It seems almost blasphemous to question a manager who’s taken your club from near the bottom of Division One to 12 titles, two Champions Leagues, five FA Cups, three League Cups and various other trophies. We can all sit and nostalgically recall the 9-0 demolition of Ipswich or the epic comeback against Bayern as players not fit to lace Roy Keane’s boots tear our side apart, but looking backwards only takes you in that direction.
I’ve had the twitterati foaming at the keyboard when I’ve questioned Sir Alex’s tactics of late and while there will no doubt be many who’ll claim I’m a spoilt cretin who’s forgotten how lucky I am to support a side managed by the great man, I’m sure more than a few will know the point I’m making isn’t a moot one. Too often this season, last season and even the seasons where we had the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo to bail us out of trouble, United’s ‘tactics’ and I use the term lightly seem to be based on completely ignoring the threat of the opposition and simply relying on our superior players to provide victory. Even worse as was the case against Manchester City last season, when we have set out to try and counteract our opponent’s we’ve had no plan b when it’s flaws have been exposed… a mere eleven minutes of Tony Valencia being a prime example of that.
Without being too negative it’s perfectly reasonable that United could be sitting at the wrong end of the table now, against Fulham, we were holding on, RVP got us out of jail at St Mary’s and the performance against Liverpool was anything but a match-winning one.
It’s easy to sit here and say ‘everything’s fine’ but that’s exactly the attitude that saw us slip behind Arsenal and Chelsea during the mid-noughties. It seems too many decisions are quite franky baffling of late and the time has come for Sir Alex to address them. The goalkeeping merry-go-round, the lack of cover for the full backs with an insistence they bomb forward, the idea that Ryan Giggs should be starting against top opposition, no ball winning midfielder’s starting against tough opponents, ignoring the lessons learned from facing Dembele at Fulham when he returned with Spurs..I could go on.
United were torn apart in the game against Newcastle at St James’s last season, with the likes of Chieck Tiote and Yohan Cabaye running riot. Part of the problem was Park Carrick and Giggs couldn’t cope with the Newcastle midfield, where the game was pretty much won and lost. This time round Sir Alex doesnt’ have Park to call upon of course so it’s impossible for him to choose the same line-up, but he does have Scholes who while magnificent in practically every game, isn’t a ball winner. Anders Lindegaard has been the preferred United keeper in the league since Fulham- why is still a mystery to me-but he hardly covered himself in glory in this fixture last season, whether Sir Alex will take note of this remains to be seen.
In a tough match against strong opposition you need like for like players, Michael Carrick may struggle in a battle against Tiote, while Scholes for all his ability may tire in a fast paced game, especially if he’s having to help cope with the likes of Cabaye.
United will be up against it and should Sir Alex wish to truly counter the Magpies and stifle their threat while still maintaining our own he needs to do more than just hope RVP will help us score more than the opposition.
A loss at St. James’s would make it three out of seven and would leave United with a lot to do even at this early stage of the season , more importantly it would give teams against us a real belief that they have little to fear.
Sir Alex needs to get his tactics spot on, personally I’d like to see the trio of Anderson, CLeverley and Fletcher given the chance, but whatever side he picks the United boss simply cannot afford to ignore the warning signs from last Saturday- or last season’s trip to the North East.
Am I right? Does Sir Alex have something to prove tactically? Is this the time to do it? Feel free to comment suggest and abuse below: