Monday, 15 September 2008

The Aftermath of the Anfield Defeat

Well, for what they're worth, here are my views now the dust has settled:

1) Keeper I don’t yet think the time is right to throw EVDS out, but I think he is becoming too error-prone to say he will definitely be our no. 1 for the whole season. I can accept a few errors towards the end of a gruelling season, but to be making them at the start of a campaign after a lot of rest is concerning.

We need to start giving Foster games in lesser fixtures (and in training) to let him build up a rapport with the back four - and also to see if he is good enough. The signs are positive for him, and this needs to be a transition season. I hope, by the way, that Foster not Kuscszak is seen as next in line. TK signed an extended contract today, but I haven’t yet seen enough quality from him to convince.

2) Defending Let’s put this down as an aberration. I don’t think the best defence in the country has gone schoolboy overnight, and I think they were put under a lot of pressure by the midfielders’ inability to obtain and retain possession, particularly in our own half.

3) Central midfield There seems to be a bizarre dichotomy developing here. It seems that Scholes can play naturally with Carrick, and Hargreaves can play naturally with Anderson. Once you mix and match, you seem to end up with a disconnect so that you have two independent midfielders rather than a partnership. I have no idea what Anderson’s role in the first half of the Liverpool game was, in just the same was that I had no idea where Giggs was supposed to be playing in the second half.

I don’t think that three in the middle has worked very often for us, and I don’t think it should continue to be used.

As for Possebon, I’m sure he’ll get games this season, but nobody in their right minds could be advocating him as a starter against Liverpool or Chelsea away.

4) Up front My view is that we should play Berba right up, with three players interchangably playing behind him. 4-2-3-1 should be the order of the day. Ronaldo - Rooney/Tevez - Nani looks the most balanced to me, but I can see the first choice being Ronaldo - Rooney - Tevez.

That being said, we know enough to know that Fergie is not going to do that away from home against big sides. In those instances, though, I’d like to see us reverting to a traditional 4-4-2 rather than a 4-3-2-1. I’m thinking Ronaldo and Nani / Park on the wings, with Rooney / Tevez behind Berbatov.

This isn’t the first time that an embarrassment of riches has caused some temporary disruption (Seba Veron, anyone?) - Fergie needs to develop a clear plan for playing these guys together. Training sessions will obviously help that process.

5) Some starting line-ups

Against Villareal on Wednesday:

Brown - Vidic - Rio - Evra
Nani - Hargreaves - Anderson - Park
Rooney - Berbatov

(Ronaldo for Nani/Park and Tevez for Rooney as impact subs)

Against Chelski on Sunday:

G Neville - Rio - Brown - Evra
Ronaldo / Park - Hargreaves - Scholes - Nani
Rooney - Berbatov

(Tevez for Rooney and Anderson for Scholes as impact subs)

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