“Of all the many qualities a good team must possess, the supreme essential for me is penetration.”
Sir Alex Ferguson
One of Sir Alex’s Ferguson’s most famous quotes also in my opinion his most accurate. There are several problems with the current United team. We are without doubt in a period of transition. Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra have depreciated massively this season. Our tireless midfielders Park and Fletcher have failed thus far to reproduce their performances from previous seasons. But our major problem has been penetration.
Ask yourself a question. How many times last night did United go to the wing and cross a ball in for it to be hacked away? Basel defended superbly it must be said. I am in no doubt, however, had we a Paul Scholes, Eric Cantona or a Cristiano Ronaldo we would have scored two or three goals. The one-nil victories recently have shown great resolve to our defensive duties and we’ve already equaled our number of aways win in the league from the whole of last season. Yet, it’s worrying to consider how we went from scoring twenty one goals in our first five league games to embarking on worst run in goalscoring in the league for the last twenty years.
Take our last away game at Villa, without doubt a very professional performance. But let’s be brutally honest, Villa poised little threat in that game. We bossed the play, yet we could only manage a single goal and unlike Newcastle the week before, neither Shay Given or Brad Guzan had to pull off any heroics. We had one brilliant opportunity in the second half, but Wayne Rooney decided to hold on to the ball for far too long and when he eventually played Danny Welbeck in – who finished with ease – Danny was offside.
It’s why I desperately wanted United to sign Wesley Sneijder in the summer. Sneijder had created the most chances out of any other player in the Champions League for the duration of the 09/10 and 10/11 season. Were too reliant on Wayne Rooney. We can’t rely on Ryan Giggs to keep bailing us out of trouble. Ashley Young and Luis Nani are limited to what can create with the quality of ball they get. Dimitar Berbatov is a player who can pick a pass, but let’s face it, he is inconsistent.
I would love if we bought a midfielder in the winter transfer window. He doesn’t have to be high profiled. For example after we got knocked out of the 2005/06 Champions League at the same stage, we signed Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra. They didn’t impress at first, but they became the corner-stone of our success for the last few years. The Carling Cup proved that despite their obvious talent, Ravel Morrison and Paul Pogba still have a lot to prove. Anderson and Cleverley are both injured, and injury prone. Anderson is also highly inconsistent while this is Cleverley’s first proper season with the United first team.
I think in the next year we need several players, or else allow players to step up. Despite his mistake last night, Chris Smalling should gradually be allowed take the place of Ferdinand. Fabio should get regular trial at left back. We need to get rid of the dead-weight. Diouf and Macheda are not good enough. However, not all is doom and gloom. We are in transition, but usually under SAF these periods last a season at most. We also have plenty of injuries, we haven’t yet had a settled back four and we have Phil Jones.