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Reactions To Defeat Against City…

1. In writing this I am acknowledging that yesterday actually happened. We actually lost 6-1 to City at Old Trafford. There aren’t many worse days than that for us but even just in recent times, I’d argue the 4-1 against Liverpool and the 2-1 during the Munich 50th anniversary week hurt more. It was the worst day for our manager though, he claimed after the final whistle, so now we have to see what he will do to remedy it.

2. It was surprising to see Nemanja Vidic left out of the squad after playing in Europe during the week but with Jonny Evans doing well so far this season, it wasn’t a massive worry. There were several things which contributed to our downfall but none more obvious that Evans. It was his sloppy pass in City’s half which lead to their opening goal, at a time when United had been on top and in control of the game. The ball then came to him a few yards out in front of City’s goal and he swung and missed. Then, to finish the game, he got himself sent off. Mario Balotelli shrugged him off with ease, forcing him away from the ball, so Evans grabbed on to him to pull him back. Insanity. Leave David de Gea with a one and one and see what happens. If Balotelli scores, then 2-0 with 45 minutes is something we can work with (as we did at Wembley a few months ago). But 1-0 down and playing with 10 men for 45 minutes is not something you can work with. Every goal that went in made Evans’ mistake all the more painful. This isn’t about scapegoats or claiming he isn’t good enough for the club or I want rid of him. If we are going to look at yesterday honestly, Evans’ contribution was the overwhelming difference between us having a good game and the possibility of a good result, and us getting smashed 6-1 in our derby. Not unforgivable by any means, everyone makes mistakes, but Chris Smalling has to have moved above him pecking order without question now.

3. United started the game well and dominated much of the first half. We weren’t clinical enough with our final ball but most of the match was played in their half of the pitch. When you’re on top against good sides you need to make it count and we needed a goal. To then be chasing the game when you’ve been the better team is a horrible position to be put in but that’s where we found ourselves. Just as Balotelli found himself unmarked just inside our box, Welbeck got himself in a similar position when we were a goal down. Ashley Young opted to go for the back post though (you know, for all those massive players we have waiting in the box), much to Welbeck’s frustration, and it’s small moments like that which make the difference. City’s decision making was better than ours, not just going forward, but defensively too.

4. Both Darren Fletcher and Sir Alex Ferguson have acknowledged that United were foolish in relentlessly attacking when the game was a lost cause. Fletcher’s goal restored some pride in the day, with 3-1 a respectable scoreline for a team that had played with ten men for 45 minutes. With ten minutes to go, there was no way we were going to score another two goals, but our never say die attitude cost us dearly. Time and again we were caught on the break, with just a defender or two left in our half as we poured our men forward. Why? It was ridiculous. The manager can criticise Evra and Ferdinand for not showing their experience and keeping the team back but I didn’t see Sir Alex on the touchline barking at them to come back either (that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Did it? I was otherwise engaged).

5. How many fans left too early yesterday? A defiant majority stayed in their seats, singing “we’re Man United, we stay til the end” at the wankers who made their move, but the ground was half full by the final whistle. All clubs have fans who leave with five minutes to go but there were some people near me who left when the third goal went in, when there was still over 20 minutes to play! Obviously it was game over then but what absolutely disgraceful “support” that shows. You only come to watch us win? My exchanges with these people, who are season ticket holders by the way, will make for some awkwardness at the next home game and I suppose I’m grateful for having someone to direct my frustration at, but I can’t abide by the attitude of some of our fans.

6. As far as I’m concerned, we’ll still win the league. United crumbled in the end and that is a worry, although you imagine it’s an inexperienced mistake we won’t make again. With 90 minutes gone, City had played our 10 men for half the game, were beating us 3-1 and had just 51% possession. There’s no excuse for throwing away all those goals at the end but City were hardly terrifying yesterday. If they are the team we have to finish above to make it 20, I’m happy enough with that. Shit day at the office and a blot on our season but we will be the ones laughing in May.

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. WillieRedNut says:

    StatesideAussie – Too early yet mate. In time though, Jones could play in center mid. In the meantime, I hope for that elusive CM that most of us want! In a sense, we got lucky with the Keane signing. Robbo has just left the club for pastures new. Then in steps a certain Irish man to take over Robbo’s position. To get another Keano, or another Robson will be impossible. That doesn’t mean there’s no one out there who could come in and strengthen that midfield of ours. I’d put good money on the club searching the globe for such a midfielder. Whats Keano up to these days? ;)

  2. DevilinRed says:

    This has happened before, not quiet this bad or at home, and chances are this will at some point happen again.

    Newcastle 5-0, Chealski 5-0, Liverpool 4-1

    But who won the league and the double and played in European finals in those years?

    The best trait of United is that they are always capable of learning and evolving. If it takes 6-1 at home for us to put 20 on the board could you live with that? I could.

    And whats more, in years to come the younger players in our squad will carry with them a massive chip on their shoulder that they will forever want to redeem. If anything has been gained from this it is that the desire and hunger of our future champions has been reignited.

    May will be Red

  3. Hillshammer says:

    let them have their day in the sun . You win sod all in October. They deserved their win . But I don’t believe we will be that careless again . Now is the time to stand right behind the team. They need to feel our belief in them. Let city do that , if we win the league and the champions league this year no one will give a rats arse about Sunday

  4. xol says:

    Player for player there was a huge difference in size yesterday. It had me thinking of other line ups but none matched up for size. They’re brutes but they’re pretty mobile and they left out De Jong.

    Obviously they have Aguero, silva, johnson etc so you never know how they’re going to look.

    The way we were playing early season against Barce, Arse, City etc , it seemed there was always a player nearby to lay the ball off too. Players were compact enough to play one touch. Yesterday our players kept their wide shape all the time, meaning we had to take a few touches before passing the ball and because the ball had further to travel, the opposition were onto our the receiver and able to use their weight. Who’s to know what the result would have been had we stayed 11v11, but it didn’t look like we were playing the same one-touch, fast paced, compact stuff of yester-month.

  5. Sparkz says:

    @Notorious- Just to clear up any confusion….it was 08/09 I was referring to (Ronaldo’s last season)…where we played Fletch-Carrick-Ando in a lot of big games. The 2 seasons since then, Scholes featured a fair bit (partly due to fitness problems for Fletch and Ando)

    @Stateside- re Hargreaves- you’re correct, Fergie did say that. Unfortunately that didn’t work out….whether Jones is the answer, or one of the youngsters, only time will tell.

    As for the Berba thing…tbh, in his first season (08/09), we went 4-4-2 in the majority of the big games to accomodate him. Generally him and Rooney played up front (with the troll on the bench). And he didn’t really shine. It was only for the last 6 weeks of that season, that Fergie decided to stack the midfield and put Ronaldo up front on his own (with Rooney out wide).

    In any case, my comment was more referring to the CURRENT day situation….as in those 4 strikers (Berba, Owen, macheda, Diouf) aren’t in Fergie’s thoughts for the big games. Which is why I think playing 4-5-1 in big games won’t put too many noses out of joint, coz atm there’s only 3 strikers who he considers for big games anyway.

  6. Costas says:

    Going back to 4-5-1 means playing Rooney as a lone striker, which means he has to re-learn that position after spending the last 15 months playing behind the striker. Plus, what do you do with the other 6 strikers? Fergie has found himself in a dilemma here. Personally I don’t believe we have the tools for 4-5-1 anymore. It worked great during 09-10, but things are different now.

  7. WillieRedNut says:

    442 clearly isn’t working. Early results, papered over the cracks. Forget the big games, against Norwich we rode our luck. Personally, I’d love to see a 4231 formation.


    Rafael Smalling Vidic Evra

    Carrick Anderson

    Nani Rooney Young


    It’ll probably never happen, but at least we can dream on here. ;)

  8. Sparkz says:

    @Costas- Thing is, I’m not suggesting it to be used on a constant basis. Just occasionally in the tough matches where we need an extra midfielder. The other 85% of the time we can do what we normally do, play 4-4-2.

    And the re-learning thing I find nonsense mate lol. He’s a professional footballer who’s played in that role MANY times, he won’t have to re-learn anything.

    In the Double winning season- he spent most of that season playing up front with Tevez. But in the big matches, Fergie generally packed the midfield and played Rooney up front on his own, and it worked fine. That’s basically what I’m saying… 2 up top for the majority of the games…..but when it comes to the crunch, go 4-5-1.

    And with Cleverley, I actually think we’ve got the perfrect tools to play that way- coz we’ve got another player who can break from midfield and support the lone striker. That’s priceless when you’re playing a lone striker- midfield support.

  9. WillieRedNut says:

    I don’t think Rooney would have to learn to play as a lone striker again. He is, however, happiest playing in the hole. He didn’t like being shunted out to the left either, when Ronnie was up top. English players aren’t the most versatile lads. Gerrard complained when Mclaren stuck him on the right hand side of midfield for England lol. Shouldn’t be too much of a hassle for them imo.

  10. denton davey says:

    Notorious @ 19:35: “As far as I’m aware you go to games so whilst I think the facts you apply to your logic regarding Berbatov is somewhat asinine there is some method to your madness.”

    I live in Toronto so I don’t often get a chance to see TheLads in action except on the telly – we get ALL the matches on cable/satellite so I do watch closely. I’m glad to hear that you think that “there is some method to your madness”. Really, though, I just make the same point over and over again in response to other people who make a different point over and over again.

  11. denton davey says:

    WillieRedNut @ 22:46: “It’ll probably never happen, but at least we can dream on here.”

    Of course. That’s the point of blogging – sharing your dream with other, like-minded nut-bars like me.

  12. denton davey says:

    WillieRedNut @ 22:53: “I don’t think Rooney would have to learn to play as a lone striker again. He is, however, happiest playing in the hole. He didn’t like being shunted out to the left either, when Ronnie was up top. English players aren’t the most versatile lads.”

    Well, maybe his “ambition” can only be satisfied by being shifted around for the benefit of the team. That’s why I think that he’d be of the most value to the team in the formation you suggest – 4-2-3-1 – in the middle of the “3″. That wouldn’t be much of an adjustment/learning curve since he tends to freelance, regardless of what he’s told or what his position is. The real need in that formation is to find another “sitting two” to go along with Michael Carrick – all the other midfielders on UTD’s books are “all-’rounders” and not specialists.

    AND, going back to one of your earlier comments about “the lad from Newcastle” – I’m also keen on Cheikh Tiote.

  13. Sparkz says:

    @Denton- “That’s why I think that he’d be of the most value to the team in the formation you suggest – 4-2-3-1 – in the middle of the “3″. That wouldn’t be much of an adjustment/learning curve since he tends to freelance, regardless of what he’s told or what his position is. The real need in that formation is to find another “sitting two” to go along with Michael Carrick – all the other midfielders on UTD’s books are “all-’rounders” and not specialists.”

    Pretty much spot on, and it’s a way for us to not get overrun in midfield, yet still be able to play 2 strikers. 1 thing that would negate though is Cleverley.

    I can’t see him being able to play as part of the double pivot (and that would restrict his game). In that formation, he can only really play in the middle of the “3″. Which means Rooney would have to go up top? Not his best position, but he can do a good job there, and the team would benefit.

  14. Androidsummer says:

    Some of you suggesting we should play 4-5-1 because 4-4-2 does not ever seem to work? Please provide evidence and examples of when 4-4-2 other than Sunday has let us down? Because every game i can remember over the past 3 years that we have come up short and have not been inventive enough has been when we were playing 4-5-1. We don’t HAVE the midfield to play 4-5-1. Especially against a strong attacking/passing team like Barca, Bayern in europe and chelsea (of early last year). The problem is Carrick, and Fletcher both end up getting pushed too deep because they’ve both been adapted to become defensive minded players and Ando cannot control the offensive end of midfield by himself, he’s in all honesty too lazy and lax. This results usually is us not having as much of the possession as we would have had playing 4-4-2. We can get away with it in league when we’re playing teams like Wolves and Fulham because they have no real attacking prowess and lets face it United reserves could probably out posses most of the lower half of the table in our league. If we want to adopt a 4-5-1 system we need Rooney to start taking on shots from outside the box more often, holding on to the ball in the centre of the pitch more often, and playing 1-2′s with whoever the loan striker is. I think Rooney might be capable of doing this but I don’t think it’s his strength. Defensively we need him to get stuck in defensively when we lose the ball in order to win it back without loosing his head. OR else buy a midfielder who can play infront of a Fletcher Carrick team or Ando – Carrick.

    4-4-2 works best for us when we take the action to the other team. United have to “Attack attack attack” the way we played, albeit a weakened Arsenal is the way to play for us. United make the best opportunities when we use the width: nani and young/valencia out wide, with our fullbacks galloping forward on the overlap. The problem is we have to keep the ball. This requires our CM’s to be able to win the ball back and to be more efficient with their passing to our winger’s forwards. Our crosses need to be better as well. And frankly, we have the players capable of it we just need them to all play to their full potential. Right now that is not happening.

    I firmly object to the 4-5-1 argument. Not with the players we have at least. Perhaps if we bring in a new midfield or if Cleverly gets back and healthy. There might be an argument to be made to make it work. I could see playing Rooney or Berba upfront with Cleverly in the middle of Nani Valencia or Nani Young or young and park or even sticking chicha out on right wing. But, It would take some moulding and some time.

  15. Sparkz says:

    @Androidsummer- all really good points actually. But Sunday wasn’t the first time 4-4-2 let us down. It happened vs Arsenal at the Emirates last season….we had a set strategy for playing against them for the last few years (pack the midfield, lone striker, hit them on the break)….and Fergie changed it to go 4-4-2.

    It also let us down vs Barca at Wembley. And if Chelsea had their shooting boots on a few weeks ago, would’ve been the same story there.

    There’s a pattern developing. Arsenal, Barca, Chelsea, City……all teams that play narrow and centrally. All overran us in the middle of the park.

    I’ll say it for the last time…..nobody’s suggesting a PERMANENT change to 4-5-1. Most games we stick with 4-4-2 and its not a problem. But games such as these we need to adapt, its as simple as that. I dunno why it seems to be an issue now…..from 07-10 we did it on a regular basis…played 4-4-2 against most sides, then packed the midfield in the big games.

  16. WillieRedNut says:

    Clearly not working currently, I should of said. Of course it has been fruitful for us in certain games. Chelsea at home last season, as an example. I feel for the big games, we’ve been found out. No other top side plays that formation. Fair play to the boss, for persisting with it. He ain’t no mug though. Watching from the sidelines, will give him food for thought. Also, what we’ve learned, and I’m sure the manager has learned, we can’t outscore all the top teams. Europe especially for me, you need to be astute in your tactics and formation. When both were both spot on, we won the premiership and the champions league.

  17. WillieRedNut says:

    And of course, luck! :)

  18. SIR David Beckham says:

    Am I the only one that can’t see the problem is in the midfield anderson and tom r ok carrick and fletch R shit we need 2 class players simple. Also about time evans and showen his ture class and looked like a muppet another wes brown in the make utter useless :) .

  19. Zemmamma777 says:

    Only players I thought have nothing to beat themselves up about are De Gea, Ferdy and Fletch. Even then, Fletch wasn’t the greatest.

    Evans, I believe needs to start all over again. Keep him for the small games and slowly build him up again. His decisions are rash and super costly, so best to keep him for the Swanseas and the QPRs where he can do the least amount of damage. Absolutely stupid red card and no faith in De Gea’s shotstopping…

    Smalling was at fault for a few of the goals for not really picking up a man and/or letting his man escape him. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a classy defender on his day, just that he wasn’t on his A game, and it showed.

    Evra really needs to step into the responsibility of being the step-in skipper when he has the armband. Even then, without captaincy, he should still be playing with the maturity of a player his age and not be playing as poorly as that.

    Young and Nani simply weren’t creating on Sunday, their crosses were horrendous, but to be fair, they didn’t really have much to aim for in the box some of the time.

    Ando really needs Cleverley back. I’m not saying that his dip in form is solely because of Tom’s injury, but it’s just that the style of play he’s had to adopt when playing alongside a not-as-consistent midfield partner who doesn’t necessarily compliment his style of play is hurting him. His passes were absolutely shocking and he wasn’t getting stuck in with Shitty’s midfielders.

    Welbeck did a lot of running but didn’t have a lot of industry to any of it, really. Rooney had me scared once he flipped the “Spanish Bull” switch in his demeanor. I was praying to any and all deities that he wasn’t going to go and pull some dirty hack on the bitters that would’ve gotten him a red, because it would’ve been worse at 9.

    Fergie: there’s no denying the man’s a genius, a league apart from any other manager, it’s just that this is another big game where he didn’t field the strongest side he could have. A defensive line that would’ve done the job would’ve had Rio and Vida in the middle flanked by Jones and Fabio. You needed energy and experience blended, as well as composure and tenacity, which those four would’ve offered. Silva’s run was a prime example of the actual back four’s lack of tenacity and Evans’s mistakes an example of his lack of composure and experience. Despite Ando’s early season form, I really think this would’ve been a better game for Carrick, despite my deep-seated frustration with the latter. Seeing Ando’s no-show on Sunday made me realize what Carrick brings to the side: composure, tackling and spot-on passing in the midfield, something that when coupled with Fletcher’s efforts would have made life difficult for Shitty.

    In all fairness, it was an absolute shock that Fletcher’s goal was the only real time that we “tested” Hart and look at the outcome! We were too busy trying to tic-tac-toe our way around the bitters like in the Community shield, which they had now prepared for, to actually not stop and try something simple!

    Anyways, that’s my venting done for a while! :P

    God, I hope Fergie sets them up well for the return!

  20. James21 says:

    Hi Mate. Sorry normally reply to fans who address my posts. Didn’t spot it.
    East stand rocks. We along with the Stretford end find ourselves carrying the 2 sides North and South at many games, until we score. I fully understand you can’t sing for 90 mins but at least make an effort. also the sound doesn’t always carry very well and there are fans in these sections that do chant and sing. The Lads need us to lift them up against Sunderland next home game and show them we’re behind them and SAF 100%. so we’ll do our bit.
    If I could afford to do away games I certainly would, the atmosphere is usually electric but the club insist I have to buy Champs league games , being self employed I can’t always make mid week games and they are hard to sell although that maybe changing, think I might have a regular buyer.

    1 or 2 of us have mentioned lightly about these 1/2 matchday scarves to people wearing them but it falls on deaf ears. Its pathetic and just a money spinner for the mercinaries who sell them, but hay its easy to spot a gullible Tourist and you can’t blame them really.

  21. Paul Parker says:

    Well bloody said mate, Bravo.

    Agreed with all of that.


  22. denton davey says:

    Sparkz @ 23:56: “There’s a pattern developing. Arsenal, Barca, Chelsea, City……all teams that play narrow and centrally. All overran us in the middle of the park.”




  24. united_greats08 says:

    It hurts to admit, but I think there may have been far far too many tourists that may have watched the game. I’d be ashamed of myself with that kind of attitude so I think that should be sorted out first…starting at our respective homes. I’m an out-of-towner myself and this is the best time to test that. I do hope they’ll come back with their senses intact regardless of the result.

  25. voke says:

    we are fuckin united!and now!now we fight back with everything we’ve got!come May, we will take it all and give them absolutely nuthin!

  26. hassan says:

    i love your assessment, utd runs in my blood, i have never walked away from utd, and that will never happen, i think evra needs competition, he’s been sloppy lately, we need modric’ n snijder to give our midfield a focus. cleverly would have been brilliant ith the ball on sunday than ando. come may 2012, shitty will mount a poster saying WHY ALWAYS THEM? UTD I SHALL DIE


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