The start of the season has seen Manchester United display some brilliant football that the team will now provide the yardstick for when we actually perform well or when we don't.
The draw in Lisbon the other week was the first real taste of a poor performance that we've treated to this season. The draw at Stoke was slightly worse than the one in Lisbon and yesterday seemed to top it all up.
Its not that we were poor all through yesterday but that we put up a show of amateurish standards at the very top level of European football.
It all started with the manager for me; That 4-5-1 policy in Europe is indeed what its worth and no doubt it has helped us over the last few years in Europe but I'd rather that the manager kept it for the knock-out stages. I mean our opponents came to the fortress Old Trafford and started with two forwards; United--the home team on the other hand, would opt to start with one in Welbeck supported by a host of midfielders. I thought that made it easier for their defenders as Welbeck had to drop deep to link up with the midfield. It really bothers me that such opposition can force us to pack the middle. Was there really anything to protect ourselves against by playing one upfront. To think that we have up to seven strikers available at the club, makes you wonder why the manager would hold them back in games that beg for attacking football.
Whilst the formation made it all the more difficult for the forwards, I thought we still acquainted ourselves well going forward. However though, the defence, possibly expecting to be up against just the one striker, had their hands full as Basel kept two upfront. It meant that Jones and Ferdinand had their hands full for just about the entire match. That Basel could have scored three in the first half is testament to how we can't really claim to have dominated that first half.
On the plus side, Danny Welbeck seems he's ready to challenge Chicharito seriously for that first team place alongside Wayne. Ashley Young, Jones, De Gea were among those that hadn't yet tasted European football this season so you hope that as the season goes on, we'll warm up to the competition. The manager said it was a wake up call to them and you do hop they take note.
On paper, its an easy group that we could have won by the end of October but if we keep toying with reality and fate, we might find ourselves in the position we were in in 2005 going into match day 6.
So where do we go from here? Well, right now the Otelul Galati fixture has to be a must win one. Then we'll take it from there. As far as the league goes, you'd hope that sooner rather than later, we do get a consistent back five. Injuries have not hlped us build that this season and a lot of our play does depend on the strength of our back five. The manager has pointed that out so hopefully in the near future, we do get more consistency at the back. It does help the goalkeeper as well.
Our midfield seems unable to do with any sort of combination bar Anderson and Cleverley. Nobody else adds that drive that we'd got spoilt with at the start of the season. I'm thinking Tom hasn't lost his place in the side despite a month out.
We've got Norwich at home in the league on Saturday (for the first time at 3 o'clock). It will be expected that we finally return to winning ways!
Labels: UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE