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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Thirty four points out of a possible thirty nine is sensational going

It is an understatement to say that Man Utd have flown out of the starting blocks of this Premiership season. Three years without a title is a long time for a club with the recent history and standing of the Old Trafford club and they have shown in their start of eleven wins and one draw from their opening thirteen games that they are fully focused on preventing making it four seasons without success.

I have been really impressed with three sets of Man Utd players this season. First there are the old-hands of Giggs, Scholes and Neville who have set a fantastic example to their younger teammates in their work-rate, ambition and skill in the opening to this season. These three have the know-how of what it takes to win the Premiership and their presence in the team gives Man Utd a hardened competitive edge which - injury permitting - will serve the team invaluably well for the duration of the season.

Second there is the breakthrough of the January signings of Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic. Evra looked shaky last season but he has been fantastic so far this season replicating the form that saw him help Monaco to the Champs League final in 2005. He has very good attacking ability for a full-back which has added an extra dimension to Man Utd's attacking game and is probably the reason why the highly rated Argentine, Gabriel Henize, cannot presently force his way back into the first team. Vidic also took some time to adapt to the Premiership but now he loooks to have firmly cemented a first-choice spot alongside Rio Ferdinand with a string of strong performances, plus his heading prowess from set-pieces has been demostrated with two Premiership goals this campaign. I had a couple of question marks about Ferguson's decision to sign these two players at the start of the year for a combined total of £12 million - but they are now looking to be very astute purchases.

Third is the electric attacking trio of Louis Saha, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo. They showed from the game one demolition of Fulham that they had a natural synergy to link-up with each other to sensational effect and their sheer pace, ability and finishing potential have created so many chances for Man Utd this season. Ever since the all-round excellent forward Louis Saha replaced Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Man Utd have looked a more dynamic and cohesive attacking unit so credit must go to the French international for impact on the side. Ronaldo too has been outstanding at the start of this campaign and for me has clearly moved up a level in consistency of performance.

Man Utd have started off the season in title-winning form: now its a case of seeing whether they can sustain it. There is a long way to go yet this season but personally (as I wrote after the Fulham game) I think Alex Ferguson has moulded a team with the right combination of high quality experience, youth, talent and desire to push extremely close for the title this season.


Anonymous Sparx said...

Do you have an opinion on the lack of depth in the current United squad? I do.

There's a lack of depth in the United squad. :-)

There isn't adequate cover for the striker / center-forward positions and we need at least two mid-fielders to have some semblance of being a team that can fight in Europe / the Premiership as well as the domestic Cup.

With Ruud's departure, the goals are being scored by even the most unlikeliest of players - Rio, Vidic & O'Shea.

However, the present form and results cannot be denied and although of-repeated I must say this yet again - The DEC-JAN period will be the busiest and toughest period of the season. It will also be the time frame during which we can either pull away with an advantage or falter. Personally, I'm hoping that we keep up this momentum and not be complacent against lower rated teams.

11/20/2006 5:01 am

Blogger BlindJak said...

Their form has been blistering and sets the upcoming game up very nicely. Being so early in the season it’s not make or break for Chelsea but they would make life very difficult for themselves should Utd continue their winning form. While I’d love a wind I’d settle for a draw and no further widening of the current 3 point gap.

Sparx, you know your team better than I would, but I have discussed this with fellow blues and agree with your analysis of midfield but not up front. I think, that given a little more fitness, Smith and Solskjaer are adequate cover up front (you can’t really have a suitable replacement for Rooney on the bench) although you’d need to change your pattern of play. However the likes of Park and Richardson don’t worry me in the same way Giggs and Rolando do (watch one of them bag a winner at the weekend now!!) and in the same vein neither do Fletcher or O’Shea in the centre.

But so long as the main four can avoid lengthy injury this theory need not be tested.

11/20/2006 11:14 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

I agree with Blindjak. When you have Rooney being strong and Saha keeping light and focused I cant see where they will make way for the likes of Smith and Solsjkaer, and if anything Ronaldo can support or go upfront.

In midfield you have Giggs and Scholes, O'Shea, Carrick, Richardson, Smith again and here I also agree two midfielders who be handy to add. In defence there is Neville, Ferdinand, Vidic, Brown, Evra, Silvestre and Heinze can both come in central defence or the left and the important thing is newbie Vidic is settling in very well. Overall, the team has enough depth at the moment to spearhead the type of title campaign they are forging right now and were it not for Chelsea on their heels they could have been making further progress.

Yet as you mentioned, Sparx, the period to look out for is Xmas and after where one monitors any fatigue with consideration of not only the title challenge but of the other Cup competitions too.


11/20/2006 11:54 am

Anonymous Nturtle said...

What can I say...they are doing great and I think it is surprising when you say "lack of depth" in that some youngsters are doing ok there. It is not always the teams like Arsenal that field untested players...but don't forget...ManU is a top club with good training as there is no reason why they can't have a few players with potential that show it on the pitch when needed....or by being on the bench.

Vidic I felt was going to be ok...but he has proved to be a bit like a John Terry...not bad...scoring a few as Ferdinand! HA! Not missing Van Nisterooy at all! I liken ManU to Chelsea is not all just youngsters...but proven players of "transition" in sight...

Good luck for the Xmas period...we need a few points dropped by the top teams to make it worth watching next year!

11/20/2006 1:58 pm

Anonymous Abdul said...

Nice to get a view of United from a Gunners fan.

T, you're right, Vidic and Evra have added a new dimension to United's defence. Vidic has been a rock at the back and Evra has given us an attacking thrust down the left in a similar way that Ashley Cole does -although he's not at AC's level yet. Heinze is a different kind of player, in that he is a more powerful defender than Evra and when you add Silvestre and Brown in the mix, I think United

I do have concerns about strength in depth. The Carling Cup this season showed that Utd just dont have the strength in depth. It will take Smith a long time to get back to the level he was, and Ole is class but still to injury prone. But its in midfield where the cover (O'Shea, Fletcher, Richardson) is just not good enough.

But If utd can keep clear of injuries, they have a great chance to win the title this year with Chelase having more than one eye on the Champoins League.

11/27/2006 9:57 am

Blogger T said...

Always good to get your comments Abdul- especially as you have specialist Man Utd insight.

I do think that Ferguson will invest in January to sustain a push for the title because he must have been concerned that he could not find any forwards on the bench for the Chelsea game.

11/28/2006 4:42 pm


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