Something about United being pump
This post is a bit ranty, so apologies in advance. I've had a lot of these thoughts brewing for a while and thought I may as well vent it all in an attempt to come to terms with our current troubling form.
For the defence
I'll include David De Gea here as he is technically part of the defence. In short I think he's ace. The improvement seen in him since he first arrived in 2011 is enormous and he was rightly included in the team of the season for 2012/13. He made a massive clanger against Sunderland which effectively led to us going out of the cup, and it was an unforgivable error for a keeper of his calibre, but you could argue we shouldn't have been in that position in the first place. De Gea has been one of the only positive and consistent things in the season so far, and I dare say we'd be a few points further off the pace without him.
This next one is particularly difficult for me to type, but as much as I love him I fear Patrice Evra's days are numbered. All to often this season he's caught out of position, not close enough to his man and too lazy tracking back. He's really effective in attacking positions, as his improved goal return in the last two seasons shows, but I don't feel as confident in him defensively as I used to. This could be his last season as first choice left-back.
Rio and, to a lesser extent Vida, both now have their best days long behind them. With Ferdinand the main problem is a sever lack of pace tied to being pretty injury prone. I think that it would be worth having him in the squad because he's such a character and presence in the dressing room, but he shouldn't start games any more. Nemanja Vidic is still a very good defender, and should be kept in the squad and probably play a large number of games, but as with Ferdinand he has lost at least a yard of in recent seasons; such a key attribute in the modern game. His experience and ability should be used to help develop the defence for the future, which should be built around Phil Jones.
Phil Jones has been played predominantly out of position since he arrived at Old Trafford. When you sign a teenager for £16 million, you imagine that he is pretty god for his age in his position. Jones had been starting for Blackburn in the Premier League which shows the quality he had. So it seems weird to me that he's played a massive percentage of his games for United in midfield. On occasion he can do a good job, when he is given a man to mark and follow for a game, like he did to great effect against Cristiano Ronaldo last season. But he lacks the subtlety and finesse with the ball at his feet to be a midfielder in the long term. If you look at the best 'destroyer' type midfielders - Claude Makelele is a prime example - they all have some amount of ability to find a simple pass and retain possession. This is not in Jones' core set of skills. He is at his best when he's making last ditch challenges, smothering shots, winning headers and bossing strikers. He is a centre back, who was bought as a centre back, who plays best at centre back, but gets played in midfield. This isn't all David Moyes fault, the precedent was set by Alex Ferguson, but Moyes can fix it by building his new defence around Jones.
Our wingers are average at best. Tony Valencia is one of the most indecisive players I've seen. He is an absolute monster with pace to burn, but 95% of the time he'll get to the edge of the box and then take half an hour to decide what to do, before turning and passing to his right back. Plus he's massively inconsistent.
Ashley young is poor and needs to be sold.
I might be one of only a few people who thinks that Nani is ok when he's not injured. He's one of the only players in the squad who can actually square up a man and send him the wrong way, but his end product and goal return is severely lacking. Plus, he's injured all the time lately.
Where do you start with Marouane Fellaini? Our only major signing of the summer, he has looked so out of place in the big games. Against Yaya in the derby he was out muscled, out powered, out-run, outplayed and generally outclassed. Out of his depth. He was a good player at an average club at Everton. He doesn't improve United's squad in any way and was a panic buy. The less said about him the better.
Cleverley looked promising in his early United career but has only developed into an OK player at best. His ball retention is generally good but quite often silly mistakes creep into his game. He plays sideways too often and his goal return is also pretty woeful for a player who must have aspirations of being the answer to the CAM problem for the next decade. It's an obvious thing to say but United need a player who can keep the ball but also play incisive, defence-splitting passes forward. They need a Scholes. Cleverley will never be a Scholes.
Fletch is ok as an understudy but like Cleverley he only plays sideways and never finds incisive through balls.
Carrick is only CM worth keeping for a starting place. He has a fantastic range of passing, instigates attacks with forward balls plus he makes a huge amount of interceptions. If only he could shoot.
Adnan Januzaj is the big positive from this season. He has almost single-handedly kept the season alive, and perhaps to a greater extent kept the fans interested in a season which could soon be all over bar the shouting if results don't improve. His five year contract is a massive boost and hopefully he goes on to become our next iconic number seven.
Attack, Attack, Attack
Personally I think we're ok up top if everyone is fit. This season does need a certain amount of perspective on account of the fact that van Persie and Rooney have been injured for huge chunks of it. Any team would miss those two and the stats from games where they play together back that up. I think we'd be a good six to eight points better off if they had been available for every game.
I know it has been highlighted in the press but one huge problem is that we don't have those huge final ten to fifteen minute spells any more when you feel like a goal was just a case of WHEN and not IF. I think that can all be linked to confidence, which I personally believe is caused by the defence being shaky all season. The midfield and attackers (Rooney) aren't getting forward enough late in games because they're more worried about conceding. In years gone by we'd have ten players in the opposition half for the final ten minutes of a game we were chasing, it's not happening at the moment.
Despite the fact that he is a trophy-winning monster, Fergie left us in the shit big time with no attacking midfielder of note and an ageing defence. When he pulled Paul Scholes out of retirement two years ago it should have acted as a massive slap in the face to the fact that we were dying for that kind of player. Instead, Scholes stayed on another season and the problem was forgotten about and left for the next manager to deal with.
This is why I think this season isn't all David Moyes' fault, and why he fans have stayed behind him so far, but he has a lot of work to do. The signing of Juan Mata is an excellent start and hopefully he can integrate into the team quickly, starting tonight at home to Cardiff.