It is really frustrating to watch the Red Devils play nowadays. One or two bight sparks in a game are not sufficient for a team trying to defend the title in the most difficult league in the world. But that is what has been going on this season. Now, you would think it’s the change in management that has caused such drastic volatility in the performances. I beg to differ. Of course, David Moyes is no Sir Alex Ferguson, but it hasn’t been completely his fault. I am definitely not saying that you cannot criticize him at all but he definitely is not the only cook to blame for this disastrous feast.
There have been so many aspects of United’s play that have looked pretty ordinary. Let’s start off with the defence.
David Moyes has still not been able to find the perfect back four. Apart from Patrice Evra, it seems none of the other positions have a player to make it his own. Rafael, however, is someone who has been injured for quite some time. But, the centre of defence looks more and more volatile with every passing day. With the inconsistency of the so called heart of defence, Nemanja Vidic has been a very big disappointment.
He has shown patches of brilliance but you don’t expect such an experienced centre half to do a job of a newly deployed teenager. Jonny Evans is one guy who has been put in consistent displays of clean and no-nonsense defending since last season but has not been able to keep himself fit since the genesis of the season. Rio Ferdinand has dropped in pace as well as quality making him one of the weak links of the entire defensive unit. Chris Smalling, Phil Jones have been used at right back and centre midfield respectively, not getting enough game time in their optimum position.
The most worrying aspect of United is the most important part of any team, in any country, in any tier – the midfield.
Let me start off with the wings. I admire the stamina and desire of Antonio Valencia on that right hand side of midfield. But are they the only qualities you look in a winger? The first and foremost thing you look for in a defender is his delivery. Valencia, on the other hand, has forgotten the art completely. When I see Rafael and Valencia play together on the right, I always want Rafael to deliver the cross rather than vice versa. Even though he isn’t upto the mark, he still is probably the best player United have in that position. Ashley Young showed tremendous promise at Aston Villa, though he hasn’t been able to create the same magic on he field for United. He has been consistently inconsistent, given his crossing, dribbling, defending,or anything else. He is not even close to starting any match, at any level for United. Nani, after all the troubles related to fitness has not been upto his very high standards that he had three seasons ago. He is looking sharper in the last few appearances though. A bright spot in the wings has been the emergence of Adnan Januzaj. He has shown skill, desire and that spark that you always look for in a youngster.
In centre midfield, I can see only Michael Carrick in the entire match. With his absence, it has been ever so difficult for the team for turn defence into attack. Cleverley has done a decent job in the position; what he lacks is the eye for a killer pass. Technically, he is sound, though there is a lot of learning still left for him to do. Marouane Fellaini has proved to be unsuitable for United’s style of play. He is static, preferring to play short passes to defenders rather than spreading the ball in the wings where United’s strength lies while attacking. I am not sure if this is just an early phase or a permanent one. But I am hoping for the best. Ryan Giggs has been one old horse driving the United chariot towards repsect. He has been outstanding this season like he has been for the 21 years in the Premier League. Anderson has shown nothing but a string of injuries to accompany him. He has somewhat been a waste of resources for United’s good.
The attacking force has been under tremendous pressure to perform well and they have managed to keep up their reputation to a certain extent. The likes of Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck have been seldom used this season due to different reasons. On the other hand, Rooney and Van Persie have been fabulous and a driving force for the entire unit. As well as Shinji Kagawa on the left wing hasn’t been bad either even though it is not his natural position. At least in one department Manchester United have looked old school.
It is not that Manchester United have been bad all season. You definitely can’t deny the wins against Arsenal at home and Bayer Leverkusen in their own territory were right at the top. It is the consistency I’m talking about. The defence, midfield and attack look a little disjointed at the moment. Our team is very strong though. We should never forget the fact that Manchester United won the league with almost the same exact team last season.
I am a die-hard fan of United and I believe that we can still come back in the season. Hell, we can even win the Champions League!
There is a lot of hard work that Moyes and his boys have to do and I’m sure they will put in their last sweat for making this a better season. “Glory Glory Man United” will reverberate again in every ear around the world.Published 06 Dec 2013, 19:50 IST