our dreams were shattered as Zuniga scored for Watford with his first touch of the ball. Things were not looking good for Mourinho's men. From then on, cynical play from both teams led to a spray of yellow cards being awarded.

Just as we thought things couldn't get much worse, poor defending from Bailly led to Fellaini bringing down Zuniga in the box and Troy Deeney made no mistake from the penalty spot, slotting home down the middle to win the game 3-1.

In the end, once again Manchester United slip to defeat to make it 3 losses in 3 games. For the first time in the Jose Mourinho era (which has only just started), it looks like there is reason to worry as a Manchester United fan. The dream of winning the Premier League this season seems just that, a fantasy. It doesn't look like we have a team capable of getting top 4, let alone winning the league. Is it time to start being realistic and have the ambition of Arsenal fans - to secure 4th place? NO, we are Manchester United and we must fight back. It is clear that we have individuals that are capable of winning us games, but right now, after this performance, it is clear that they need to improve. The issue with our current team is that we have not gelled. We do not look like a team at the moment. This can be fixed over time, but lets start with the match away to Northampton in the League Cup.  Let's have faith in our manager to drill this message into our players. 

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Manchester is Blue for Now: Lessons from the Derby

Mkhitaryan is not a winger

With his abject performance against the Citizens, the Armenian is now going to be thrust into the "Dortmund players flop out of Dortmund" narrative. The truth however is simple: he is not a winger.

The player was named the best player in Germany last season, not for his compatriotism with the Kardashians but for his exploits down the middle of the pitch, making vertical runs on and off the ball as most of Dortmund's dynamic attacks and counter attacks went through him.

It remains a wonder why Mourinho signed him only to play him in a position he so notoriously struggled during his early days at Dortmund.

The most promising sign of what he can do came in the first half hour when he caught City defenders unaware with an excellent run – although he was slightly offside – through the middle.

If Mou has no plan to play him there, he might as well put the player out of his misery early on.


Manchester United v Manchester City match analysis

It's here! Possibly the biggest game in the history of the Premier League. The eyes of the world casting their eye on Old Trafford for Jose v Pep, Manchester United v Manchester City. Jose Mourinho made two changes to his Manchester United team changing both wide players. Jesse Lingard and Henrik Mkhitaryan replacing Anthony Martial and Juan Mata to exploit the space in behind the City lines with their direct running. The height difference between the two teams was notable too with Manchester United boasting a very tall lineup compared to the lineup of Guardiola's team.

The first half began as you would expect with Manchester City dominating the ball. However what was not expected was the disorganized nature of Manchester United's play. The back four were being pulled all over the place, the City players were finding all sorts of space in between the defensive lines. The City players were everywhere and United simply could not cope with it. That soon showed when a pinpoint pass poked through to Kevin De Bryune left Daley Blind bamboozled and gave De Bryune a clear run at goal to slot it past David De Gea to make it 1-0 to City. Manchester United were all over the place and looked like collapsing just a quarter of an hour into the game.   

Manchester United simply could not get a grip on the game and soon found themselves 2-0 town after a shot from De Bryune hit the post and fell to Klechi Iheanacho who tapped it in to double City's lead at Old Trafford. United were far too defensive and it played into City's hands, United could not get on the ball and get forward. However, a long free kick floated into the box on top of Claudio Bravo caused City all sorts of problems leading to the new goalkeeper dropping the ball allowing Zlatan Ibrahimovic to smash the ball into the empty net to make it 2-1. Somewhere in Italy Joe Hart had a smile on his face watching the Bravo horror show.

Jose Mourinho made two changes at half time bringing Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera on in place of Jesse Lingard and Henrik Mkhitaryan both were anonymous in the first half. United took a much more direct approach in the second half with balls launched up to Ibrahimovic and Fellaini. United also pushed further up the pitch not allowing City to play out from the back. A controversial moment came when another mistake from Claudio Bravo allowed Rooney to pounce on the ball and Bravo slid in on Rooney bringing him down. It should have been a penalty but nothing was given. A particular highlight of the game was the constant play acting from Bravo in the City goal, falling to the floor at any given opportunity. Mourinho's men huffed and puffed but could not get the equalizer.

Overall a very disappointing performance from Manchester United. The first half was far too defensive and showed too much respect to City and made things easy for them. The second half was a bit better but United lacked any real composure with the team resorting to long balls into the City box. There was no real quality from Mourinho's team and City looked comfortable throughout and were by far the better team. This was not what we were hoping to see in Mourinho's first Manchester Derby. 

Monday, 29 August 2016

Hull City vs Manchester United

Chelsea just won their match against Burnley meaning that they have kept a hundred percent record so far into the season, they stood top of the league before our match and to match them we needed defeat Hull City to also match their record under this fine new era of optimism and opportunity. Hull city have started this years campaign on a high, beating their 2 previous opponents, one being the champions, and with many comparing them to last seasons Leicester.

The first half was average for United. The big name players like Wayne Rooney or Paul Pogba seemed constrained in midfield not being able to find that similar freedom that they had against Southampton. However Zlatan Ibrahimovic rose to the occasion and caused the most irritation to the Hull defenders. They're were plenty of chances for him that he created from thin air however it wasn't meant to be, especially the back heel kick even though it was offside. Mata drifting in to the centre is proving difficult for Rooney as the space is running out. Mata did play right wing for LVG but always drifted in, and there isn't any doubt in my heart that he can create chances and bury them if he has to but just how much space is there in the centre? Enough for Rooney and Mata to both share? Must Jose make the decision to bench a fan favourite like Mata or the mascot and face of Manchester United for many years, Wayne Rooney.

The defensive display was nearly impeccable except for Snodgrass who seemed especially dangerous on taking set pieces. However he picked the wrong fight with the goal post and was substituted off. Luke Shaw had a brave battle with him throughout the first half and even prevented Snodgrass from hitting a header from a dangerous cross. Luke Shaw is playing well but isn't showing that same lethal form as he did at the start of last season. If he does, opponents beware.

The second half started similarly to how the first half ended. A little boring with United hogging the possession. Mourinho brought on Henrikh Mkhitaryan and didn't he spur to life?! He made amazing runs and looked dangerous enough that the only decision that seemed viable to the Hull City players was to forcefully bring him down. But the player that took centre stage tonight is Manchester's very own, Rashford. The starlight of the north. The incredibly accident find of last season. His goal came through United's siege, wave after wave. Attack after attack and suddenly in the 92nd minute a breakthrough.

In the next match, to improve, I reckon we should start with Mkhitaryan and bench Mata just to allow Rooney to have more space as he can make dangerous runs. Also I believe Martial should play more on the wing as you he comes more closer to Zlatan and he's left Shaw on the wing on his own.

#GGMU

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

The Shirt Sale Myth: Analysing Its Impact On Clubs' Revenue

Ever since Real Madrid began on a path that would later rob the football transfer market of it’s dignity, the shirt sale has over the years become more or less the only point of argument for fans of clubs that spend ridiculous sums of money on acquiring the world’s best players or in some cases the most overrated.

The case of Pogba has seen the subject of player shirt sales elevated to ridiculous heights by Manchester United fans. How else can they justify their club paying such an amount for a player not yet the the finished product? 

Now trim off the speculations, dig for the facts and learn that the myth couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Manchester United vs Southampton

The anticipation leading up to Manchester United's first home game of the 2016/17 season has been at fever pitch to say the least. It almost feels like the good old days.

Jose Mourinho continues to say all the right things in stark contrast to his two predecessors, United's ambition is back where it should be. United fans having high expectations is acceptable to Jose and of course, for a team of United's stature, it's only right.

Mourinho has this week suggested that Paul Pogba is the best midfielder in the world. He has though, gone at pains to say that winning the ballon d'or may be a step too far for Pogba given the necessity of a 20+ goal haul this year to secure the prize. Whilst talking up the talent of our (current) iconic Frenchman, Mourinho has tried to temper expectations at this early stage of the season. Prior to kick-off, it remained to be seen whether Pogba would live up to the hype in his first game. The fact remains, the anticipation feels at its highest point for many a year.

There has been much talk of the poor atmosphere at Old Trafford in recent years. The football on offer these past three seasons has done little to generate much fervour in the stands. However, just before kick-off, Old Trafford was rocking!

And so it was that Pogba was picked in a five-man attacking midfield which also included Mata, Rooney & Martial as the second line behind Ibrahimovic with the only surprise being that the second central man was Fellaini rather than Mkhitaryan.

Southampton started the game brightly and Pogba's first touch was a nervous one, losing the ball in the middle of the park to allow Southampton to attack.

United soon got into their stride and in the tenth minute some nice interplay between Valencia and Mata, resulted in a United corner. The corner was defended well but a few minutes of possession football and some nice passing ensued, with the ball breaking to Pogba on the edge of the United area for the first shot on goal of the night.

The first fifteen minutes had United holding the upper hand in terms of possession of both the ball and attacking areas and whilst little was created, the speed with which United were getting through the midfield was encouraging.

Southampton came back into the game with some good moves of their own and things settled down until after 28 minutes, another industrious Valencia break on the right, found Pogba in possession on the left corner of the box. A deft chip over the defender's head allowed a clever flick from Mata with Ibrahimovic acrobatically shooting just wide.

United weren't getting it all their own way though and just after the half hour, Shane Long found himself one on one with De Gea, however a weak shot resulted which didn't trouble the United keeper. United's defensive frailties were still a concern and were having something of an impact on the crowd which had calmed somewhat following an impressive pre-game build up.

Then came another Valencia break down the right hand side on 35 minutes, Rooney collected the ball by the corner flag and floated a perfect cross to the far side of the box. Zlatan's predatory instincts and athleticism got the better of Fonte and a bullet header darted past Forster's flailing left hand. 1-0 United.

That was pretty much it for the first half with United just about deserving the lead at half time.

Southampton started the second half brightly and after only a few minutes, the ball ended up in the United net only to be ruled offside from Tadic's shot. United broke immediately from the resulting free kick Anthony Martial had a solid attempt, but his shot was comfortably saved by Forster.

5 minutes into the half and the very next attack from Luke Shaw down the left hand side, saw him break into the Southampton penalty area, only to be brought down by the number 4, Clasie. United penalty. Ibrahimovic took the spot kick and sent Forster the wrong way to put the Reds 2-0 up.

On 64 minutes Fellaini played the ball to the advancing Martial whose strong run gave him the opportunity for another shot on goal. Strong defending ensured the shot was blocked.

United were really turning up the heat now and a number of attacks ensued with Ibrahimović, Martial and Pogba all involved - the latter seemingly desperate to put his mark in the game and debut, with a goal. For now, he remained involved with some wonderful touches, if somewhat frustrated by the paucity of chances.

It is relevant to note at this point that Antonio Valencia was involved in much of the United build up play. It's good to see him trying to get past people and actually putting in quality crosses. It appears Jose Mourinho has had a positive impact on the Ecuadorian's confidence.

This was more like it. The speed of the United attacks were becoming more and more impressive and also more like the United of old. With this accelerated attaching style, the crowd responded and the atmosphere improved accordingly.

In the 75th minute, the industrious Juan Mata was replaced by Mkhitaryan to much vocal joy from the Old Trafford faithful. Mata had done well but there has been so much excitement surrounding the Albanian., it was a popular substitution. This was followed up 5 minutes later when Herrera replaced the excellent Anthony Martial. The final substitution was on 88 minutes when Smalling came on for Wayne Rooney.

To their credit, Southampton remained interested in the game and produced a couple of promising attacks. However, at no stage did United look in any real trouble and they were able to see out of the game for a relatively convincing 2-0 victory.

Overall, it was a very solid 7/10 performance from just about every player in a United shirt. Defensively we still look vulnerable on the break and any team with classy attacking players, will put United in a more difficult situation than Southampton did today. The midfield performance was encouraging with counter-attacks going through from defence to attack in quick time.

In terms of the new boys, Ibrahimović scored two goals which won United the game. Apart from that, his impact was limited (if it's possible after scoring two goals) to a supporting role. Mkhitaryan had limited opportunities to impact the game with only 15 minutes on the field, but showed some lovely touches. Baily continues to impress with solid performances but really, tonight was about Pogba.

The Frenchmen did well and worked hard throughout the whole game, he was involved in much of Uniited's build up play and it can only be said, it was an enthusiastic and impressive second debut.

So a good night for the Reds, Mourinho wins his first competitive game at Old Trafford and it's two games played, two wins from United. Long may it continue!


Chris Wilkinson

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

EPL TITLE CHASERS GIVE HINT OF WHAT'S TO COME

As beginnings go, the opening weekend of the new Premier League season was cinematic, having on display the very elements that make it the most followed club sport league in the world.

Although, it is never advisable to attempt predicting anything that will stretch over much of the season from the opening games, but there were still little lessons learnt that faintly suggested certain developments that might unfold from the "title challengers" over the course of the season.

Leicester City - a different PL this time

Leicester's 2-1 loss should have made more headlines than, say, Ibrahimoviç's debut goal, but in truth, no sane person would bet on them successfully defending their title - finishing the campaign in the top four even, seems like a lot of ask.


In sports, you get what you deserve. The Foxes won the League because they deserved it, along with every extolment but the "what ifs?" still remain and they will be answered this term.

No longer will they experience days when  teams gave them the chance to sit back and hit on the counter; mid-table and bottom half teams will seek only to park the train against them and just like it was against Hull City, the "merry band of brothers" will have to take the game to the opposition, playing on the front foot, thereby leaving themselves vulnerable to counter-attacks - a development their uncouth style and the N'Golo sized hole in their Midfield suggest will be their sinking board.

Arsenal - the show continues

The game against Liverpool summarised Arsenal in the last ten or so years: start brightly then dig an annoying hole for themselves, attempt to climb out but ultimately fall short.


With Arsenal, it is  A Series of Unfortunate Events for their fans and a Family Guy type sitcom for opposition. The characters never grow or regress, a different twist of the same stories season after season.

It is hilarious if you love twisted comedy. Peter Griffin seems crazier than Donald Trump but for some reason, Lois never puts herself out of her misery.

You find the same humour with Arsenal if you support anything but Arsenal - and of course Tottenham - and to be honest, the show doesn't seem to have an end in sight.

Tottenham Hotspur - the complimenting series

The story of Tottenham for some twist of 'fate' always seems to be intertwined with that of Arsenal especially in the business end of the season. The Lily Whites have over the years become a very competent source of comic relief for abject Arsenal fans to the point that even an Arsenal goalkeeper on a suicide mission would halt his plan for one final laugh from St. Totteringham's Day.

The game against Everton didn't tell much to suggest a change of approach from last season. Mauricio Pochettino seems to be sticking to the same playing style and tactics that got them those almighty 70pts for a TITLE CHALLENGE last season.

Here's to hoping this season ends differently for someone in North London.

Manchester City - from one PHILOSOPHER to another

With City, it is a case of the Premier League getting a new philosopher to replace the one that was sent away: out goes the Dutch, in comes the Catalan - or is it Spaniard?

The game against David Moyes' Sunderland suggested all that was to come from Pep Guardiola's City. We've already seen strange epiphany-inducing tactics of false nines and attacking goalkeepers, quarterback style center-backs and 2-2-6 formations but on Saturday we saw stranger - inverted fullbacks.

That game confirmed Pep pulled a Clinton (either of them will do - they both lie) in his unveiling. He is not here to adapt, the other way round actually - it is the team who must adapt and just like the Brexit campaigners, he has begun taking back that promise.

Joe Hart's City career is over, so is Yaya Toure and the center-back who arrived via one of the biggest transfer scams only an EPL club can fall for. Why? they don't suit his PHILOSOPHY.

City showed glimpses of the detailed possession football that cost Pep his hair, although more in tune with van Gaal - that should change with time. They will play like a Guardiola team this season but time will tell if it turns out successful.

Manchester United - shadow of LvG and the Wayne Rooney dilemma

The first half-hour or so against Bournemouth made it clear that van Gaal's philosophy is more cancer than malaria and cannot just be cured by ingesting pills - pills here being a couple of months under Jose Mourinho. The sideways and backward passing is the current default and it will take some time for Mourinho to change that.

From the second half, we saw a Mourinho style team, not obsessed with possession, efficient with the ball and defending basically like animals.

The game as a whole however did suggests a problem in Wayne Rooney. The partnership with Zlatan seems not to be working, plus he seems to be hindering the team moving forward.

He hasn't been  the best striker at the club since 2011/12 and still isn't. He isn't the best attacking midfielder also, neither is he good enough for a central midfield role ahead of the others currently in Mourinho's plans.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan had to be played out wide upon coming on when the position where he is at his world class best is more than obvious - the main reason Shinji Kagawa never made it at United.

The Wayne Rooney conundrum needs to be addressed, and knowing Jose Mourinho, not even Wayne's truckload of wages will save him.

Liverpool - the consistent issue

It's no secret, Liverpool are a far better team than they were under Brendan Rodgers. They now focus on playing football instead of showing character and on their day, can blow any team away but their problem has always been an issue of consistency and defence.

All signs from the game versus Arsenal suggests the defence is still nowhere near what Klopp wants.

That aside, they must learn to be more consistent. They cannot be that team that defeats Chelsea 1 - 3 today and loses to Crystal Palace the next week.

Their preseason performances suggest they should improve but with Jürgen Klopp's football that carries the potential for quick exhaustion and player wear and tear, Liverpool fans might just have to turn to cloud storage to save that "EPL champions" tweet, especially with the future of twitter still uncertain.

Chelsea - Conte, hmm...

Antonio Conte is like a Jürgen Klopp on crack - or is Jürgen Klopp like an Antonio Conte in rehab?

He seems to have quickly brought back the hunger to the Chelsea players. Even the much maligned Nemanja Matiç was back to his old self yesterday.

There was something in this Chelsea team that has been absent for quite some years. They played in such a way that it didn't really matter who was playing. It was more the team  than any single player - maybe except N'Golo.

The game suggests Chelsea will challenge for the title as one cannot begin to imagine what those players will be put through by the crackhead if anything otherwise happens.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Bournemouth vs Manchester United


Today marked the start of the Mourinho era with a win against Bournemouth. No Pogba, the £89 million man. No Smalling, the rock in our defence. But the long awaited debut of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Eric Bailly

The first half wasn't the greatest of starts for United and seemed very cagey as players from both teams tussled for the ball and it seemed like United couldn't keep the ball for more than 2 minutes without losing it and couldn't string 3 together passes. Bournemouth played with the one striker upfront with Bournemouth's record signing Jordan Ibe giving him regular service. A notable highlight was Blind's desire to keep his place in the team, with Chris Smalling available for the next match, with a very solid performance alongside Eric Bailly who was making his Premier League Debut. Even though Bournemouth seemed the more dominant side in the first half, it was Juan Mata who broke deadlock after a woeful mistake from the oppositions captain. Mata was sharp and ready to latch on to the ball and then tap it in.

The second half however was a completely different story. United now seemed to be fully awake and saw a lot more of the ball. However unlike last season where there was no penetration, Martial and Rooney looked for the ball into the target man Ibrahimovic, who was also making his premier league debut. Rooney added to his vast tally of premier league goals by a simple header after Martial's wayward and weak shot found him. But the delight of the second half was truly Ibrahimovic's debutant goal, from outside the box he hit it sweetly and it just went past the keeper into the bottom right hand corner of the net. A lack of concentration saw us concede from a lightning shot from a Bournemouth defender, obviously going to annoy the perfectionist Mourinho who aimed to win while keeping a clean sheet.

In this match we saw Memphis Depay come on in the last 4 minutes, definitely not enough time for him to have any impact on the course of the game. And I worry that he might not get much game time this season as he has fallen behind Lingard in the pecking order. Mourinho has stated his views on Memphis and has said that he does have a future at Manchester United. Mkhitaryan also appeared on as a sub for Juan Mata but he didn't see enough of the ball for him to be given a fair judgement neither did he have the time to do anything. It will be interesting to see if the former Dortmund man starts in the starting eleven rather than starting on the bench.

Man of the match definitely goes to Eric Bailly with yet another immense performance for the Red Devils. His physical presence and his pace ensure that he is a perfect fit for the premier leagues physical demand. Would definitely love to see him and Smalling play together and help United to have the best defensive record this season.

By Rameez Rashid

Friday, 12 August 2016

Manchester United 2016/17 Season Preview : Title Contenders?

Manchester United have never gone four years without being crowned champions of the Premier League and after three miserable years, finishing 7th, 4th and 5th, they would be looking to keep things that way which does seem possible under three time Premier League champion, Jose Mourinho.

New Management

gettyimages-535885580-1-2048x1536_3476168
Jose has already had a major impact on the team by making a few world class signings and winning the FA Community shield with the club. He, in his own words, wishes to make the team, "his team" and United fans all over the world would simply love that. 
After a devastating last season with Louis Van Gaal, it is taking quite some time for Jose to establish his style of play with the team because the ideas that were set by the Dutchman were applied for two years and have become habitual for the players, however, we have seen some sort of a change in the basic tempo of the game at times in pre-season, as well as the fact that the wingers and wing backs have started taking more risks, which should bear fruit when the season begins.

New Signings

Jose Mourinho and the Manchester United board have pulled off an exquisite performance in the transfer window. The manager wanted to sign four players before the curtain raiser on 14th August, and he's achieved that on the 10th.
Ever since his departure from Chelsea in the middle of the 15/16 season, Jose seems to have been studying the club and understanding where they have been lacking, so he seemed to have a clear idea of who he wanted to sign when he was appointed as the manager. 
gettyimages-511577794
Starting the transfers was a proper central defender, something that United had not even thought of investing in last season, or so it seemed. Villareal's Eric Bailly signed without much hassle and despite a few wobbles here and there, has been impressive overall, so much so that he won the man of the match in United's Community Shield win over champions Leicester City
35DCCE5B00000578-3671202-Zlatan_Ibrahimovic_is_now_officially_a_Manchester_United_player_-m-14_1467458303291
Next came in the big man, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. After Van Persie's departure, United lacked the attacking flair that they were once famous for, this led to less goals and a boring play overall. However, that seems to have been solved with the signing of a world class, out and out striker (also something that United were missing last season, other than Rashford, but by the time he arrived, it was already too late). With a goal on his Manchester United debut and a winner in the Community Shield match, Zlatan has already won the hearts of several United fans, it would indeed be exciting to see what he could do in the Premier League.
henrikh-mkhitaryan
A third signing was that of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, another crucial signing after the lack of pace of Mata on the right wing, and the not so good form of Jesse Lingard last season. Mkhitaryan is slightly more versatile and can play the role of an attacking central midfielder or a winger, he is highly decorated in both cases in the Bundesliga and scored against his old club, Borussia Dortmund in pre season, it would therefore be interesting to see what he could do in the Premier League.
paul-pogba-juventus-golden-boy-award
The final and most recent signing for Manchester United was Paul Pogba, which wasn't as much of a signing as a homecoming for the Frenchman. After leaving United for Juventus four years ago, Paul Pogba has become one of, if not the best midfielder in Europe. In fact, at the young age of 23, his form should only go up, so he does tend to be a prospect for the future as well.
I have a full report of how United's signings should do in the league, which you can read here
Overall, with some top signings and arguably the best transfer window so far, Manchester United could very well challenge for the title, as they should after spending that amount of money.

Overall Squad

IMG_20160810_153043
With a lethal attack and strong midfield after the recent signings, Manchester United should be able to tackle their biggest problem of the 15/16 campaign, that is, score more goals and attack a lot more. In fact the defence should be quite good as well, which it was last season (they had the joint best defensive record) added to which, is the in form goal keeper, David de Gea, who pretty much saved the team along with a handful of goals from Marcus Rashford last season. 

European Competition

7202356-3x2-940x627
A fifth place finish allowed Manchester United to qualify for the UEFA Europa League group stages, the draw takes place on the 26th of August, which would make things a lot clearer, however, I do expect them to reach the semis or quarter finals at least,  if they don't face an extraordinarily tough opponent (something along the lines of Barcelona, if they aren't able to qualify for the champions league round of 16, oh the stuff dreams are made of)

Conclusion

Currently, things look like they're going Manchester Untied's way, they do seem to want to challenge for the title, and given most factors, they should be able to. However, worst case scenario, if they don't win, they should at least be able to secure Champions League qualification and have a decent enough position (semi final or final) in the FA Cup, but a lot could change as the season progresses, and all we can do is wait and watch.
Images : abc.net.au, Twitter (@Pa_Ward1)
Source : premierleague.com

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Summer Signings So Far

After just missing out on Champions League football for the coming season, it would not have been surprising if we found it hard to sign some top quality players in this summer transfer window. After all, who would want to move to a club that is not playing football at the highest level. 

However, Manchester United are still considered as one of the best and biggest clubs in the World and it is clear that under the leadership of Jose Mourinho, we will be at the top again very soon.

Our first, and maybe most important signing of all, was Jose Mourinho who replaced Louis van Gaal as manager of Manchester United. After last season’s disastrous Premier League campaign, it was clear that a major change was required. Our manager had lost faith in the club. Our fans want us to be back at the top as soon as possible, and Louis van Gaal’s “process” was clearly taking too long to come into effect. After Sir Alex Ferguson left the club, we haven’t had a winning manager at our club. Jose Mourinho has made a name for himself in the footballing world and is currently considered as one of the best by winning the league in the four leagues which he has managed in (including the Premier League), and also winning 2 Champions League titles. It is partly for this reason that players from all across the globe want to play for Manchester United under this born winner.
  

The first player signed by our new manager was the Ivorian youngster, Eric Bailly. The talented 22-year-old signed from Villarreal for £30 million. Eric has joined on a four-year contract with the option to extend for a further two years. After watching his performances closely against Wigan and Borussia Dortmund, I think it’s fair to say that he is one to watch for the future with lots of potential. However, after Sunday’s Community Shield performance, my opinion of him changed completely. Not only did he win man of the match, but he put in a performance of a player with tonnes of experience. For such a young lad, his composure is exquisite and he is what they call a “no nonsense defender”. There is a good chance that we will see this name in the starting line-up for most games this season in centre back alongside Chris Smalling. It wouldn’t be irrational to say that Eric Bailly can become the next Vidic at Old Trafford. 

The second player we signed, like Mourinho, is a born winner. On the 1st of July Zlatan Ibrahimovic announced that his next club is Manchester United. We’ve signed one of the most prolific strikers in the world. As they say, United don’t announce Zlatan, Zlatan announces United. Making his debut in his home country against Galatasaray could only lead to one thing – a spectacular debut goal, and that is what we got. After scoring on his non-competitive debut, the question was whether he could also score on his competitive debut against Leicester City in the Community Shield. As expected Zlatan Ibrahimovic didn’t just score a goal, he scored the winning goal in the dying minutes of the game. That is what you call an immediate impact at his new club. Signing on a free transfer, Zlatan will surely make an impact at Old Trafford and give us fans some extra faith for the coming season. Similar to Mourinho, Zlatan has won championships in four different leagues since beginning his professional career with Malmo in 1999. The Swedish international scored a staggering 50 goal in 56 appearances in the 2015/16 season. Not at all bad for a 34-year-old…

After already singing the best player in the French league, it only makes sense to take the best player from the German league too. Henrikh Mkhitaryan signed from Borussia Dortmund for £26.3 million on a four-year contract with the option to extend for a further year. Henrikh was voted Bundesliga player of the season for 2015/16 after registering an impressive 23 goals and 32 assists across all competitions. The 27-year-old Armenian is a great team player with great skill and vision and also has a good eye for goal. After watching him against Wigan and Borussia Dortmund, it is clear that he will be a bright spark this season and a fan favourite. Although he barely featured in the Community Shield match against Leicester, it would be surprising if he didn’t feature as a key player in Jose Mourinho’s squad. 

With only days left until the start of the Barclays Premier League, things were looking positive. For the last month we’d been waiting for the announcement of Paul Pogba but things took slightly longer than expected. After several hints being dropped by Juventus, Adidas and Pogba himself, it was obvious that Manchester United were going to sign this star midfielder for a world record fee. Finally, the day came on the 8th of August where Stromzy announced that Pogba had joined Manchester United. Pogba passed his medical and signed for Manchester United on a five-year deal with the option to extend for a further year. The fee was £89 million to be paid in two financial years. It is clear that Paul Pogba is the best young footballer in the world and has a bright future ahead of him. He has already expressed his hopes to win the Champions League and Ballon d’Or at Manchester United but first, his sights are on the Premier League. From looking on social media, it is clear that Pogba has settled in at the club very well and quickly. On Sunday we face Bournemouth and let’s hope that we will see the debut of our talented star. 

Overall, this transfer window so far has been arguably the best ever for a single club. This is significant considering the fact that all the players we have signed have come from playing Champions League football to Europa League. It is fair to say, Jose Mourinho has bought back the fear factor back into Manchester United. We are still the biggest club in the world!

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Leicester v Manchester United: The Verdict

Finally it's here, Jose Mourinho's first competitive game as Manchester United manager and the chance for him to get his first trophy under the belt. Standing in the way, last seasons Premier League champions Leicester City who themselves were looking to continue the winning momentum from last season.

The first half was a rather cagey affair with both teams still very much in pre season mode. United dominated the ball in a similar way to last season. While Leicester were taking a direct approach with long balls for Jamie Vardy to chase, an ugly but effective tactic as we all learnt last season. One notable highlight was how effective Eric Bailly was in dealing with what Leicester threw at him, he showed he has the pace and most importantly the defensive awareness to deal with the challenges of the Premier League. The breakthrough came after a nice passage of play resulting in Jesse Lingard running through the Leicester lines through on goal to put the FA Cup winners ahead. Lingard seems to like it at Wembley.

The second half began with Leicester introducing record signing Ahmed Musa to the game to liven things up for the foxes. The change certainly improved Leicester and they were soon rewarded after a catastrophic mistake from Marouane Fellaini played Jamie Vardy through on goal who rounded David De Gea to make it 1-1. A mistake that may have put Fellaini out of the starting line up for the foreseeable future. After the Leicester equaliser the game rather petered out following a host of changes from both sides. It was looking like it was going to penalties but it wasn't time for penalties it was Zlatan time. A fantastic cross from Antonio Valencia found the head of Ibrahimovic who out jumped Wes Morgan leaving the Leicester man flat on the floor to head into the bottom corner to win the Community Shield for Manchester United. A majestic header from Ibrahimovic and lets be honest all Manchester United fans wanted him to score the winner.

Overall Jose Mourinho will be happy to have won his first competitive game in charge and to win his first trophy at the club. Mourinho will also be glad that his players were able to get more minutes under their belts ready for the Premier League kick off next weekend. It's clear as Mourinho has said himself that it will take time for the players to play his way rather than the way of Louis van Gaal. In certain elements of play it is clear to see that the van Gaal philosophy remain but the best way to remove those elements is playing games the Jose Mourinho way and making his philosophy instinctive.

The performance of Eric Bailly was a delight. Yes, he is raw in elements of his play but his anticipation is brilliant and his pace is second to none at the back at Old Trafford. In dealing with the challenge that Jamie Vardy poses the Ivorian showed us he is up to the challenge of the Premier League and that he can be the partner for Chris Smalling at the back. A concern for Mourinho will be the performance of Wayne Rooney. Slow on the ball and sloppy in possession Rooney did nothing except break up good attacking moves for his side. This has been happening for 3 years and if ity continues Rooney should be dropped. If he isn't going to score goals then he has to perform well and he hasn't done either of those things to a good enough standard for a few years now.

Man of the Match: Eric Bailly


Thursday, 4 August 2016

Wayne Rooney Testimonial : Manchester United vs Everton Match Analysis

Wayne Rooney's testimonial match put two of his clubs, Manchester United and Everton, up against each other at Old Trafford. The proceeds of this match are to go to 4 charities that the Wayne Rooney foundation is involved in. While the cause of the match was indeed quite noble and honoured an extravagant player for both clubs, the match itself was boring and lacklustre.
The game started off with United on the front foot, a few attacks led to a seemingly defensive Everton side under some pressure, however, it lacked the spark that we saw in the Galatasaray game. By the 10th minute, both sides had been introduced to the ball and it was a game of tennis, with the ball happily bobbing about in both halves one by one, it was by the 15th minute when United decided to put their foot on the gas, however lightly. We could see a development in the game from that point, where Manchester United started dominating the game, constantly launching attacks and passing the ball around quite well. However, Everton did not budge, they showed why they're being associated as a team on the defensive this season, some good performances by the likes of Funes Mori and Seamus Coleman kept United and a dangerous looking Zlatan at bay.
gettyimages-585574498
One defender did stand out though, and not for all the right reasons, the much talked of teenage sensation, John Stones. While just a kid and is still learning, there were about 3-4 instances where an error by him could have led to a goal, for keen watchers, these mistakes could very well go upto 8, and that comes as much of a surprise after some good performances in the last season.
john-stones-4
From the United perspective, they had to keep going at it, the side passing was less, the back passing was less, but there seemed to be no way into that Everton net, Lingard looked very good moving forward, even Valencia put a few decent crosses in, not top of the line stuff, but not too bad as well. Wayne Rooney himself looked pretty good, so there weren't a lot of concerns as far as the team were concerned but it just wasn't working out for them and the half ended sluggishly at 0-0. A point to note was that Anthony Martial did not get much of the ball, the entire left hand side was quite "alienated" at times, which I'm not sure was intended.
Even after that though, Luke Shaw did happen to make an impact on the game with some brilliant runs, for a person who's come back from injury, you've got to give it up for him.
The second half saw a couple of changes and more bored fans, to be frank, the second half was quite disastrous. We saw Marouanne Fellaini and Mkhitaryan come on, and Rashford about 7 minutes into the half for Rooney himself, and later on came a new back 4 and Sergio Romero along with Memphis Depay. For Everton, an entire new squad came on when United changed the back 4.
gettyimages-585712852
While the first half did create some moments of magic (which were deflected or caught by the keepers on both ends), the second half was completely dull. We saw no advancements from Everton, not even the will to attack at times which gave United the upper hand in most situations, but that's where it all went wrong for them. While they did keep a lot of the ball, it simply wasn't being knocked forward. The problem with Van Gaal's style of play was that he loved possession and was against (or so it seemed) taking risks and actually going for it, and the second half by United simply replicated that to the dislike of the fans.
gettyimages-585711678
Overall, it was boring, however, players like Mata, Young and Rashford occasionally did quite well, and were unlucky to be facing a complete wall of Everton players, even Mkhitaryan showed his technical ability and looked strong on the right, but simply not strong enough. On the Everton perspective, Kevin Mirallas did try to move into an attacking position from time to time and forced Sergio Romero to move around a little bit, but that was only because of Marcos Rojo was again, pretty unimpressive in defence, I wouldn't be surprised to see him at another club by the end of the transfer window.

Final thoughts

It was indeed only a friendly but these are  clubs that have a huge number of good and great  players who need to prove themselves in these kind of games, the second half performance by United would put a thought in Jose's mind about the 11, and the same goes for about 15 players for Ronald Koeman. The start of the season is just upon the clubs but a lot of work needs to be done, neither club can afford to repeat what they did last season.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Deadweight: Who needs to go this summer?

After the departure of Louis van Gaal, the players will all be eager to try and impress new manager, Jose Mourinho. The manager has made it no secret that he will only settle for the best. We are carrying lots of deadweight in our squad at the moment and after our new signings, it is clear that the manager will want to cut down the first team squad. Nobody has a secure place in the squad and everyone will have to work for their place. 

Marcos Rojo – After signing last summer, we are still unsure as to what his best position is; left back or centre back? He has been given the chance to shine in both positions but he has shown that he is not Manchester United material. Always looking uneasy on the ball and backing out of tackles; this is not what we want in a defender. To be perfectly honest, I would much prefer Borthwick-Jackson in left back as Rojo is nothing but a liability. There is only one solution: SELL

Daley Blind – Despite his obvious lack of pace, Daley Blind is arguably our most intelligent footballer. His vision is exceptional and his versatility is priceless. When signing for Manchester United, Blind was thought of as being a defensive midfielder. However, he has proven himself in both full back and centre back. It would be unwise to sell such a versatile and composed player. KEEP

Adnan Januzaj – After making his debut under David Moyes and scoring twice to win us the game against Sunderland, Januzaj hasn’t done much else to show that he deserves to play for Manchester United. After a failed loan move to Borussia Dortmund where he only made 2 starts, Januzaj came back to Manchester United and didn’t offer much more to the squad. There are rumours that the new Sunderland manager, David Moyes wants to bring him to the Stadium of Light. Maybe a short term reunion with Moyes would be the best step to seeing whether he has a bright career ahead of him. LOAN

Andreas Pereira – Whenever I hear this name, I immediately think “Paul Pogba”. We cannot make the same mistake again. It is clear that Pereira has talent and can become a star but he is not getting the chances he deserves. Last season it felt as if every young player was getting their chance apart from Andreas Pereira who is arguably the most talented. Instead, he was left to tear apart the U21 Premier League with his skill and power. It doesn’t seem like there will be much space for him to shine under Mourinho so the best option for his career would be to let him shine elsewhere for the time being. LOAN

Juan Mata – Despite Juan Mata’s tricky history with Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, the pair are insistent that there are no hard feelings between the two. Yet, I find that slightly hard to believe. There is no doubt that Juan is a fan favourite at Old Trafford and if he were to leave, it would weaken our team severely. In the first two games of pre-season, Juan Mata registered an assist in each game and was very influential. There is no doubt, we must hold on to this asset. KEEP

Memphis Depay – The man who was labelled as the flop signing of last season. When the Dutchman joined us, we were expecting magic and for Memphis to be our key player. After an exquisite performance against Club Brugge where Memphis stole the show, things went dramatically downhill. Memphis spent the majority of the season on the bench, if not playing for the U21s. We saw glimpses of his talent but that was not enough for the amount we spent on him. We need consistency. So far in pre-season, he has not impressed in the matches he’s played, seeming almost non-existent on the pitch. Not a very good first impression to make on the new manager. As much as I hope that he will find his form at United, I think it may be sensible to give him a chance to find it elsewhere. LOAN

Phil Jones – When we signed this youngster from Blackburn Rovers, Sir Alex Ferguson expected great things from him in the future. It was predicted that he could be the leader of Manchester United and England. Blighted by injuries, it was clear that this was not going to happen. Making only a handfull appearances per season, Phil Jones is not what we need at United. His proneness to injuries is what is stopping him from becoming a world class defender. It is time for him to move on to another club. SELL

Matteo Darmian – Another player recently signed by Louis van Gaal, Darmian failed to impress in his first season at Manchester United. He has shown himself to be an average player at best and that is not good enough for Manchester United. On the other hand, he has proven to be useful, especially with our injury crisis in the left back position. He has shown glimpses of the full back which he could be but is sometimes frustrating to watch. If we can find a replacement for him, then it would be practical to SELL him.

Ashley Young – The only reason that he is still in our squad is because he managed to bench Di Maria in Louis van Gaal’s first season. His best position is on the left wing. However, our first choice in that position is always going to be Martial and second, Memphis. Young would not get much game time if he were to stay, therefore it seems best for him to leave. SELL

Antonio Valencia – The 30-year-old Ecuadorian captained the team twice in our pre-season fixtures and showed himself to be a solid right back. His transition from becoming a winger to a defender looks to be complete. Despite his lack of a left foot, he looks to be composed as ever. After 7 years at the club, he still looks as fit and fast as ever. KEEP

Bastian Schweinsteiger – The solid midfielder who captained his country to World Cup glory in 2014 recently announced his retirement from International football. The experience which this man carries is irreplaceable. He can dictate an entire football match from the centre of the pitch. Although there are several reports that Mourinho has told him that he needs to find a new club, we cannot afford to let this man leave. KEEP

Marouane Fellaini – Most commonly known for his dangerous elbows, Fellaini will need to prove his worth to the new manager. Nevertheless, he does have some positives, his height in midfield and for set pieces is often useful and his strength and power can be exploited. One thing is for sure, with Paul Pogba around, Fellaini won’t get a look in. In the end, Fellaini is not good enough to win us the league. SELL

Jesse Lingard – Our hero who won us the FA Cup, Lingard was pivotal in the squad last season. By the end of the season, he became our first choice right winger. Now, after the signing of Mkhitaryan, Lingard will be second choice, if not third. He isn’t world class but we know one thing for sure, he is a hard worker and can be useful and can be a squad rotation player. KEEP

James Wilson – After being given his debut by Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs and scoring twice on the occasion, Wilson has failed to get a look in for the first team. Recently dubbed by Lionel Messi to be a world-beater, it is clear that there is lots of potential there. However, with Marcus Rashford recently breaking into the first team and stealing all the headlines, it doesn’t look like he will be given much of a chance at Old Trafford this season. LOAN