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United’s midfield problem has a solution

The spine of a Manchester United team is emerging from the wreckage of the season’s first fifteen games. In Sunday’s 3-0 victory at Villa Park, David Moyes quietly found a solution to United’s central dilemma; How to disguise United’s lack of midfield bite. The solution was not a surprise.

The win over a flailing Aston Villa side was constructed around the performances of Rafael and Valencia on the right flank. The two have played together enough now to have an excellent understanding of how and when to overlap. United’s first two goals came from this axis, a cross from each, and finished the game as a contest. At half time the Villa fans were fervently discussing how to ‘take Valencia out of the game’.

The reason these two enjoyed so much success at the weekend was because they weren’t chasing back into the middle of the park in search of the ball and constantly pursuing play. It is hard to count how many times this season Valencia has been deployed as a right back when his natural instinct is to attack the corner flag and deliver crosses.

The reason Rafael and Valencia were afforded more freedom was because United were able to exert a modicum of control in the middle of the pitch. This control came about because of the presence of Wayne Rooney.

Whilst Giggs and Cleverly were the midfielders in name, Rooney played at their front and provided options for those winning back the ball before spreading play out wide. It was a remarkably similar position to the one that caused so much consternation to the striker last season. He happens to be darn good at playing there.

Behind the midfield trident of Rooney, Cleverley and Giggs, Phil Jones added real authority to United’s defence. Whilst he has performed admirably as a midfielder recently, his partnership with Johnny Evans must be the future for the defence. Although the opposition was modest, Jones and Evans were solid and impressive.

Up front Danny Welbeck provided the trickery and speed that he is supposed to. Robin van Persie can expect to reclaim his position at the head of the team when he returns and, all of a sudden, United look like they have strength in depth.

De Gea is one of United’s most reliable players nowadays and with a team containing Jones in front of him, then Carrick when he returns and Rooney linking the play to van Persie, the champions look strong again. Backbone emerges when Rooney is able to drop back and play deeper. Sir Alex may have been onto something after all.

Manchester United have drawn Olympiakos in the Champions’ League and the fans have rejoiced. It could certainly have been worse. Essentially this means that United have a stronger chance of reaching the quarter-finals than they otherwise might have done. The likelihood of them winning it remains slim.

Presently, United’s objectives are closer to home. With David Moyes gradually finding a way to make the team work, United hope to put their winter of discontent behind them.

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70 Comments

  1. Tommy says:

    @Fletch

    Yep the penny pinching pisses me from Woodward, but also those who keep bringing up Fellanis price tag (Like its the lads fault) and then people on RoM quote his price 4 mill more than he actually cost, I actually admire he waved 4 mill in loyalty bonues to push through the move, Most players wouldnt do that shows hes got the desire to make a success of it, I for one wish him the best of luck

  2. Fletch™ says:

    Just to take the p*ss:

    Stoke v ManUtd.
    United have not lost to Stoke since 1993:
    Head to Head: WWWWWWWDWWWW

    GIVE ME SOMMA THAT !!!!

    Tommy: Cheers mate, and lets not forget what people said re Carrick for years.
    It all comes around. I blame ABU media for stirring it up.

    Come ON THE REDS :twisted:

  3. Fletch™ says:

    Just to take more of the p*ss
    Arsenals fixtures from Feb 8th to Apr 5th
    See ya latter Gunners! :lol: :lol: :lol:

    Liverpool A
    ManUnited H
    Bayern H
    Bayern A
    Totenham A
    Chelsea A
    ManCity H
    Everton A

    Hoping we are there or there abouts. What say?!

  4. UnitedFaithful says:

    Having welbeck playing also helped Rooney’s cause,had it been Chicha instead of Welbz think we would have struggled for for goals as Chicha is not a link up player like Welbz.The first couple of minutes when Villa had some possession our CM looked a little out of sorts,as soon as Roo dropped in we were more composed and started setting up attacks on their box.

  5. UnitedFaithful says:

    Having welbeck playing also helped Rooney’s cause,had it been Chicha instead of Welbz think we would have struggled for for goals as Chicha is not a link up player like Welbz.The first couple of minutes when Villa had some possession our CM looked a little out of sorts,as soon as Roo dropped in we were more composed and started setting up attacks on their half

  6. UnitedFaithful says:

    http://www.football365.com/manchester-united/9076172/Wigan-boss-Uwe-Rosler-hopes-to-keep-Manchester-United-s-Nick-Powell-on-loan

    Hearing great things about him,but most of the reviews have come from playing as a striker or as an attacking mid

  7. UnitedFaithful says:

    Hope he can develop in the position he was bought for.

  8. Fletch™ says:

    Faithful, To be fair to Wigan and Nicky Powell, loads of youngsters are started up top as they have the speed of youth, the bravery of youth, and most importantly the manager feels it is less risky than midfield where they might make a defensive mistake that costs the team.

    Many of our loans don’t play their favored position.
    Scholes started as a striker because of his size and Fergies concerns over this issue.

    Lad is getting games and taking his chances. Also seems to have a good head on his shoulders and the type of character that United cultivate.

    I have a lot of time for Wigan. 2 managers and both done a proper job in seeing some of our youngsters getting games on loan. Bit harder for them last year as they were in a relegation dog fight. But I recall that they have had a load of our kids and the better ones got games.

    Mind I don’t care for the

  9. Fletch™ says:

    Mind I don’t care for the Wigan support. No proper songs and prone to some distasteful displays.
    But they are a newish side and hope that will come.

  10. Fletch™ says:

    Lovin Sunderland…. aka ManUnited B, at the moment.

    O’Shea and Brown working socks off.

    Sunderland 1 up at the death. Plus a full extra time. :lol:

  11. Fletch™ says:

    Sergio Aguero and Pablo Zabaleta out for several weeks. Could be important for City.

    Aguero, city’s top scorer, out for up to 8 weeks. 8O

  12. Tommy says:

    @United Faithful

    “Hope he can develop in the position he was bought for.” He actually played for Crewe as a striker, we bought him on the basis of his performances as a forward but like @Fletch says, He can be developped as a midfilder hes clearly got the right attributes for that position but until we see him their who knows, I dont think I can remember ever seeing him play midfield, I also dont see the point in returning him to United to sit on the bench, he will learn far more playing in a difficult league for the season!

  13. samuel - united WE stand says:

    Didn’t fergie once claim he sees powell emulating scholes?.. Obviousky has some way to go in order to match that but powell has all the attributes required for central mid. He has this imposing stature that can see him being dominant. He is good passer, glides across the pitch elegantly, good, aerially and has a thunderbolt of a shot on him. I can see him developing into an all round central mid, he has been pushed further forward by wigan but he’ll settle deeper. Hopefully he can kick on and be a starter for united when he returns

  14. samuel - united WE stand says:

    Nick powell can be a goal scoring central mid for united. It will be interesting to see how his defensive side has progressed but the lad is superb technically, some of the goals he scores is unbelievable, needs to return and fight for a place at united.

  15. samuel - united WE stand says:

    Even if you put fellaini pricetag aside, even if united paid with peanuts.. Was he ever the right player for manchester united? I think that says it all.

  16. Marq says:

    Moyes said: “We had a word with Danny about a month ago and we said he needs to be the last off the training field.

    “Wayne Rooney is out there practising his finishing each day, whether it’s taking free-kicks, shooting from tight angles or bending them in. Whatever it may be, Wayne’s practising.

    “I said, ‘Danny, you need to be out there every day finishing, even if it’s 15 minutes at the end’. Was I surprised I had to tell him? A little bit, yes. I think the young boys here are educated to keep improving but sometimes you can, without knowing, slip away from that.”

    Sooo…. Welbeck have only been watching Rooney practice? And that nobody told Welbeck he needs to put in extra work on his finishing? Really? I’m kinda disappointed

  17. davidjoneslocker says:

    @Marq, Re: Welbeck
    Disappointed? These kids these days have mostly been blinded by the glitz abd flood lights to really put in the work. It’s all good and fair that Welbeck is a born Manc but somehow that seems to have screwed his head up, thinking its probably just okay to wear our colors and have everyone in Manchester say “yeah, that’s the lad who plays for United”. Talent is great but hard work, you really can’t find substitutes for that most times…Ronaldo Da Lima, for all his extraordinary talent, would always stay back on the pitch and play with the ball after normal training. Same for Becks, who wasnt entirely talented but worked hard and became extremely good at what he did. Cristiano, Giggs and even a dude who was largely known to rely basically on his enormous talent, Ronaldinho, was almost always with a ball. I don’t see that it’s too hard to just dedicate say 10 years to your job…RVP said he did that. Lots of us in the real world did that too. Dedicated time to studies and jobs so we can have time to sit back later and relax or in their cases, enjoy the stardom. TC23, I won’t go into that now. Lawd help us anyway. Hopefully, this last match would help Welbeck realise he could be better. Never mind trying to be our Henry. Just get better. We’d manage that. Sorry for the rant, lads

  18. QueenDelilah says:

    One day, United would clear out the dead wood and we can be truly great again. There are too many passengers in this team, IMHO. Call it player-bashing if you will but deep in your hearts, y’all know the truth. Young, Welbeck, Giggsy(Mr Amazing, time to call it quits), Nani even.
    Rooney can absolutely do a job in the midfield. He just won’t. Can’t wait until he finally leaves so we can really face issues and know what we dealing with instead of bowing to his whims. Either that or we just go ahead and get a real midfield. The money on fixing our issues is surely gonna pile on even more pressure for Mr Moyes. I don’t envy him right now

  19. Blacksocks says:

    I think for once Moyes has been refreshingly honest. As supporters we would walk over hot coals to be lucky enough to be good enough to play for United. We shouldn’t be surprised that a player, every now and then, just like some of us in the real world, need a little kick up the backside to push on.

    Personally I would love Welbeck to go on a scoring run and play regularly up front. He has the talent and ability to be a top striker but the big question has always been – can he score enough goals? Well nows your chance Danny – take it!

  20. dannysoya LOVES USAIN BOLT says:

    Apparently Chelsea have stolen the march on us for Guarin. Thought we were firm favorites for that one. A realistic target better than ALL of our midfield players and Moyes is not pursuing it? SMH. This is the kind of player we need, big, strong, fast, excellent tackler and gets his fair share of goals from midfield too plus he’s apparently available for just 15 million pounds. I don’t know why Moyes is pursuing unrealistic targets like Gundogan when a realistic one is staring you right in the face. UGH. He better not fuck this transfer window up or I will be really angry.

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