Posted by hakanrylander on October 22, 2009
Most people who score an 86th minute winner in a CL-game would celebrate quite wildly. But not Antonio Valencia. Instead he gave the impression of inscrutable melancholy with a hint of embarrassment. Very similar to his post-scoring behaviour against Bolton a few days earlier.
However, when he scored in the recent World Cup qualifier between Ecuador and Uruguay he couldn’t quite live up to his own high standards of restraint. He jumped over the advertising hoardings and ran into the crowd. Probably enough to earn him a booking in the PL.
So why these totally different reactions? Amateur psychology suggests that Valencia feels more at ease in the Ecuador national squad than with his new team-mates at Old Trafford. From a footballing point of view he’s very much an integral part of the team. To my mind he’s already an established member of our first XI. But maybe in a social sense he doesn’t yet feel part of the group.
The game against CSKA again confirmed how much more efficient Valencia is compared to Nani. I don’t particularly like the fact that Berbatov spent a large part of the game showing everyone how frustrated he was with Nani. But I can understand him. Another positive was the performance of Fabio who might just prove those experts right who suggested that he might be even better than his brother. A special mention also to John O’Shea who had a solid game in central midfield. Most of the time he doesn’t get the credit he deserves, but it’s brilliant to have this kind of player in the squad.
Posted in Match Reports, Player Analysis | Tagged: Antonio Valencia, CSKA Moscow, Dimitar Berbatov, Fabio da Silva, John O'Shea, Manchester United, Nani | 3 Comments »
Posted by hakanrylander on September 23, 2009
A Carling Cup tie against Wolves is unlikely to provide anything near the excitement of last Sunday. It’s not a trophy that too many fans care a lot about, but what makes it interesting is of course that it’s the main opportunity to see some up and coming stars in action.
Sir Alex might have a bit of a selection headache. He should pick some youngsters on the fringe of the first team and also some newcomers who are unlikely to start a single game in the PL this season. But he should also consider that some more established stars need games to keep sharp (Owen), find their form after an indifferent spell (Foster, Carrick, Nani, Tosic) or regain full fitness (Brown). Among these players the case for inclusion is strongest for Brown and Owen. Owen needs to play a bit more than just the last 20 minutes of big games while Brown is probably still our best right-back but need playing-time to get back to full fitness. Perhaps Tosic also deserves another chance to prove himself after being left out of the CL-squad.
Among the young fringe players Macheda, Welbeck, Fabio and Gibson virtually pick themselves, which leaves room for three more outfield players. My choice would be Corrie Evans in central defence, Magnus Eikrem in midfield and Ritchie de Laet (who improved beyond recognition towards the end of last season) at left back.
Ferguson has made some disturbing comments about Macheda and Welbeck lacking focus and forgetting “where their real place is” due to international commitments. Hopefully it’s just his way of stirring them into action tonight. Time to step forward for these two exceptionally promising youngsters.
My line-up: Kuszczak; Fabio, Brown, Corrie Evans, de Laet; Welbeck, Gibson, Eikrem, Tosic; Owen, Macheda.
Posted in Previews | Tagged: Carling Cup, Danny Welbeck, Darron Gibson, Fabio da Silva, Federico Macheda, Manchester United, Michael Owen, Ritchie de Laet, Wolverhampton | Leave a Comment »
Posted by hakanrylander on August 26, 2009
No, I’m not thinking of our first three games as a prelude to a golden season. In fact, I don’t think this season will be particularly successful when it comes to winning trophies. Even so I look forward to the next nine months with great expectations. Which might seem a bit peculiar considering that we’ve sold the best player in the world and lost another world class attacker to City, and failed to sign replacements of similar stature.
The reason for my optimism is that I believe that we will see a rapid positive development of several players, which might in a year or two create an even better team than we’ve had for the last couple of seasons.
Firstly, we have a group of hugely talented youngsters of a quality that might even be about to rival the peerless fledglings from the early 90′s; Giggs, Butt, Beckham, Gary, Phil and Scholes (below).
Rafael and Fabio da Silva have taken to the PL like ducks to water. I’ve been amazed by how unfazed they’ve seemed when playing for the first team at only 17. This indicates mental strength to add to their obvious football skills. Only the excellence of Patrice Evra can stop them from both being first-choices before long.
Sir Alex has predicted that Danny Welbeck will travel to South Africa with England next summer. I find this rather unrealistic, but the last time I remember thinking that Ferguson praised a youngster a bit too much he was talking about – Paul Scholes.
Federico Macheda needed only 20 minutes or so against Villa to make it onto most people’s short-lists for both Goal of the Season and Player of the Season. Nick at the excellent manunitedyouth describes Macheda as a mix of Van Nistelrooy and Berbatov. Sounds good enough to me.
I admit that i didn’t think that Darron Gibson would ever make it to the first team, but he keeps on improving and will do so again this season.
Apart from the youngsters I believe we’ll see continued development from some of the more established players. The obvious example from last season is Darren Fletcher. Rarely has a player’s reputation been so enhanced by not playing a game as when Fletcher was suspended for the CL-final against Barcelona. A year ago very few would have predicted that Fergie’s main selection problem in midfield would now be who to pick alongside Fletcher. I think we will see him move on to yet another level this season.
I hesitate to include Nani in this group. Perhaps I’d better not. I’ll get back to him in a seperate post.
Finally, to achieve greatness we need a catalyst, much like Eric Cantona was in the 90′s. Regular visitors to Between the Lines will be well aware that in my opinion “le prochain Cantona” is already present at the club. It’s just a question of Dimitar Berbatov fulfilling this potential, as I think he will begin to do this season. I re-use my favourite quote: “All strikers must be soloists when appropriate – but rare ones, like Berbatov and Cantona, can also conduct the orchestra.”
Those were the days
Posted in Player Analysis, Previews | Tagged: Danny Welbeck, Darren Fletcher, Darron Gibson, Dimitar Berbatov, Fabio da Silva, Federico Macheda, Manchester United, Nani, Rafael da Silva | 8 Comments »
Posted by hakanrylander on January 22, 2009
United are facing a severe injury crisis ahead of this weekend’s FA-cup tie against Tottenham Hotspur. At the moment there are eleven players on the injury list; Rooney (hamstring, out for a few weeks), Ferdinand (back, uncertain return date), Rafael (hamstring, out for a month), Evra (toe, missing for two more weeks), Hargreaves (knee, out for the season), Evans (ankle, out for a week), Nani (groin, probably out for just a week), Anderson (ankle, X-ray so far inconclusive), Brown (ankle, out for a few more weeks), Giggs (unspecified knock, back in a week) and Neville (minor knock, might just play on Saturday).
So what are the “sweet uses” implied in the headline? Well, perhaps mostly a desperate attempt to look at the bright side of this mess. But I’m looking forward to the debut of Fabio who is supposed to be even better than his twin brother Rafael. It will also be an interesting opportunity for John O’Shea to impress as a central defender, as he has on a number of occasions for Ireland. I’m also hoping to see the debut of Zoran Tosic who has looked very impressive in training since his arrival from Partizan Belgrade.
My line-up: Van der Sar; Fletcher, Vidic, O’Shea, Fabio; Park, Carrick, Scholes, Ronaldo; Tevez, Berbatov. Quite a strong team considering the injury list, and should be good enough to beat Spurs.
Posted in Previews | Tagged: FA-cup, Fabio da Silva, Football, John O'Shea, Manchester United, Tottenham, Zoran Tosic | 6 Comments »
Posted by hakanrylander on September 11, 2008
During the past few weeks I’ve become convinced that the present crop of teenagers is United’s best since the legendary group including Giggs, Scholes, Beckham, Butt and Neville x 2 in the early 90′s. I admit that this conviction is based on a fairly limited amount of exposure, but two players in particular, Rodrigo Possebon (born 1989) and Rafael da Silva (1990), have impressed me tremendously. Possebon made his league debut as a substitute against Newcastle on the opening day of this season and looked very comfortable on the ball. He also moved well off the ball, hit some good passes and seemed completely unfazed by the occasion. There is fierce competition for places in central midfield, but I have a feeling that Possebon will get more than a few games already this season.
Much the same could be said about Rafael who is a right-back with great attacking skills and could certainly also play at the right side of midfield. He earned rave reviews for his performances against Peterborough and Juventus. And remember that his twin brother Fabio has an even more impressive record and was captain of Brazil Under-17.
A special mention also to Manchester-born Danny Welbeck (1990) a forward who looked very promising with the first team in Saudi Arabia last season, but who I’ve yet to see this season.
Still unconvinced? Watch this video.
Posted in Player Analysis | Tagged: Fabio da Silva, Football, Manchester United, Possebon, Rafael da Silva, Welbeck | 2 Comments »