United went to Moscow last night and played a very average team. It was cold, but the conditions were no worse than a February night in Manchester. When we were drawn in this group, all the experts basically said it would be a walk in the park to get through to the knockout stages, but so far we have lost to a very poor PSV team, scrambled a win at home to Wolfsburg, and managed a point last night in Moscow. Whilst United are on course to go through, it’s been far from impressive in these first 3 Champions League games.
I understand the principle of possession football, but to have nothing in the final third is not what possession football is all about. United look scared to death to make a mistake or give the ball away when attacking. Last night, despite enjoying 75% possession, we didn’t work the keeper once, other than when he had to bend down and pick the ball out of his net after a terrific headed goal by our saviour, Martial. What is he doing on the left wing? He came into the middle once last night and, guess what, he scored!
We have all loved watching Rooney over the past 10 years, but right now he is not worth his place in United’s starting 11; LVG needs to display his infamous balls and drop him to the bench, playing Martial as his no.1 striker along with Mata, Herrera and maybe Lingard for now up front.
Memphis, meanwhile, needs to clean up his act off the field, or he is never going to make it at United or anywhere else. His lifestyle seems to be one that is not conducive to becoming a world class footballer, and United need to get a grip with him fast before it’s too late. He has talent, without doubt, but he risks emulating Ravel more than Ronaldo.
As a team, United need to up the tempo. The first half last night was dire to say the least; the second half was an improvement, but still short of what is required to beat second rate teams like CSKA Moscow. We have the players, but something seems wrong, with such little movement and belief in the final third.
We are up there in the league, and if we can beat City on Sunday, no one can say we are not in the title race. We should progress in the Champions League, and I hope LVG gives the likes of Pereira, Wilson and McNair some games in the two domestic cups – they need the big game experience, and it’s an opportunity for them to show what they can do.
If we are 4-5 points off first place come January 1st, I hope we do some shrewd transfer business, and would like to see Mane from Southampton or maybe Berahinho from West Brom for the run-in. With one of them alongside Martial, Herrera and Mata, we could look like a far more formidable proposition.
I believe the next two transfer windows will make or break LVG, determining whether or not he brings a major trophy home whilst in charge at Old Trafford. We are not in need of 5 players anymore – probably 2-3 over these next two windows could turn us into champions providing we also hold onto De Gea.
Ultimately, though, the football needs work. It remains largely rather boring, but it has potential, and if LVG plays his key players in the right positions, takes the plunge with Rooney unless he finds his form fast, and buys well in January if right player is available, then who knows… we could be in for a far more exciting last 5 months of the season. Here’s hoping!