That match was such a disappointment I don't even know what to say. The general consensus seems to be that Di Maria did well, but not in my opinion. His decision making was bad, he tried to do too much, and he was responsible for Burnley's goal. Smalling scored 2 goals, but defensively he made quite a few errors too. We looked the worse team over 90 minutes, and that is just embarrassing. I stand by my opinion from earlier that these superstars need a taste of the bench.
Fair points about the Cambridge replay and the idea of using Fellaini up front. The Cambridge was just about what we should be expecting, and there's nothing really to argue about using Fellaini up front in a front 3 like that until there's some actual evidence to support my idea.
I'm also glad that Januzaj did sign that 5 year deal, but he really needs to get over this second-season-syndrome. I think the best bet at this point would be to loan him out to a Bundesliga team. The Bundesliga is physical, but not quite as physical as the PL, which should suit the still-maturing Januzaj. It's also quite a technical league, which would help him develop right for LvG's philosophy, and it's a good league for developing youngsters. Plus the media spotlight is nowhere near as intense.
I'm becoming really disappointed with LvG with each passing match. What I liked about LvG traditionally was that for him a player's star factor made absolutely no difference in his team selections. Whoever performed and fit the role he wanted to fill played. Right now he's pandering to the big names too much, when traditionally he never really got on too well with the star players. It's incredibly disappointing to me that he is breaking away from his own values, or at least his former values, as a manager.
The West Ham game was just another piece in a long string of disappointing team selections. As soon as I saw that lineup my heart sank a bit. Rooney, Januzaj and Di Maria are a terrible combination of midfielders. Januzaj and Di Maria are super direct, and Rooney only plays the Hollywood pass. You can't hold possession effectively, you can't slowly break down the other team, you can't make incisive passes, etc. And I'm tired of seeing RvP and Falcao up front. I want something fresh, some younger players. We look stagnant and tired in front of net.
For the Burnley game I want LvG to just throw out all his star players to teach them a lesson.
McNair Jones Smalling Rojo
That's the team I want to see. No more Rooney, no more Di Maria, no more RvP, no more Falcao. They've all been performing poorly and need to get a rude awakening that their place in the team isn't guaranteed. If using Young up front isn't something that he wants to do, then you could just move the players around like this (and swap in Rafael/Valencia):
Rafael/Valencia* Jones Rojo Young
* Does anybody know why Rafael isn't playing? He has looked infinitely better than Valencia when he has played, barring a couple mistakes, and he really should be first choice RB for now (though McNair is extremely exciting for this position).
** McNair used to play CM before being repurposed as a CB according to Trey Tak. Judging off his movement, decision-making, and passing in the Cambridge match I think he would be a good fit in our midfield with Herrera and Blind.
At the end of the day though, as long as the superstar players are nowhere near the starting 11 I'll be happy. I'm tired of these overpaid, underperforming big names not being dropped lately. Admittedly, Falcao has been getting dropped quite regularly, but I still don't want to see him start for the kinds of chances he's been missing. If it was up to me I'd just terminate his loan right now and give his minutes to Wilson and Rooney to clear up some space in our midfield for our actual midfielders.
Yayyy my account is back! I realize what I did wrong now. I have 3 email accounts forwarding mail to my main one, and I sent in my email using that account rather than the specific one that I signed up with. They then reactivated my first account (the one I was using) instead of this one because the email came from that account lol.
I'll just get back to you now for your previous comment.
It seems that the improvement has been of a continuous nature since we looked a bit better still against Cambridge. Steps in the right direction.
Blind does seem much better at picking the ball up from deep, and also in getting out of sticky situations. It seems to me that he can twist and turn a bit to get away from players and break free, while Carrick will mostly just safely pass the ball to safety. It helps open up a forward option when he does that, so I'm glad he's able to.
Interesting take on the Januzaj situation. It's hard to say if LvG really did come down hard on him, though I would agree that it's probably not the kind of coaching he'd need. It's hard to say without knowing him personally, but it's the feeling I get too. At the end of the day though I still think the biggest thing holding him back right now is pressure. He's being compared to a young Ronaldo, he has Giggs' number on his back, fans expect him to be a success, he's the first player in a while to join the first team from the academy and look like he could be one of the best in the world, and the manager who brought him in was sacked before his first year was over, meaning he has added pressure to impress his new manager. It's all a bit much I think for a kid who just turned 20.
The thing with Rooney, I feel, is that he's no longer the guy who you can build your team around. He's a good, well-rounded player, but he doesn't really excel anywhere. He's used to being the main man, and he desperately wants to be the main man, but I don't think he's capable of being the main man for a top level club. How this ties in is that he isn't the person we want dictating our play, yet he is such a superstar that he will end up doing so anyway. That's why I don't really want to play. It's not because he isn't good enough to be a valuable member of the team, but it's because he isn't good enough to be our main man yet he will inevitably try to be that. If he was able to play his game and let someone like Herrera dictate how we play, for instance, then I think I would be fine with him playing.
All that being said, against Cambridge I think he was much better. In that game he didn't really look like a player who the team was built around, but rather a cog in the machine. He had his role, he played it, and he didn't try to do everything himself. He was on the right hand side, linked up fairly well with McNair, and sent his long balls into the center of the pitch, while occasionally drifting inwards to cause a bit of havoc. Our play wasn't focused around him any more than it was on any of our other players, and while he didn't have his best game I was much more impressed with his role in the side than usual.
In regards to Di Maria, I guess you're right that he needs to work on putting people in with through balls more. IMO though it's not so much about him not trying to play people through, but more so that he isn't weighting his passes properly. Maybe he's too used to playing in Ronaldo and hasn't adjusted to our slower players yet, or perhaps he's just in poor form. He definitely is still shooting too much though. Maybe what would help him is if we had a more direct goal threat of a player who can be the star and score goals. Di Maria seems like he's trying to take that role on but he's more of an assister than a prolific goal scorer, but he perhaps associates the goal scorer with being the star of the team, which he arguably is. I dunno, I'm just throwing around a few theories.
Player players :')
If someone comes along and takes Herrera from us for 15m then I'll be calling for LvG's head. This is the guy we should be trying to build our team around. He can be our Schweinsteiger, Xavi, Zidane, Scholes, Modric, Kroos, etc (I realize these players are all very different, but I'm just trying to highlight their importance to their respective teams). Just give him a chance, show him some faith, and he will be our lynchpin. If by the end of the season he still isn't playing regularly then regardless of where we finish I'll have serious doubts about LvG staying on for another year.
I'll get back to you later with a full reply. First off, it had nothing to do with Liverpool fans lol. It was actually in a Bayern article where it happened. An author suggested that Guardiola should have played Kroos in the Wolfsburg match, which lead to a few people poking fun at him. I used the opportunity to say that I wished we still had Kroos at Bayern, and someone took that as me trying to imply he would have saved the team vs Wolfsburg. He kept attacking me and acting like a dumb c*nt, so I called him a dumb c*nt. Twice. In two separate comments lol.
The first one I seemingly got away with, and the second got me screwed.
Anyway, what'd you think of the Cambridge replay?
First off, after seeing McNair as a RB against Cambridge I would want to see him play there a few more times. What I loved about his performance was that he was very dynamic in his forward approach, and he provided a really fresh perspective to what a RB can be. I was very, very impressed with how he played the position, and if he can polish his abilities off then he could be a fantastic RB for us. I'm not a fan of the wide diamond, but McNair was perfect here as he drifted more into a RCM type position rather than a wide right position typical for an attacking RB, leaving that space vacant for Rooney and covering the central midfield defensively. Rooney, in a Beckham type role, got to play his Hollywood passes from the right into the center rather than from the center to the right, which was a very good change IMO.
I actually liked the long ball game vs Cambridge because it was rather purposeful. We weren't aimlessly throwing crosses and long passes into the box, but were rather trying to pick apart their defenders with them. Many long balls when to players just at the edge of the box, and it looked like rather than trying to score off a header we were trying to set up the assister with our crosses. Also it pulled the Cambridge defenders wide and tired them out, which allowed us to later on in the match play more incisively through the middle. I'm not a fan of the wide diamond, but McNair was perfect here as he drifted more into a RCM type position rather than a wide right position typical for an attacking RB, leaving that space vacant for Rooney and covering the central midfield defensively. Rooney, in a Beckham type role, got to play his Hollywood passes from the right into the center rather than from the center to the right, which was a very good change IMO.
Fellaini up front was a great move for this match considering the game plan. RvP was noticeably hungry to score, and while I don't like to see that in a striker (I prefer players who try to play in teammates) I don't hold it against him. We were cruising and he wanted to get on the score sheet.
Herrera coming on again made a huge difference. It is just depressing that LvG isn't starting him. He's the perfect player for us!
It was also good to see Young back. He looked lively in his cameo and doesn't look to have lost his good form. I'll be excited to see him play in the coming weeks.
This game inspired an idea I had for something I'd like to see tried. It's pretty outside the box kind of thinking.
I'd like to try a midfield trio of Blind, Herrera and Mata, with Mata and Herrera as the attacking B2B midfielders. I'd want Fellaini up front with ADM and Young/Januzaj cutting inside from out wide. Fellaini would act as a F9 of sorts, and his primary function would be to collect high passes and play them into the path of the other attacking players. He wouldn't be our primary source of goals (though he'd get a fair few I'd bet) and would mostly function as an attacking anchor around which the other players rotate and play. It's something I've done often in FIFA where I use a big lugger of a midfielder up front as my most forward player, and use him to bounce the ball off of as I play my midfielders and wider players forward. I would love to see how that would transition into real life.
As you know I'm no fan of strikers, so I'm always looking for ways to take them out of the team lol.
My account got suspended for foul language and poor conduct, and despite them saying they've reactivated it I couldn't post anything. I waited a day but it still isn't working, so I'm just using my old one for now.
Reply to the other one though please.
The match was an improvement over recent performances.
We started the match in a diamond that was more wide on the left and more narrow on the right.
DDG wasn't really needed, which is a good sign for our defence, and the one time we really did need him he stepped up big time. He also left his goal a few times to close down a ball, which is something I've wanted to see him do.
Valencia was okay at RB. He's been more dynamic lately in his attacks, but ultimately he still completely lacks an end product. Defensively he was okay, but really he shouldn't be starting for us. He should be a squad player only, and it worries me that Rafael isn't playing. McNair later took his role at RB but didn't really set the world alight with his performance. He was also just okay.
Jones and Rojo are forming a pretty decent partnership. Rojo is still a bit rash and Jones is still not too good at distributing the ball, but when they work together it's at least fairly sturdy defensively. There were small things here and there that could be worked on, but they weren't too bad. Shaw at LB got forward well and defended decently, but he was often overlooked by his teammates. He's the much more natural fit there than Blind so I'm glad he got the chance to start there again.
Blind was probably our best player. He stopped attacks, passed the ball well, got involved up front, etc. Basically, if we have him at DM it really makes Rooney somewhat irrelevant compared to Herrera, because his long range passing is probably even better than Rooney's. Plus he's better at decided when to use which kind of pass. The first goal was all down to Blind stealing the ball in Leicester's half then sending a beautiful lobbed pass to RvP, who finished extremely well despite being a bit offside. The third was his flick-on off of a Rooney corner which was headed into the net by a Leicester defender (Morgan I think).
I was unimpressed with Januzaj on the left of the diamond. He is more of an attacking player than a deeper one, and his instinct is to run at players. He often decided to attempt a dribble rather than passing and killed the momentum of several of our attacks. Basically he did what he's been doing this season. I hope the pressure of the 11 hasn't gotten to him because he wasn't playing this way last season. I'm not sure if he's full of himself right now or if he's trying too hard to prove himself, but either way it needs to stop.
Rooney, like I said, is somewhat irrelevant as a CM with Blind on the pitch. His short range passing is average, his long range passing is overused, and he isn't as reliable. He gave away one very dangerous ball in our own half which could well have cost us, but luckily Leicester hesitated in their attack and got closed down. At least Rooney is an enthusiastic player and chased down opponents, because he otherwise didn't have a great game.
Di Maria played his role at CAM well. Positionally he was great, he made good forward runs after coming a bit deeper to collect the ball, his dribbling was good, his pace and energy were a boon to us, etc. But... his final ball was often lacking and his decision making wasn't great. He played his position at a 10/10 level, but his actual ability in attacking the net was more of a 5/10 level. He needs to sort himself out because as it stands he wasn't worth a 60m investment. There are plenty of players who can run and dribble, it's the ones who can actually impact the scoreline consistently that are a class above.
RvP and Falcao were both pretty good up front. RvP had a few poor shots, but his goal was excellently taken. He also made some great, selfless decisions to set up teammates in a better position. Falcao was a hassle for the Leicester's defenders to deal with. He was constantly running and constantly on their heels. His goal was a true poacher's goal. Much better from him compared to recent matches.
All in all the match was decent while we were in the diamond shape. Our midfield lacked some fluidity in it's passing and chemistry between our players. Herrera once again didn't play, despite being sorely needed. It's insane that our best midfielder barely ever plays. He must have slept with LvG's wife and/or daughter(s) and/or granddaughter(s) for him to be treated like this. He would have instantly made us look much better if he'd been deployed instead of either Rooney or Januzaj.
At about the 60 minute mark or so LvG switched things up. McNair come in for RvP and our shape then changed as a result. Some people say we were more of a flat 4-4-2 at that point, but to me it looked more like a 4-2-3-1. McNair took Valencia's position at RB, Valencia moved up to RW, Januzaj moved to the left, and Rooney and Blind formed the defensive midfield duo. We got scored on soon after, but I think that had more to do with players still adjusting to the changes. I thought we actually looked much better in this shape than we did before.
Mata later replaced Valencia and Wilson replaced Falcao, but neither made a great impact. Wilson probably did better comparatively though. What I liked about the way we played when we took on this shape was that we finally had more players trying to create goals rather than trying to score them. The three behind Wilson and Rooney from deeper were all moving intelligently and passing the ball well to probe for openings, and we did create a few good chances that were ruined by some poor decision making or a poor final ball.
I hope that the 4-2-3-1 experiment continues. It's a much better formation IMO.
I think the best thing about our performance today was that the players seemed to have a better understanding with each other, and that they were looking to play each other in more. We often lacked a good final ball, but if they'd been better we'd have had the opportunities for at least 2 more goals. We also had good pace and the team worked hard.
All in all it was a step in the right direction, and I hope we keep this up.
I'm astounded as to how such an expensively assembled squad can play so poor. The match against Cambridge was just pathetic. We need Herrera to play, no question about it. Once he was subbed in he at least made us look somewhat driven to win. The longer LvG goes without starting him the more he'll convince me he isn't up to the task of getting us back on our feet.
The diamond we employed looked too much like a wide diamond at times. We're playing the exact same way we did with Moyes in charge last season right now. All we do is play the ball sideways, backwards, or to the wide players who send in an aimless cross or lose the ball. There doesn't seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel anymore. Earlier in the season you could say that there seemed to be a foundation being built for something greater, but now there is no improvement and no sign of future improvement.
The Wilson and Falcao combination once again proved fruitless. These guys play in way too similar a way with an almost identical skill set, and we have no reason to play both at once. What we should do is just terminate Falcao's loan deal right now and play with a loan striker. Between RvP, Rooney and Wilson we have enough of a variety, enough players, and enough ability to carry us through.
In the midfield I'm sensing a lack of cohesion. Januzaj is no b2b midfielder, and although he did better than before he isn't suited to the role he was given. He's the kind of player you want further up the pitch, not one that carries the ball forward. Herrera is just perfect for that role, and I have no idea why he isn't being utilised there.
Fellaini had a pretty off day, though to be fair to him the ref gave him an unfair yellow. Neither of his fouls were even clear cut fouls after seeing the replays. His passing wasn't forward-oriented enough anyway, which certainly wasn't helped by how far to the right he often played. He's the kind of player who needs a more creative partner close to him to lay the ball off to, and the way we were set out didn't provide that so he shouldn't have been used I think.
Blind at LB once again was unimpressive. The guy should be used primarily as a CDM, sometimes as a CB, and never as a L(W)B. He doesn't have the pace to cause any problems for the other team, and causes us problems when he can't get back in time.
I think everyone is confused as to why Jones is taking our corners. The only explanation I can think of is that LvG is trying to work on his long passing so that he can be more of a threat when he has the ball in the back. Otherwise I can make no sense of it.
Rojo put in a pretty dangerous tackle again. I'm not a fan of this aspect of his game. It's reckless and dangerous to other players and himself, but he was pretty effective so I'll let it slide for now.
At this point I'm beginning to doubt LvG really has a philosophy anymore. He was always a 4-3-3 manager, but now he's in a formation limbo. He's always used fast, direct wingers, but now uses none (in terms of how he sets out his formation). He's always been an advocate of attacking football, but our players now seem content with just holding the ball. I'm just really confused as to what LvG is building towards. He didn't sign the players to play his previous formation, nor has he even attempted to throughout the season. He hasn't made a decision on which players are his first choice 11. He hasn't made a decision on his formation. He hasn't made a decision on how he wants the players to play. Right now we have an arrogant manager's attitude in an otherwise weak-willed manager who seems afraid to make any lasting decision. I'm losing my patience with him.
Alright, rant over lol.
I haven't seen Geis play too often, but from what I've seen he isn't just a long ball player. That video I found (which was just about the only one I found) was specifically about his long range passing, which explains why it's all they showed. I think his strongest aspect is his engine and his combative nature, somewhat like a more defensive minded Herrera with less creativity. I'll have to watch him some more to get a better reading of him (and with the Bundesliga set to start again soon hopefully I will do so), but I think he can potentially be a good signing for us. Plus his age is really good as he can still be moulded into what we want.
Yeah I agree with you on DDG and Bale if we're forced into losing him. At that point it would make sense to try and bleed Real for everything we can. Actually, this thought just came to me. A straight swap for Bale might be below what they value Bale at, so if they want some crazy 100m figure for him we should probably instead try and get Modric in a swap deal. Real just signed Lucas Silva for the midfield, they have Isco who can fill in there, and they appear to be interested in Pogba. Maybe they wouldn't mind letting Modric go. The guy is one of the best and most complete midfielders right now and he would instantly upgrade us in the middle. Either player would be fine, but I'd rather get Modric for half of what we would likely need to get Bale.
Alright a proper reply now.
In regards to Rooney, I guess he can work his way into the CM role more. Basically, what he needs to do is erase most of what he knows about a flat 4-4-2 central midfield role, because that isn't what he's supposed to do now. His first instinct is to look wide, but in the formations we're playing now he needs to be looking to play through the middle first.
If we're looking for a striker for a 4-3-3 then I would probably prefer Chicharito to Rooney TBH. Chicharito is nowhere near as versatile or dynamic, but what he does well is score goals. We can rely on him to be up front looking to score, and to be fair to him he has improved his all-around game immensely since he first signed. Between the 2 of them and Wilson though you're right that isn't so much a priority as the other positions.
Yeah the 4-3-3 could also work with Di Maria and Young out wide. It would probably be preferable too, but LvG has exclusively been playing the diamond and the 3-5-2 lately so my suggestion was more so based on those formations.
I actually really like the look of your 4-3-3 TBH. Good balance of qualities, pace throughout, and it looks like it'd be balanced. The pairing of Blind and Fellaini is a touch slow, but everyone else aside from RvP is quick so it shouldn't be too much of an issue, especially with Herrera just ahead of them, who we know will hound the opposition for the ball. The only concern is Young's ability to maintain his form and Di Maria's ability to impact the game from out wide, which he has failed to do when we've played him wide. But if they can do it well then this formation looks very good.
I also haven't seen very much of Geis, but I just know he's very well regarded. He's a real engine and a complete b2b package with a defensive focus, with a wicked shot on him to boot. He's something comparable to Schneiderlin for example, who is rated highly in his own league but not so well known internationally. If we're going for a real established star like Pogba or Vidal then they would be better, but like Son Geis would be a "best of the rest" type option. Solid 7-8/10 player with world class potential.
His stats on WhoScored are impressive for a 21 year old. His characteristics also look good. That video is from last season, but he looks like he can really hit some good passes. I'll have to watch him more closely in the future.
I don't get that vibe from Son at all, that he'd implode at a bigger club. He's a hard worker and used to having the limelight on him since he's pretty much the star of his national team right now. Leverkusen isn't a huge club internationally, but they are definitely one of the biggest German clubs and he's doing very well there as one of their most important players. Leverkusen is my little brother's favourite club and Son his favourite player, so I get quite a bit of exposure to him. Don't get me wrong, I don't think it's unreasonable to think he'd implode, but I wouldn't consider him any more likely to do so than anyone else his age.
In regards to the wrecking ball of a CDM, as you aptly put it, I think he wanted one instead of Strootman since he's more of a defensive b2b type player. K L's vision was a midfield trio of somebody in the Matic mould partnered with Herrera and with Di Maria ahead of them. It would be a CDM-B2B-CAM type midfield trio, whereas your version is a CDM-B2B-B2B, with one b2b being more the creator while the other is more defensive minded. With increased defensive cover in the other 2 midfielders I agree that someone like Blind would be a good fit. Both variations look very good, and I think it would be best if we had the players to do both. One of those positions would probably have to be filled by a more "budget" option, and I think Gustavo would do well as the bruiser CDM while Geis or Xhaka would probably do well as the budget b2b player. Finances aside, it makes sense to do this as 2 star players would compete to start, but a lesser known player would hopefully be more willing to be option B.
Should we go for Bale? I would say no. He is a high quality player, but 100m+ is too much for a player who I wouldn't say is a huge international icon. When you pay that kind of money you need to be getting a player that attracts attention to the club at an international level, and Bale I don't think is that player. There's no way to justify that amount being paid in footballing terms IMO, so the justification has to come from the financial side and Bale is no Ronaldo in that regard.
I'll have to disagree with you Chicharito being a long striker. I think he can do it in the right setup. With a 4-2-3-1 that is looking to feed him the ball, I think he can do it. I think he'd also do well in an inverted 4-3-3 (basically the same thing lol). He really lacks hold up play though, so long balls would be a bit of a concern. Still though, it's not really how we want to play anyway so I think it would be fine, especially as more of a second choice option. Eventually we'd need a starter calibre player, but I think for a season he'd be good enough as first choice with Rooney and Wilson providing the alternatives (provided we sold RvP and didn't sign Falcao). I'll agree with you though that if we don't sign a striker then it'd probably be best to keep RvP around.
Maybe my suggestion to sell 2 CBs would be a bit reckless, but I think it'd fine if we can get a good defensive minded midfielder. With such a player it'd be easier for us to push Blind or Carrick into the CB role when needed, giving us the more experienced backups while still leaving enough wiggle room to get McNair and Blackett plenty of game time.
Let's say we signed, for example, Hummels (who actually just said he wasn't leaving Dortmund right now). Our first choice CBs would be Hummels and Rojo, with Jones as the first choice backup (assuming Evans and Smalling are sold). Blackett and McNair are there to fill in against the less extravagant opposition when needed, and against bigger teams we can play Carrick there instead if we need the cover. To me this looks good enough, but with our injury record it could easily become a crisis quite quickly, so you do have a really good point here.
Anyway, back to the current.
With Fellaini back and having scored against QPR, I think it's safe to assume he'll be starting again. Mata will probably make way for him. My hope is that with the added defensive presence of Fellaini in the midfield LvG will turn the midfield triangle to point the other way (2-1 instead of 1-2). He will, in all likelihood, continue with his 3-5-2 since he's so stubborn, so this would at least make it more bearable. What we have to be cautious about though is the positioning of our CAM. In the early parts of the season the CAM (Mata and Rooney both are culprits) were either too far forward and level with the strikers or too deep and level with the CMs. Both variations caused the same issue we're seeing now with the vacuum between the CMs and the STs. Hopefully Herrera and Di Maria do better in that role than the other two did in the early parts of the season.
I also don't want to see Blind at LB/LWB. He just isn't quick enough, and he has a tendency to drift centrally into the DM area, leaving space for the other team to attack. His crossing and passing in general is far superior to Shaw, but Shaw is just a much more natural fit there.
What do you think?
Wilson!!!! Very much deserved.
It seems the defender got a touch. Falcao should still have scored though. More than once...
Wilson is playing really well again, finally.