Three defeats in a row is not the ideal way to follow six wins in a row and it leaves United requiring five points (due to a significantly superior goal difference) from the remaining three games to guarantee a Champions League qualification spot. What is slightly worrying is that all three defeats showed the exact same deficiencies in the team, much in the way that the 6 previous victories showed where the strengths were. The simple view is that United don’t have the ability to finish the many chances they are creating, and with 17 and 15 shots from our away games to Everton and Chelsea respectively, and 26 in our home game with West Brom, that view would certainly be supported. However, any casual observer would be able to count on one hand the number of real guilt edge chances created in the three of those games combined. There have been shouts of predictability from fans and pundits alike, but WHY have United become predictable in these last 3 games when they absolutely demolished the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham and City recently? It has been stated frequently that United do not take enough risks, the type of risks in forward passing that is fundamental for really great chances to be created, and I agree with this, where I don’t agree is that the fault of this lies with the midfield and forwards, that somehow they cannot do it. Of course they can, they have shown that they can. My personal view is that it is no coincidence that the lack of creativity has coincided with the disruption of a consistent and solid back line of Valencia, Smalling, Jones and Blind, protected by Michael Carrick. With those men behind them, the likes of Herrera, Mata, Young, Fellaini and Rooney played with a carefree attitude resembling the good old days. With the knowledge of a good insurance policy behind them the risks were taken and the goals were scored. It goes back to the initial problems faced in the early stages of the season and it is for this reason that United simply cannot afford to let the defence go unaddressed once again this summer. Without further ado here are my three heroes and 3 villains from our home defeat to West Brom.
Robin van Persie:
When your best player on the pitch has his penalty saved you just know it isn’t going to be your day. Considering that van Persie has been out with injury for such a long period, his display was particularly impressive. In the first half he made chances and had shots out of nothing, in the second half he created chances from his teammates from a deeper midfield position, there was nothing he didn’t do. The main criticism of van Persie this season, accurately or falsely (I’m still dubious, I haven’t seen any statistics to back this claim) is that he looks disinterested and doesn’t run about in the manner that Rooney does. Well, he looked hungry as hell on Saturday and it is almost criminal that he came off the pitch on the losing side.
Yet another solid display from our most improved defender. The loss of his partner in crime recently (Phil Jones) has done little to disrupt his own personal performances, passing with an accuracy of 94%, winning 100% of his aerial duels, making 6 interceptions and 4 clearances. Where I feared for his future at the club just a few months ago, he has really turned it around and can claim to be the only defender who is actually better now than he was in the pre-Moyes era.
He kept things ticking over nicely in the midfield but has been limited offensively, being required to sit deeper as a result of the team missing Michael Carrick. That said he was complicit in creating 3 chances, crossed the ball relatively accurately, was involved all over the pitch in winning the ball back from West Brom and passed with an accuracy of 90%. There is not much more positive to say than that.
A major culprit of wastage on Saturday. 5 shots and not one on target. Two were blocked and three were off target. He was the epitome of everything that was wrong with United’s forwards. Slow, indecisive and generally unsure of himself. Of his 10 crosses only 1 found a team mate and that was from a corner. His passing was accurate, but as was the main issue with the team as a whole, they were all generally safe passes. Only two of his passes could be considered penetrative and both of those were incomplete. It was just a blunt performance.
I feel like I am repeating myself from previous posts here. In a game where we are expected to have the ball for as much as we did, where creativity in passing is likely to be more effective against a team whose main strength is in the air, why was Fellaini in the starting line-up? We were never going to beat a Tony Pulis team aerially, the game plan was to pass through them, so why Fellaini? I have said time and time again, Fellaini DOES have a place in this United squad, but he is NOT required in every game! Against a City or Chelsea where a mix of power and possession are required YES, against teams like Aston Villa and West Brom NO! ESPECIALLY AT HOME!
David De Gea:
Terrible wall… what in the fuck is the point of putting Rooney two steps to the side of the wall? Just put him in the fucking thing! Had he done that the ball would have hit Rooney instead of Olsen and no goal. And then that smile… how much did you win on your acca David? Or is it just that you know the move you so desire is one step closer? I have had enough with this whole scenario and it’s time United behaved like the massive club they are, stop being held to ransom and drop him. United quite simply cannot afford to have a player in such a critical position who is not fully, 100% committed to the cause of Champions League qualification and the successful future of this football club. It’s time we brought in Valdes or Lindegaard and said adios to De Gea unless he puts pen to paper immediately.
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