Between the Lines

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

Posts Tagged ‘Darron Gibson’

Europe’s Top Midfielders and the Uses of a Lamp-post

Posted by hakanrylander on March 24, 2011

Most fans agree that United need a truly world-class attacking midfielder, who can consistently deliver the brilliant killer pass in the final third of the field. Someone like Sneijder, Ozil or (in our wildest dreams) Xavi or Iniesta.

Maybe we should start looking close to home. In our search for this missing piece in the jigsaw statistics might, as often, provide some surprising answers. When Opta lists the players who, on average, completed the highest number of successful passes in the final third of the pitch during the group stages of the Champions League this season the No 1 spot is held by Iniesta. No 2 is Xavi. No surprises so far. But in third place is – wait for it – Darron Gibson.

Un unsophisticated forecaster uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts – for support rather than illumination.


Posted in Academic, Manchester United, Player Analysis | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Six conclusions from United vs Hull

Posted by hakanrylander on January 24, 2010

1. Premier League Top Scorers

  • Wayne Rooney       19
  • Darren Bent            14
  • Jermain Defoe        14
  • Didier Drogba         14
  • Carlos Tevez           12
  • Fernando Torres     12

2. We don’t want Wayne Rooney to get injured.

3. Apart from Rooney the game was dominated by massive protests against the Glazers. It strikes me as odd that the owners make no visible attempt whatsoever to improve their image. They just don’t seem to care. This is rare in the corporate world where companies are normally very keen to put a positive spin on their actions and strategies. Maybe the family members are not comfortable in the media spotlight, but they could at least hire some public relations experts. This could be payed for by the club so that the family would not have to dig into the consultancy fees they are busy putting in their own pockets. The previous sentence  pretty much sums up the way in which the Glazers are now perceived by lots of fans. That the owners fail to respond to this indicates that customer relations is not a priority.

4. The old Michael Owen would have scored a couple.

5. Darron Gibson only played for 20 minutes but still managed to impress me. Maybe I’m getting carried away, but I feel that Gibson will be a very important player for us.

6. And while I’m at it I might as well get carried away once more. Mame Biram Diouf scored a hat trick for the reserves on Thursday. All three goals were very well taken. I’d love to see him start alongside Rooney against City on Wednesday.

Posted in Financial, Manchester United, Match Reports, Player Analysis | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Frank Lampard Jr 2.0

Posted by hakanrylander on December 8, 2009

After our successful visit to Upton Park I reminisced about Frank Lampard’s early days at West Ham. He was a good player, but to me he didn’t stand out among West Ham’s talented youngsters. Both Joe Cole and Michael Carrick looked better prospects. I thought Lampard would be a decent PL player, but I certainly didn’t expect him to develop into England’s most complete midfielder.

I sometimes found Lampard unspectacular, hitting simple sideways passes, but the closer he gets to the penalty area the more spectacular he becomes. And this is of course the reason I’ve been thinking about him this week. Until recently “unspectacular” and “decent” was how I regarded Darron Gibson. But his performances this season, emphasized by two good strikes against Spurs and a screamer against West Ham, makes me wonder if he might in fact be the next Frank Lampard.

At 22 it might be unfair to call Gibson a late developer, but he wasn’t a teenage sensation and keeps on improving in a very impressive way.  I interpret this as a sign that, like Lampard, he’s more willing and able than the average player to learn from coaching. His finishing is already on par with Lampard’s and Gibson is also a strong powerful player (though with Lampard some “analysts” mistake this for fat). Add a bit of Lampard’s crisp passing and tactical awareness and you might have a mainstay of our midfield for years to come.

At the moment he’s not very far off a starting role in central midfield. The headline implies a new and improved version of Lampard. This might be pushing it a bit, but it will be very interesting to follow Gibson’s progress during the next couple of seasons.

Posted in Manchester United, Player Analysis | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Carling Cup: Step forward Danny and Kiko

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.

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Prelude to a new golden era

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

Those were the days

Posted in Player Analysis, Previews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Preview: United – QPR (Carling Cup)

Posted by hakanrylander on November 11, 2008

Not the most exiting game of the season, but an opportunity to see our most promising teenagers alongside some of the established stars. The best news is that Rodrigo Possebon is back in the first team for the first time since he was injured in the Carling Cup third round tie against Middlesbrough. Hopefully tonight’s performance will be further proof that the present crop of teenagers is the strongest since the early 90’s. Rafael and Evans have already proved that they can be trusted in big games with the first team, and I personally believe that Possebon also falls into this category. Welbeck looks great but has not yet been tested at the highest level. I’ve not seen enough of Darron Gibson to have an opinion either way.

My line-up: Foster; Rafael, Evans, Vidic, O’Shea; Park, Possebon, Gibson, Nani; Tevez, Welbeck.

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