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Don't have a lot of time for a full response right now, but I'll drop off my thoughts on that pathetic Arsenal game.
I definitely put the blame on LvG, or at least mostly do. Against Arsenal you really have 2 choices of how to go up against them: press them hard and bully their midfield to win the possession game, or play defensively and hit them hard on the counter. Playing a half-assed open game will get you killed against them, as we saw today. It's like we were caught in limbo between doing one or the other, and succeeded in doing neither.
First of all, the way the team was laid out I was immediately scared. The back line looked okay on paper if we'd gone for the aggressive approach, but sadly we didn't really do that. Young is a decent LB option as a converted winger, but sadly he isn't really a LB. He tries his best defensively but he's nowhere near good enough in the role to be dealing with a team who is controlling the game. The entire back line was pretty much crushed, especially early on, but our left was targeted a lot due to Young. With the midfield set up the way it was we should have definitely gone for the more naturally defensive Blind at LB, who also helps us win the possession game, with Jones at CB. Jones' greater pace and aggression is also much better for dealing with Arsenal's typically less physical forwards.
The midfield though is really where the match was lost. We set out to win the possession game (clearly with both Carrick and Bastian starting) but we decided to try and do that against Arsenal, one of the best sides in the world at using the ball, with fvcking flat 2 man central midfield composed of guys past the age of 30. Is LvG out of his mind? And then, and I assume it was on his instruction, Schweinsteiger then charges forward and presses way high up the pitch, leaving our only other central midfielder completely outnumbered. I would imagine Bastian was told to press that high because Rooney is useless, which then begs the fvcking question of why the hell did Rooney start? You want to beat Arsenal by winning the midfield, you need someone to bully their players like a Fellaini or Schneiderlin, you need an aggressive, mobile midfielder to hound their players like Herrera, and you need one calm pass master to keep things ticking, like Carrick or Schweinsteiger. What LvG did was akin to Guardiola defending man-to-man against MSN: tactical suicide.
On top of that he continued with Memphis at LW even though he's had practically no impact in the EPL and who doesn't really track back to help defensively too often (with Young at freakin LB). Mata on the right was necessary by how he'd been performing lately, and at least with Darmian back at RB we had a good defensive player there.
Back to the real problem again. 2 center forwards/strikers in a match where you want to win the midfield game against a side that is just as good as you with the ball at their feet. That is suicide. Had we been playing defensively from the get go (parking the bus a la Chelsea) This might have worked. 2 defensive banks of 4 with 2 strikers and fast wingers to counter with, but we had 1 useless forward in Rooney and 1 slow as hell winger in Mata. Plus, the rest of the team was set out to win the midfield and play aggressive.
Basically, at this point it comes down to one thing. Drop Rooney from the fking team because he doesn't do anything for us and only succeeds in hamstringing us tactically. He had no place in this lineup or this match, unless Martial was injured and couldn't play. His insistence on playing his captain is driving me mad.
Admittedly though I was watching Dortmund get absolutely stomped by Bayern at the same time so I wasn't paying as much attention as usual to the United match. What do you think?
Thanks for the breakdown on Fosu Mensah and Taunzebe. Excited to see them play now. Hopefully they get their chance. Actually, hopefully they don't get a chance to play for an extended period of time, because that would probably mean either Mike, Blind, or Jones is injured, and if that player is Mike we're totally boned. He's probably our most important player right now as he's our only exceptional, and even our only "more than just competent", CB.
Damn those are some really good points too about the EPL sucking.
Wenger is a fuggin disease at this point. He's a manager without any hunger to actually win. Arsenal needs to replace him and take a gamble, because with him at the helm they won't compete for anything.
The fear factor is a definite uhhh factor lol. Never thought about it but it's definitely true. When big teams win without playing particularly well it's often down to the fear factor, and the EPL has none of that in Europe. It's similar to us in the EPL. Nobody was scared of us in recent times, but that's changing now and so it's easier for us to roll the smaller teams.
100% agreed on the last paragraph. Once LvG has us playing the way we both think he wants us to (basically something similar to Barca/Bayern currently) then we'll be a wrecking ball in the EPL, and EPL teams will finally face someone comparable to a big European team in the league and so they will also improve tactically to try and beat us. That will do a lot of good for the league.
Okay I'll reply to the older stuff first then answer the EPL question.
I would agree that the Schmidfield should be the go-to, except that Schneiderlin has so far not been too impressive from what I remember. To be fair though, he hasn't played that much. Anyway, Herrera needs to start as our 10 so that only leaves Morgan or Carrick anyway so Morgan gets the nod.
I have no idea what's up with LvG. Honestly, how much of your integrity can you sell off just to fit in your captain? The man has never really played 2 strikers before (even with the 3-5-2 for the Netherlands he played a roaming forward and a striker, not 2) and now he suddenly says he likes playing a 4-4-2 better? Dafuq? Drop that turd and play your preferred 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3. Martial is easily our best striker and he's all we need there.
Honestly, I don't think Memphis is going to have a great year for us. He hasn't been impressive to me at all. That isn't to say I don't think he'll be a great player, because he obviously has the potential, but at this point Young should be starting in the LW spot IMO. I'd like to see how Memphis does coming off the bench for the last 20 minutes to run at a tired FB. I think he'd be able to get his mojo back like that.
I definitely want to see more from Pereira though. He looks like a great player in the making. Mata has done enough that he can't be budged from that RW spot anymore, unless it's to play as our 10, but I think Pereira should be playing just about every game for at least 10-15 minutes at the end until he can claim a starting role.
That's what I want to see right now. With Rojo also out I'd like Blind to step back into the LB role, plus his linkup with Young is very good. Mike Smalling and Jones have been a rock solid partnership when they've played together since last season, as far as I remember, and that leaves us with a good RB because Valencia.... yeah the less I say the better for him.
I'm glad people are finally waking up to Rooney being asscakes. If his name wasn't Wayne Rooney he'd be getting the Cleverley treatment right now. What a waste of space, wages, a captain's armband, spot on the team bus/plane, shirt, badge, meal, etc.
Yeah I have to agree on LvG building a really nice looking foundation. We are looking good now, and we look like we might be even better in the future. I'm getting antsy just thinking about it lol.
Smalling is still pretty young so we wouldn't see that McNair/Laporte combo for years to come, but yeah I can see the appeal lol. Both of them would be rock solid defensively with the passing range of a midfielder. It'd make us incredibly versatile in building attacks from deep, and will be a real nightmare for opposing teams to defend against. For now though, Smalling is a titan. When he looked like he got hurt my world was about to break down.
Shaw and Darmian are already pretty much the best FB pairing in the league. Imagining how good they'll be 5 years down the line just hurts because I'll have to wait 5 years to see it.
I'm not familiar with Fosu Mensah and Taunzebe. What positions do they play, and what kind of players are they?
So anyway, why do I think EPL teams suck in the CL these days?
First of all England has absolutely no relevant footballing identity right now. Strong and fast doesn't cut it, I'm afraid. The archetypal English player is one who is of no significance in the modern game, and thus the kind of English players being produced (or at least have been produced in the last 10 years or so) are mostly useless.
This is a huge problem since homegrown players, or at least domestic players, are most often at the core of teams with sustained success. Think Barca vs Real in the past 10 years. These are the players that are most likely to stay with the club long term, they identify with the club more than foreign players and have a stronger bond with the badge, and they understand the tactics of the team better since it should be ingrained into their education. With players who play like headless chickens you can't have that last, all-important point.
Another issue I see with English clubs is outdated tactics, which is now being rectified at least at some level. We are the most modern team in the league right now, and without even playing well we're top of the table. Imagine when we really start to find our form. We'd probably turn this back into the United league that it was in SAF's days. Chelsea play too negatively in the big games, which usually only brings staying power near the top instead of actual success (as is evident from how they do year-in, year-out). Arsenal are way too naive and romantic about their style of play, refusing to acknowledge that you need both grit and technique to succeed now (even Barca changed the way they play...). Liverpool... yeah they suck. City have decent tactics, but I only watch them when the play a team I like and I want them to lose. Still, the quality of the match plan doesn't match the quality of the players they have, and that holds them back too. Do they still play with 2 strikers? If they do then shame on them.
I think the other major thing that's holding PL teams back is the style of play in the league, or rather the style of refereeing. It's fine and entertaining to let things get more physical than in other leagues, but you have to then realize you're hamstringing your players when they then play in the CL, which does not follow the English officiating guidelines. Many of the non-calls in the PL will get called in the CL, and English clubs and players often have a hard time adjusting to that. I'm not about to hunt down the stats, but I wouldn't be anywhere near surprised if English teams average the highest number of fouls in the CL. That not only disrupts the rhythm of your play but it also regularly puts your opponent in good positions to score.
So anyway, I think there are still other small arguments here and there about why they suck, but these are the big points to me. What do you think? Would love to hear why you believe English teams are terrible right now.
I just watched the match myself. Couldn't catch it live because of work.
It's embarrassing that we lost that match, not because we were well-beaten but because we really had no excuse for losing with how we played. We dominated the ball, we had good chances, but we really just couldn't find the back of the net.
Luke Shaw man, just wow. A run like that gets capped off with a horrific injury for which there was no call? Unbelievable. With the form he was showing he could have been the best LB in the league by the end of the season.
One thing LvG did, or rather didn't do, that really pissed me off was not taking off Bastian. The guy played 90 minutes, if I recall correctly, against Liverpool (or something close to that) and now he plays 90 minutes in a midweek away match in the CL? You can't expect a player of his age in his position to do that. We had Schneiderlin and Carrick on the bench, both of whom had more rest.
I'm astounded by how Mata didn't bury that beautiful pass from Schweinsteiger. His movement was good, and his intentions were good throughout the match, but Mata's final delivery was lacking. Very disappointing.
Memphis needs to stop doing his best Valencia impression with his set pieces and actually make it past the first man. His goal was a beauty, no doubt about it, and I liked his style of play this match better than what I'm used to seeing from him, but his set pieces were just horrendous.
Other things I noticed were that Darmian seemed to misplace more passes than usual, Young actually tried to shoot again (and he was really weak on the right), Martial is promising but definitely too raw to rely on this season, and Rojo looked quite good.
Did you end up watching the rest of the match?
We did look terrible in the first half, but so much better in the second. Ashley Young!!!
And Martial!!!! Rooney, step aside because you no longer have the ability to pull off shit like that.
I was surprised by how well the back line dealt with Benteke. Solid game from Blind all in all. What'd you think of the game?
Yup, it's just astounding how LvG still hasn't tried a proper 4-3-3. I'm not sure why he suddenly wants to play a 2-1 midfield when a 1-2 fits our players so much better. Fellaini and Herrera worked very well in the 2 advanced midfield positions last season, Schneiderlin is a natural fit there, Mata can play in those positions as well to make room for a RW with pace when needed, and Carrick and Schweinsteiger are natural fits for the holding position. Not to mention that both Pereira and Lingard should be capable of playing in one of those advanced positions if they are partnered with a defensive work horse like Schneiderlin or Herrera.
Ugh, that Griezmann transfer would be too pricey if the tax gets thrown on top of the fee. He's a great player, but there are alternatives out there. I would definitely love to have him, but 100m is just too much. You can get 3 great players for that amount of money if you shop smart. But, personal feelings aside, if the club is comfortable throwing the kind of money around that it has though then that really shouldn't be a deterrent to Woodward. He's a great player, he wants to play for United, we have the money, and he fills a role we definitely need. It'd be better to sign him then to keep chasing targets we have no hope of getting.
Mmmm that is a shame about Fekir. 6 months does give him a bit of time to recover before the season is over and maybe play for France at the Euro Cup, so perhaps he'd still be an option next season depending on how he returns to action. Hopefully he recovers better than most from the ACL injury because it's just a shame for a young player to have his career stunted like that. You have to really feel for players like that, like Badstuber, who hasn't played consistently in 3 years now.
Yeah I can definitely see Tuchel landing a huge job after this BVB one, unless of course he decides to be an SAF type figure for them. It's got the biggest fan support in Germany (they had an average stadium fill of 100% last season with a ~85k capacity...) and is really on the cusp of becoming one of the big clubs themselves. With the Bundesliga marketing itself better now it could happen, though it is still unlikely. I want to believe in them though.
It's too bad Reus got injured again. That guy simply can't stay healthy. He needs to bulk up a little bit or something because he's too flimsy. Maybe Januzaj will actually get a decent opportunity to play now, though I'd imagine he's behind Jonas Hoffman in the pecking order since he's been playing so well recently. Let's just hope Januzaj doesn't end up liking it better at BVB...
Tuchel for the United job? Imagine if we'd play like that. Every matchday would just be an orgasm of attacking play. It's obviously still too early to say, but the guy was basically the most wanted coach in Germany after Klopp, and he was well-renowned for his work with Mainz. He's definitely one to keep an eye out for after our next manager. It would be absolutely hilarious if our next manager was Klopp and we signed Tuchel after, since he was his successor at both Mainz and BVB LOL!
Agreed that the transfer window was underwhelming to say the least. I also don't think we'll actually compete for any trophies now. The big problem with the squad, even when everyone is fully fit, is Rooney. He's just not good enough. Blind also will be a problem, as you correctly predicted. Gomis bullied him, and there are better strikers than Gomis out there.
I thought that when all these players started getting sold it meant we had some crazy signings prepared. Then... nothing. We simply lost players we pretty much needed for squad depth. I'm beginning to think LvG is out of his mind too.
What I don't understand is, if we're prepared to pay exorbitant fees for Martial and Shaw, then why the hell aren't we paying the fee for Laporte? The guy sounds like exactly the kind of defender LvG likes. I don't understand the mindset of whoever is making these decisions. A few mil extra for Pedro is too much, but potentially 56m for an unproven 19 year old is okay? What thee fuck?
Rooney fkn sucks. End of story. His 3 goals vs Brugge were an anomaly. My only hope is now that LvG sold half the players he uses up front that he'll abandon his retarded pseudo-4-4-2 and continue to play Herrera in the CAM role.
It really was Moyes-esque. Last season we utilized Fellaini much better during our dominant stretch. The long balls were to quickly get the ball up field, not to hope for a flukey goal.
Exactly! Swansea were showing a real willingness to attack, and they had looked the more dangerous team for large stretches of the game. LvG should have known they'd push hard for a goal, which makes them susceptible to a counter. Kill their momentum with possession, keep the defense tight until they overcommit, then hit them hard and fast with a counter attack. They get even more desperate at 2-0 down and then you hit them again.
It's like LvG wants the team to play Barca's old style. That style has become redundant. Nobody plays tiki-taka anymore, not even Barca. What you said about signing a CB if he doesn't believe in his defense pretty much sums it all up. If you aren't confident in your team doing it's job, then sign some fuggin players during the transfer window.
No Pep for me. I hate him. Klopp is good, but he isn't terribly diverse with his tactics. Ancelotti is the guy for me.
Ugh, I love Mata. Can't say I want him gone, but if he goes then I guess I could be okay with it as long as it's to make space for a RW like Griezmann. And what, the guy is a United fan? Why the flux haven't we signed him yet? If we can pay that absurd amount of money for Martial then we can pay whatever they want for Griezmann.
I haven't seen the quotes from Fekir (honestly don't even know who that is lol). Have you seen Kagawa lately though? It's crazy how good he's playing now. If SAF would have had his way and Rooney was sold so Kagawa could play CAM we'd be doing much better. The whole Dortmund attack right now is just on fire.
Yeah the only good thing about the fire sale is that the youngsters should get a proper shot. Lingard I think will make it if he's given a chance. Pereira probably loses the ball too much for LvG. He's a risk taker from what I've seen, and LvG doesn't like that.
To be fair, games against Liverpool are always must win lol.
Sorry I've been a bit MIA. My brother's visiting from Calgary and it's been crazy. He's leaving really early Thursday so I'll get back to you then. What do you make of Martial though? Never seen him play, but I heard he's fast as hell.
Mmm I missed the first 30 minutes because I kind of fell back asleep. Found out the match was at 7:45 at about 3 in the morning, and by the time I actually got to bed it was like 4 lol.
What I did see though wasn't good. I'm not a fan of the 4-2-2-2ish formation. We need a clear cut number 10 if we're going for a 2-1 central midfield. The only time we have someone playing clever balls through the middle is when Mata cuts inside. I have no idea how someone like LvG who has always played a 1 striker system (barring the world cup) now wants to run a setup with 2.
Memphis' decision making bothers me too. He looks to shoot too often, but that's just a matter of taste. Most people like it, and it can be effective, but I prefer it when players shoot when the opportunity presents itself rather than trying to force the opportunity.
With both our wingers looking to cut inside we need our FBs to do more in the attacking third. Darmian hasn't looked that great with his deliveries, and Shaw is being overlooked too often on the left.
Rooney was more involved in the game as a whole, but he isn't providing us with a striker's qualities. Chicharito has looked way better for us both times he played. Fellaini would probably do a better job too just because he'll scare the hell out of CBs with his height.
Our midfield looks undermanned with basically a flat 2 in the middle with no linkup between them and the attackers. It's not as bad as it was under SAF (the last few seasons) and Moyes because we have better midfielders, but the disconnect is there again. We need Herrera there. If LvG is too dumb to see that he should go.
The best part of our team is surprisingly still the back line. I just hope at least one more CB can step up and play at a high level, otherwise it'll be a disaster if Smalling or Blind get injured.
Romero scares me. He doesn't seem like the brightest fellow, and I get the deer in headlights feel from sometimes. So far he's been okay, but I'm worried about relying on him.
So, what I want to see from now on is a 4-3-3/4-1-4-1 formation with Chicharito up top, better attacking output from Darmian, better use of Shaw in the attacking third, and the Schmidfield + Herrera in the middle.
How about you, what do you think of our performance vs Newcastle and the team in general so far?
But hey, at least we're targeted Mueller even though Bayern said he won't be sold at any price #logic