Manchester United 3 Stoke City 2. Advice for Ed Woodward. See bottom! In short. Rooney, RVP and Hernandez rescue game for United after going behind twice to the industrious Stoke, managed by ex-United hero, and hero of mine, mark Hughes. United still showing a soft centre despite a much improved showing. The Carrick and Cleverly midfield, which by stats, contributes to dominating posession, but does not contribute to clear cut chances or goals. As before, the midfield is a little laboured, and fails to provide the creativity and thrust going forward, to take advantage of the copious amounts of possession. It is also light defensively and does not provide an extra coat of armour for the back four. So United had loads of possession (66% to 34%), making 554 passes against Stokes 282 passes. 88% of Uniteds passes were accurate, (Stoke - 72%) with 79% being accurate in the opposition half (Stoke - 62%). United delivered 39 crosses against Stokes 12. In the previous article on this site “Pinpointing the Problem” it was pointed out that United neither possess a true ‘Warrior’ or a true ‘Wizard” in midfield. One to win back possession, or one to utilise possession with speed, creativity and efficiency. Michael Carrick is an excellent passer, but he needs time to find those passes, time which is not there in the modern game, which has evolved dramatically in recent times in England. Southampton for example are skilled proponents of the one-touch, short passing, high pressing game. They keep a high back line, and win the ball as high up the field as possible in the opponents half, where thay are closer to the opponents goal. This takes work-rate and concentration, and dedication to the strategy. Stunningly plagiarised from the Barcelona and Guardiola model. No matter, theres no copyrights in Football until you get to merchandising! United cannot play this type of high pressing game effectively because Carrick, Cleverly, Anderson and more recently Fellaini are not proving to be ‘ball-winners’. Nor are they proving to be anything like Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, Messi or Busquets! That kind of Wizardry departed with Paul Scholes’s exit. They are currently in limbo. Presently, they don’t have the grit of Southampton. Nor do they have the Wizardry of Barcelona. They are in transition. They need new personnel. It’s a great pity because United are not equipped properly in centre midfield to take advantage of their world class attack. Rooney and Van Persie. And the Little Pea. Such a proliferous waste! Rooney is returning to the peak of his powers, and RVP is always in the goals, same with Chicharito. What a King-size Clown Ed Woodward must feel like now. He paid 27.5M for Fellaini. His opening bid for Fabregas was 25M. They hummed, hawed and stalled and wasted valuable time before offering 35M for him. Still not a fair representation of his value. Ed, heres some advice. Offer 50M for Fabregas (seen as you had no budget to worry about to buy the players Moyes wanted - and because he IS A 50M player!). Barcelona accept because they’ve just bought Neymar (and have creditors to keep happy!). Cesc Fabregas will leave simply because he feels he is not wanted and United are the next best opportunity, AND he gets to link up with Van Persie again. Keep the 27.5M you were going to splash on Fellaini because he is honestly only a 15 - 18M player anyway. Fabregas is in the team, his vision, creativity and ability to manage game tempo takes United to the top of the league. AND to the semi-finals of the Champions League. The likes of Stoke are then beaten 5-2 (instead of 3-2). The likes of Southampton are beaten 3-1 (instead of drawing 1-1). the likes of Chelsea are beaten 1-0 (instead of drawing 0-0). And they dont lose at home to West Brom despite controlling possession. All these games were home games at Old Trafford. Thats 6 points alone from those matches, not even considering the derby disaster. Or the loss against Liverpool. That means that United would be nestling nicely in 2nd position on 20 points with Liverpool. Breathing heavy on the necks of Arsenal. Such a different outlook for £50M. Thats just 22M more than they spent anyway. Moyes would be enjoying his introduction as Manchester United manager. Rooney would be wondering why he even considered Chelsea. RVP would be scoring more goals because he would be getting more quality service. Most of all though, the Fans would be happy, and not lamenting (and writing) about what might have been!
Source: United Mad