Posted by hakanrylander on November 12, 2009
Who Ate All the Pies picks it’s Premier League Flops Team of the Season, including five(!) United players.
The Evening News lists our six major transfer targets (and overrates our chances of signing them).
Red Rants puts Nani’s latest brilliant career move into a bit of perspective.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: Ben Foster, David Silva, David Villa, Franck Ribery, Igor Akinfeev, Manuel Neuer, Michael Carrick, Nani, Paul Scholes, Rio Ferdinand | Leave a Comment »
Posted by hakanrylander on October 27, 2009
For the last three seasons United’s success (including three consecutive PL-titles) has to a large extent been built on the solid foundation of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. This season the partnership has looked rather more shaky. But I have felt that even though this was perhaps not as insignificant as a “blip” it would still sort itself out before long. Until now. After the defeat at Anfield I now believe that central defence is turning into a long term problem.
Throughout his career Rio Ferdinand has been accused of occasionally going to sleep and lacking concentration, but this problem largely disappeared a few years ago. Lately his focus might have suffered more from all kinds of off-field activities that seem to occupy his mind. This stretches from becoming a father to editing his own magazine, involving himself in a restaurant venture and producing movies. Still the most serious problem is probably his fitness. He needs continous physiotherapy for his recurring back spasms and hasn’t been able to fully join in training for most of the season. My impression is that the doctors don’t know the root of the problem and are just treating the symptoms.
In previous seasons Nemanja Vidic has occasionally looked vulnerable to pace. This was most obvious when he was humiliated by Torres at Old Trafford last season. Three successive red cards against Liverpool/Torres is not a coincidence. This season he seems to be in trouble more often. One example is that he was lucky not to be sent off against Wolfsburg, when he found it difficult to handle Dzeko and Grafite. Meanwhile rumours continue to surface that Vidic (or his wife) is tired of England and would prefer to live in Spain or Italy. It’s also very likely that Barcelona will be in the market for a central defender next summer.
Perhaps I’m wrong in describing our defensive rock as a partnership, when in fact Edwin van der Sar has been very much a part of it. The fact that Van der Sar has been injured for a large part of this season, and that Ben Foster has looked out of his depth has made it more difficult for Vidic and Ferdinand. It would be so much easier to ease in a new keeper if the Ferdinand-Vidic partnership was in perfect shape.
I fear that we might in fact be moving towards a scenario where Van der Sar retires, Vidic leaves for Spain and Ferdinand struggles even more with injuries. This would leave Ferguson with a major rebuilding challenge in a key area. Thank heavens for Jonny Evans.
Posted in Player Analysis | Tagged: Ben Foster, Edwin van der Sar, Jonny Evans, Manchester United, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand | 5 Comments »
Posted by hakanrylander on October 4, 2009
Football is a strange game sometimes. Normally a fluent passing game makes it possible for United to dominate most PL games, but on this occassion it had gone missing. Some of the “credit” for this must go to Sunderland who were very well organized in defence and dangerous going forward.
Even Paul Scholes mis-hit several passes(!), and I think Ferguson was right to substitute him at half-time. This morning I had a look at the Guardian’s chalkboards, and Scholes in fact had a pass completion rate of 88%, the second highest among United’s midfielders and attackers. Maybe my initial reaction is a sign that I’m more or less taking it for granted that Scholes will complete just about all of his passes.
Ben Foster should have done better with the cross for Sunderland’s second goal and once again confirmed that he’s a long way from being England’s first choice keeper in South Africa, let alone the long term successor to Edwin van der Sar.
My frustration with Nani (pass completion rate: 48%) continues to grow. I don’t think he seriously troubled the Sunderland defence a single time. Maybe it’s time to send him out on loan. If possible to Coventry.
Finally I was disappointed when Sir Alex chose to attack the referee for not adding enough time and being “unfit”. I would much prefer if Ferguson gracefully accepted some responsibility himself. It certainly wasn’t Alan Wiley’s fault that we lost two points, if anything I thought he was a bit harsh when showing Kieran Richardson a red card.
Not even a spectacular finish from Dimitar Berbatov could make up for all these disappointments. But it came close.
Posted in Match Reports | Tagged: Alex Ferguson, Ben Foster, Dimitar Berbatov, Manchester United, Nani, Paul Scholes, Sunderland | 3 Comments »
Posted by hakanrylander on September 20, 2009
This was electrifying! A wonderful game of football completed by a calm Michael Owen finish after 96 minutes. For me the turning point came during the break when someone in the United dressing-room came up with the brilliant idea to use the wings. In the first half I hardly noticed Ryan Giggs, in the second he was the best player on the pitch. And this was not because Giggs suddenly improved, but because the team started feeding the ball to him. The attacking threath down the wings was intensified further with the introduction of Valencia.
Apart from Giggs, the obvious MotM was Darren Fletcher who continues his remarkable transformation from squad-player to world-class midfielder.
Even though I’m riverdancing as I write this, I feel obliged to point out a couple of negatives. The most important is the difference in the way the two teams reacted to the other scoring. When United scored (except obviously for Owen’s strike) City raised their game and went in search of an equaliser, but when City scored their first goal United lost their rythm completely and were second best for the remainder of the first half. Secondly, and unfortunately, I was again unconvinced by the performance of Ben Foster. He gifted City their first goal and could have done better for their third.
And finally. Yes, I agree with all the City-fans who find it hard to understand how the ref could add more than 6 minutes.
Posted in Match Reports | Tagged: Ben Foster, Darren Fletcher, Manchester City, Manchester United, Michael Owen, Ryan Giggs | 4 Comments »
Posted by hakanrylander on September 1, 2009
1. On the whole Arsenal can derive more positives (but no points) from this game. I’ve rarely seen United so lacking in attacking ideas at Old Trafford as in the first half when the wingers were contained by close marking, Giggs unable to get involved and Rooney totally isolated.
2. I must admit that I never thought Darren Fletcher would progress beyond being a useful squad player, but if he keeps improving at this rate he will soon rival Wayne Rooney as our most important player. Also I don’t, unlike Wenger, think that he used excessive force, apart from when he bulldozed Arshavin in the penalty area.
3. We have a long-term goalkeeper problem. Ben Foster is a good keeper but again he failed to convince me that he should be United’s first-choice for many years to come. He made a world-class stop from Van Persie but should have saved Arshavin’s strike. He also flapped badly at a cross, the kind of behaviour that feeds insecurity among the defenders.
4. Abou Diaby gifted us the game with an own-goal that was very much an unforced error, but apart from that I was very impressed by him. Wenger has found a real gem.
5. Uefa president Michel Platini needs to get his priorities right and launch an urgent investigation concerning the hairstyle of Manuel Almunia.
Posted in Match Reports | Tagged: Arsenal, Ben Foster, Manchester United, Manuel Almunia, Michel Platini | 4 Comments »
Posted by hakanrylander on August 24, 2009
Our present goalkeeper strategy seems very sensible. With Edwin van der Sar in his, probably, last season, Ben Foster will be given plenty of opportunities to prove himself. Presumably even at times when Van der Sar is fit. Sir Alex firmly believes that Foster will be England’s first-choice keeper in South Africa next summer, and beyond that the permanent successor to Van der Sar.
I’m not completely convinced by this strategy. Firstly, Foster’s injury problems have been far too frequent to install confidence in him as a reliable long-term solution. Secondly, I’ve been occasionally impressed but also from time to time worried by his performances, e.g in the Community Shield a couple of weeks ago.
Even so there is no need to try to sign a new keeper unless you could identify one with genuine potential to be a long-term solution of the calibre of Casillas or Schmeichel. I belive that such a solution was, perhaps still is, available this summer. I’m referring to 23-year-old Manuel Neuer at Schalke 04. I admit that I haven’t watched him regularly in the Bundesliga, but a number of hugely impressive performances in the European Under-21 Championship this summer convinced me that he should be our next keeper.
The end of the transfer window is fast approaching and a deal this week is unlikely. I fear that the competition for his signature will be very fierce next summer.
Posted in Player Analysis, Transfer Gossip | Tagged: Ben Foster, Edwin van der Sar, Manchester United, Manuel Neuer, Peter Schmeichel | Leave a Comment »
Posted by hakanrylander on March 2, 2009
The Carling Cup is perhaps not the most prestigious trophy in world football, but it was still a very satisfying win if not a great performance. In the end the game was won by United’s coolness in the penalty shoot-out, and the decisive factor was experience of high-pressure situations. All four United players who took the penalties (Giggs, Tevez, Ronaldo and Anderson) faced the same task in Moscow nine months ago. Yesterday must have felt like a Sunday League shoot-out by comparison.
Two players stood out. Ben Foster delivered a breakthrough performance that won him the Man-of-the-match award in front of Fabio Capello. If he (Foster, that is) can stay clear of injuries, and get a few more games for United, it surely won’t be long before he plays for England again. After all, the competition for places isn’t terrifying. My personal MotM-award goes to Rio Ferdinand.
I applaud Fergson’s decision to play some of the youngsters and fringe players in this final, but it was obvious that both Welbeck and Gibson were out of their depths. More worrying was the slack defending that allowed Aaron Lennon lots of space that he used to good effect. The main culprit was Nani. There is no way that Lennon would have been able to shine so brightly if Park Ji-Sung had played in left midfield as he would have provided a lot more support for Evra.
Meanwhile in the PL, Liverpool, Villa and Arsenal all dropped points. Not a bad weekend, really.
Posted in Match Reports | Tagged: Ben Foster, Carling Cup, Football, Manchester United, Nani, Park Ji-sung, Rio Ferdinand, Tottenham | 1 Comment »