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09 Nov 2018 14:05:09
As our thoughts turn to the Derby my question is can we beat City at their own game?

Whilst results have been great against Bournemouth and Juventus we can't ignore the fact that we've conceded too many chances and I just can't imagine City being as wasteful.

It hasn't escaped my attention that we rarely build from the back and every goal kick goes long. De Gea predominantly kicks long from his hands rather than playing short throws or passes to his defenders. This must be an instruction from Mourinho and until we replace Smalling I don't expect this to change.

The problem with this tactic is we often just give possession back to the opposition. Despite his size and strength Lukaku hasn't been a successful focal point. He rarely wins headers and his first touch and hold up play has been inconsistent at best.

Sanchez has played up front during the last few games yet we have still gone long from De Gea. His movement and mobility has allowed us to play more football when we have won the ball back in open play and I believe we have looked more threatening as a result. He has been able to hold the ball better and bring others into play.

On Sunday I fully expect City to press us faster and harder than Bournemouth or Juventus did. Do we have enough quality to play through their press and are we brave enough on the ball? Whilst I'd love us to go toe to toe with City do we have enough quality in our team at the moment to allow us to do this?

I shudder to even be thinking this but could Fellaini be our secret weapon? Could we play over their press with direct balls into Fellaini and play our football in their half? If we could somehow get some sustained possession in their half we could cause them trouble with the movement and skill of Martial, Sanchez and Lingard with Pogba joining from midfield. I don't expect Kompany to play and City are a relatively small team. We have come a long way in recent weeks. We are almost back within touching distance of the top 4 but because of our poor early season form I think we still need something from this game.

If ever we were in need of a Mourinho masterclass it's now. After our run of good results I'd love us to maintain the momentum. Sunday for me is all about the result and not necessarily the performance. I think we must look at the bigger picture and if a more direct or defensive performance allows us to get something from the game then I think we should support this approach.

Maybe I've blinked too soon, maybe I'm demonstrating the same cowardly attitude that has defined us now under three different managers, maybe I'm condoning the very thing most despise, but I fully expected pragmatism in the big games under Mourinho what I didn't expect was that it would extend beyond this.

Our approach will be fascinating and I can't wait. Food for thought I suppose!

DLIB

1.) 09 Nov 2018 14:31:48
If we give City as many soft chances as we have given away in the last couple of games we will be destroyed and humiliated. They could rack up a big score before half time.

However, derby games have a habit of ripping up the form book.

Hopefully, all our players pull together, put in maximum effort and we can come away with a win.

If a couple of players have a bad day at the office and we don't put in maximum effort we could be on the end of a whooping.


2.) 09 Nov 2018 16:05:31
The last whopping we got against City was a 6-1 defeat i believe.


3.) 09 Nov 2018 16:09:41
Dlib. In response be to your question in paragraph 1. The answer us No.

Can we win of course we can. But we will need everything to go our way.


4.) 09 Nov 2018 16:14:40
Sometimes in football you have you realise and accept the in deficiencies in your team and that sometimes you cannot go toe to toe with the opposition. Simply put, city are a better drilled and more talented football team than us. If we try and play them at their own game it may be a cricket score. Now that’s not to say we can’t beat them. There are many ways to skin a cat. And perhaps in Jose we have the master of winning the one off game any way possible.

We all want to see beautiful free flowing football but Sunday is all about getting the win. I have no issue us using fellaini’s attributes and looking to go long so we can by pass city’s press and build out attacks. But that doesn’t mean That we play aimlessly. Against Liverpool at home last year we had a plan to isolate Trent Alexander Arnold by going long to Lukaku and getting flick ons. A few years back when we heat city 4-2 at home under LVG we used fellaini to bring the ball down and bring out forwards into the game. I would still play a front 3 of Sanchez martial Lingard and order them to pressure city’s defence. But then I would play pogba Herrera and fellaini in midfield. Herrera sitting deep using his dynamism to sweep up any danger. And fellaini furtther forwatd forcing the two silva’s to push back. It may not be the prettiest or most desirable football, but we are unfortunately up against the best side in Europe for me.


5.) 09 Nov 2018 18:02:07
Agree with what you say Park.

I would add a point will do nicely whether we have 90% possession or 10%. If we don't lose its a good result for us Sunday.


6.) 09 Nov 2018 19:56:27
I agree fzz.


7.) 09 Nov 2018 21:02:17
Regrettably l have to say we are likely to get a tough lesson in reality of how long the road to recovery is ahead of us.
We get outplayed but manage to keep it to a reasonable scoreline we might just about keep on a fairly even keel. If, God forbid, we get trounced then everything will be up in the air again. I wonder whether Jose would survive that, not that I want him to leave at this juncture. I think that will come at the end of the season angway.


8.) 09 Nov 2018 21:04:34
Park, I am sure we will see free flowing football. The real question is will our team be playing it or watching in stunned amazement?


9.) 10 Nov 2018 05:58:15
Of course we can beat them, despite all the negativity on her. If we push high up the pitch and pressurise, play with energy and purpose, anything is possible. Against the big teams we’ve done ok so far, let’s get at them.


10.) 10 Nov 2018 10:00:39
We have to remember that though we CAN beat them and in spite some encouraging improvement recently this is a Jose "just don't lose" type of fixture. If I were a betting man, the only thing that I would put money on is that Jose will park the bus with wheel clamps on)


11.) 10 Nov 2018 11:40:21
DW20 - Nothing wrong with that in my opinion. City are playing the best football in Europe at the moment and they are at home. Big games should be hard fought wars of attrition. To think we can take on City toe to toe at at this moment in time would be naive at best. We have to find a balance between being defensively solid and a threat going forward. I think a draw would be a good result and keep the momentum going. My criticism of Jose is that he's been unnecessarily pragmatic against the lower half Clubs where a more expansive and braver approach is required. Against teams like City, Liverpool, Chelsea etc I think we can all forgive a more tactical approach especially if we pose a threat going the other way. It was in these games which Jose built his reputation after all and it wasn't for his gung-ho philosophy.

There should only be two positions in the team up for grabs. Do we retain Herrera in midfield or utilise the less mobile but more physical Fellaini? Does Lingard retain his position on the right or do we play the more direct Rashford?

I wouldn't start Rashford, I don't like him on the right. He runs up too
many blind alleys and doesn't retain the ball well enough. I think he's a brilliant option off the bench just like at Bournemouth and Juventus when his pace on the counter can be so dangerous.

I'm torn on Fellaini, I worry about his mobility but I fully expect us to sit deep, play narrow and defend our penalty box. I think we have a fluid, mobile front 3 in Sanchez, Martial and Lingard so I expect us to try and break quickly in the transitions with Pogba joining from midfield, Fellaini holding providing the stability and defensive shield with Matic. I think if we go long from De Gea (as we always do) we need someone to get hold of the ball rather than just constantly surrendering possession. If we could hit Fellaini and retain possession high in their half we could be in business. They will probably have the two Silva's in midfield and neither Laporte or Stones are commanding in the air, I think Fellaini could pose be a real problem for them. If all our goal kicks, dead balls etc are aimed at Fellaini and we then press and suffocate City competing for the knock on's, second balls and retaining the ball high in their half then we have the mobility and quality with the likes of Sanchez, Martial, Lingard and Pogba to cause them all kinds of problems.


12.) 10 Nov 2018 11:42:44
It's a derby any thing could happen .

Let's be honest juve performance was pretty poor but we got a result.


 

 

06 Nov 2018 09:27:51
Morning guys, Darren Fletcher made some interesting comments about Paul Pogba last night on MNF. I know the Pogba debate has been done to death but Fletcher thinks he maybe lacks the discipline to play in CM and believes he is better deployed further forward so with that in mind does anyone think we could adopt a narrow 4-4-2?

Correct me if I'm wrong but I think Atletico Madrid have enjoyed great success under Simone using a narrow 4-4-2 formation. They don't play with wingers in the traditional sense. They are well organised, defensively solid and like to play on the counter. They are a hard working, pragmatic, physical side and I see lots of similarities with how Mourinho wants Utd to set up.

I speculated yesterday if Matic could play CB but I think the general consensus was this wouldn't work. Is Matic better therefore in a midfield 2? Is he left isolated and Does he have to cover too much ground when playing at the base of a midfield 3 with two more advanced midfielders ahead of him? Is he progressive enough on the ball in that position? He's not like Jorginho and doesn't set or control the tempo of the game. He's a very good defensive shield when he's allowed to sit in front of the back 4 with a midfield partner.

Could Pogba be shifted to the left, Matic and Herrera in the middle with Lingard or even Fred on the right with Sanchez and Martial upfront?

I think we've seen on Saturday that Pogba has the power, strength and skill to beat a man and cross the ball or cut inside and shoot. I've always thought Pogba is at his best when he drives forward with the ball. He's very good at playing cross field passes switching the play balls or he could play balls over the top and into the channels for Martial and Sanchez.

Lingard has fantastic movement and would link well with Sanchez and Martial. With Pogba and Lingard not operating as wingers more wide midfielders we should have numbers in central areas allowing us to dominate the ball. Lingard, Sanchez and Herrera all bring an intensity and energy when out of possession with their pressing and mobility. Sanchez could drop deep at times and link the play with Pogba and Lingard operating either side of him with Martial pulling into his favoured left channel.

I honestly believe most of the pieces of the jigsaw are already in the box. Maybe we just need some creative thinking to find a way where they all fit together and find a system that let's everyone flourish and play to their strengths. Alternatively maybe I'm just over thinking and over complicating things and need to give my thumbs a rest.

DLIB

1.) 06 Nov 2018 14:57:22
DLIb - your points are well put without the realisation that several of the players may not be there in the summer but its possible a couple could be gone in January. Sanchez and Pogba being touted around and Martial DDG and Herrera not signing extensions, could prove costly for replacements and the process starts again.


2.) 06 Nov 2018 16:19:33
Cookyman - Maybe but Pogba and Sanchez are still under contract. I think we have the option of a years extension with Martial and I think Herrera will re sign. I accept we might lose De Gea.

If we could find a system that allowed all the players to perform to their potential then maybe they'd be more willing to stay at the Club for the short to medium term anyway if they believed we could challenge for trophies.

It would be more a of 4-2-2-2 formation anyway. Two holding midfielders would allow Pogba and Lingard to play in more advanced positions drifting left and right of centre and covering those areas defensively. Martial would be relinquished of much of his defensive duties meaning he could stay higher up the pitch and pull into that left channel where he can be so devastating. I'm convinced Sanchez will perform better centrally.

I'd try De Gea, Young, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw, Matic, Herrera, Pogba, Lingard, Martial and Sanchez tomorrow night.

It's only a slight tweak in the formation but it might just provide more stability defensively with the two holding players allowing Pogba, Lingard and the full backs to get forward in support of Martial and Sanchez. Matic has looked a little leggy recently and I think he's asked to do too much as the anchor of a midfield 3.

Just my thoughts but I think we have to change something if we want to improve defensively without blunting the attack. We need to find that balance and stability which is proving so elusive.


3.) 06 Nov 2018 17:55:09
agree we have some decent personel and indeed the changes could work but I think the confidence and mental attitude of the players is at such a low level that more than a formation change is needed and there is no fast fix. I do hope/ wish we can turn it around quickly but if we only play 45 mins against Juventus or/ and city we are toast and even with wins in the last 3 epl games under our belt any improvement is fractional.


 

 

05 Nov 2018 14:19:17
Afternoon guys, quick question does anybody think it's time to try Matic at CB?

He appears to be struggling with the stamina and mobility required to play in midfield at the moment.

Smalling has been poor recently. When the ball is in the air he's probably our most commanding defender but he's terrible with the ball at his feet. He struggles against the more agile, mobile attackers and with upcoming away games against Juventus and City I fear the worse.

Matic has the physicality to play the position. He's an intelligent footballer and generally reads the game well. He's calm and assured in possession and he might just provide us with the composure we need to build from the back and get better possession of the football. I'm not saying he's the long term solution but at the moment he may just provide the solution to our defensive problems.

I think our slow starts recently have been exaggerated by our inability to keep possession of the ball early in games. Every goal kick goes long, we lack the courage, bravery and composure to take the ball in tight areas. We look to play the ball long too soon rather than building the play and we invariably surrender possession too easily. When this is combined with the fact that we drop very deep to compensate for our defensive fragilities it fills the opposition with confidence and encourages them to press us higher which causes us even more problems. It's no coincidence to me that we've been able to improve in the second half as the energy and intensity of the game drops which affords us more possession and enables Pogba to influence the game more easily.

I think Matic might just give us the composure we need to settle us down and play some football. I think Pereira could be used as a deep lying play maker and Herrera to add some bite and energy in midfield.

I think Lindelof, Matic and Pereria should be able to manipulate and keep the ball better allowing us to build from the back more readily.

I thought Sanchez looked much better upfront. His link up play, movement and mobility were an upgrade and he was instrumental in getting us back into the game. I hope he gets a run of games up front.

Whilst results have been better, our performances are still frustratingly erratic and until this improves I'm not convinced results will remain as encouraging over the medium to long term.

DLIB

1.) 05 Nov 2018 14:49:09
Think he should just play in mid mate, needs a rest. Will only see the best of him if he's fully fit and energised, we've badly overused him imo.


2.) 05 Nov 2018 14:56:55
or we can play one the other many centre backs we have.

what is up with bailly. or rojo.

its shown with lindoff a run of games in the team.

sick of playing player out of position.


3.) 05 Nov 2018 14:59:35
Matic is a very good player when he is on form. But unfortunately he has been woeful this season. As you both have alluded to, the guy looks knackered. He is reaching a point for me where he cannot play every week in the middle. He just doesn’t have the legs to get around the pitch especially where he is having to do double work covering pogba when he is out of position. I wouldn’t mind seeing him in a back 3 with lindelof and bailly either side. Has a good passing range and would be able to take the ball out of defence. This would then allow us to have a more dynamic midfield with more legs by playing pereira/ Herrera/ Fred. It would also allow us to play mata centrally instead of shifting him to the right. Matic wouldn’t work back 4 imo. Would get shown up against the likes of Aguero. I too hope to see Sanchez played centrally again. Thought he looked far more threatening and dangerous with his runs and movement. He will score plenty of given the time and a run as striker.


4.) 05 Nov 2018 15:19:03
It was always relatively obvious that Matic would struggle this season. Historically he always starts well then taxes as the season progresses. His stamina over a season has always been poor. Therefore, in a season after he has had a reduced rest period due to international commitments it was always likely he was going to struggle.

I wouldn't play him at CB due to the lack of mobility be more likely to be exposed. If he is struggling with central midfielders then what is he going to do with mobile strikers and in cutting wingers?

I think he needs to be tested more. I'd like to see a midfield three of Herrera, Fred and Pogba.


5.) 05 Nov 2018 15:41:23
He's been pretty terrible since the first month or two for me.

Just a body taking up room, occasionally intercepting and picking a good pass, but mostly hampering the speed of our play, losing his man and making other midfielders/ defenders over compensate for his lack of mobility and general poor awareness at times.

Aside from his height (which is irrelevant from an attacking point of view as we can't deliver, and defensively as we look a shambles whenever a ball comes in), I don't see what he brings better than Herrera or Pereira back there. I'd even have Fellaini over Matic and that is saying something.

£50m spent on a player way past his best (clearly Kante taking his place tricked whoever said 'go' on the deal, because Matic was declining rapidly at Chelsea irrespective) . It would be like us signing Fabregas in January because Jorginho plays now, but like Matic somebody will buy Fabregas and feel the pain - hopefully not us but I wouldn't be surprised.


6.) 05 Nov 2018 17:17:09
I agree bolger that we don't want another player playing out of position.
Matic looks knackered to me. Take him out for a couple if weeks as he has done with lukaku.
Bailly has been awful when played anytime this season. I thought he was our potential long term no1 but i just see him jumping in and la king composure all the time.
Can he get himself together and up his game like shaw and martial and respond to the challenge? I don't know its up to him. I thought he was the warrior type but maybe he is a bit soft and easy going for jose.


7.) 05 Nov 2018 17:41:02
I don't think he will be consistent in any position. Past it.


8.) 05 Nov 2018 18:21:33
Badly in need of a rest.

I think he would also benefit with Herrera in beside him doing the majority of leg work. Looked a better player when Herrera was introduced.

But don't be fooled, he is a cracking footballer.


9.) 05 Nov 2018 18:47:04
Shappy - I'm really not convinced by Fred I don't get what kind of player he is yet? Yes he has energy but he's not really a ball winner, his passing is erratic and he gets pushed off the ball too easily for my liking.

I was under the impression he was a bit like Kante but more creative. I was excited by what I'd read about him. I suppose if he was we'd have some player. Early days granted let's hope he improves and finds his role in the team.

Pogba is better with energy around him and pace ahead of him. We still haven't found the right combination to allow him to flourish. We need two tenacious, hard working, ball winners next to him and then pace, movement and mobility ahead for him.

For France he had Kante and Matuidi to do his running and win the ball with Greizman and Mbappi providing the pace and movement.

Football is about finding the correct balance and combinations and we just don't seem to have the right mix.

I suppose Fred does have the energy and Herrera brings an intensity that we definitely miss when he doesn't play maybe that trio could work?!


10.) 05 Nov 2018 20:49:26
Round holes and square pegs come to find. But sometimes it does help slow the water leakage so who knows what happens if actually tried. But I think Matic needs a rest, he has been playing regularly for quite a few seasons and he is getting on a bit. If he still doesn't recover his form even after some rest then maybe we all have to accept that he's legs are going and we won't be seeing the best of him.


 

 

30 Oct 2018 00:57:35
I must confess I love watching Gary Neville on Monday Night Football. I prefer his analysis more than the games sometimes!

Interesting debate around Martial and I agree with every word. I think Shappy picked up on this a while back and identified that Martial's stats per minutes played are actually pretty good and I seem to remember he was questioning why he wasn't playing more often?! I think what Neville identified however was absolutely correct and his movement off the ball can let him down. He's always struck me as a player that wants the ball to feet and there have been times when I've been sat watching him literally screaming at him to accelerate into space or make a run ahead of the ball. He's often too static and prefers the ball to feet which allows the opposition time to re group and get players back behind the ball and the move often breaks down.

What I found fascinating was that Martial's running stats are poor. He runs at least 1.5 - 2km less than all the other top players such as Hazard, Mane, Salah, Sane, Sterling, William etc.

I posted the other day that we are essentially a counter attacking team. We defend deep and mark zones rather than putting pressure on the ball. I don't like this tactic and would prefer to see us be more proactive and try to win the ball back higher up the pitch; Nevertheless we draw teams onto us and then try and break quickly especially away from home. I think we've struggled recently for a variety of reasons principally players like Smalling and Matic not moving the ball forward quickly enough or with sufficient quality, slowing the transitions, giving the ball away or getting caught in possession. When the ball is played forward into Lukaku his hold up play isn't consistent enough to allow players to get forward and support him and players like Martial, Mata and Sanchez all prefer the ball to feet and rarely make runs ahead of the ball. I've questioned our running stats for some time and we often lack the desire, intensity or application to transition quickly from defence into attack. Somebody like Bale would have been perfect and I can understand why Jose was so keen to land Perisic. It makes the Sanchez signing a curious one as he is another player that prefers the ball to feet and likes to try quick, short passes and play through balls to willing runners rather than making penetrating runs himself. I think this explains why he has struggled at Utd. He is simply not suited to our style of play certainly not out wide anyway and the only way I can see him making any kind of impact at our Club is to try him upfront.

I've mused for some time why Martial often looks a far more dangerous player at OT rather than away from home where he can has often been poor or appeared disinterested. I think that although we still drop deep at home we generally enjoy more possession meaning Martial gets the ball into feet in more dangerous positions. Away from home he maybe lacks the desire and intensity to make those lung busting runs forward and he receives the ball far too deep to be effective.

I think there is absolutely no doubt that Martial is a special talent and at the moment our most exciting player. If he could adapt and learn to make better runs off the ball we'd have some player on our hands. He has all the other necessary attributes to be a top player and I love watching him when he picks the ball up in the final third and runs at defenders. I worry however about his casual languid style and hope he can learn to make those penetrating runs that will really transform him into a special player.

I saw against Everton promising signs of good link up play between Shaw, Pogba and Martial. Whilst I'm yet to be convinced by Fred I like his energy and he is a willing runner from midfield. I think if Mourinho is to make a real success of his time at OT he must find a RW that can carry the ball and make runs ahead of the CF. I think we need a more mobile CF capable of both linking the play and making penetrating runs and we must find another dominant, commanding CB that is also good on the ball and of course we need Martial to continue to develop and sign a new contract.

DLIB

1.) 30 Oct 2018 09:02:55
Agree with your post.

We still need 3/ 4 players plus adjustments to our playing style in order to compete at the top.

Watching the Spurs v City game last night we are a long way off the fast, free flowing football that City play. Their defence is good but they score goals freely against the lower sides. Watching the passing of City last night just makes me realise how far from competing with teams of that quality Utd are!


2.) 30 Oct 2018 09:50:48
wont ever get controlling fast football with Jose. He won't change.


3.) 30 Oct 2018 11:55:36
Still not in favour of pogba tbh- he just doesn't do it often enough for me and would welcome some sort of deal with Dybala at juve. That obviously would help with a number of attacking options right, centre attacking and in the 10 role. Rashford is a kid who has lost his way a little -he doesn't know where to go and ends up drifting to the wings when he was best placed to play down the middle on Sunday. Martial played well as did lindlehof but yet again smalling, penalty waiting to happen and matic, ran ragged these are the areas we need to address and have for some time. We have had decent results from the last few games but there's still a good way to go.


4.) 30 Oct 2018 13:01:45
And yet we were the better team against Chelsea and should have won but for some awful defending.

The squad is not that far away.


5.) 30 Oct 2018 13:58:59
Red tinted glasses by any chance Dodgy?

Shots 21 vs 7
Shots on target 6 vs 4
Possession 63% vs 37%
Passes 611 vs 371
Pass accuracy 89% vs 76%

Not sure where and how you think we were the better side. All stats point towards Chelsea being on top win, lose or draw.


6.) 30 Oct 2018 14:05:50
Apart from money why would Dybala leave Juve for Utd? He must be crazy.


7.) 30 Oct 2018 14:58:05
FZZ- maybe because of a certain superstar coming to town- and money?
why did pogba come back to utd when he left feeling he wasnt treated right? footballers can be as fickle as streetwalkers mate.

{Ed002's Note - Pogba orginally left on the advice of two individuals - it was not related to "feeling he wasn't treated right". He returned because the other interested sides (at that point down to two) would not agree the overall asking price (not just the transfer fee, as that was not an issue). It was a mistake and his career has not progressed since.}


8.) 30 Oct 2018 15:12:48
FZZ

I watched the game rather than looking at stats.

Both conceded CFC goals were woeful defending that should not have happened. DDG made a few very easy saves, perhaps one very good one.

MUFC scored a couple of legitimate goals. Missed a one on one.

Football is about opinions, so not arguing with yours, just what I saw.


9.) 30 Oct 2018 16:35:01
Fair enough, but I do think overall a draw was a fair result.
They way I saw it reflected on the stats as well.


10.) 30 Oct 2018 16:41:03
stats mean absolutely naff all. the only stat that matters is goals scored.


11.) 30 Oct 2018 17:40:05
So based on your conclusion bolger2 a draw was a fair result? Something I said before.


12.) 30 Oct 2018 17:43:34
cheers for the clarity re pogba ed002 - my intention was to put forward that players move for all manner of reasons, some logical and others maybe not so and that the movements will continue to throw up surprises:)

{Ed002's Note - You need to see players as tiny transient snapshots in time. A few will stay for the duration but most will not.}


 

 

24 Oct 2018 09:08:36
Men against boys, outclassed, simply too good all words I've heard uttered from the apologists and experts but I I'm not buying any of it.

How many times do we have to take our seats at OT and watch in disbelief as Utd just stand and watch the opposition play. Where is the urgency, where is the pressure, where is the hunger, the desire, the intensity, the pride?!

It's easy to give plaudits to Juventus they are a quality team, but I've seen us stand off Derby, Wolves and even Newcastle in recent weeks and they've all out classed us for large periods of the game as we've just stood, watched and admired.

This is not football or not as I recognise it anyway. I don't know what that was last night but a 1-0 defeat actually feels like a decent result and perhaps that's the saddest part of this saga.

That was a cowardly, lazy display and in all honesty I wasn't that impressed with Juventus. They were afforded the freedom of OT, we didn't lay a finger on them never mind a tackle. Inferior teams have come to OT this season and left us thinking we'd been playing Brazil. The truth is we made them look good by allowing them to play. If they can move the ball and create space under real pressure, when you press the ball quickly and aggressively, when the crowd can react to the desire and intensity of the team and create an atmosphere worthy of a true European occasion then we can afford Juventus the plaudits they deserve. A really good team would have given us exactly what we deserved last night, a real humbling not just a token one.

The scary thing is we could have nicked a draw from that car crash almost proving the ends justify the means.

The only thing missing was hoof ball tactics to Fellaini to fully complete the embarrassment. Ironically we never looked like scoring any other way.

Jose will no doubt fall asleep dreaming of a Saudi Prince but before he laments a gulf in class and lauds their superstars he should be reminded that Pjanic and Matuidi (combined) cost less than the unused Fred. I'm sick of being told our players aren't good enough maybe he should look closer to home before making contemptuous remarks about his own players. These are just excuses and smoke screens.

We can forgive a lack of class what we can't forgive is a lack of effort. I don't know if it's the players or the tactics but we've waited patiently over the last few years for a European heavyweight to come to OT and the occasion just passed us all by. We didn't even compete and I'm left with the feeling this morning is there any point in us actually being in the competition if we're just there to make up the numbers and take advantage of the huge financial incentives on offer.

I'm becoming despondent and came away from the game last night with the feeling I'm being mugged off. Why should I part with my hard earned cash to watch a team that can't even be bothered to press the ball never mind muster a shot or create a chance. You won't win any game of football against any opposition playing like that. Have we not learnt anything from the Derby and Wolves horror shows. It suits the narrative to praise Juventus to cover up for our own self inflicted inadequacies and I hate that. Last night had nothing to do with ability and everything to do with spirit, desire, attitude, commitment, hunger, intensity, energy, intensity and pride. Once we get those aspects of the game right then we can talk about ability. Even the very best teams can't win without the requisite hard work and endeavour. I can hardly wait for our next game. No doubt Everton will outclass us if they are afforded the same time and space on the ball. What will the next excuse be then?

DLIB

1.) 24 Oct 2018 10:12:38
That’s what happens when a plc comes up against a football club. One team has invested in infrastructure and is following a plan. The other is throwing money around thinking that they can buy their way out of the mire it’s in. As Ed002 has said, we did seem to have a plan which was ruined. I’m not going into that because I do think LVG’s position was untenable and a change had to be made.

We were schooled last night. Second half so us go for it but we just did not have the quality to take advantage. Or is it a case of our manager not utilising the quality we have? I don’t know. Juve hardly got out of first gear. They have young so much space on the right during the second half as they knew he couldn’t deliver a ball to hurt them. Why on earth did we not go after cancelo? He was arguably the best player on the pitch. We lack direction and are currently ambling in no mans land.

Yesterday showed how far behind we are europe’s Elite. This is not a money issue as we have bags of it. It’s how we are spending it. This is also an identity crisis. We need to return to our roots and traditions. Pacy wingers, two strikers up top and a solid defence. Teams should fear coming to old Trafford as they know they will be under the cosh from the minute go. Yesterday Juve will never get an easier away game at a ‘top’ European side. It’s embarrassing. We have shown that we can play. The second half against Chelsea has shown that. We are so inconsistent it’s infuriating. I don’t think Jose can improve is anymore. If we aren’t going to back him then we need to shake hands and let him go. No point keeping him if we do not buy into what he wants to do.

A last note on allegri - I can't see how anybody would not want to have him as manager of united. Yes his side isn’t as free flowing as a sarri side or a pep side. But he is a damn good manager and tactically one of the best, if not the best. No guarantee he would have done wonders for us, but I’m sure we would have an identity and style 3 years down the line. And that’s the issue with Jose. 3 years down the line and he still doesn’t know his best side, the style of play we are trying to enforce.

Our football is so reactionary. We never take initiative and pressurise the opposition. Too much respect. We are too timid. We had a dynamic front three yesterday. We should have been pressing the two centre halves last night. They are both world class but they are aging. They will never have an easier night. Bitterly disappointed tbh. But can hardly say I am surprised.


2.) 24 Oct 2018 10:23:16
Forgot to say great post DLIB. We are simply just making up the numbers in the competition. I came away feeling that we did not deserve to be in the comp. sure we qualified for it last year. But both arsenal and Chelsea would have given a far better account of themselves last night had they been in our position. At least they would have gone for it and posed a threat. I feel so detached from the club at the moment.


3.) 24 Oct 2018 16:36:00
DLIB and Park, totally agree particularly about feeling despondent. There doesn't seem to be a plan on the pitch, a style, a way of playing. As a result, the players look hesitant and uncertain of what they should be doing. Then they stop doing anything. I think they are despondent as well.


4.) 25 Oct 2018 15:21:55
DLIB
Said it all in your first three words.


 

 

 

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08 Oct 2018 13:08:24
Yeah your probably right Ed001. Pie in the sky talk really just thinking out loud thanks for your reply!

DLIB

{Ed001's Note - it is difficult because you don't want to push out a legend like Fergie, but sometimes you have to.}


 

 

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08 Oct 2018 10:24:18
Ed001 - I think that is superb reply and I totally agree with you about SAF. It is my understanding that as his career progressed he took a step back and became a brilliant delegator. He regularly changed his assistants and coaching staff to freshen things up, implement new ideas and keep the players motivated. He became more of an observer which gave him the advantage of being able to assess exactly what was going on at the football Club.

I think you hit the nail on the head when you said any new DOF will become the most important person at the Club most certainly from a footballing perspective anyway. They will drive the footballing strategy and vision.

I was always slightly curious why we couldn't have adopted this approach when SAF retired. I think he could have remained in post for a couple of seasons as a figurehead whilst Moyes took control of the team. He would have been a valuable asset and maybe he could have been more actively involved in player recruitment aiding both Moyes and Woodward through a difficult first window. I'd have liked to have seen a slower more measured transition where Moyes was approached and offered the job as head coach ultimately taking the main role the following season or even the season after. It might just have given the Club time to find its feet and put measures in place to fill the massive void when SAF eventually retired. Of course this is all just pie in the sky reasoning but ultimately the great man was always going to retire and maybe his biggest legacy could have been overseeing the next step and ensuring the Club continued to dominate rather than just leaving a vacuous hole they have been unable to fill. Johan Cruyff left Barcelona with a footballing philosophy which has endured for decades even after his untimely death. He has provided the Club with a blueprint and recipe for continued success. I'd have like to have seen Utd follow suit with SAF engineering and planning his own retirement and legacy rather than just leaving suddenly. Of course this all sounds great in theory but I appreciate in reality it's easier said than done. Maybe he just couldn't commit any more of his time and things happened suddenly which we're out of his control. Its all ancient history now anyway.

DLIB

{Ed001's Note - I think the problem you had was that Fergie was still around and it never works out when the previous, legendary, manager is still around. Busby stepped upstairs and it didn't help at all. Shankly was causing a similar issue at Liverpool after he quit, so he was asked to stay away. Cruyff went off to rebuild Ajax (if I remember correctly) so he was not there overshadowing his successors. Fergie is too strong a character to just put him to one side, unlike Paisley, for example, who acted as advisor when Dalglish was first appointed up until he fully retired in 1989 and then it all fell apart for Liverpool without him. When you have someone as strong as Fergie, it has to be a clean break or his shadow is over everything.

Your biggest problem was that he was in control of pretty much everything at the club. Great while he was there, but the minute he went it left a massive power vacuum that Eddy Woodwouldward could never hope to fill and Moyes had no intention of getting involved to that degree of micro-management. So you were left with a lot of people who no longer knew who to report to.}


 

 

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26 Jul 2018 16:25:54
Shappy - The exotic name thing wasn't aimed at you pal. In hindsight I should have omitted that. I just think Maguire is universally underrated on here but by no means am I saying he's the finished article. I think he'd be a decent signing but I understand your reservations and take your point about him maybe not being a major upgrade on we've already got. Anyway this site would be a boring place if we all had the same opinion.

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26 Jul 2018 12:01:27
I take your point Shappy but I think McGuire has come in for some undue criticism to be honest.

It remains to be seen if he's a viable target but I think he'd be a solid addition to our team. From what I've seen he's big, strong, very good in the air and good with the ball. He maybe lacks a yard of pace and I've heard people criticise his positioning at times but that's something that can be worked on and will prove with experience. I think he's better than what we've got (maybe Bailly apart) . He's got good pedigree and actually played in the FA youth Cup final against us with the likes of Pogba and Lingard. He's continued to improve at both Hull then Leicester and maybe he deserves a chance to play at a higher level. Sometimes we get seduced by more exotic names but I think he's a good solid player, at the right age that will continue to improve.

I think Lindelof was signed for the right reasons but I just think he lacks the physicality for the Prem League. If Jose isn't going to play him then maybe now is the time to cash in. He's had a good World Cup and I'm sure we'd get our money back at least. I'd definitely cash in on Rojo. He's perpetually injured and apart from a 15-20 game spell where he looked half decent playing next to Jones he's been pretty unspectacular to say the least. I think both Smalling and Jones are solid squad players and have served the club well. I fully agree about Tuanzebe but I'm not sure he's ready just yet.

In relation to the Martial saga just let the boy move on. It's obvious he isn't going to flourish under Mourinho and I see little point in keeping a player that is unhappy and isn't going to help the team. He may develop into a very good player but at the moment he's just not quite there and has shown little interest in fighting for his place. His next move will be crucial and if he's hankering for a move to the likes of Real or Bayern I'm certain he'll find himself in exactly the same position.

Maybe some kind of swap deal with Spurs for Son Heung-Min would interest all parties. He works tirelessly, he can play in any position across the top three including striker and scores goals.

Utd need to start getting creative if we want to see some transfer activity this summer.

DLIB

 

 

 

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13 Nov 2018 17:17:33
Good repost Moston I admire your passion and enthusiasm. I can't argue with much of your post, the majority of our fans feel exactly the same.

My post was speculative and rhetorical designed to illicit if people think a change of style, mentality and manager would yield considerably better results!

Let's not forget yet despite the rigid, turgid and unimaginative football as it stands Jose has won two trophies, finished runners up and reached an FA cup final. Is that really so bad?!

I think that even the most ardent supporter would accept that Pep inherited a vastly superior squad. He has been fully backed by his board who share the same ideology and ambition. Jose on the other hand has continually had to fight fires and persuade the board to bend to his will with limited success. It would appear that they are at loggerheads and have differing opinions on transfer policy and how to move the Club forward. This animosity must seep into the psyche of the players and only diminishes Jose's power within the dressing room.

Many of our fans like to dismiss Jose CV which I find disrespectful and naive. Jose has been hugely successful using his particular brand of football. He has was won titles in England, Spain, Italy and Portugal with four different teams with differing resources. He has won the Champions League with two different Clubs including the treble. He last title came only 3 years ago so to call him a dinosaur is a touch premature and short sighted. Let's not forget Pep hasn't won the Champions League since 2011. He couldn't replicate this at Bayern despite inheriting a treble winning team and he hasn't come remotely close at City. In fact Pelegrini managed to navigate City's passage to the semi finals.

Jose style is not to everyone's taste but we can't argue that's it's not been hugely successful.

His methods are reliant on organisation and discipline. This lays the foundation which is then reliant upon individuals to provide the quality up front to win the game. His best teams stifled and strangled the opposition. The opposition were lucky to create a chance never mind score a goal. His teams were hard to play against, often beaten before a ball had been kicked and certainly defeated after the first goal was scored, there was simply no way back.

He has brought some of these qualities to Utd. I think we remain unbeaten when we have scored the first goal and our win percentage in these games is ridiculously high.

Injuries, loss of form and a lack of quality in our defence has meant he has been unable to build the team on solid foundations. He has been unable to instil defensive discipline in the likes of Pogba and Martial and we have lacked the mercurial genius upfront to spearhead our attack to score and create goals.

His sullen mood preseason and confrontation with the board eroded all confidence in our fragile defenders. We are conceding chances and goals with alarming regularity and this is so unlike a Jose team.

It is my belief that the Smalling/ Lindelof axis simply isn't good enough. Both make basic mistakes on a regular basis and I wouldn't have neither anywhere near my team.

Our results have improved because Martial is now fulling his potential and delivering goals and assists on a regular basis. I've heard others suggest Lindelof has improved yet if he was performing at the same level as Martial we wouldn't be conceding so many goals and would be winning games more easily.

Any further success under Mourinho will be dependent on finding a reliable, consistent defence, capable of keeping clean sheets and the continued development and improvement in Martial providing the moments of quality required to win games. Of course if the likes of Pogba, Sanchez, Lukaku, Lingard and Rashford can also improve and replicate the form of Martial things will improve considerably.

Mourinho does have a style and method which has brought him great success, unfortunately it's not universally to our liking and without a solid defence he's facing an uphill battle!

DLIB

 

 

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13 Nov 2018 11:27:33
Whilst the debate rages regarding who is to blame for our current malaise it got me thinking to how Pep would deal with our current squad. If we accept the premise that he's the best manager and Mourinho is vastly underachieving then how different would our team look if Pep was in charge?

Pep has predominantly favoured 4-3-3 so no radical changes there. City were heavily linked with both Sanchez and Fred so I'll assume both would be involved. Considering Pep's insistence of high intensity pressing, combined with mobility, fluidity and possession I have attempted to select a team in his image from our current squad.

De Gea, Bailly, Rojo, Young, Shaw, Fred, Herrera, Pogba, Martial, Lingard, Sanchez.

I'm not entirely sure who he'd play at RB or CB. I think Bailly would compete with Lindelof for the right side and I think Rojo would play on the left to bring some balance. I also think Mata could play in one of the more advanced midfield positions but have opted for Herrera as he brings more energy and intensity to the team.

I think the main difference is Mourinho's preference for strength, height and power and his mentality to sit deep and absorb pressure in comparison to Pep's more pro active, attacking and fluid approach. Smalling, Matic, Lukaku even Fellaini are all stalwarts of his team and I'm not convinced any would play under Pep and certainly not all together.

There would obviously be a shift in mentality and a plan to win the ball back higher up the pitch meaning our defence would be under considerably less pressure. Sanchez, Lingard, Herrera, Fred all have the mobility and mentality to put the opposition under intense pressure and win the ball back. Pogba and Martial would have to follow suit and work harder.

I'd love to see our team go out and play with hunger, intensity and desire and to see what it's capable of with the more technical players in our squad given a platform to excel.

Forget about the structure of the Club or a DOF etc the most important man is the manager. If Pep was in charge we wouldn't be talking about that stuff anyway. We would have a clear identity and vision. We would all recognise the style of play, know what direction the Club was heading and what was needed to improve.

Mourinho plays pragmatic, percentage football. He has historically managed good players where he gets them well drilled and organised, based predominantly around a defensive structure which sees his team sit deep and is difficult to break down. He then relies on individuals or set pieces to win him matches. When he spoke about our defeat on Sunday he is factually correct in what he said. The system and tactics were theoretically sound. It provided us with a platform to stay in the game and compete against a better side. Mourinho can't legislate for individual mistakes, he can't play the game for his players. What he's failed to understand is we are Man Utd. We don't want to play percentage football, we don't want to be the underdogs. He doesn't have a Terry to organise his defence or a Ronaldo to provide him consistent moments of individual brilliance. I think any coach in the league could manage this squad and have us in 8th position. With the players we have I don't think we would fall much lower even if I was in charge. Considering Jose CV I find this unnerving but his regular outbursts and public criticism of players have left him with bridges to build and wounds to heal. There are signs relationships have healed, results have improved but I get the impression it's a fragile peace and he's seriously up against it for a top 4 finish now.

DLIB

 

 

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12 Nov 2018 09:45:37
James - The way the game has evolved with better playing surfaces, the outlaw of forceful tackles combined with a lot of the physicality removed from the game means strength and power can no longer out muscle skill, technique and mobility.

Our dozy giants simply fell asleep from two crosses into the box (an area they are supposed to excel) and were passed dizzy, out thought and out manoeuvred by a superior football team.

The fact Jose turned to Lukaku to lead the line, a player without a goal in months, a player devoid of confidence with a questionable first touch just demonstrates that he's still reliant on strength and power but without giving it a platform to succeed. We're a dirty, seedy, grubby little halfway house.

Fellaini's role was bizarre why he wasn't deployed further up the field to allow us to play over their press at least trying to utilise his strength and height was criminal especially with the likes of Mata, Fred, Sanchez, Pereira in the squad. Fellaini either shields the back 4 from long balls or we play direct into his chest, letting him burst into the box and playing crosses or diagonal balls to the back post. To play him as a holding midfielder and expect him to track runners and manipulate the ball starting our attacks was madness especially when paired with the equally immobile and cumbersome Matic. Predictably we got exactly what we deserved. (This is no criticism of Fellaini by the way merely the use of him) .

We are caught in purgatory without identity or soul.

I think it's time to decide what kind of team we want to be. If we are to persist with Fellaini and Lukaku then let's play to their strengths. Let's get the ball into Fellaini, compete for he second balls, flick ons and knocks downs and play our football in the oppositions half. Let's get the ball out wide and put crosses into the box for Lukaku and get Fellaini joining him. Let's create havoc, chaos and panic. It might be about as subtle as a brick but that brick is capable of causing a bit of damage especially if there is some quality to back it up! If we have to play direct football then let's not apologise but do it properly and do it well.

If we want to play intricate football with combinations and fluidity then we have Mata, Fred, Pereira, Pogba, Sanchez, Lingard. If Jose doesn't think these players are good enough to play a passing, fluid style of football then Matic, Fellaini and Lukaku certainly aren't. Staying in the game and hoping for dead ball situations simply isn't good enough.

Without an identity how can we possibly hope to move forward and how do we identify the right players that can improve the team?!

It's time to choose one way or the other because what was served up yesterday simply won't suffice.

DLIB

 

 

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11 Nov 2018 13:31:53
I get your point Red Man but I think we're just looking for excuses.

Chelsea don't appear to suffer the way we have? They replace mangers with alarming regularity yet don't appear to seek out a particular style or character. They've jumped from Ancelotti to Mourinho to Conte now Sarri. All have different approaches and styles yet all have been successful (early days for Sarri) . The truth is good players can adapt to any style or system. I accept that some tweaking is required but Chelsea still have many of the players that won the title under Mourinho.

It's always seemed absurd to me that the manager doesn't have an input or the final say on transfers. Things don't need to be complicated in my opinion.

What we need to do is simply sign better players and appoint better managers. Sometimes players or managers don't work out, even good ones can struggle to settle or adapt.

I'm not advocating we become a sacking Club. We can still operate with fairness and integrity. We should back our managers, give them what they want (within the constraints of the Club obviously) but they must understand that we are an ambitious Club with high expectations which must be met. If come the end of the season those expectations have not been fulfilled then we look for somebody new that can.

Praise City's structure all you want but the reason they are enjoying this period is because of Pep. It's really not rocket science, they appointed the best manager and they have backed their man. Liverpool have improved because of Klopp. We weren't praising their structure or transfer committee under Hodgson or Rodgers?!

So far Mourinho has done ok. Two trophies, fa cup finalist and runners up isn't to shabby. His style has been turgid at times, his methods antagonistic and divisive but for those who expected different don't understand Mourinho. For whatever reason we failed to back him in the summer which explains the poor start. He's had to build bridges, heal wounds (many of his own making admittedly) and we've suffered. If he can turn things around remains to be seen but the moral of the story must be back your manager or don't whichever the case maybe but a halfway house is no good for anyone.

There was success after Busby, there will be success after Fergi. We are a gigantic Club with huge resources. We should always strive to be the best, not accept mediocrity, but that doesn't mean we have to act without honesty or integrity. For me Man Utd should stand for excellence and accept nothing less. Players and managers are paid handsomely to represent this excellence and if they can't deliver then unfortunately we must find others that can. This is the nature of the business, this is the nature of Man Utd. Nobody said it was easy!

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10 Nov 2018 11:40:21
DW20 - Nothing wrong with that in my opinion. City are playing the best football in Europe at the moment and they are at home. Big games should be hard fought wars of attrition. To think we can take on City toe to toe at at this moment in time would be naive at best. We have to find a balance between being defensively solid and a threat going forward. I think a draw would be a good result and keep the momentum going. My criticism of Jose is that he's been unnecessarily pragmatic against the lower half Clubs where a more expansive and braver approach is required. Against teams like City, Liverpool, Chelsea etc I think we can all forgive a more tactical approach especially if we pose a threat going the other way. It was in these games which Jose built his reputation after all and it wasn't for his gung-ho philosophy.

There should only be two positions in the team up for grabs. Do we retain Herrera in midfield or utilise the less mobile but more physical Fellaini? Does Lingard retain his position on the right or do we play the more direct Rashford?

I wouldn't start Rashford, I don't like him on the right. He runs up too
many blind alleys and doesn't retain the ball well enough. I think he's a brilliant option off the bench just like at Bournemouth and Juventus when his pace on the counter can be so dangerous.

I'm torn on Fellaini, I worry about his mobility but I fully expect us to sit deep, play narrow and defend our penalty box. I think we have a fluid, mobile front 3 in Sanchez, Martial and Lingard so I expect us to try and break quickly in the transitions with Pogba joining from midfield, Fellaini holding providing the stability and defensive shield with Matic. I think if we go long from De Gea (as we always do) we need someone to get hold of the ball rather than just constantly surrendering possession. If we could hit Fellaini and retain possession high in their half we could be in business. They will probably have the two Silva's in midfield and neither Laporte or Stones are commanding in the air, I think Fellaini could pose be a real problem for them. If all our goal kicks, dead balls etc are aimed at Fellaini and we then press and suffocate City competing for the knock on's, second balls and retaining the ball high in their half then we have the mobility and quality with the likes of Sanchez, Martial, Lingard and Pogba to cause them all kinds of problems.

DLIB