Just to let you know, I've been extremely busy and will continue to be for a while. I won't be able to respond during this time.
Definitely agreed on Young. I wasn't trying to excuse him, just trying to understand why he suddenly lost all the attacking drive he showed in preseason. It seems to me like that's what his problem is right now, but if he can overcome it and start showing the drive he showed in preseason maybe he can still be useful to have as a backup.
I didn't get to see Wilson play :(
Yeah it's true that we didn't ever look totally clueless in front of our net before, but it's not like it never happened. With a system that these guys had presumably played their whole lives they still sometimes managed to make a mess of things with who was responsible for whom and where they were expected to be. We don't have a true organizer and leader at the back, and haven't really had one since Vidic hit his injury patch. Evans has done it at times, and Rio, the other option, made so many defensive errors that the younger guys mostly were covering for him.
It's interesting you noted that high pressing destroys our midfield and defense, whereas before it didn't really shake our defense. I think it's because we are now playing a more modern style where our CBs are basically our deeper distributors of the ball. They are the ones being pressured by the other team more so than our midfielders, and because they can't get the ball out our midfielders drop back and that creates the vacuum between them and the forwards. Our CBs are higher up the pitch, often where you would expect a DM to play, and really double up in that role when we do hold the ball. It's what other big clubs like Bayern and Barca do all the time, and both were built off the LvG template. That's also why these clubs love to convert DMs into CBs.
With our CBs though that is a problem because they aren't used to playing as the distributors. It's part of why I want Carrick back there TBH. We need someone who is comfortable playing the ball out to really execute this game plan properly. Blind is another player who can fill that role. Our CB line is, IMO, the root of all our problems ATM if I'm being totally honest. It pulls our WBs back and makes them overly cautious (even when they shouldn't be), it pulls our CMs back to try and collect the ball, and it thus creates a gap in our formation between the CMs and the CAM/CF/ST.
Was Evans really that bad after the 60th minute? Other than his horrific mistake, he did look really solid, at least defensively. It's crazy how that can turn around all of a sudden. It seems like everything went completely to shit the moment Powell was taken off and Wilson was brought on, because that was the very last thing I saw.
Mmm yeah from what I saw we looked pretty good and were threatening to break MK Dons open while Kagawa was on, but Januzaj looked horrible as his replacement. He was never in the right areas and kept changing the shape into a 3-4-3 by moving too far ahead and to the side. He isn't doing anything to change my opinion that he isn't suited to playing as a 10 right now.
I dunno, it seems too convenient to label it an anomaly for me. We started looking poor against Valencia, when we were still on a winning streak, then we looked poor against Swansea, and up until then we also hadn't lost. Since then it's gotten worse, but the decline already started in preseason. It just doesn't make sense how everyone could suddenly become so poor in these areas of the game.
Yeah I also think Kagawa is the better fit there. I listed Mata since he's the "starter" but Kagawa would probably take his place in the long run. I think it's okay for Jones to play in the midfield role because his role in that setup, as we saw last season, is very similar to playing CB anyway. He would practically be the central CB in our 3 CB line, but he's just pushed a little forward instead of holding that line. He's still only really responsible for being a defensive presence. In the 4-2-3-1 his role is different of course, but in the 4-3-3 it's very much the same as it is now, which is what makes it so easy for the formation to slide back into a 3-5-2.
In the 4-2-3-1 I probably should have put Mata in the middle, but with 3 attacking midfielders swapping positions is to be expected anyway. It was more so to illustrate how the formation can take 3 different shapes without needing any players to come in. I agree that it would be better to take Rooney out if we were settling on that 4-2-3-1 in a match, but if we were to just adopt it to get through some heavier pressure for a while then we wouldn't need to make any substitutions. We could change shapes at will to match what we need at that moment, and that's something I really like about the formation I proposed.
3-5-2 when we need to sit tight and defend, 4-2-3-1 when we have a slight lead and need to be more careful, 4-3-3 when we want to attack more. We have a lot of tactical options with this set of players. Thoughts on that?
Oh forgot I had more to reply to. I'll just do that now.
Watched the video about Herrera. His movement was definitely missed. TBH I thought Cleverley would do a bit better in that regard because he showed some potential there when he played as an 8 in preseason, but it was really lacking on the day. You're absolutely right that he's only been moving until about halfway. He showed signs of breaking that habit, but it didn't come to fruition, or at least not yet.
What's actually astounding is that it's the basics of our play that has regressed since the season started. If you look at a team in preseason, it's not so much the results that matter but the match sharpness, and we looked really sharp. Just like I highlighted with Fletcher, our movement, positioning, spacing, passing, chemistry, etc was all at a good level, but since the PL started it's all gone down the toilet. It makes absolutely no sense unless they are being either overworked in training or if LvG's coaching is causing issues with their understanding of what's expected of them. I mean, these are all qualities which theoretically should only improve with more match fitness and sharpness. I see no other reason why it would suddenly regress to this point, and it's really applicable to all players other than our CBs (who have their set of problems).
I agree on the 2v1's. I'm actually not a big fan of any formation that uses more than 1 forward for this reason really. Forwards (wingers included) often feel obliged to neglect their defensive duties, whereas the wide attacking midfielders in a 4-2-3-1 are more or less expected to track back and play defense (a la Chelsea or Bayern in their treble winning season). 4-3-3 is a good formation, but my personal preference is the 4-2-3-1 because it's more solid defensively but nearly equally potent going forward. It's better balanced, as we've sort of touched on before.
Either way though, both are much better than the 5-3-2 in this regard.
I was just thinking while I was at work about the 4-3-3, and I had what I believe is a pretty good idea about what we could do, and it solves the defensive conundrum I brought up before as well. It's similar to something you suggested before.
Rafael Evans Rojo Shaw
Di Maria RvP Mata
Evans probably had a stinker of a game today, but he has been quality for the past few seasons so I won't look too far into this. He can be the leader and organizer in the back while Rojo is the athletic, physical presence. Shaw and Rafael are a given at FB. Jones get's to perform what I feel is his best role, as a pure DM. He's shown in his frequent forays forward that he isn't actually that bad on the ball, and I'm sure LvG could improve him a bit in that regard still. Plus LvG has always preferred a defensive hard-man in the midfield, and Jones certainly fits the script. Best of all, his ultra defensive presence gives the advanced CM pairing of Herrera and Rooney to play their natural games and push forward more or less at will.
Mata (Kagawa might ultimately be the better fit here though) can be free to drift inside with Shaw ready to provide width, Di Maria is our bonafide winger on the right and RvP is the striker. The best part is though that this lineup can shift to a 3-5-2:
Evans Jones Rojo
Rafael Di Maria Herrera Shaw
Rafael Evans Rojo Shaw
Di Maria Rooney Mata
Let me know what you think.
In regards to Rojo, I watched the video. Quite impressive. I agree with your summary of him, but one thing I forgot to bring up when we discussed him before which I meant to say (and talked to someone else about, can't remember who but it might have been Abz) is that I have yet to see him ever pass backwards, even when he moves forward and has more backward options than just the keeper. He sometimes tries to force a play and loses the ball instead of passing it back and trying from a different angle, which will hopefully be ironed out of his game.
I saw the first 60 minutes, then I had to leave. How on earth did it happen?!?!?
Yeah a break could be what Fletcher needs. It's weird because the things that have regressed since preseason are the things that should theoretically have gotten better, like his movement, the sharpness of his passing, his awareness, his positioning, etc. These have nothing to do with the players on the other team and only really require match sharpness to do effectively (if you can do them) so a break might be exactly what he needs.
About Young, I have a theory as to what's happening with him, because he's also lacking in areas where he should only have gotten better since preseason, such as aggression, drive, quickness of play, etc. This is what I told Abz, and it sort of overlaps with the CB problem I highlighted before. Let me know what you think:
What I meant with Young is that, if he's on the left, I want him to cut inside and try to play 1-2's with Mata and Rooney while driving towards goal. I've expressed my opinion that his crossing has become terrible, but I do think he's good at quick interplay and incisive runs. Lately I've seen him fall into the same trap that he was in when he played with Evra. He's standing pretty stationary further back to be able to quickly get back and defend when possession turns over, probably because he doesn't trust Blackett behind him. It was the same with Evra, who was often caught out of position. Since Evans got injured and Blackett has started behind him (and started showing his inexperience more) I've noticed that Young has been far less involved in an attacking sense. It's a pattern I've seen before with him so I do believe it's an accurate assessment.
Anyway, he needs to trust his CBs and get more involved. He does no good by just standing halfway between the penalty box and the halfway line. He's not in position to cross, it's easy to cut off his passing lanes, he can't make a run from there, etc. At least when Evra was with him it gave Evra the opportunity to overlap, now he's just standing there alone and causing no problems at all (for the other team).
I agree, I want to some fringe players play today. The lineup should be out by the time I finish writing this, I hope it looks good.
Definitely agree on Valencia. He just needs to be more dynamic and make his mind up quicker.
I think Blackett will develop pretty quickly so I'm not too worried. He seems very responsible and mature and I expect him to pick up on these things rather fast.
Agreed on Clevs. I thought he'd do more to create forward drive TBH, as he'd shown glimpses of that in preseason. It sucks that he didn't :(
I can see a place in the team for Welbeck even in a 4-3-3. I think a wide forward role would suit him quite well, with him being the more inside winger compared to the true winger on his opposite side. That could work well IMO. Plus I see a lot of potential in him so I would try to play him as often as possible.
Hmmm interesting point about the lack of understanding. I guess that could be it, but I wouldn't say that's the only reason. Even last season in a 4 man back line we would often see defensive lapses in our CBs, and with our 2 veterans leaving and 2 youngsters stepping in that should only have gotten worse. Rojo is also out for now until he gets his work permit, so our back 4 looks pretty bad ATM lol. We would have (L->R) Blackett, Smalling, Jones, Valencia maybe. That doesn't really inspire confidence TBH, but it's probably better than a back 3 for us still.
Looking at it though, one problem I can see in a back 4 is how to fit Rojo, Evans, Jones, Shaw and Rafael. Rafael should be locked into RB as long as he gets his temperament in check, Jones deserves a starting spot after his displays, Evans has been our most reliable CB in recent times, which leaves Shaw and Rojo fighting it out over the LB slot. Perhaps Rojo could take Evans' spot, but honestly I would prefer Evans because he's more of an organizer and leader, whereas Rojo doesn't seem like that kind of player. It's a bit of a conundrum. How would you handle it?
Yeah I definitely agree with the 3-5-2 being easy to suffocate and the 4-3-3 being more flexible. After seeing it in action it's too easy to stop the 3-5-2, all you have to do is shut down the wings. By having FBs and wingers in the 4-3-3 you have many more options of how to play and bring the ball forward, as well as forward options to pass the ball to. It also gives the wide men more freedom to cut inside or stay wide since there are 2 of them on each side.
Rojo isn't available yet as far as I know. Otherwise it looks good, and I agree on it. Instead of Rojo we could probably play M. Keane since he's just about our only other option as far as I know...
I would also prefer Zaha to Valencia because he has more potential. Valencia has pretty much hit his peak and won't get better, whereas Zaha has a lot of room for development.
On the left, Young has played quite a bit of football so far so maybe Januzaj would be a better option to get him more match fit? Young has failed to impress in 2 appearances now and he shouldn't really start this next one.
I think one more player will come in. Can't say who but it's probably between Blind, De Jong and Vidal. I would be fine with any of them.
Game is about to start so I'll respond to the rest later today.
I managed to find the game and I watched it, so no need to send me a link anymore. Thanks if you looked though.
About the game, man it was poor.
There was no energy until Welbeck and Januzaj came on, and no creativity at all. Linkup was poor, passing was poor, movement off the ball was poor, etc.
First the one positive. Jones has been phenomenal under LvG. I have to give it to him, he's cut out the defensive lapses, he's shown better positional discipline, and he's been our best player so far. I didn't think he'd be able to make the step up to this level just yet, but he's proven me wrong.
I was also hoping for a 4-3-3 with them on the pitch. At least our play picked up a notch when they did though. We had more pace and more drive. Januzaj was wasted at CM though. He didn't do so bad, but he also didn't excel by any stretch of the imagination.
Fletcher was awful on the day. Sloppy passing, poor energy, no forward drive, nothing.
I was mixed about Young. In the first half he was nowhere to be found going forward, but I did see him put in a few decent defensive plays (and some bad defensive plays, but more good I think). He did of course give that one horrendous pass which was inexcusable, but at least he made the final tackle to prevent it from doing any damage. I would say the CBs should have reacted quicker to it though to cover for it, so they also did poorly there (Jones aside since he made the crucial tackle). So for the first half, poor.
In the second half he started the same way. I still saw a couple good defensive plays and a few poor ones, but I thought more good than in the first half, which was okay. He picked up steam a bit later in to the match though. His crossing was still disappointing but at least he showed some forward drive and a willingness to get involved. I thought the dive call was harsh because he did get clipped from the side. I looked at it about 5 times and he ran straight and had his leg clipped from the side without reach out for the leg either. IMO he had a right to go down, and the ref was clearly not on our side today. Should it have been a penalty? No it wasn't a hard enough hit, but he also shouldn't have been booked for a dive I think. Also, that ball should have never reached Young after RvP got taken down by half the Sunderland defense. Now that was a penalty lol.
Definitely shouldn't start the next game. He had his 2 shots and wasted them. We'll have to see who can actually play there though due to injuries.
Valencia I thought was pretty much equally poor defensively. He also had his moments where he did well, but also moments where he seemed to be asleep or overly zealous. Offensively he was also about the same for me. His crosses were poor when he actually got them off and he otherwise didn't do much. He got a good assist though so that gives him a point over Young. Otherwise I thought they were similarly poor.
What I want to see from them when they next play is for Young to get more involved in our attacks and look to cut in centrally while playing 1-2s, and for Valencia to vary his crossing patterns. Right now all he does is drive forward to the byline and send in a cross, he needs to try and send in a cross from other areas to keep the defenders guessing.
Smalling and Blackett looked okay. Both had things they did well but they can definitely improve. Both are good enough as backups but shouldn't be starters. When Evans and Rojo are ready to play I think they'll be on the bench.
Clevs was okay. His passing was too sloppy at times and he didn't show enough creativity or forward-drive. He spread the ball decently in terms of finding players to target, but like I said his passing wasn't quite there. I think he needs to look for the forward option more and try to play off them. But that wasn't entirely his fault because...
Mata. Well, at least he got a goal. I was thoroughly disappointed by his performance though. He did no better than the likes of Young and Valencia in every play but his goal. Something is really going wrong with him right now and it needs to be addressed. And it's definitely time to give Kagawa his shot. Aside from the goal, poor throughout for me.
Rooney wasn't so much poor as he was just dreadfully average, which by his standards is pretty poor I guess. He had a couple decent moments, but was largely ineffective. He seems to be a bit confused about his role, or perhaps he's constantly fighting his urge to run all over the pitch. Whatever it is, I sense a bit of friction in his mind about what he's supposed to do vs what he wants to do. As captain he needs to be the surest player on the pitch of what he's doing and exude confidence, and I saw anything but that in his play (I mean confidence in what he's doing rather than being confident in his abilities).
RvP looked less than fit, but when he did get involved he looked good. Some crisp passing, some sharp turning, and a good run which should have resulted in a penalty. Hoping he gets 100% match fit soon.
Welbeck looked good and made things tick better in the team. He was actively a threat to the Sunderland defense and kept them worried, which is more than Mata and Rooney can say for themselves. With Januzaj on the opposite wing I think that they would have forced an opening for a goal.
Let's see how the team looks when Di Maria comes in, shape wise. I'm losing confidence in the 3-5-2 because our wings just aren't a threat, but that problem stems from the lack of competent CBs. Our WBs can't push forward because our CBs aren't good enough to hold the defense on their own. Mata is also doing a poor job of linking the CMs and the FWs, and is having the Rooney issue of either being too deep or too far forward. Our shape often ends up looking like a 5-2-3 in which we have no chance of getting the ball forward or a 5-3-2 with a flat 3 in the middle where we have no link between the midfield and the attack, and we again can't get the ball forward.
So what I guess what that leads me back to is that we have to fix our CB situation before we can get our WBs involved like we want, and that will help out our other positions because they'll have more options. Our players are too isolated at the front without enough options, and since there is almost no wide threat our opponents can just block off the middle and we're as good as done.
Yeah I'm also not sure if he plans on coming to United; all I feel is that if he were to really think about it, we'd be his best fit. At Bayern he will most likely, without joking, be converted to CB or something, since that's the area where they are lacking right now. He'd be a fool to got there IMO. Besides, even if he's to play in midfield he would be competing with Alaba, Lahm and Thiago, all of whom are favourites of Pep's; Schweinsteiger, who is still better than him; and the young guys like Gaudino, Hoijbjerg, and Rode, all of whom have been impressive. He might end up ruining his career by going to by Bayern right now.
Rooney would need to really change his mindset to be a better option in midfield than Cleverley right now, and I'm being totally serious. Cleverley has been spreading the ball well and has been going the short-pass and move route often enough as the 8, whereas Rooney has been pretty good at bouncing the ball off in the middle of a move (keeping the play ticking well, I mean) but he hasn't shown the proper grasp of actually starting a good forward drive. He usually just blasts the ball to the wide-men and charges forwards, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. In our current setup, I would assume it most likely won't since we have only 1 player on each wing.
Yeah there is no easy way to fit all our players, especially now with Di Maria in the mix. We have RvP, Rooney, Di Maria, and Mata who all more or less expect to play when available, then Kagawa, Welbeck and Januzaj all of whom are too good to simply be backups. It would require some intelligent rotation, and ego management, to get these guys all the minutes they deserve in their proper positions without causing friction. It's pretty much impossible in the 3-5-2 (as long as Di Maria and Januzaj are used as FWs and not WBs) so a 4-3-3 is absolutely necessary if Di Maria is to be a FW.
I can agree on that assessment of Kagawa vs Mata, but I would add that Kagawa is probably the superior player when it comes to breaking down a parked bus. I'm talking about the really extreme scenarios, such as against Valencia for example. They played with 11 men behind the halfway life for much of the game, and Mata was pretty much stumped for what to do, but Kagawa performs a bit better in that environment.
Watched the video, thanks for sharing. It was rather funny lol
Holy SHIZZLE we're getting Di Maria! Our next 7!
That's fair enough about Blind. Honestly now that Khedira has been brought to my attention he's jumped up the list and is my top choice. I also feel we're the best fit for him. At Arsenal he's looking at a serial 4th place club, who are hesitant if not completely unwilling to pay his wage demands. If I was any player I would avoid Bayern right now because of Pep, as he'd probably play Khedira as a winger to make space for Lahm or Alaba in the midfield. He would also not be first choice, in all likelihood, at Bayern and it would be easy for him to lose his place entirely due to the really strong competition. Plus, Bayern pay well but not as well as us.
With us he'd be immediate first choice and our best option. We could pay him exactly what he wants and he could be one of the stars of the show. And having just won the CL I can't imagine it's too much of a sticking point that we're not in it this season.
In regards to Herrera vs Clevs, I'm okay with it going either way. I would give one player 60 minutes and the other 30, and it wouldn't bother me which went to whom. It gives Herrera the chance to continue to acclimatize himself to the league while giving Cleverley a shot to show what he can do.
Yeah I could tell from our conversations so far that the 3-5-2 isn't really your cup of tea. Alternating Rooney and RvP would be fantastic. Just look at Bayern and their depth for each position, and what that's meant for their domestic campaigns. There is almost no drop-off in quality between choice 1 and choice 2 for them, which is a nightmare for smaller teams who may be hoping to get a chance against a big club's second string of players.
With Rooney captain there can only be 3 outcomes. The first is RvP becoming Rooney's backup. The second is Rooney playing out wide, which I don't see as an option. And the third is Rooney being converted into a midfielder, but if that was LvG's intention he would have already done so I believe. For me it has to be Rooney and RvP rotating up front, as Rooney just doesn't suit a wide position anymore.
To be fair to Khedira, he may not be the quickest but he gets himself all over the pitch. He runs 90 minutes straight and has a tank of fuel most could only dream of. He's a true box-to-box player, and Herrera is plenty mobile to make up for any lack of pace IMO. If Khedira really considers what's best for his career I think he would choose us.
With Blind I just saw a bit of a spark in him that I sometimes see in players. Schweinsteiger, back when he was a winger, gave me the same feeling. Kroos I also felt the same way about as soon as I saw him play. Boateng, Mueller, Reus, these are all players I felt the same way about. I just have this gut feeling that Blind could be something special, and that, I have to admit, is the main reason I want him.
I just remembered though before writing this that Khedira is pretty much available. We can pay the buy-out and just grab him. Arguably world class in his position, and exactly what we need. We have "unlimited funds" so let's put that to work lol.
It's really true about Kagawa being unlucky. He sets up so many great chances and his teammates just fail to put them to bed. I agree that if it's the only option I'd rather have Kagawa on the wing then not playing at all.
I think Cleverley should come on for Herrera TBH. The physicality of the PL might be a bit of a culture shock to him, and we don't want to overwork him. I'm also curious to see if Cleverley can handle being the primary source of forward driving midfield power.
I guess it makes sense to try out RvP and Rooney together to see if this all makes sense, but I'm already as convinced as I can be without real proof that it won't, which is why I'm worried about seeing it. We need to test it, but if it was up to me I'd throw Welbeck in up there instead, and maybe just give RvP and Rooney 30 minutes to play together to see how it looks. If Welbeck isn't ready Januzaj should take his spot.
What do you think of buying out Khedira and Di Maria both? It's very City/PSG-ish, but honestly it fixes so many of our problems that I would happily throw that money at Real.