Between the Lines

"Of all unimportant subjects, football is the most important" – Pope John Paul II

Pre-season tour full of Eastern promise

Posted by hakanrylander on July 28, 2009

I’ve watched three of the games on the Asia tour (Korea, China and the second in Malaysia). I found the opposition reasonably strong in Korea and Malysia, but poor in China, which was also reflected in the scorelines. After just a few pre-season friendlies it’s of course impossible to make any well-founded predictions for the new season.  But this will certainly not stop me from jumping to a number of conclusions.

Michael Owen looks a brilliant signing. Not only because of his four goals in four games, but even more for the movement he brings to the attack and the way he immediatly seemed to click with his team-mates. But for some strange reason he was rarely, if ever, on the pitch at the same time as Rooney.

I suppose most of you were drooling over Berbatov‘s masterclass against Hangzhou, where he had a hand in all six of the goals scored while he was on the pitch. Yeah, yeah, I know the opposition were second-rate, but this was still a glimpse of the true Berbatov combining efficiency with delightful entertainment. When he’s at the top of his game there’s no other player in the world I’d rather watch. Let’s hope he can show this in the PL.

Kiko Macheda wasn’t as impressive in the build-up moves as I remember him from last season, but he took his goals with calm confidence. Very promising.

I’ve read a number of positive reports about the performances of Tosic and Nani, but unfortunately I don’t agree with them. I didn’t find them particularly impressive in Malaysia or Korea, and they “shined” in China only because they were given acres of space. Both of them will struggle against top-class opposition.

And finally, the two players that I predict will have perhaps the most positive impact this season, Welbeck and Valencia, didn’t even travel to Asia. Plenty to look forward to.


7 Responses to “Pre-season tour full of Eastern promise”

  1. RedJack said

    I think that Tosic will mature and fill out a bit in the next few years. Nani should be there now, don’t so a very long future for him at OT.

  2. drefooty said

    I like your analysis. You are balanced and realistic and this is refreshing after so much hysteria about the transfer decisions so far this season.

    Too many people are harping on the exits of Ronaldo and Tevez. Yes, I know they are great talents, but I believe both will struggle more without the systems and service that were supplied to them at United.

    I, however, am looking toward this coming season with great promise. I think the positives that come out of Ronaldo’s exit is that the growth of emerging talents will no longer be stunted by the focus on Ronaldo. Quite frankly, I did not want us to be a “kick the ball to Ronaldo and watch him play” type of team. United has always played from the back to front with flair and I see a lot of talent from keeper all the way to the forward positions to shine this year.

    If there is one worry for me it’s Hargreaves abscence. United do not have a solid holding midfield that can launch attacks. Yes, we do have a number of midfield options, but the abscence of a Hargreas-Like” player could be a problem. I hope he does come on and return to his former self, but sadly, the news so far does not make me hopeful.

  3. hakanrylander said

    RedJack: I hope you’re right about Tosic, but I was expecting a bit more from him at this stage considering that he’s 22 and has played 14 times for Serbia. On the other hand it took players like Evra and Vidic (who were arguably more established stars than Tosic when they arived) some time to find their feet and become key players for us.

    Drefooty: I totally agree with your positive view of the coming season, and despite his obvious contribution I’m quite happy that Ronaldo is gone. I also agree that the abscence of Hargreaves could be crucial. Apart from hit other talents he tends to be at his very best in the big games. Having said that, I think that one of the most positive developments of last season was the emergence of Fletcher as a key player in important games. For many years many fans have questioned Ferguson’s judgement concerning Fletcher, but once again Sir Alex has been proven right. With Fletcher alongside Carrick I’m not too worried.

  4. RedJack said

    Just been to the Valencia game and thought i’d put some of my thoughts down on the players, as it is the first time I’ve seen them.

    Rooney – Flashes of brilliance needs a bit more support from midfield (hopefully Carrick who was poor tonight).
    Owen – Constantly moving, constantly a threat. Linked with Owen well.
    Valencia – Excellent, always looked dangerous and not afraid to go to the line or cut inside. Will create a lot of chances.
    Tosic – Needs first team experience soon. First touch was poor and end product was hit and miss. Think he needs the Carling Cup to give him first team chance.
    Berbatov – oozed class when he came on. The touch he has is sublime, he needs to win some fans over, but these fans are daft if they can’t see what he brings to the side.
    Macheda – Looked constantly frustrated and if he had something to prove. When he did break clear lacked composure that was there last year and from what is said above the asia tour.

    Hope this leads to a bit of debate as this excellentblog is woefully under subscribed

  5. hakanrylander said

    Thanks for the input RedJack! I didn’t watch the game, I’ve only seen the highlights on From those glimpses I agree completely with your observations about Owen, Rooney and Valencia, but I didn’t see enough of Tosic, Berbatov or Macheda to form any opinion.
    What was your impression of Ritchie de Laet? I must admit I never thought he’d make it to the first team, but he seems to have improved beyond all recognition in just seven months.
    Did we play a traditional 4-4-2 formation? I’m sometimes a bit afraid that this might be a step backwards tactically, but on the other hand it could be the system most suited to our present squad. To really make it work, though, I feel we need someone of Valencia’s quality on the other flank. I’m not sure about either Tosic or Nani, and while Park has many qualities he isn’t quite the attacking threat that Valencia is. Could Welbeck be the answer?

  6. RedJack said

    I was impressed with De Laet willing to go forward and not afraid to take on players and get in a decent cross. In defence looked calm and when beaten had the speed to get back and make a few good challenges.

    Wellbeck may be a good answer but he may lack the discipline of getting to the byline and creating as opposed to cutting inside and having a shot.

    Need Nani to improve his consistency and his attitude so this won’t be an issue but i’m not holding my breath.

  7. hakanrylander said

    I’m getting increasingly frustrated with Nani. He obviously has loads of talent, but can’t seem to make proper use of it. And his defensive contribution is often close to non-existent. I haven’t completely given up hope though…

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