Devils Digest #3

As we come to the end of a relatively positive week for United, it’s time for my pick of the best United content on the web from the last 7 days…

What’s the Mata with Man Utd and Shinji Kagawa?

Over on Red Rants, Rafae Qazi asks why Kagawa’s been such a flop at United, and why his form was so much better at Dortmund.

Qazi points out that Kagawa flourished so brilliantly in the No.10 role at Dortmund first and foremost because of the players behind him: the likes of Nuri Sahin and Ilkay Gundogan.

We saw yesterday what a big difference it made having two CMs both playing well for United, and if the rumours about Gundogan that dominated the back pages this morning are true (and his injury problems are behind him), then maybe we’d have a better platform for Kagawa to shine next season.

Qazi also points to the movement and interplay between Kagawa, Gotze and Lewandowski at Dortmund, the likes of which should certainly be possible with the forward players we have at our disposal, but so far the tactics and shape have been too rigid under Moyes for that to really happen.

Of course, the other problem for Kagawa is that he’s up against Rooney, Mata and Januzaj, all of whom are contenders for the number 10 role, but surely Shinji has a part to play in a squad that Moyes has not been scared to rotate?!

Whether Moyes will ever be able to get the best out of players like Mata and Kagawa is unclear, but on the basis of the evidence so far, it’s pretty hard to imagine. Klopp, on the other hand…

Read the full post here.

TOP 5: Most disappointing Manchester United seasons

Over on The Republik of Mancunia, Alexander Netherton (@lxndrnthrtn) takes a look at Man Utd’s 5 most disappointing seasons over the last 20-odd years.

From 2001/02, he remembers the anti-climactic form of Veron, the physical inadequacy of Blanc, the spectre of Fergie’s imminent retirement, and underachievement in the Champions League as the key disappointments.

He compares 2004/05 to the revelation that your son doesn’t love you and thinks you’re a wanker. He reminds us of the players we had to put up with – Bellion, Djemba Djemba, Smith and Miller – and Mourinho sowing the seeds of his evil Chelski empire, not to mention defeat to Arsenal in the FA Cup and Liverpool’s nauseatingly epic comeback in Istanbul. With the Glazer takeover to cap things off, he frames 2004/05 as “a foreboding, genuinely tragic glimpse into the future, not simply a nightmare from the past.”

2011/12 – the barely-healed wound that it is – hardly needs to be retraced, but Netherton does a pretty good job of capturing the booze-tinged emotional rollercoaster that culminated in Martin Tyler’s soul-blackening scream – a noise that will echo through all our nightmares for many years to come.

For 1991/92, no words are even offered – just a fitting visual metaphor for a season that should have finished with a treble for United.

It’s not over yet, but the current campaign is Netherton’s final pick in his top 5 most disappointing seasons for MUFC. I don’t think any of us would argue with this one – we’ve lost the greatest manager in history and replaced him with a joke; we’ve made a mess of our transfer strategy; the players are disillusioned; our tactics are shit; the results are humiliating. We were all braced for a bad year, but none of us saw it being like this.

I fully agree with Netherton’s assessment of Moyes: “There is no evidence for fans to hope that he will make the best of the chance to rebuild. Now, that’s disappointing.”

Read the full post here.

Patrice Evra Proving There’s Life Left in His Manchester United Career

Finally this week, I’m sharing Rob Dawson’s (@RobDawsonMEN) piece for Bleacher Report, where he makes the case for Evra still having a part to play at United beyond this season.

Evra’s defending can be shocking at times (hardly a ground-breaking observation!), but only Rooney has made more key passes and assists for United this season, and yesterday his contribution was obvious. As such, I’m inclined to agree with Rob that Evra shouldn’t be underestimated.

He rightly points out that Evra has every right to feel unsettled in light of Moyes’ (as yet fruitless) efforts to sign a replacement, and that he deserves some real credit for not letting this affect his performances.

Personally, I hope Evra can continue to be a ‘key attacking weapon’ for United for at least one more season. If Fellaini can build on his decent performance yesterday, and we can sign another quality defensive midfielder (William Carvalho would be perfect), then we should have the players capable of covering when needed, and mitigating the impact of Evra’s defensive lapses.

Having said that, we clearly do need reinforcements at full-back on both sides of the pitch – if Evra and Rafael both got injured tomorrow, we’d have no quality attacking full-backs available to replace them.

If we manage to sign Luke Shaw in the summer, I wouldn’t rule out playing Evra in a more advanced role. He started his career as a winger; maybe he could finish it there too!

Read the full post here.

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for another Devils Digest next week!