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West Brom (A) 
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Joined: Sat Mar 28, 2009 5:44 pm
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Post West Brom (A)
Season underway with a win. Not fussed about the De Gea 'issues' the press are banging on about, he will show his class and his mistake didn't cost us any points...all part of his steep learning curve.

A bit worried about both of our experienced centre backs picking up injuries (on top of Rafael's dislocated shoulder) but with Phil Jones looking the part already we can live without Rio for a spell. Need to get Vidic back soon though, some big games early on this year.

Smalling was solid again; Fabio played like Rafael did before last season, a tad erratic but you can see he's going to be good; Rooney looks sharp and Young grew in confidence. Nani and Welbeck the only outfield disappointments; the former drifted in and out of the game and disappeared before the end, while Welbeck can maybe blame his slight injury this week for being a bit lacklustre.

Just a quick point to make about our young centre midfield partnership. I've just been on the (sometimes dubious) Guardian Chalkboards ( and apparently Cleverley attempted 64 passes (30% of which were in the final third) with a 90% completion rate and Anderson attempted 59 with a completion rate of 93% (which would have been 96% if you exclude two crosses that were intercepted). Although we didn't dominate the match I was still impressed with both of them, especially in the first half, against the highly underrated Mulumbu and can I put this nicely...'awkward' Scharner.

Had Nani been on his game today I think Cleverley's influence would have been greater. He played things one touch where possible, was very aware of what was going on around him, and is in perpetual motion when we're in possession; no disrespect to Darron Gibson but he offers none of these traits and that's probably why he won't be a Manchester United player for much longer. I'm excited about Cleverley, seems to have a good footballing head on his shoulders. Short sharp one touch passing and movement, not dynamic or explosive movement just intelligent stuff, reminds me a little bit of Iniesta (lets hope he can be half as good!). Hopefully he will improve with first team games and confidence; and his passing will become quicker and more incisive. Bodes well.

p.s. Interesting to hear how often Fergie talks about Mame Diouf as being in 1st team contention this year. Personally I can't see how with 6 other forwards excluding Valencia, Nani and Young. Also interesting how much he talked about Paul Pogba this week. Seems we can't hold the kid back as he's already outgrown the reserves. Fergie was very specific about just needing to work on Pogba's passing range, having played exclusively short passing game for the academy. Can't remember him ever being so detailed about a young player's development. Though as someone who watches reserve and academy games Pogba's potential 1st team emergence comes as no surprise. Let's hope Morisson can sort himself out off the pitch and follow Pogba's lead.

p.p.s Isn't football wonderful!! It's been a long summer!!!!

Mon Aug 15, 2011 1:19 am
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Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2008 3:19 pm
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Post Re: West Brom (A)
The most important thing for me was that we were clearly the better team and dominated the game away from home - showing signs that we've overcome our biggest problem from last season. If Nani had had his shooting boots on we might have hammered them. (I'm mostly annoyed with him because I picked him instead of Young for my fantasy team, though... ;) )

I agree about de Gea, it was an error but the media are currently watching his every move in microscopic detail. Fabio made an even bigger error by losing possession in his own half, then going to ground too early trying to win it back, but no-one is making a big deal of that. De Gea's reflex save showed that he does have the natural instincts - I think the area he has to develop is his concentration since now he's at United - a team who can dominate possession for long periods - he may go an entire half without seeing the ball and then be called into action in a split second. But that's something that can be learned and I'm not worried in the long term.

Am I the only one who's actually quite excited by the prospect of Jones, Smalling and Evans starting together over the next couple of weeks? I'm sure there will be a few hairy moments but we are seeing our future first choice back four coming together and it's looking pretty good.

Anderson - Cleverley should now be our default midfield pairing, they seem to complement each other well. I have a feeling Carrick will get back in the side for the coming games in order to give the younger centre-backs a bit of shielding, but it might be that we switch to 4-3-3 for the big games anyway and drop Welbeck?

Our fluid "front 4" look fantastic and seem to be capable of carving out chances at will, and any one of those starters who takes their foot off the pedal knows that experienced, top class players like Berbatov, Hernandez, Giggs and Valencia will be queueing up to replace them. Definitely looking forward to seeing Chicharito in the same team as Young and Cleverley, who both have the vision to take advantage of his off-the-ball movement.

Mon Aug 15, 2011 10:14 am

Joined: Sat Mar 28, 2009 5:44 pm
Posts: 92
Post Re: West Brom (A)
Seems I beat the Guardian to it: ... d-analysis

"Anderson and Cleverley have United on right track

One of the main themes of discussion over the off-season, in the wake of Manchester United's defeat to Barcelona in the Champions League final, has been how United can close the gap to Pep Guardiola's side. According to some, it is the final challenge of Sir Alex Ferguson's career.

United were certainly taught a footballing lesson at Wembley in May, but it is important to point out that 'closing the gap' is not necessarily the same as replicating Barcelona's style of football. Attempting to ape the style of Barcelona is likely to play into their hands. When Guardiola's side are finally knocked off their perch, it will probably be by a side using a tactic that defeats tiki-taka, rather than an imitation of it. Their most notable loss, to Inter in the 2009-10 Champions League semi-final, was to a side that didn't even attempt to retain the ball by the second leg.

That said, ball retention is something Ferguson feels United need to improve on, and the statistics from the 2-1 win over West Brom indicate that things are on the right track. Anderson completed 55 of his attempted 57 passes throughout the game, while his central midfield colleague Tom Cleverley finished with 58 from 64, giving an impressive combined completion rate of 93%. By way of contrast, in United's previous trip to The Hawthorns on New Year's Day, also a 2-1 United win, Anderson's figure was down at 76%, demonstrating a marked improvement."

Mon Aug 15, 2011 12:14 pm
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Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 9:46 pm
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Post Re: West Brom (A)
Definitely a good result against a very tricky side especially at their place. I'm sure they'll take some points off some of the other top teams, a draw wouldn't have been the end of the world but it's nice to have a two point cushion over Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea after the opening weekend.

Ashley Young looked like he'd been playing for us for years with his performance so that's definitely encouraging. Rooney was sharp as well so with Hernandez still to come back we look great going forwards.

It's already been posted but Cleverley and Anderson looked a decent partnership in the middle of the park. It'll be interesting to see how they get on against some of the stronger midfields and also what we'll do when we face sides with three in the middle. Will we go like for like or will we make them change their formation.

At the back, it's a bit worrying with the injuries to Rafael, Vidic and Ferdinand but with the signing of Jones, the emergence of Smalling and the backup that we've got with Evans then hopefully we won't miss them too much. In previous seasons we'd have been extremely worried with those three out especially as we don't have O'Shea, Brown or Neville to call but it's quite exciting seeing these youngsters emerge and I'm sure they'll do a decent job at the back.

I'm ignoring t he critism of De Gea at the moment. He made some good saves and apart from his mistake for the goal looked like he'll develop into a decent keeper. He's only young, much younger than when Van Der Sar or Schmeichel came to the club so I think we have to treat the next couple of seasons as development for him rather than as a ready made replacement for Van der Sar. He'll make mistakes but hopefully they won't cost us too many points and it'll make him stronger.

With the Tottenham v Everton game being postponed, Tottenham's first game of the season will now be their visit to old Trafford next Monday so hopefully with us having the extra game and match sharpness under our belt that game will hopefully see another three points coming our way.

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Mon Aug 15, 2011 2:18 pm
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Post Re: West Brom (A)
"It'll be interesting to see how they get on against some of the stronger midfields and also what we'll do when we face sides with three in the middle. Will we go like for like or will we make them change their formation."

Totally agree. I think when we have matched teams up with three in the centre we have struggled in the last two seasons. Especially when we have been forced to play Carrick and Gibson who end up standing on each others toes and all the urgency is sapped from the team. Things are better when we have Giggs in alongside 2 more defensive minded players or when Park has been occasionally moved inside late in some games but even then we have looked much more fluid with a centre midfield duo. I remember in both CL semis vs Arsenal the Carrick, Fletch, Anderson combo was superb, but we didn't need them to create much at that time...just give it to Ronaldo.

Hopefully Cleverley offers us a natural choice as the third, more forward thinking, central midfielder. Although with Young settling in, Nani showing good form (last week) as well as the return of both Valencia and Hernandez we might see Rooney playing behind Hernandez in a 4231. That's not to say Cleverley and Rooney can't be two of a midfield 3.

So many viable options...the best kind of selection dilemma.

Good point about Spurs not being as match fit... although they do have the small matter of a Europa Liga qualifier up here in Edinburgh on Thursday against the mighty Heart of Midlothian.

Mon Aug 15, 2011 2:59 pm
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Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2007 7:24 pm
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Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Post Re: West Brom (A)
Totally agree with the general consensus on Cleverley here. He seems capable enough and will hopefully develop into a quality attacking midfielder over time.

I'm also very interested in seeing how Phil Jones does - his performances for the U19 England team were impressive, and even when he came on against West Brom, he seemed to be pretty confident. Let's hope this carries on.

Young was exceptionally good too, and looks like he's already fit in!

"There's no way that Ryan Giggs is another George Best: he's another Ryan Giggs."
- Denis Law

Thu Aug 18, 2011 9:57 pm
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