Between the Lines

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Posts Tagged ‘Gabriel Obertan’

Our most promising game for a long time. Honest.

Posted by hakanrylander on November 9, 2009

There are reasons, of course, to feel depressed after a defeat that left us five point adrift in the league. But I’m actually more positive about our prospects this season after this game than I was at kick-off.

Best of all was the shape of the team. On paper it looked like 4-5-1 designed mainly to contain Chelsea’s strong diamond by crowding the midfield. In reality it was often more like my favourite formation 4-2-3-1 with Carrick and Fletcher sitting deep and Anderson given licence to move forward between Valencia and Giggs and behind Rooney. This allowed us to control the midfield while maintaing flexibility to attack in numbers, and Rooney rarely looked as isolated as I feared he would be.

We’ve practiced this system from time to time in the past. Most successfully for a spell of perhaps a couple of months (I can’t remember during which season) when Louis Saha wasn’t injured. Saha up front with Ronaldo, Rooney and Giggs formed a very impressive unit. I hope we’ll see more of it in the future.

A solid performance also from the back four including third and fourth choice central defenders Jonny Evans and Wes Brown. The fears that they would be ripped apart by Drogba and Anelka were certainly not realised. In my opinion this too stemmed to some extent from excellent work by our midfield in cutting off the supply lines. So a little less need to worry about the fitness and form of Ferdinand and Vidic.

I suppose I might soon get tired of myself praising Antonio Valencia at every opportunity. He was involved in many of our best moves and also found time to keep Ashley Cole very quiet.

I fully understand why Ferguson preferred Giggs for this game, but next time please let us see more than just a few minutes of Gabriel Obertan. Another good cameo from him.

All in all a very promising game. Pity about the three points.



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Match Report: United Reserves 3 Blackburn Reserves 0

Posted by hakanrylander on October 23, 2009

A good result for the reserves who went top of the Premier Reserve League North. But let’s face it, who cares about the result in these games? More important is to spot the individual performances that indicate whether a player is ready to move on to the first team. Or not. In this respect the game contained three positives and one negative.

United were captained by Ritchie de Laet who seems to keep up his remarkable improvement. I was particularly impressed by a couple of forward surges of the kind I would like Rio Ferdinand to make more often. Solid at the back, dangerous going forward and comfortable on the ball. I would be surprised if he doesn’t get a game against Barnsley in the Carling Cup next Tuesday.

Hopefully Gabriel Obertan will also be in that game. He played the full 90 minutes yesterday and suffered no apparent injury problems. He was involved in many of United’s best moves and combined well with King, de Laet and others. Judging from this game he’s equally comfortable on either wing or through the middle.

I’ve read a number of positive reports about Josh King, but was still surprised by how good he already is at 17. Good movement, pace and control and also linked up well with Obertan. He faded in the second half, but maybe Macheda and Welbeck will soon have to look over their shoulders.

Zoran Tosic scored a good goal from distance in added time, but otherwise again failed to impress me.  He saw a lot of the ball but ran into dead-ends most of the time. Still a long way from the first team in my opinion since he couldn’t really trouble an inexperienced Blackburn side (I didn’t recognize any of their players apart from Santa Cruz Jr). Nani drives me nuts, but I still prefer him to Tosic.

For a different angle on this game and a completely different opinion about the performance of Tosic, please check out the excellent United Youth.

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A mixed bag of summer shopping

Posted by hakanrylander on July 22, 2009

According to Sir Alex Ferguson there will be no more signings this summer, so it’s time to evaluate the four new arrivals. (Even though I wouldn’t trust Sir Alex on this issue, it might just be his way of telling Gremio that they will have to lower their asking price for Douglas Costa.) So anyway:

Antonio Valencia is a great signing. He was very impressive for Wigan last season and is just the kind of player we need. He’s got pace, skill and knows how to get past a full-back. Should provide an excellent supply of crosses for Rooney, Berbatov, Owen et al, something that was often lacking last season. I predict that he will force his way into the first eleven already in his first season.

The signing of Michael Owen is supposed to be a bit of a gamble. In fact it’s nothing of the kind. With no transfer fee and a low basic salary it seems a very shrewd piece of business by Ferguson. I admit that I thought he looked past it at Newcastle, but this season he will be in a team that creates lots of chances for him. And Owen is very good at converting goal-scoring opportunities. Judging from the game against Malysia the day before yesterday he also brings a lot of movement to the attack. My main concern is that he’s been injury prone in recent seasons.

The capture of Gabriel Obertan, on the other hand, sets off all kinds of alarm bells. I can’t recall ever hearing the selling club’s chairman (Triaud) and coach (Blanc) express such a combination of surprise and relief. On the record! They were simply amazed that they were able to sell him to Manchester United. Blanc even said that Obertan needed to “overcome mental challenges”, which seems to indicate problems with discipline and application. Looks great on youtube, though. And please remember that Cantona was considered impossible to handle before he arrived at Old Trafford.

Mame Biram Diouf is unknown to me but he’s top scorer in the Norwegian league. Let’s hope he’ll be as successful as our previous signing from Molde. Edit: Could any of our Norwegian readers provide some input?

Even though I have high hopes for the new signings it must be said that the arrivals of Valencia, Owen, Obertan and Diouf don’t fully compensate for the departures of Ronaldo and Tevez. We have a weaker squad this season.

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