Even though Ferguson and his men did try and instigate an emphatic comeback against AVB and Co., the latter easily hung on for an impressive 3-2 win against 19-time English champions and ended the London club’s 23 year win-less streak at the Theatre of Dreams.
United performance, particularly in the first-half, raised some major concerns with respect to the team’s ability to compete for honours this season and the over-reliance on the ageing players.
Hence, without any further ado, let’s have a look at three of the biggest concerns for United right now and how they could adversely affect this team’s campaign.
1. Faltering Defense
Alex Ferguson will surely regret not buying decent defensive back-ups this summer.
Against Tottenham, his back four was thoroughly tormented and exploited by the pace and skills of Spurs’ attackers.
This is not the first time that United’s defense has let them down. It has been happening over the past 12 months and it’s a shame that Ferguson has refused to address this problem until now.
Rafael and Evra, as exciting as they might be going up front and supplementing the attack, rarely fulfil their defensive duties. The two are often found guilty of poor man-marking and many a times are caught in no man’s land.
Moreover, it baffles one that Evra is still in the starting 11 and Alexander Buttner, who was phenomenal during his debut against Wigan, rots on the bench. Even though Buttner might lack the experience of Premier League, he still appears to be a safer bet than Evra.
The central defense duo of Jonny Evans and Rio Ferdinand too was horrendous against Spurs.
Even though one can surely expect Evans to bounce back and gradually establish himself as United’s prime centre-back in the future, the many cause of worry is Rio Ferdinand and his inability to perform well for United any more.
The England international was ruthlessly exploited by the pace of Gareth Bale and Dembele on Saturday and now it is quite evident that he doesn’t deserve to don the Red Devils’ jersey anymore.
Against weaker sides, the former Leeds United star might produce some solid displays, but against teams of equal calibre, consisting of pacey players with truckloads of trickery and skills at their hands, Ferdinand is often just a spectator during the games.
If the fitness issues of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Nemanja Vidic continue to persist, then Ferguson should surely start planning for a winter transfer coup of a decent defender.
Alternatively, he could also give the youngsters like Scott Wootton or possibly Michael Keane the chance to step-up and establish themselves as first-team contenders.
Adding to that, it would also be wise if Valencia plays in place of Rafael during big-games as the Ecuador international, despite primarily being a winger, has a habit of tracking back and fulfilling his defensive commitments.
2. Fading Veterans and Inconsistent Displays By Nani and Anderson
Another avenue of problem for Fergie is United’s unstable midfield.
The Scottish bought three attackers in the summer, but didn’t focus on buying a defensive midfielder, a kind of player that United desperately need.
Against Spurs, Ferguson deployed his traditional 4-4-2 formation, with Giggs and Nani on the flanks and Scholes and Carrick at the heart of the midfield.
Even though Scholes and Carrick were neat and calm in possession and passing and Scholes virtually became the catalyst of United’s comeback bid in the second half, the midfield was highly unstable and failed to provide adequate support to Shinji Kagawa and van Persie until the introduction of Wayne Rooney.
Scholes and Carrick might be two of the best ‘true’ central midfielders in the Premier League, but they usually fail to form the link between the defence and the attack against solid opponents.
Ryan Giggs’ form seems to be fading away with the near invisible display against Spurs a testament to the claim and Nani has become more of a frustrating and inconsistent player on the right wing. Moreover, with his off-field issues creating problems with and inside the club, it’s better than Ferguson ships off the Portugal in the winter or after the season.
He might show glimpses of the ‘next Cristiano Ronaldo’, but his inconsistency, solo-play, wastefulness and lack of determination turn him more into a liability rather than an asset.
With Anderson more likely heading towards the exit door and Cleverley failing to live up to his potential, it is high time that the midfield is rather handed over to United’s younger generation and some reinforcements are bought.
As aforementioned, United desperately need a defensive midfielder like Kevin Strootman, who’ll make the team more structured and inject some fresh blood into the team. The likes of Jesse Lingard, Davide Petrucci, and Ryan Tunnicliffe should also be give the chance to in the first-team sooner rather than later and subsequently Nani and Anderson should be sold to make way and funds for better players.
3. Deciding the Number One
David De Gea or Anders Lindegaard?
It is quite evident that Ferguson is still undecided on his number one and this could cause various problems for United in the long run.
To have a strong defence, communication between the ‘keeper and the defenders is pivotal.
It could be best explained in the way United conceded an own goal against Fulham via Vidic. The man between the sticks during that game was De Gea and the prime reason for the own goal was that the two players had barely played with each other before. Due to his, there was confusion as to who had to go for the incoming ball. Subsequently, both went in for the ball and the latter consequently ended up in the back of the net.
The point of the above example is that in order to strengthen the defence, Ferguson not only needs to make revamp the back-four, but also decide who his preferred first-choice ‘keeper is.
Personally, I feel that De Gea should start. The lad has massive potential and was finally establishing himself as one of the elite young goalkeepers in the world before Ferguson decided to start his rotation policy. De Gea was phenomenal against Galatasaray and it will be best for the club if the Spaniard is shown some faith by his manager and given the chance to truly proclaim himself as the true heir to Van der Saar.