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STATS: How Do United’s Midfielders Compare?

Following yesterday’s defeat against Norwich, Ryan Giggs was on the receiving end of much of the criticism. With the likes of Tom Cleverley, Anderson and even Darren Fletcher on the bench, it seemed puzzling that Giggs would get the nod to start in the centre of midfield.

The stats above show the accuracy in passing amongst the players in the games they have started in the centre of midfield, with the exception of Anderson, who has only started one game in the Premier League this season, so the games where he has played at least 20 minutes have been included to give some comparison.

Player with most passes completed in each game
vs Everton: Scholes – 92/95 (97%)
vs Fulham: Cleverley – 71/78 (91%)
vs Southampton: Carrick – 115/126 (91%)
vs Wigan: Carrick – 48/57 (84%)
vs Liverpool: Carrick – 51/60 (85%)
vs Spurs: Scholes – 135/148 (91%)
vs Newcastle: Carrick – 66/77 (86%)
vs Stoke: Carrick – 82/94 (87%)
vs Chelsea: Carrick – 63/70 (90%)
vs Arsenal: Carrick – 65/77 (84%)
vs Villa: Carrick – 119/134 (89%)
vs Norwich: Carrick – 99/112 (88%)

Carrick
Passes forwards: 34%
Passes backwards: 7%

Giggs
Passes forwards: 31%
Passes backwards: 15%

Cleverley
Passes forwards: 22%
Passes backwards: 13%

Anderson
Passes forwards: 20%
Passes backwards: 15%

Scholes
Passes forwards: 19%
Passes backwards: 9%


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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139 Comments

  1. denton davey says:

    StateSideAussie/Samuel

    Hiya. I was only half-in-jest suggesting that OGS replace SAF now.

    BUT the repeated occasional stinker is worrying and, so, too is the over-reliance on Michael Carrick, TheGingerNinja and SirRyanGiggs. Equally, it seems to me that SAF and TheLads are being out-strategized by lesser opposition which is down to the persistence with am old-fashioned 4-4-2.

    I was hopeful that when he played Anderson/Cleverley at the beginning of last season and the matches were exciting that their return to health would mean that the team would go back to that style of play and, in particular, those players working together with Michael Carrick (I never imagined that we might see a return of DarrenFletcherinho).

    When he signed KagawaBunga in the summer I was hopeful that we would see a more “modern” kind of attack in which TheWayneBoy and Shinji would play behind/off the main striker – I never imagined that the main striker would be RVP because I expected to see Chicharito given a chance to re-ignite his earlier, electric form.

    Unfortunately, we’ve seen way too much of Ashley Young (seeing Ashley Young at all is too much in my book !), a downturn in AV7′s effectiveness, and a refusal to make use of Nani because he was being “punished” for not signing a new contract on UTD’s terms. Overall, these three have been largely ineffective and their continued role in the starting eleven has meant that the old reliance on wingers has persisted. Ashley Young is not good enough, AV7′s one-footedness has been sussed, and Nani is – ahem ! – out-of-sorts. So, their ineffectiveness has just compounded the misery of relying on an outdated style of play. To be blunt – TheLads are too often boring as well as being ineffective. The individual talent is there but it’s being frustrated by the running-into-blind-alleys which seems to characterize UTD’s wing-play nowadays.

    OK, enough of that. The more serious point-at-issue concerns SAF’s ability to continue at HIS expected level of performance. Leaving aside the injuries – and that is a big issue with the defence again this season – what’s especially galling to me has been that his team-sheets repeat systems that don’t work. It’s like we’re witnessing that famous Einstein quote – repeating the same failure over and over again in the expectation that it will work next time.

    Over the course of his long and very glorious reign at OT, Sir Alexander Chapman Ferguson has been a daring and courageous and inventive manager. Alas, it seems to me that his effectiveness is waning. Leaving aside the two embarrassments in the CL finals to a great, great Barcelona team – with TheLads weakened in 2009 by midfield injuries/suspensions – it’s important to look closely at the failures of the past 18 months:

    Getting bounced from the first round of the CL last year;
    Letting an 8-point lead fizzle in the EPL in the spring of 2012 and capitulating at the EmptiHat;
    Losing 3/12 – in all of which he stood by the Giggs/Carrick/Scholes midfield – in this season and barely surviving on several other occasions against pygmies like Aston Villa, Soton, and LiverPoo.

    MUFC is not “entitled” to win all these matches but, surely, given the available resources in terms of playing personnel these three things should not have happened.

    There’s an old axiom in baseball about trading a player a year too early rather than keeping him on for sentimental reasons. I do wonder if SAF has the same idea about himself. He’s not only earned – but also controls – the time of his leaving; it would be a kind of tragic denouement to see him staggering at the finish. Ten years ago he proposed leaving too soon; now he’s proposing staying on too long. To me, the signs of decline are unmistakeable – getting bounced by minnows in the CL, frittering away # 20, and now losing to Everton/Spurs/Norwich by repeatedly relying on the old stagers.

    In ANNIE HALL, Woody Allen’s character said that a relationship is like a shark – it has to keep moving or else its dead. I fear that we are witnessing torpor – or, maybe, a death rattle.

    It would be great to see SAF go out on top. BUT, unfortunately, very few greats retire a year too soon. Most hang around and sully their legacy. SAF has been the heart-and-soul of MUFC for more than a quarter of a century; that’s a long run but it has to come to an end. To quote Lady Macbeth, “twere done, twere well it were done quickly”.

    My suggestion about OGS was “only half-in-jest” – the Norwegian season is over now; we are coming to SAF’s “RedNevMoment” when he has to realize that he’s no longer the manager he was – the manager who bestrode the footie-world like a colossus.

  2. denton davey says:

    Whiteside 10 @ 22:09: “Not much Nani-bashing? You may have me mistaken with someone else – I’ve not been on here before today for about a year or so… And, for the record, I’m a fan of Nani”

    My comment wasn’t aimed at you. Rather, I was using your comment as a jumping-off point from which to make the much more general point that having Ashley Young and an unproductive, predictable AV7 makes the heart grow fonder for Nani’s unpredictable bag of tricks.

  3. Voiceofreason says:

    Spot on Denton – its as if time wasting is the only thing that stirs him from the bench – I said earlier should have gone after eclipsing scouters in 2011 – his selection in passivity in Ucl final for me highlighted a man past his best – I just worry he is looking after his friends in the staff they are out when he goes and they know it – they are not going to tell him to go

  4. SHINJI THE NINJA says:

    The Buck stops at the top.
    Come the end of this season we can see clearly if the Manager is up to the job.
    We won nothing last year but perhaps worse still was that we LOST a winning position in the league.
    We lost because of managerial mistakes and I refer specifically to Everton at home and City away.
    Fergie at his peak would never have handed our trophy to City and nor would he have fielded Giggs and Carrick as our CMs like yesterday.
    Its sad……………..but it is what it is.

  5. Raf's Curling Tongs says:

    Some thoughts on what’s been posted…

    On Fergie not playing Cleverley – Some people on here have suggested that it’s because he had Tuesday’s CL game in mind, or because he played for England midweek. This to me is utter nonsense. We’ve already topped the CL group… Clevs only played 60mins for England. During the Olympics he notched up 4 matches in 9 fucking days. If he was fatigued why even have him on the bench? Fergie didn’t pick him for some other reason entirely and it’s something far more worrying as Clevs hasn’t started the last 3 matches for United.

    On this being just one fuck up or a blip – Those who have this kind of thinking need a reality check. Maybe they missed the majority of the Villa game, or the first half of the Spurs game, or massive chunks of us playing against 10 men at Analfield or Rentboy Bridge, or the whole of the Everton game? Maybe they missed the end of last season? I don’t know. But for a hell of a lot of us this has been a long time coming. As Mankini said last season; we’re not scared of United, and no-one really is any more. Villa used to be fucking terrified of getting mauled by us and Villa Park was like our second home ground. Now they press us with 3 players in our half when they lose the ball…

    On not criticising the manager – Fergie put this most simply himself; NO-ONE IS BIGGER THAN UNITED. Not him, not anyone. Starting Giggs and Carrick in a 2 man midfield yesterday was a massive tactical error. There is absolutely nothing wrong with stating this. It’s a fact. Calling for him to be sacked though, is fucking madness. Grow up.

    On our squad – Barring injury we have:
    2 quality keepers. 4 quality central defenders fighting for 2 spots in the side, plus one exciting youngster. 1 quality right back. 1 left back finding old form, plus 2 awesome prospects. 3 decent central mids plus 3 other exciting youngsters (and 2 OAPs who seriously need to be dropped). 3 decent wingers. 5 forwards or attacking mids. And a partridge in a pear tree.

    On buying players – Sneijder? Ship’s sailed and we no longer need him. We’ve developed Rooney into an attacking mid already, and we already have bought Kagawa. Those who think Shinji’s not good enough have a fucking word with yourselves. He was a key player in Dortmund’s title win last season, and has 2 goals and 1 assist in 6 league appearances this season.

    That said I’d agree that a player like Rossi, Eriksen, Bender, or M’ Vila, would massively improve our midfield. Rodriguez, Muniain and Holtby are (as far as I know) all quality young wingers. This is just a short list of the players I think would be ‘getable’. The idea that some have that there’s no-one really worth looking at is absurd. As is the view that Fergie is ignoring the midfield as an area which we need to improve. He’s tried to get Snejder, Nasri, and Moura. Maybe others but they’re the first who spring to mind. The argument that he’s ignored it makes no sense.

  6. veek says:

    one bad game, one off day and everyone gets lambasted, from fergie to giggs to carrick (who’s quite honestly had a pretty good start to the season). Such wonderful supporters we are. Give it a rest with sneijder, we’re never gonna buy him and we don’t need him. It was a bad day at the office for the players, let them gather their wits and pick up the pieces, they’ll be fine come midweek.

  7. Daniel88 says:

    Fucking passing stats are shit.
    If you have TWO players that are nearly FORTY and cant run then you have a real fucking problem.

    I get the 4-4-2 frustration when your formation relies on wide players penetrating and then they dont you really will struggle. Shinji Kagawa … enough said.

    Getting outnumbered in midfield is a pain especially when your midfield is touching forty and Michael Carrick who plays like he is eighty.

    Valencia Cleverley Anderson BALE

  8. calebkzh says:

    I’m going to go with a slightly differing view here. I do agree that stats don’t tell you the whole story.

    Carrick has actually started the season well, but he cannot play in a midfield 2 with Giggs or Scholes. Every match that either of them has started alongside Carrick in a midfield 2, there are groans here. EVERYONE here has the foresight to know our midfield will be overrun. Why the Boss and Phelan don’t see it, can’t see it, or choose not to see it, is beyond me and not for me to judge.

    4-4-2 has always been “vintage United”, where we play with 2 wingers. That being said, our wingers are in a rough patch of form (maybe that’s an understatement), and Fergie really needs to step up his tactics to embrace this form and come up with viable alternatives.

    Albert Einstein once said “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” With all due respect, I feel the Boss really is starting to go a bit insane sometimes. He’s been playing Carrick-Scholes, Carrick-Giggs, 4-4-2 with no drive in midfield, yet he is hoping for different results. Yet he is hoping that somehow, things will work out. Yet he is criticising the back 4, when really, the midfield offers no protection to them.

    I said it earlier that our high scoring and our comebacks thus far this season have plastered over the cracks. Now, they are becoming more obvious. You can’t make up for a deficient midfield by simply scoring more. You can’t make up for deficient tactics by scoring more. This is modern football. I’m pretty disappointed, but I trust Fergie will (hopefully) observe and modify his tactics. And Phelan, stop being such a yes man. Tell the Boss he’s got it wrong!

    Not a negative fan. Just a disappointed fan, who’s been observing (perhaps far too much).

  9. bayoRed says:

    I consider myself to be a very loyal supporter who will not bash anyone and will always try to keep the red tainted specs on but “Why cant Anderson and Clev be given their chance???. Fergie is renowned for giving youth a chance so whats different now??

  10. lordrt says:

    Valencia has become a real pain to watch since a couple of games, he’s not using his power and pace to push the team forward, instead with his delaying tactics he’s giving the opposition defenders time to regroup at the back and stop any dangerous move from United players. SAF needs to give him a break but also a good talking… and I will not stop saying it, we need a classy midfield dynamo to kick the forwards in action, its not acceptable to see RvP doing a “Rooney” job by coming very low to get the ball, and even Rooney should not be playing like that. Need to sort out many things in the team to get them ticking…

  11. Bobby Charlton's combover says:

    You don’t need stats to see that Giggs is not cutting the mustard.
    Stats alone would make you think Scholes was running the show from start to finish.
    Giggs can be effective being brought on as I, nor anyone else (except for the coaching team)
    seem to think that he is effective from the start.
    I have no problem with Carrick – it’s not a very eye catching player but take him out and we look a bit lost.
    Beside him we need a skilful, dynamic player than can set the temp with quick thinking and quick passes. Lo and behold we have such a player on the bench who came on in the 82nd minute away to Norwich. I was genuinely surprised to see Giggs start the other day and I can’t imagine what Anderson, Cleverly and even Fletcher must have been thinking when they saw the team sheet.
    Either Giggs has some playing time clause in his new contract or Ferguson thinks we can get past the likes of Norwich with auld lad in midfield. We haven’t beaten anyone convincingly this season so if he thought away to Norwich was going to be easy then he made a blunder.

  12. Bobby Charlton's combover says:

    I agree with Denton – with Antonio out of sorts and Ashley being Ashley then we do miss Nani.
    I’m all for leting him go if that’s what he wants but when we are as insipid as we were the other day then we need some spark.

  13. unitedunitedunitedunited says:

    We lost one game, only one point behind, still second on the table. Chill, no need to suffer a stroke like many of you did here. Believe. True fans, believe.

  14. Dela says:

    @veek –> Yep, Carrick has had a good start to the season, Scholes pulled us out of the fire more than once (particularly at Anfield) Giggs has barely played and didn’t have a bad game against Norwich (he should have had at least one assist had RvP taken his chance). But ye, welcome to this decade of new Manchester United fans. They believe a myth, that we won every game of every season up until a few years ago ;-)

    I’m sick of the “we’re allowed to criticize” defense. THAT’S ALL THAT YOU DO! Look at this place after we win comfortably, then look at it after we lose. No comparison. For “fans” they sure do repeatedly shit on players who have graced us with nothing but success since they came to the club… but then again I’m not sure most of the moaners are old enough to remember passed 07, the start of our last rampant run. They have never experienced a down period or squad build before I’m betting.

  15. Bobby Charlton's combover says:

    I don’t agree Dela. Not many here have been too glowing in their praise of most ot our performances this season including the games we’ve won and most of the critcism has been fairly constructive and reasonable with the odd exception. No-one expects us to win them all but the main quibble in relation to the game last Saturday and indeed many others is the team selection particularly in midfield.
    The problems started before the game started by picking Giggs and Carrick together. A lethargic midfield set the tone for the rest of our play and we got our just desserts. With other players available that could inject a bit of pace and invention going forward it is frustrating for fans not to see us do ourselves justice.

  16. Dela says:

    @Bobby Charlton’s combover —> constructive and reasonable.. right, except its all focused on about two players… namely giggs and scholes. While giggs has barely played, Scholes was the difference for us in multiple games, and when he came on on Saturday he played well. We actually could have done with him earlier.

    The problem here is its always a case of “quick fix” for the rampant moaners here. Oh if we had just played Ando we’d have won. Oh if we’d just played Cleverley we’d have won. With Ando, if there’s one thing he demonstrated in his career so far its consistency isn’t there, but when he doesn’t play well it’s always blamed on whoever he was playing with in midfield, not him. That being said, I don’t rant on when he has a bad game like his head needs to be on a block. As for Tom Cleverley, I’d personally like to see him get more games too, and have noticed Fergie doesn’t seem to play him in a lot of consecutive fixtures, even including when he plays for England, the only explanation I can think of for that is Tom had several injury woes as a youth player and last season was supposed to be his breakthrough but after the Bolton game he was out for a long time. So maybe that is the reason Fergie doesn’t let him put peddle to metal yet. That’s the point, we don’t see these guys in training, we don’t get the medics reports that Fergie does, we don’t know WHY he plays the team he does we can only speculate, but one thing I know should be clear to all, the man isn’t fucking stupid, he’s the greatest of his profession, he will pick the team he judges to be strongest and in doing so will take in all of the information at his disposal. All we have to go on is what we see on the pitch, and don’t forget, people tend to only see what they want… like with Ando now, or Alan Smith a few seasons back, fan favorites who an unbiased observer wouldn’t rate in a United team.

    I back all of our players because there must be a reason they are at the club.

    For me, personally, I think our biggest loss on Saturday was Rooney, because ever since he came on second half vs. Spurs he has been a huge influence in the side. His movement is sometimes incredible now because he knows his role is to play off RvP or Hernandez (or welbeck) and he works very hard and with aggression. Even if most of his shots don’t get on target from his role at the moment, the opposition know if he’s within 25 yards he’s likely to strike so they run out at him, that’s what we were missing I think and that’s injury, not a selection drop.

  17. sheppertonni says:

    Carrick needs to be moved on, i thought we were suppossed to be moving to a more dynamic counter attacking team like of old, i see no signs of this, its the same as last season, predictable, if we’re talking about pace and power then carrick does not fit this, Ive never seen a player so afraid to tackle, and giggs, he’s just stopping the youngsters from getting in the team, he needs to step aside and put his tracksuit on.
    Our young midfielders need to be playing and as he keeps rolling out carrick and scholes and giggs we’re getting left behind our rivals.
    It seems everyone is playing 433 but we’re stuck in time warp with the rigid predicatble 442, pass to valencia and get him to cross it. the midfield just go sideways,no movement no penetration and it’s so dull to watch.
    somthings blatantly wrong with team selection and formation, we may have the deepest squad in our history but it makes no ends when the team selection is wrong and the formation is inept!
    Alot of the fans can see it so why cant the coaches, theyre the profeesionals ?

  18. StatesideAussie says:

    Denton: I do agree with much of what you say. The things that worry me most are the lack of adventure in our set-up and play, the lack of innovation, the fact that our play is too often sub-standard and, frankly, boring. That worries me, much more than individual results or even season results. In terms of results, our recent record over the last few seasons has been pretty good. As I said in my previous post, one more point in 09/10 and one more point last season, and we’d be talking about five straight PL titles. Three PL titles in 5 seasons is not to be sneezed at, especially when the other two of those seasons were such narrow losses.

    Is SAF losing his touch? It’s possible. There’s evidence both ways. His record in recent seaons, as outlined above, is proof that he’s keeping us at the top of the competitive league in the world, in spite of being up against some of the most lavishly financed clubs in Europe during an intensely inlfationary transfer market. But, on the minus side, it does seem to be more of a struggle than it used to be and our football has often been woeful.

    But it doesn’t make sense to change something unless you can make an improvement, and I just don’t see any obvious candidates out there. Except Maureen, and many of our fans hate him!

  19. Bobby Charlton's combover says:

    @Dela – read every comment posted before the Norwich match and not one person was happy see Giggs play. We don’t see them training but we do see what they do on the pitch and Giggs simply shouldn’t be starting games. Lo and behold we put in a performance lacking energy and ideas. No-one performed well but as I said before have the right midfield acts as a catalyst and with Giggs and Carrick together there was none.
    We’re also lacking some leadership so the sooner Vidics makes it back the better.

  20. g-man says:

    fergies not that dumb. i think there is some’it going on with the owners here

  21. mattbw7 says:

    I’ve not even looked at the stats but if anyone thinks (never mind our manager) that 2 in the middle away from home especially when one is an ageing winger and then puts on a fading Scholes while leaving younger, fitter CMs on the bench they need their heads testing, anyone would think Fergie was pissed up after that team selection and substitutions.

    Another symbol of the shite that’s going on at the minute is the marginalisation of Nani, he may be a preening tit but if the future is Young, give me Nani all the time, funny how Young only looks good when we are fucking abysmal

  22. mara says:

    1. We concentrate on defensive players too much, but i understand and why. On the end everything starts with good defence with one exception – if you have Messi
    2. We should every year buy one midfield player..now we have what we have…but it is hard to watch that

  23. bogdan says:

    a few points:
    1.because I see some people criticizing Carrick every time they feel the need to critisize our midfield …he’s a defensive midfielder and one of the best in his generation
    2.Its obvios that Cleverley could be our best central/offensive mid and probably will be and i noticed that Fergie wont play him if his last game was three or for days before wich I think suggests he can’t physically do it jut yet having his injury records in mind…we should be patient
    3.Rooney…our engine,our best player and I hope our captain as soon as possible.I’m sorry that some fans are still upset with him for forcing the club to say “No we are not inferior to Barca or Real” when he asked “Why,I the best player of Manchester United,can’t be in the same salary level as the best player of Real or Barca?”.
    4.We have big defensive problems this season and I think the manager should be very carefull in assessing if Vidic could or could not play a big part this season and the seasons to come if the result is no we should buy someone because with Evans and Smalling we wont get very far and it would be frustrating not to succesfully fix this problem because if we do we will have a good chance of wining both the CL and PL.

  24. Norwegian Red says:

    Giggs is starting to cost us. Scholes we can still get positive results from, but also he is costing us. What are they costing us? Their desire to continue is costing us the development of new midfielders. They are not the future, and we need to think of the future of the mid field!!!

  25. wazza!!!! says:

    Without rooney, scholsey should be in the starting line up. Typical fergie never wake up until we’ve concede goals. Wake up old man!

  26. Bobby Charlton's combover says:

    Fair point Norweigan red – we need to think of the future but don’t forget the present. it is now that they are playing and while we’ve won our fair share with them, we are labouring to victories and yesterday when we were under the cosh we had no answers. The problem is now. We have cleverly and we have anderson. They’re not kids, Anderson in particular has been the first team for about for 4 or 5 seasons.
    I wouldn’t play Giggs full stop and Scholes as part of a 3 man midfield on coming on with a few minutes to go.

  27. United Till I Die says:

    Apart from Chelsea and Arsenal, Scholes and Giggs have already played more big games than Cleverley and Anderson so far this season and I wouldn’t be surprised if its the same in May.

    Loyalty probably is playing a role but I HIGHLY doubt Fergie or the older players can get away with it next season. Guess this means Anderson and Tom have one more season to “develop”.

    I’d imagine this Plan A is gonna piss a lot of people off, perhaps rightly so when you consider our Club really is greater than its parts.

    But at the same time aren’t we in the current position we’re in due to that loyalty commanded by Ferguson? Isn’t the manager the most important person at the Club?

    Maybe its important for the younger players to see how United treats its legends? They are multi-million pound investments after all.

    Perhaps thats why the impatient Pogba, and the unpredictable Morrison were allowed to leave?

    Whatever the truth is as long as both seniors are fit we’ll be seeing a lot more of Giggs and Scholes this season. No doubt about it. Its gonna upset some and baffle others but it seems this is the cost of Fergie’s loyalty towards these two particular lads (over the decades). So look on the bright side, at least when they retire all the hypothesising about our midfield is over.

    As I said, the main point is the manager cannot get away with starting Giggs and Scholes for much longer, especially not with Cleverley and Anderson sitting there. If we retain our Title I wouldn’t be surprised if the senior duo retired in May. They’d have probably done it last season if we won.

    I can imagine quite a few would happily send our older players, or even Fergie, out to pasture right now, but in the grand scheme of things this will be the last season we see the senior lads in a United shirt and I won’t begrudge them the final games they’re playing for the Club.

    Time waits for nobody, so Anderson and Cleverley will get their chance soon enough. Its refreshing not to have either lad running to the papers talking about the options they have elsewhere, not that I’d expect every fan to appreciate something like that haha. Loyalty lads, its a rare phenomenon.

  28. denton davey says:

    StateSideAussie @ 10:11: “one more point in 09/10 and one more point last season, and we’d be talking about five straight PL titles. Three PL titles in 5 seasons is not to be sneezed at, especially when the other two of those seasons were such narrow losses.”

    I know that and I’ve written about that pretty regularly as a “glass-half-full” kinda guy in response to others who have some deluded sense of entitlement and expect each and every player to be “world class”.

    HOWEVER, as you no doubt know, there are lies, damned lies, and statistics and I think that in this instance looking at the half-full glass distracts our attention from the worryingly half-empty section of the glass.

    With regard to SAF, the man is going to choose his date-of-departure. He’s earned that and he deserves that, too. I hold him in the highest regard in relation to his proven ability to manage a top-flight professional sports team while reinventing it not once, not twice, not three times, not four times BUT five times.

    From what I understand this is unparalleled and a spectacular achievement. Can this last or are there worrying signs of decline ? That’s the question. Maybe the best way to answer it is to compare the loyalty of the “new Fergie” – to veteran players and traditional systems – with the ruthlessness of the “old Fergie” for whom winning was the only thing that mattered.

    So, what are we to make of your statement:

    “The things that worry me most are the lack of adventure in our set-up and play, the lack of innovation, the fact that our play is too often sub-standard and, frankly, boring. That worries me, much more than individual results or even season results.”

    For myself, I put more weight on getting bounced from the first round of the CL in 2011, losing an 8 point lead after the clubhouse-turn in the 2012 EPL which cost MUFC # 20 which was crowned by the capitulation at the EmptiHat, and, now, stumbling-and-bumbling at the beginning of this season, especially in matches which have featured Giggs/Scholes in midfield alongside Michael Carrick. These are three, recent fuck-ups which probably wouldn’t have happened under the managership of the “old Fergie”.

    It’s all well-and-good to be gracious in defeat – as SAF was on Saturday – but what about some sort of response from the troops ? In this regard, I think that a different interpretation can be placed on your point regarding “The things that worry me most are the lack of adventure in our set-up and play, the lack of innovation, the fact that our play is too often sub-standard and, frankly, boring.” Is the old master losing his grip ?

    In 2002, SAF made two mistakes, which he quickly rectified – first, he announced his retirement when he was only 60; and, second, he did so well before the end of the season which apparently led to some loss of control in the dressing room. I would imagine that he won’t make these mistakes again – when he next announces his retirement it will be a bolt-from-the-blue and he won’t be coming back.

    I’m old enough to remember that when Sir Matt Busby retired, he never really let go of control. That undermined his successors. In addition, Sir Matt was loyal to his old-stagers – geniuses like Sir Bobby, Georgie, and Denis as well as water-carriers like Nobby and Pat Crerand. HIs successors were doubly disadvantaged with a bare cupboard AND an intrusive “manager emeritus”. I’d like to think that SAF, who talks often about being a history-buff, has learned from his predecessors’ mistakes and won’t repeat them. That’s why I wouldn’t be surprised to see him present the 660,000,000 MUFC fans with a bolt-from-the-blue when he announces his retirement and presents us with his hand-picked successor.

    Other guys have great resumes – like Pep Guardiola – but I think that OGS has the goods. I don’t buy the argument that he needs to get more experience as SAF’s “coach” or by taking on a bigger challenge in, say, the Bundesliga or the Eredivisie. The guy is a winner – and he bleeds red. That’s good enough for me.

  29. Bobby Charlton's combover says:

    Squad for Galatasary:

    Sam Johnstone, Anders Lindegaard; Rafael, Alexander Buttner, Phil Jones, Tom Thorpe, Marnick Vermijl, Scott Wootton; Michael Carrick, Davide Petrucci, Larnell Cole, Tom Cleverley, Darren Fletcher, Anderson, Nick Powell, Ashley Young, Ryan Tunnicliffe; Javier Hernandez, Joshua King, Danny Welbeck, Federico Macheda.

    There’ll be a decent midfield anyway.

  30. StatesideAussie says:

    Denton … you put your case well, but I still think you’re jumping the gun. If we were Gooners talking about the Whinger, I’d agree: now there’s a manager who has been in serious decline for several years and has now clearly lost it.

    But at the elite level of spot, it’s always tough to get the timing right. Star athletes and managers don’t know when to quit. It is built-in to them to fight every challenge. That’s why they often go on too long. That may happen in SAF’s case, but I don’t think it has happened yet.

    As for his replacement, I have nothing against OGS. I believe the club itself will go for Mourinho simply because they will see that as the least risky option, and I think he would do well by us. But I wouldn’t be disappointed with OGS either. And if it is him, I’ll state here and now that I am committed to giving him at least three full seasons before I make up my mind, so long as we are not relegated. I don’t believe we would be relegated (I think more of OSG than that). But fans are fickle. Many might cheer for OGS now, but they would turn on him in an instant if we fell out of the top 4, or into the bottom half.

    So I am just committing myself upfront. For an experienced top-flight manager like Mourinho, the “honeymoon” period would be short and the performance benchmark quite high: I could tolerate dipping out of the top 4 in his first season (on the grounds that a new manager must have some time to change things around), but that’s it. But for a manager who is largely untried at this level (and especially for one who has earned our loyalty, like OGS), the “honeymoon period” would be longer (3 seasons) and the benchmark during that period is simply to stay in the PL. Cheers!

  31. fergie is the boss says:

    denton davey – what has made this 3 year period so abysmal, is the squad does not seem to learn from their mistakes, and the boss does not seem to realize the weaknesses that are so obvious its not even funny. Giggs is not good enough, he is past it, and scholes offers to many cons than pro’s. Now you add the fact, we have no real midfielder that can control games, no midfielder that can break up the play, we are stuck with players, who cannot tackle, run, or run a game for 90 mins, and at the highest level we will get found out. Until the boss realizes, there are huge gapping holes in defense, and especially midfield, it will happen, AGAIN, AND AGAIN, AND AGAIN, over and over and over, like being stuck in a time loop

  32. adambrasco says:

    I have a 13yr old son who can’t believe it when I say giggs was a fantastic player- he should do the honourable thing and become a coach ( hopefully not in taking corners) if he doesn’t he will be remembered like a mcclair the old bloke who came on for 20mins and the croed laughed at and felt sorry for. To be fair he is 39 nearly and still Morse effective than young who is just a bench warmer.

  33. denton davey says:

    FergieIsTheBoss @ 20:51: “what has made this 3 year period so abysmal, is the squad does not seem to learn from their mistakes”

    Hold on. As StateSideAussie wrote, the last five years could been a 5-peat in the EPL. To call that “abysmal” is the product of a deluded sense of entitlement.

    Having disagreed with that, I have to say that I concur with the point about not learning from mistakes such as poor team selection and/or wrong style of play. These mistakes have become more frequent lately, too – as I mentioned three glaring ones in my earlier posts there is no need to go over them.

    What’s particularly galling to me is that SAF seems to be in a perpetual state of “should I come or should I go” in relation to both personnel and playing style (especially, his fondness for wingers when all others play a different kind of game which means that UTD’s midfield is often over-run).

    I suppose that if TheBoss had listened to me and purchased BOTH De Rossi and Schweini then both the midfield would be sorted and the ability to continue with two wingers wouldn’t put the on-field team at such a disadvantage. But he never returned my calls – or read my posts on ROM. He decided that he could try to extract more juice out of MIchael Carrick, Paul Scholes, and Ryan Giggs – individually, each guy offers something but collectively they are not the answer. Maybe he’s not convinced by either Anderson or YoungTom but what’s surprising is that he’s not really giving these two guys the extended run of matches that would provide conclusive proof that they are – or are not – good enough. BUT it’s pretty evident that playing Michael Carrick with low-energy players like Scholes and Giggs is not working.

    Really, it’s now shit-or-get-off-the-pot time. The EPL can’t be won in November but when presented with a run of five relatively-easy matches before the M/C derby it sure looks like the momentum can be lost.

    About SAF’s career/retirement. Like I wrote earlier, he has earned the right to go out on his own terms but I have to agree with StateSideAussie that “Star athletes and managers don’t know when to quit. It is built-in to them to fight every challenge.” BUT he won’t win all the challenges and it would be better for him – and us – for him to see this matter in perspective as well as arranging an orderly succession.

    I was a huge fan of OGS – for many of the same reasons as I admire Chicharito: polite, always smiling, and devoted to the team-game. His managerial record might be short but it is excellent and while I think Jo$e is a terrific manager – and lots of fun in the pressers – he’s also power-hungry, demanding “my way or the highway” rather than fitting himself into the evolution of the club. He’d be fine and he’d be fun, too. The team would contend but something would be lost in terms of sportsmanship in the pursuit of his own, personal glory. In a sense, his predilection for short-term jobs might be just the ticket but I’d prefer OGS to learn on the job because he’d stay the course.

  34. fergie is the boss says:

    denton davey – for me, the time for change should have come when barca ripped united apart 2 0, in rome 2009. We lose ronaldo, and the boss never said, RIGHT, we really have been given a huge wake up call. Nothing happened in summer 2009, we never put it right in summer 2010, we spent some money in 2011 and 2012, but that never solved the long term problems infesting the squad. Now denten, we have 2 major problems, defense and midfield. We are lacking a spine, a great attack, but a great spine that is the building blocks to all the great title winning united sides. We will once again fail in europe, we were one of the great tactical sides of European footballing sides, now we seem to be an outdated 442 outfit, that seems hellbent on playing ageing players, not fit enough to play 60 mins. PPL say its disrespecting legends like scholes and giggs, who are for me well past their prime, ferdinand has not got much time left, jones and smallen are never fit, carrick is a meh, evra is not getting any younger. You add these numbers up, we will need more than 2 players, we need 5 to 6 players if I am being blunt

  35. fergie is the boss says:

    look at our past spines under fergie denton

    92/95
    scmecheal pallister bruce keane ince cantona hughes

    98/99
    schmecheal stam johnsen keane scholes yorke cole

    07/08
    VDS ferdinand vidic scholes carrick ronaldo rooney tevez

    The current spine apart from the attack, is nowhere near of the standards expected of united. These sides could go away from home, blitz sides, dig deep and know when to put sides to the sword. We get overrun, we have no tactical planning, and our style of play is all over the place, and our formation is very dated, when you do not have the players required to play it

  36. denton davey says:

    fergie is the boss @ 23:46: “for me, the time for change should have come when barca ripped united apart 2 0, in rome 2009.”

    I don’t agree because there were extenuating circumstances in terms of DarrenFletcherinho’s suspension – he was then at the height of his “football genius” mode – and the injuries that Anderson and Carrick developed. And, of course, UTD did get to the final again two years later – THAT match at Wembley was more of a humiliation. In the EPL, UTD just missed a five-peat because of goal difference last spring and OneMartinAtkinsonMoment two years before that.

    I do take your point about the team’s “spine” but, like I wrote, SAF didn’t return my calls when I told him to use the ca$h from the sale of CR7 to buy De Rossi and Schweini. He kept the faith with Scholes/Giggs for too long, as well.

    I’m not a doomsayer – my glass is still half-full – and I think that this squad can compete for major trophies and, with NO injuries, maybe even win either the CL or the EPL. But the odds are lengthening – and the persistence with Scholes and Giggs as well as the reliance on an outdated 4-4-2 (which marginalizes Chicharito) doesn’t fill me with much confidence. Hope, yes; confidence, not really.

  37. Adam says:

    I’m actually starting to feel bad for RVP now, as he looks around thinking to himself.. wtf. I think he was hoping for a much better support cast as well

  38. mobbzz1 says:

    our midfield lacks ideas,no creativity,lacklustre and bland to say the least…valencia plays like a programmed robot..run in a straight line then cross…almost all balls pass thru him..what’s up with that?I believe these players can step up and shine and hopefully they will sooner rather than later……TREBLE this season.

  39. DJY says:

    It’s all about stats, Giggs Scholes and Carrick can’t start together not because they can’t pass the ball but the lack of energy in the mid-field and also the defense in mid-feild.

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