It’s been a tough past couple of days for Manchester United fans like myself.
Ryan Donovan writes of some of the issues that have been exposed in losses at Chelsea and Liverpool, and potential areas of concerns that need to be addressed when the transfer window opens again this summer.
A horror show of officiating cost United at Chelsea for the third game running, while yesterday there were some more decisions that went against us—but that shouldn’t be an excuse for that dire performance.
Bar a 15-minute period in the second half, our boys never got going at Anfield. Liverpool were up for it and United simply weren’t. Some say this is the new Liverpool small club mentality which has engulfed the club in the past couple of seasons. While that may be true, it’s no excuse that we shouldn’t be equally pumped-up for a game which is still regarded by many as the biggest of them all.
As United imposed a media blackout, we were left to our own thoughts to go over a horror show that was our defeat to Liverpool. Yes, they should have been down to 10, possibly nine men; and yes, Dirt Kuyt scored the easiest hat trick you will ever see; but the 3-1 scoreline was very flattering to us.
At least Hernandez saved some face.
Once again though, United's Achilles' heel reared itself to the public once again. Our midfield has been the cause of a plethora of complaints from the United faithful and yesterday they didn’t do anything to change their opinions.
While United’s defense and attack failed to cover themselves in glory yesterday, both have been superb all season with United being top scorers in the league and were one of the meanest defenses around before yesterday.
Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher have recently signed new contracts, despite less-than-impressive seasons from the duo. Both have failed to live up to expectations this year and personally, both look too comfortable to me.
With Owen Hargreaves permanently injured, Darron Gibson failing to impress and Paul Scholes getting older by the day, this team needs some polish. When teams sit off United and allow us to play (first half against Chelsea), we are able to dominate the ball and dictate the game—which is fine for home games where we’ve been so impressive this season.
Away games are a different animal. The home fans want to see their teams get at United (second half against Chelsea) and that’s exactly what these teams are doing and that’s why we’ve won only four away games all year. We're incapable of matching the ferocity of the home sides and we have dropped invaluable points because of it.
That’s why we’ve won three out of our last four away games in the Champions League and why we’ve lost three of our last four away in the Premiership.
Another interesting point is that United’s center-midfield selection of Scholes, Anderson, Carrick, Gibson and Fletcher have scored five goals all season—which is not good enough. Just to hammer this point home, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra have managed five goals also this season.
Paul Scholes managed that on a weekly basis, but as the years have rolled on, Paul has dropped deeper and deeper into a sort of quarterback role. Michael Carrick does pretty much the same while Darren Fletcher pops up with the odd goal. Darron Gibson needs to score regularly if he wants to become a first-team player for United. Darron certainly has the ability to score a bucket full of goals, but the Irishman has managed a measly one so far this term.
Yet again, simply not good enough!
It’s more evident by the day that United need new recruits. Personally, I would love to see Charlie Adam, Ashley Young and Jack Rodwell to replace Darron Gibson, Owen Hargreaves and possibly Paul Scholes whether he retires or not. All under 26, all British and all hungry for success. More importantly, all can fit into the United system.