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DDG: My Defence Fell Asleep

David de Gea was less than impressed with the defence last night after a bizarrely awarded freekick threw the defence off guard.

The Spanish keeper pulled off a couple of great stops, which were fitting with his recent form, with Sir Alex Ferguson claiming de Gea has kept us in the competition.

“For the third Athletic goal, the one Muniain scored, the defence was asleep,” he said. “Rafael had fallen asleep. Some of my team-mates were a bit sleepy at Old Trafford. We played really badly and Athletic that will beat you if you make it easy for them. We expected Athletic to be very strong and they were. We’ll go to the San Mames Stadium to give it another go. Athletic Bilbao are probably the best team to visit our stadium this season.”

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. united93 says:

    absolutly, what the hell was rafa doing at the third goal??

  2. Heatchez says:

    Rafa was on a different planet for that 3rd goal, shocking.

    DDG was immense last night, cant fault the lad. He is guna be pure class, well he already is, so imagine a few years on that!! siiiiick

  3. DohaRed says:

    we played quite well – but Bilbao were just better than us. We are not likely to win by two clear goals away, but you never know with United. DDG was magnificent – he gets better and better.

  4. Manchuchu says:

    Rafa was being a stupid fat headless oompa loompa was what he was.

    That being said Rooney and Cheech weren’t much better

  5. Manchuchu says:

    Wasn’t a case of “who was our best” but more a case of “who was the least awful”

  6. NBI Red Onion says:

    I love Rafael, but the defence as a whole was all over the place. He has never played with Young on the right and it showed, they did not link up well, they were not familiar with each others games, Jones was too far away from his to play effective triangles / passing game and did not provide the Carrick / Scholes like free player to pass to, he played well for the most part in the circumstances but did switch off. He is still going to be a RB star.

    Neither Smalling or Evans took charge of organising the defence. Both tried hard though but there was little understanding between the back four, everyone playing their own game – watch Rio, Company and JT organising a defence. Centre MF players provided no cover at all. Jones did not step in to cover the way Carrick does and did not seem to know where to put himself, which is somewhat understandable. I really think he needs some time off now, he is getting more irrelevant and less impressive as games progress and it may be that he is being asked to do too many things out of his depth. He does not have the passing range and vision to be CM. He does not have the discipline or distribution right now to be a holding MF.

    As I said on the other thread, Pogba with years training at CM should have been given a chance ahead of Jones in that position he would have been a much better option comparing their performances that position that I have seen. Barca blood youngsters like Pogba. I would rather have seen us gamble on home grown players in league and cup games than blood players we bought like Jones, no offence to him, but he is not better than them.

  7. gfunk says:

    all piss poor with the exception of DDG!

  8. Ferane says:


    we used to say, “we played quite well but Barca was the better team”, but now we are saying “we played quite well – but Bilbao were just better than us.” am afraid for my club

  9. Ferane says:

    the players don’t show the willingness and motivation to play for this club and they are afraid to keep possession and develop a creative football

  10. Stenis says:

    De Gea was great, but I think he shouldn’t publicly critisise one certain player. After all, he’s made a couple of mistakes himself in games and it happens. Just a “we didn’t play well and our defending wasn’t good enough at times” would have sufficed.

  11. einsi01 says:

    Will not agree with any statements like “we played quite well”. The fact is we were awful.
    I am a little surprised that not many here seek the answer in the most obvious of them all; lack of ambition. Do you honestly believe that players that have won CL in a memorable way in Moscow, and on two consecutive occasions go to the finals against an exceptional team, have any respect for this Barbie-Cup?

    Athletic Bilbao want this really bad. How badly do we want it?

  12. Ferane says:

    @ einsi01
    Sir Alex told us that united is serious with this Barbie Cup as you said, the fact is that we react too much off the field rather than on the field.

    am quite surprised with an attendance of 56000 approx. at OT and despite the away fans seat allocation was increased

  13. ahjs says:

    @einsi01… Some of these same players didn’t look bothered when we’d scored against Basel, despite them not being seasoned CL campaigners. You’re right, some of our players are CL winners but some of them haven’t achieved anything in Europe yet. Bilbao and Benfica (along with Man City) are the best teams we’ve faced this season and we’ve been poor at home. If they couldn’t get themselves up for it last night then we’re in danger of being doomed again in next year’s CL. Are we only going to be up for games against Barca, Real, Milan and Bayern? We’ve lost some real quality over the past few years with players leaving and ageing, so we really afford to stop wanting to win. Shouldn’t be something you switch on and off IMHO.

  14. WillieRedNut says:

    It’s that old adage, isn’t it? You can’t turn form off and on like a tap!

  15. Raizzen says:

    Ferane says:


    we used to say, “we played quite well but Barca was the better team”, but now we are saying “we played quite well – but Bilbao were just better than us.” am afraid for my club

    Exactly mate. We have had to deal with Europa football. Well OK. But then if we were to settle on being second best in what has already been touted as ‘second best’ competition. Not to take anything away from Bilbao though. They were impressive. Our midfield was overran. Don’t wanna sound paranoid or anything. I just dont want, can’t bear the thought of United doing a Liverpool. Living in past glories and settling for second best.

    On another note, any news on Pogba ? Is it true that he’s already agreed terms with Juve ?

  16. PLT says:

    Still think we need a world class midfielder. There was zero creativity in our midfield last night and without De Gea, it couldn’ve been 5 or more goals we would have leaked. Need Rio back for the weekend for def.

  17. mocthezuma says:

    This is great for De Gea’s progress. He needs games like this to enforce his authority on the back four.

    Of course the result was poor, but there is invaluable experience to be gained from games like this. Both for the goalie and the young defenders like Smalling, Evans and Rafael.

    I still think we can go to the basque capital and progress from this stage of the Europa League, but it will require a stronger team than the one we played at Old Trafford.

    I am especially disappointed with Park and Evans. Evans fell asleep several times and was unable to keep track of the opposition. Rafael was poor for the 1-3 goal, but did well going forward. He got us some freekicks in dangerous positions and did well I think. But I regard the fullbacks as mainly offensive players in the system we play, and I know a lot of people disagree with me in that. So I guess his performance will be viewed as poor my many others.

    Apart from Park and Evans I think Young had a poor game. He didn’t play particularly well against Tottenham either, and I can’t really remember any contribution from him except from the two goals.

    I am much more worried that it seems we are on a streak of games being the poorer team. Norwich, Tottenham and Athletic Club were all better than us during the 90 minutes and while we were fortunate at Norwich and Spurs, we couldn’t contain the basque.

    Hopefully this trend will change as soon as possible. We will need to play a strong side in Spain. Or maybe SAF has decided to sacrifice the european cup this year…? I hope not.

  18. TonyBee says:

    thank god our goalie was wide awake…….

  19. Utd4life says:

    TonyBee.. LOL

  20. dannysoya says:

    The third goals was the most sickening. WTF was Rafael doing? And he actually wasn’t as bad as the rest during the game then he absolutely RUINED it with that moment of madness. Just fucking BLAST the ball away from goal. One of the major rules of defending.

  21. gaz says:

    Pathetic,rudderless,embarrasing is how i would call that performance. i honestly want to win number 20 and not bothered about the Europa League but seriously that was worrying been torn to shreds by a 5th place Spanish team in a league that has been compared to the Scottish league. for me this defeat is more worrying then even defeat to shitty earlier this season how have we fallen from grace so dramatically in Europe?
    Are the scars of Wembley and Rome having an affect?

  22. Sparkz says:

    I’m surprised De Gea’s openly singled out a team mate tbh, not really in favour of that.

    I do think there’s a bit of overreaction going on here though. The fact of the matter is – a fair few of our players are not good enough for European football – YET. In a few years time, it’ll be a different story. Middle of the last decade we went through the same thing, yet when those players developed and gained experience, they went on to be the cornerstone of our side.

    Even in the 90′s – the likes of Neville and Scholes took part in some bad European defeats, because they just weren’t good enough. A few years later, they were beating the top sides in Europe on the way to winning the Treble.

  23. Sparkz says:

    As for Jones, I would say he’s in a similar position to Alan Smith when he was playing in midfield. Suits the 100mph Premier League games, but in Europe you need a bit more technical know how.

    The difference is, Smith was at a stage in his career where it was unlikely he’d develop that knowhow. Jones still has plenty of time on his side. I do think he’s been one of our poorest players in Europe this season though, whether in defence or midfield. He’s just not been ready for it, but the experience will stand him in good stead for the future.

    Where we fucked up yesterday was not playing Carrick, we are wide open in midfield without him, could drive a bus through the gap between our defence and midfield. I fully expect him to play next week. Probably have Cleverley and Anderson alongside him to provide that mobility and thrust..and just play one up front for the first hour.

  24. NBI Red Onion says:

    Its interesting that the player most criticised in the press with the most to prove De Gea, performed the best and showed real desire and spirit.

    We got knocked out of CL against weak teams, hopefully we won’t mess up in the final stretch of the league against a weaker run in plus a very tough game away to City. A 4 pt cushion going in to that game would be great. We really need Rio and Carrick back and on form.

  25. True Red Devil says:

    David de Gea was amazin last night. Rafael wasn’t playin to his potential

  26. Costas says:

    Tell it like it is DDG.

    Looking at record so far at United, his goals/games ratio is pretty woeful. What it doesn’t say though, is how many times he’s also had to sav us. Worst season for our defence in the last 10 years.

  27. NBI Red Onion says:

    This is when I miss Keano’s drive and the way he bossed the team and pushed everyone’s performance up. Evra and Vida are great captains, but Rio is the only one in this team with that edge, he is a real leader, articulate, tough, savy and someone who has done it all. I can’t see anyone else in the squad who has that real all-round leadership ability. – reports of Jones being our captain are premature and he has proven nothing yet.

  28. NBI Red Onion says:

    Also all those people saying Vida, Rio and Evra should retire and leave youngsters to take over defence – no doubt you have thought again…

  29. TK99 says:

    We have been beaten by a far better side, which outplayed us totaly.Muniain is going to be a super star .He’s everything that Man Utd really need.If i were SAF,i would do anything to sign him…ANYTHING.

  30. NBI Red Onion says:

    SAF: “It is a game in which we need to waken up. Some of our European form this season has been disappointing. I don’t know whether we are making too many changes.”

  31. Sparkz says:

    Rio’s leadership had always been magnificent, particularly in our Double winning season. I’ve gotta say though, earlier on in the season, when he returned from injury….he didn’t seem as vocal on the pitch as he normally is. Its like he was concentrating first and foremost on getting his body through games and up to speed.

    The 3-3 against Basle and the 1-6 against City….they were games that Rio got unfair stick IMO, coz he was being left isolated by the naive upfield dashes of his fellow defenders. BUT, I didn’t notice him shouting and instructing his teammates to stay back either.

    Since he’s got a run of games though, his leadership qualities seem to be back though. Maybe more at ease with his body and game now.

  32. Saad says:

    On the subject of Jones becoming a MF, I’ll simply say this.

    The management better make a clear cut decision about what they want from him and then make him train as a MF FULL TIME. Practice, pre-season, games, everything. Make him watch videos, read books, bunk with Scholesy, whatever he has to do.

    To hell with treating him like he’s FRACKIN John O’Shea. Give him one job and tell him to eat, sleep, breathe midfield.

  33. mara says:

    united93 says:

    absolutly, what the hell was rafa doing at the third goal??

    De Gea just told you…he falleen asleep :)

  34. samuel - united WE stand says:

    Phil jones isn’t a midfielder to be honest. He simply hasn’t got the attributes nor the awareness to fulfill such a crucial role in footballing team plying its trade in the highest echelons of football. People say he is a holding midfielder but you need discipline and efficiency to carry out that role and more often than not, he is found wandering about on the pitch an d leaving gaps behind for teams to expose. Perhaps a lack of experience at this level is starting to show in his game.

    I’m not confident with him at center half either. Seems to lack the positioning and nous to carry out that role as well as we all want him to, Evidence of him being found wanting was clear when he left Llorente to move freely in the box which in turn resulted into a goal.

    The problem with him is, he seems willing to fill every position but that may be detrimental to his all round game. He still lacks experience as it is his first season. The talent/ability is there and without doubt, he also possesses the exuberance to succeed but can it be channeled into the right direction, will he ever make one position his own?.

  35. dannysoya says:

    Samuel thank you for telling it like it is. I have said this for a while Phil Jones is NOT a midfielder. He is a defender. Why we try to play him in midfield in an important game like yesterday is beyond me.

  36. shakshamboo says:

    We were so so lucky not to have conceded 6 goals. The defense is not to be blamed except for the 3rd goal. There simply was not enough experience in defense. Although the midfield did not help either. The central midfield combination was not working from the start. No cover for defense and no combination in attack. We should have changed it at half time. I hope we have everybody fit and have a better combination in the next leg.

    Jones should be given a specific position to play. He looks out of his depth in midfield. These constant changes in position and bad performances will ruin his confidence. Do we want him to become another JOS (No disrespect to him). He is better than that.

  37. Sparkz says:

    To be fair to Jones – his previous games in midfield haven’t been too bad. His best performances of the season have either been there or right back.

    BUT, its gotta be remembered that a lot of those games were against weaker Premier League opposition e.g Wolves, Villa, QPR. The 2 games where he’s played midfield in Europe (Basle away and Bilbao at home)….he’s been found wanting, coz he’s up against a better and more technical calibre of opposition.

    Coincidentally, both of those games were when he didn’t have Carrick alongside him. Carrick brings the intelligence, positional play, and passing that Jones lacks. And Jones brings the energy that Carrick lacks. So they complement each other. No Carrick means that Jones suffers, so he really shouldn’t play there without him IMO.

  38. Sparkz says:

    Btw, to add to my last post….all those things that Jones lacks should have YET written after them lol. As I said, unlike Alan Smith, he’s got plenty of time to develop those attributes.

  39. Manchuchu says:

    The club needs to make a decision on where they want to take Phil Jones to in regards to position and stick with it. He’s either a midfielder or a defender. He’s not Franz Beckenbauer. Half a dozen of either isn’t doing the club any favours.

  40. NepalRed says:

    Nice to ddg finally coming out of his shell, luks high on confidence nd making world class saves

  41. Goodrifle says:

    De Gea has a few great games and he starts pointing out other’s faults while throughout most of the season, almost all our players were covering for his blunders.

    Me not likey this attitude.

  42. sc says:

    well, the next thing ddg has to work on is getting his defenders not to fall asleep then.

    it’s something that the older keepers do well. vds etc. they all know it’s part of their jobs to organise the def and scream at them if necessary to ensure they do their jobs.

    i think this is especially important in the last 10-20 minutes of the game, when exhaustion makes players lose their sharpness.

    hopefully, ddg’s english will improve in the next few months. improved communication is definitely what’s needed.

    i think the loss has caused alarm, especially among fans. i understand the disappointment, but i think it’s part of the transition phase, especially with the influx of new players and the replacement of the old guards. as how neville puts it, “utd must take a step backward in order to move forward’

    similarly hopefully with more game time, the new players, especially the defenders can improve, not only in their own playing ability, but also the ability to lead and direct others appropriately.

  43. vigs2nutty says:

    the third goal coulve been avoided easily…..and the second goal was offside…

  44. MyCowIsTheBest says:

    I will not be suprised if that was Rafael’s last game for us..

    And Bilbao is not the best team that has come to OT this season. That is a very stupid statement actually when there is a much more bizarre result. Who can forget the 6-1 drubbing at our own turf?


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