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United Are Just A Two Man Team

Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo ChampionsIt is no surprise that United struggle without Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, but it is a surprise that they struggle so much, writes I don’t like blaming injuries, and whilst I think there can be a lot of truth to that argument at times, I think it rarely gets you off the hook entirely. United should have had too much for Bolton at the Reebok, regardless of the missing players. We lost the game, it’s over with now, but the criticism echoes on.

As United fans we have been quick to label our rivals a “one man/two man team”. Chelsea rely on Lampard and Drogba (together they scored 31 of Chelsea’s 64 goals last season, compared to Rooney and Ronaldo’s 31 of 83 goals scored by United), whilst we have looked at the match saving quality of Henry for Arsenal and Gerrard for Liverpool, who have on countless times dragged an average looking side through games to go on to victory. It appears as though the same insult is being directed in United’s direction after losing against Bolton with Ronaldo and Rooney absent. On first viewing, maybe it would be a fair evaluation. We looked a long way off our best on Saturday, and knowing what talented players we have in Rooney and Ronaldo, maybe some could dismiss us as a two man team. But that would be naive and misinformed.

When all our players are fit and on form, United’s first XI this season would look like this: Van der Sar, G Neville, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Ronaldo, Hargreaves, Scholes, Giggs, Rooney, Saha. The players in bold were the ones missing from Saturday’s defeat. Add to that the fact Louis Saha is nowhere near match fitness, after featuring in just nine of the eighteen games we’d played before the Bolton game, and in those nine matches, playing for just 230 out of a possible 810 minutes.

This isn’t me excusing our defeat against Bolton, merely exposing the unfairness of branding us a two man team, when we were missing five out of first choice eleven. Scholes is the most crucial of these, whose impact is more subtle, but his loss is great. It was an observation I made time and again last season, when we looked significantly different when Scholes wasn’t on the field, even if we did go on to pick up the three points. When considering Scholes, Ronaldo and Rooney are safely our three best players, our three most creative players, then it isn’t such a shock to see us look out of sorts up front, particularly when one of our strikers has hardly played this season through injury.

Should United have done better on Saturday? Yes, and in a perfect world, we’d win every match we played, but this is the real world, and you’ve got to take the rough with the smooth. But does the defeat make us a two man team? Only to a short-sighted and ignorant rival. You don’t have to look too hard to disprove their weak criticism!

Is it fair to call United a two man team?



  1. me says:

    we are lucky we arent out the title race we arent a 2 man team because this season we have relyed on the back four a lot to be solid if evra got injuried we wud have problems just glad the back four have been tight so far because we havent scored as many goals as we wud have liked games agains tottenham birmingham sunderland and reading we only scored 3 goals in the fact is we are relying on tevez rooney nd ronaldo to score most of the goals this yr. we no longer have solskjaer he got us improtant goals last yr nd saha is never 100% fit now hopfully rooney will be back to face fulham we still have enough in the team to win the title or if not we will at least finish second come on united

  2. jsos says:

    me – i’m trying to follow, but the sentences are too long! this saturday was a disappointment, but there’s so much more to united that a few players. with half our starting team out on injury, though, we have to step up. and i believe we will. i’m just ready to put saturday behind us already. this touchline ban scare is not helping either. roll on.

  3. raisnhell says:

    2 man team? Yeah right!! It will be short-sighted to call United to be dependent only on Ronaldo and Rooney. Take them both out and put in the rest of the team with full form, and I am ready to bet my life that we’ll win atleast 3-0!!

  4. william says:

    To those who called for the removal of RVN and insertion of Saha how would you evaluate their play during the last 18 months? Ruud continues to score goals and Saha continues to be physically and mentally fragile. Sir Alex made another mistake in selling RVN instead of Saha. RVN is still one of the greatest goal scorers in Europe.

  5. mike says:

    a two men team , absolutely no , thinking about the start of the season when the so-called two men were absent, who we rely on so much? yes, the back four . don’t get me wrong , i do not intend to deny the increasing influence of twins ,i just mean we are not the team depending on one or two players. anyway, the nightmare became the past tense,ahead of us is the far-far road we should get it out as a true man

  6. Scott the Red says:

    William, I think you missed the point of why RvN was sold. It was nothing to do with his scoring ability, it was clear that he was still a top striker in his last season at United. He was sold because of his attitude and his ego.

    Fergie’s decision was vindicated when we won the league without Ruud, scoring some 20 goals more than the team in second place.

  7. Rockdel says:

    Saha in first eleven, think that TEVEZ gives us a lot more

  8. william says:

    Scott the Red, it hard for me to fathom that Sir Alex could not have brought Ruud around if his attitude had gone sour…I think it was SA’s ego that was injured and driving the sale because RVN had sided with Keano on the issue of the failure of certain players to play hard and work for the good of the TEAM!!
    Saha today continues to play at 50% and should have been sold instead of Ruud and needs to go when/if another striker is lined up.

  9. Scott the Red says:

    It’s not Sir Alex Ferguson’s job to convince people to want to work for their place in the team at United. If a player needs reminding how lucky they are to be in United’s first team squad, then it’s time they got sold on. Nobody is too big for Manchester United, and nobody is exempt from being dropped for a more in form player..Ruud forgot that, and was rightly sold. Saha waited patiently on our bench for years, never complained or threw a strop about it, that is the kindof attitude we should expect from United players. Ruud couldn’t last a few weeks on the bench without throwing a strop. That attitude might be acceptable for some fans, but I don’t think any United fan should lower their standards and deem that behaviour appropriate. If any man at this club is allowed an ego, then certainly it is Sir Alex Ferguson…not Ruud!

  10. PG says:

    I think losing RVN and Keane in the same year freed up the rest of the team a little, just as it has happened with Arsenal losing Henry this year. Saha is unlucky to be injured most of the time, but when he does come on the pitch, he gets you the important goals. I think ManU will have to wait until next season to see the consistency from Nani and Anderson. Until then you will have to rely on Ronaldo and Rooney to come good most of the time. Giggs is strangely subdued this year compared to last year and havent seen much of Scholes at all.

  11. william says:

    Scott the Red…Was Ruud dropped because Saha was in better form? I think not…you fail to address the issue of his supporting his team captain-Keane-on the issue of under performing players which SA felt was inappropriate. If you feel SA is the only person entitled to have an ego then you win BUT you have to acknowledge that same ego caused the sale of Stam, Beckham, RVN and departure of Keano. The TEAM was adversely impacted by each ego driven decision. SA is a terrific manager but I believe the Champions League battles since 1999 have been lost in large part due to those decisions.
    Still coming back to the original issue previously addressed, Saha is an inferior player and producer of goals and (even if he handles the BENCH better than Ruud) continues to play below ManU standards. How do you rate Saha’s play in the last two games? I give him a 3/10.

  12. Scott the Red says:

    You think wrong then, I’m afraid. Keane left in November and Ruud was still starting week in week out then and for the months that followed. Ruud was then dropped in the New Year. Saha scored 8 goals in 13 games in that period. He was our in form striker.

    If you want to jump on the Keane/Stam/Beckham bandwagon, read this first:

    And if you’re judging Saha when he’s not match fit, then fair do’s, but I see no point in judging a player when he’s not recovered from injury. When Saha is match fit, he’s a valuable player in our team, and contributed massively to us winning the league last season.

  13. william says:

    Keane left/forced out By SA after being critical of certain teammates for selfish and less than 100% effort in games. RVN supported his captain…SA did not approve and did not forget. SA decided to try mind games with the STRIKER and went to Saha and Rooney up top. Was that a logical move? Of course not. All logic went out the window and ultimately Ruud-scorer of 150 goals in 200 games-was sold. His scoring ability continues at Rio Madrid and contributed greatly to winning the League title.
    How many goals has Saha provided ManU since joining the team in 2003? 39 goals total. Ruud scored 44 goals in 2002/2003. Logical move to keep Saha and sell Ruud…..RIGHT! Sure Saha has had tough luck with injuries but that is his history and ManU has been and continues to suffer as a consequence to the point that they are looking for an additional striker today. When will Saha be match fit? Can the TEAM afford to wait for that day to arrive? Of course not! The wrong player was sold and that player continues to play at a high level contributing to Rio’s success while Saha perform’s at a 50% rate. Saha is physically and mentally to fragile for the Premiership as indicated by his amount of play since 2003/2007. Don’t you agree Scott the Red?

  14. Scott the Red says:

    As I already said in my last post, Ferguson stuck with Ruud for a couple of months of Keano left. Ruud scored 7 goals in 15 matches. So Fergie dropped him for Saha, who went on to score 8 in 12 matches. He was the in form striker, so your argument falls to pieces. Ruud sticking by Keano might not have helped the situation, but tactically, Ferguson was spot on to move Ruud to the bench when we had a striker who was scoring more goals. Ruud thought he was too big to work for his place in the first XI, like every other player, and threw a strop over it. If you think we should keep players like that at United, who aren’t prepared to work for their first team place, then fair do’s. I don’t. Let’s leave it at that eh?

  15. william says:

    Scott the Red-Have you any solid evidence that RVN failed to properly perform at ManU(seems he has been willing to work for his place at Real) or do you merely rely on disinformation comparable to false statements claiming Beckham refused to sign a “fair” offer from the Reds before he was sold?
    Still how long should the TEAM await Saha’s return to good health before SA decides another striker is needed? Would you support the purchase of one during the January window? I will await some indication that Saha is prepared to WORK for the TEAM!!!!!!

  16. Scott the Red says:

    What gives you the impression that Ruud is willing to work for his place on the Real team? This season, he hasn’t had a single appearance from the bench. He has been in the starting lineup every match. When he was in the starting lineup every match for United, he was happy then too. The problems started when the in form striker was picked ahead of him.

    Beckham’s wage had been agreed on, it was his image rights which broke the deal. This was widely reported at the time, in the broadsheets and on Sky Sports News.

    If there’s a good enough striker available in January, then I would welcome him with open arms. At no point have I argued we shouldn’t sign another player, rather I have defended Saha, and felt it unfair to judge a player on his performances when he isn’t match fit. I said the same of Tevez when he struggled at the beginning of the season after a month with no time on the pitch. Don’t forget the winning goal Saha scored against Sunderland, the goal which finished off Chelsea, and the perfect ball he played to Evra to supply Ronaldo against Arsenal. To be contributing anything at this stage, a player who clocked up 90 minutes for the first time since last December on Saturday, is fine for me for the time being. If when match fit he doesn’t produce the goods, then it’s time to think on, but in his United career, we have had little to complain about when he has been fit.


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