A day after Manchester United’s dry, lackluster – and at times, worrying – victory over relegation-threatened Burnley at Old Trafford, Paul Scholes vented his frustration at United’s current style of football.
“United’s football is miserable”, and “there is an obsession with possession” were phrases that Scholes used in his column with The Independent. A stinging assessment, albeit one that my fellow fans and I can’t help but agree with.
To understand just how dire the situation is, search for Ronaldo’s, Scholes’ or Beckham’s goals for United. Hell, even Ashley Young’s! The goals our boys used to score were scorching, made out of nothing, and pure joy to watch. Describe them any way you want – crackers, slingshots, screamers, thunderbolts – they were all that and more. Shots from everywhere – quite often from outside the penalty box – rained down on opposing goalkeepers. And quite a fair bit, in the final few minutes of the game – so much so that teams knew they could never rest against United until the final whistle had gone.
A comment during the match against Burnley stuck with me: “Manchester United with another classic counter-attack in the end”. Lung-busting runs from within our own half – with only a handful of defenders to beat – come to a grinding halt near the other team’s penalty box. The ball gets passed around – from side to midfield to side and back and forth – giving the other team ample time to regroup and get enough bodies in front of goal. Then comes the long ball into the overcrowded penalty box, and more often than not, it ends up a wasted opportunity.
That’s not the United we know, and definitely not the United we want to see. With key matches around the corner – beginning with the FA Cup tie against Preston – United needs to strike a lot more. Possession does not matter. Attacking the opposition goal does.
We want risk-takers. We want shots. We want goals, lots more goals. And we want that occasional rocket tearing the back of the other side’s net. We want the risky United back!