Boring Manchester United Midfield Needs New Faces to Stop City

For Sir Alex Ferguson the current international break could not have come at a better time. After a blistering start to the season, his Manchester United team have looked very laboured over the last couple of weeks and even though they have only lost once, that hiding received from Manchester City, they have looked uninspired at best and at worse downright boring. The Red Devils are sorely lacking a skillful attacking midfielder in the mould of a David Silva, Samir Nasri, or Juan Mata to name a few, who not only dictates the play but also scores goals on a regular basis.

Lets face it, none of the bunch of Anderson, Carrick, Fletcher, Cleverley, Park, Valencia, or Gibson is going to get you 10 or more goals per season. Giggs is not much of a factor anymore and Nani might get you 10 goals. However he is way too inconsistent and lacks that commanding presence. To top it off he is employed out wide where his pace is best exploited and is not much use in the middle of the park. End result, Rooney and the other forwards have to drop deep to pick up the ball or be isolated up front waiting to get it and by the time either happens the opposing team is back in numbers and any potential chance is lost.

The strength of recent United teams have in great part rested on the fact that they could conjure up goals from all parts of the park on a regular basis. The likes of Steve Bruce and Denis Irwin were regular scorers even though they were defenders. And midfielders such as Paul Scholes, Eric Cantona, Paul Ince and Roy Keane were so deadly in front of goal opposing teams had to give them as much attention as any of the United forwards which in turn left the forwards with more room within which to operate. Those days however are past and opposing teams are now fully aware that if they can keep Rooney quiet the United attack will most times grind to a halt. That other player who used to pick up the slack is now having a great deal of fun in Madrid.

Last season United became the first team to win the Premier League despite drawing most of their away games partly due to the fact that the home teams would pack their midfield and the Red Devils had no players with the guile and skill to unlock these football barricades. Already this season they have drawn two of their away games. Unfortunately for them this kind of artistry will not be good enough to win them the league this season. Manchester City are going to make sure of that.

Led by the sublime skills of David Silva, City’s attack has been fluid and deadly and between them, Aguero, Balotelli and Dzeko have hit a combined total of 24 league goals, only four less than the entire United team. Throw in Silva’s 4 goals and that difference is wiped away and the gap between the teams magnified. City’s attack shows no sign of relenting and if they continue to win games in the manner that they have so far demonstrated the title race could be over much sooner than anticipated.

Watching Wayne Rooney playing just in front of the defence in the second half of the game against Sunderland was simply painful. Rooney clearly has vision, passes the football very well and his goal scoring pedigree is unquestioned. In short, Rooney is the best attacking midfielder in this Manchester United team. He can pick a killer pass and he can find the net with equal efficiency. Maybe in the short term he could occupy that playmaking role behind the strikers with any two of the trio of Berbatov, Welbeck and Hernandez in front of him. Rooney is a great player, but he is not going to pass the ball to himself and those behind him are not going to create a great deal of chances for him.

Which brings us to the question of how does Sir Alex rectify this glaring deficiency within his squad? Simple really. He has to go out and spend good money on top quality. It may not be a bad idea to revisit the Wesley Sneijder option in light of Inter’s poor start to the season. Both Inter and Sneijder might see the move as a win-win situation. Sneijder gets the opportunity to take on a new challenge and Inter gets a bag of cash to help the rebuilding process, which is so obviously upon them. The obvious negative of a January move for Sneijder is that he is cup tied thus ruling him out of Champions League participation.

If a move for Sneijder does not work out, other players to consider are Parma’s Sebastian Giovinco and the German international Lukas Podolski, currently at FC Koln. Both players are better than any of the current United midfield and they have the added advantage of being younger than Sneijder and neither is cup-tied. Bids for both players should thus not be ruled out.

This boring United midfield was lucky last season. They will not be as lucky this season. Sir Alex needs to get things sorted out and quickly, established quality players need to be brought in. No more Bebe’s and, for crying out loud, no more wingers!

17 thoughts on “Boring Manchester United Midfield Needs New Faces to Stop City”

  1. The fact that SAF is actually starting Rooney in the midfield roll with two strikers in front of him, indicates to me the realization that they know a CAM is needed. I just hope it happens in January. I think it’s the only way United will compete with City this season.

  2. It is really high time for SAF to bring in a quality CAM/CM player. Anderson & Carrick are blowing hot and cold, Cleverley has potential, but must overcome his injuries and Fletcher, well, his sickness. Hopefully all the news report that Man United are linked with young potential players such as Gotze, Eriksen and Rodrigues (all whom can fill in the CM/CAM role) and Sneijder actually becomes reality. If not, this season might see our noisy neighbours really making lots of noise.

  3. City have yet to play liverpool, arsenal or chelsea, whilst UTD have played all 3 whilst only losing once. – bit false at the moment for people saying ‘city to win’ – i remember when people said the same about chelsea last year after an easier fixture list start. city havnt played such games as stoke and everton away either who are hard places to visit as they pick up most of their points at home. – lets see where teams are after christmas – this should show a better picture.

    1. Why is everyone saying that City might be like Chelsea last year after a blistering start??!?

      City have 6 more points than Chelsea had at this point last season.

  4. Agree completely when it comes to discussing our CM options of Carrick and Anderson. They do not possess the skill we need at that position to compete at the top level(s). Fletcher has never been a CAM but has provided a great defensive presence in the middle. Nani should not even be part of the discussion (even though he can put up 10+ goals) since he simply belongs on the wing.

    Don’t write off Cleverly too quickly. He needs to stay healthy but when he does he shows alot of the skills that we need from an offensive minded CM.

  5. why not talk about the midfield woes of a team near you instead of taking about the problems of a team thousands of miles away separated by an ocean? sounds more genuine imo.

  6. Great point by Jamie regarding Rooney’s positioning. Sure he is a creative player, and he can play the role admirably.

    I will say, yes it was a horrible result, and United were outplayed for all but the opening 20 minutes against City. The Sunderland game was by no means a great performance..but look at how Arsenal have bounced back after their thrashing at the hands of United.It was only one game.

    I remember Chelsea was off to a flying start a few years ago, only to succumb to United in the end. It’s a long season. And as good as City have been, I think they would struggle a ton if they lost Silva for any length of time.

    United really need to adopt more of a counterattacking style of play..they have bags of pace accross the front, especially if Nani, Young, and Hernandez spearhead the attack. Play Fletcher & Carrick deep, and counter.

  7. i found it outrageous that podolski is mentioned as he is a wide forward / second striker and is not suitable for playmaking

    the writer clearly is a headless chicken only mentioning the obvious option sneijder plus that giovinco without any reason as to why their style will be suitable for united, he only said they are “better” PERIOD

    if u want to write a long article discussing this, please try to list 5-6 options that will enlighten us

  8. Well if u think the other clubs will always relinquish the title year in year out, then u shud start thinking right. Dont be suprised come jan SAF will say the CAM is okay or buy a 15 yr old CAM

    1. Other clubs most certainly did not “relinquish the title year in and year out.” They only did so about two times out of three in the Premier League era.

      Splashing the cash will win you a title or two (or three) a la Blackburn and Chelsea, but one can never, ever, count SAF out. Every journalist under the Sun wrote Sir Alex out during the barren years in the middle of last decade. How did he respond? Four PL titles in five years.

      Other teams may win the battle, but Sir Alex IS the Premier League.

  9. Very well written, one thing I wonder though is what you think about the United back four. Starting Evans against City proved to be disastrous but other than that I think that SAF is beginning to assemble a very appealing group of young backs. I especially enjoy Rafael and Fabio, but Phil Jones is an absolute stud who I find very enjoyable to watch. With Vidic, Ferdinand, and Evra now all over 30 I think SAF probably was more worried about the future of his defense, now he can begin to focus on his attacking midfield imo. It has become clear to everyone in the league that United’s weakness is in the midfield and for the sake of great competition and entertaining football I hope like hell it is fixed soon. Best of luck with the rest of your season and I can’t wait to see our return fixture at the Etihad.

  10. Van der Vaart would be a nice addition to United “if” he can stay healthy. Actually, I think Goltze of Dortmound would be the perfect fit for the Red Devils, he’s terrific and they were at last report interested in him. If not, they can only hope City runs out of money one day and dismantles their team cause United cannot beat this bunch as they are now, Barcalona or Real Madrid could but not United.

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