Posted by hakanrylander on December 9, 2009
Ahead of the game against Wolfsburg I tried to figure out the best way to line up considering the severe injury crisis among defenders. But I have to admit that 3-5-2 never even entered my mind. And I wasn’t of course anywhere near suggesting that we use a very lop-sided 3-5-2, with one of the wing-backs, Park Ji-sung, running his socks off and joining both attack and defence to great effect, while the other, Nani, had little impact going forward (apart from that cross to Owen) and in customary fashion didn’t track back. I’m still not sure why it worked, but it certainly did. Maybe there’s a reason why Fergie is manager of Manchester United and I’m not.
A lot of the credit must go to Park who, particularly in the first half, found an awful lot of space going forward, and still found the time to defend. Despite the contribution from Park and the Owen master-class my MotM was Paul Scholes who again showed the rare talent to make it seem as if he always had plenty of time on the ball. Several good touches from Welbeck as well.
In the first half I couldn’t see what all the hype surrounding Dzeko was about. In the second I could. But I’m afraid all the signs are that he’ll join Milan.
Posted in Manchester United, Match Reports | Tagged: Alex Ferguson, Edin Dzeko, Manchester United, Michael Owen, Nani, Park Ji-sung, Paul Scholes | 3 Comments »
Posted by hakanrylander on November 16, 2009
Paul Scholes celebrates his 35th birthday today as a United legend. Not many people outside the United Academy could see that coming 19 years ago.
“At 16, we could play Scholsey for only 20 minutes a game. He was a little one. Had asthma. No strength. No power. No athleticism. No endurance. (…) If Scholsey had been at a lesser club, they would have got rid of him and he would probably not be in the game now”, said former Academy Director Les Kershaw in an interview with Henry Winter a few years ago.
Since then Scholes has played more than 600 games for United and 66 times for England. But even more remarkable than those figures is the respect he’s earned from his fellow professionals:
Thierry Henry: “Without any doubt the best player in the Premiership has to be Scholes.”
Rio Ferdinand: “Everyone at the club considers him the best.”
Zinedine Zidane: “Scholes is undoubtedly the greatest midfielder of his generation.”
(Thanks to Scott at RoM for bringing the Kershaw interview to my attention.)
Posted in Player Analysis | Tagged: Les Kershaw, Manchester United, Paul Scholes | Leave a Comment »
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 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 February 9, 2009
On the face of it the game against West Ham yesterday was decided by a piece of individual brilliance by Ryan Giggs, while at the other end Carlton Cole failed to take a couple of chances. But as I was curious to find some underlying factor that made the difference between the teams I crunched the numbers in The Guardian’s excellent chalkboards. For what it’s worth, this is what I came up with:
In general there was very little, if anything, too chose between the sides except for one area; the completion rate of passes. United’s six midfielders and attackers hit 270 passes and missed 13,3% of them, while the West Ham front six hit 261 passes and missed 15,7%. Maybe not a big difference, but even more interesting was that three players stood out. Carrick missed only 3 passes out of 49, Scholes missed only 2 out of 58 and Tevez didn’t mishit a single of his 28 passes. The other United players, as well as all WH players were significantly more wasteful. I was surprised because I thought Scholes had a good game but that both Carrick and Tevez were below par.
So does this numbercrunching has any relevance as an explanation for the outcome of the game? Remember the build-up to the goal. WH loose the ball in midfield to Scholes who finds Giggs in space with a long cross-field pass. A coincidence?
Posted in Match Reports | Tagged: Carlos Tevez, Football, Manchester United, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes, Premier League, West Ham | 3 Comments »
Posted by hakanrylander on November 12, 2008
Owen Hargreaves has undergone an operation on his right knee and is due to have surgery on his left knee in a fortnight. This means he will not play again this season, and in the worst-case scenario he will not be able to resume his career. Under the circumstances it’s encouraging that he is being treated by Dr Richard Steadman who is widely regarded as the world’s leading expert in this field.
With Paul Scholes out until X-mas this could constitute a major injury crisis. But luckily a number of other central midfielders have exceeded most people’s expectations this season. Darren Fletcher is playing the best football of his career. Ryan Giggs looks very comfortable as a playmaker. And Rodrigo Possebon is rising fast towards the first XI. These three give Ferguson several options apart from Carrick and Anderson who I regard as the first-choice partnership.
Even so Hargreaves’ aggression and big-game mentality will be missed. The bigger the game, the better he performs. He was one of the the best players on the pitch in last seasons CL-final in Moscow.
Posted in Player Analysis | Tagged: Anderson, Football, Manchester United, Michael Carrick, Owen Hargreaves, Paul Scholes, Premier League, Rodrigo Possebon, Ryan Giggs | 2 Comments »