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Only The Players Can Save Manchester United’s Season

manchester united stoke 600x600 Only The Players Can Save Manchester United’s Season

Manchester United have been granted a brief reprieve with their 3-2 come-from-behind victory over Stoke City today. But for many supporters, the performance of the team for the majority of the match was extremely poor. If it weren’t for the efforts of Wayne Rooney, Adnan Januzaj, David de Gea and Chicharito, the Red Devils would have been answering some serious questions following the match at Old Trafford.

For die-hard United supporters, they will be hoping this match is a turning point in the season and the post-Alex Ferguson era. Perhaps the game is invoking thoughts of past United squads who played poorly, but still found ways to leave with the three points. But that answer won’t be clear until the club puts a string of wins together.

As stated in earlier articles, Manchester United’s issues are numerous and have been progressing over time. The retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, a lack of activity in the summer transfer window, and David Moyes’ inexperience at a ‘big’ club have all been excuses used by supporters and members of the media.

United has staggered through the early parts of the Premier League season. Stories have been floated by news outlets stating that Manchester United will be investing heavily during the January transfer window. But as most football fans are aware, it is rare and difficult for a club to improve its squad in the winter market.

So for United supporters hoping for a January windfall, here is a message: “Get used to the current players in Manchester United’s squad”. The names won’t be changing and this is the team who will be responsible for any success this season.

The early failures at Old Trafford are not the fault of David Moyes or his tactics. The negative product is direct result of management’s inability to buy top flight talent and the complacency/lack of focus of United players’.

The majority of blame lays on the squad’s shoulders. They openly accepted the challenge after the club’s failure to add quality.

Just after the summer window closed, Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand said: “We’ve got a strong enough squad to win everything.” He went on to say, “We have quality at our disposal. We won the league at a canter last season and we’ve not become a bad team overnight. We believe strongly in what we have got.” His words were echoed by teammates and management.

To their credit, Manchester United players haven’t made excuses during their worst ever start to a Premier League season. Jonny Evans gave an interview to the Daily Mirror this week and said this:

“We are disappointed with our performance – we watched parts of our game back and we know our performance level wasn’t up to scratch,” he explained.

“I think the onus is on the players to step up, and show what we are capable of, as individuals and as a team, especially in possession.

“We have been giving the ball away too sloppily, and we know that as Manchester United, we need to control games in possession. We have to do better.

“As players know we haven’t played well enough, both as individuals and as a team. We have to look at ourselves and raise our performances,” he said.

But these words appear hollow…or a significant portion of the squad just doesn’t feel the same way about things.

These comments were made prior to Manchester United’s game against Stoke City. For the better part of the match versus Stoke, the majority of United player had been continuing to underachieve.

All the motivation and positive quotes are not going to save Manchester United’s season. These players have to regain the fire that was lost. United are being attacked and outworked by their Premier League opponents match after match.

The few positives for the club (the consistent performances of Wayne Rooney, David de Gea, and Adnan Januzaj) have been overshadowed by inconsistent performances, lack of focus, and erratic decision making of players such as Patrice Evra, Phil Jones, Tom Cleverley, and Nani.

Injuries to Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic have also affected the squad. Manchester United’s defense has been extremely disorganized in their absence. If those two players are going to miss an extended period of time, United supporters had better be patient while the new defensive unit learns to play with each other.

Bottom line for Manchester United is “talk is cheap”. At some point these players are going to have to back their words with strong performances. This doesn’t mean a stretch of good play for 15-20 minutes. The club needs to start stringing concentrated efforts for ninety minutes over a span of five or six games.

The answer to Manchester United’s season lies within the players.

About Peter Quinn

Although a college basketball coach for fourteen years on the NCAA Division I and II levels, Peter has been an avid football fan for more than half his life. He considers himself a student of coaching and team management. As well as coaching, Peter has spent time working in Sports Information at various colleges and universities in the United States. His articles have been picked up by International Business Times UK and USA Today. Twitter: @CoachPeteQuinn View all posts by Peter Quinn →

17 Responses to Only The Players Can Save Manchester United’s Season

  1. goatslookshifty says:

    Some players just haven’t improved. Nani, Anderson, Cleverly, Valencia and Young haven’t gotten better in their time at Old Trafford whereas the quality of other teams has improved. Moyes is always going to be the scapegoat for the club, which most managers are, but the club just doesn’t have a top class team. Out of all the Utd squad, Rooney, RVP, Vidic and maybe Carrick would be considered world class players. The rest are barely top class in their respective EPL positions.

    • Peter Quinn says:

      I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been saying for a while that Cleverley, Nani, Young, and Valencia look like the exact same player they were when they first came in. Any team would struggle if their players did that.

      With that said, I think there is a place for all of those players. But they can’t switch off for one second when they’re on the pitch. Teams have caught up to United and are no longer in awe.

      And because they’re champions and have a tremendous history, opponents are always going to look at a game against United as a championship game or a cup final. So United’s players can’t afford to lose focus for one second.

    • Frill Artist says:

      Kagawa isn’t world class???

  2. SABIITI STEVEN says:

    the entire team havm pikced up since tht sociedad game!!! kagawa z in hiz frame now its justgoals tht hav kam short!! persie linked uo play well today,cleverly had sam gud tym in midfield won sam tackles,valencia is firing again,chicarito kept huth guessing,carrik had sam patches bt he’ll b fine ,controlled the first game tonite,save 4 nani who dint deliver much!!!smalling z a central defender not right bak so…valencia shd play there in rafael’s absence!!!januzaj zx on the brink ov hurting sam teams soon badly & i bet it’ll b ARSENAL THTS WEN U’LL PROVE WE R ON THE RISEEEEEE UUUP!!!MOYES MED SAM SMART SUBSITITUTIONS!!! SO CANT OVERLOOK HIS MASTERSTROKE TODAY HE WAS SPOT ON!!!!

  3. Todd Shenk says:

    I absolutely agree that the players are to blame for the most part. Though I would question some of Moyes tactics. I would also say that there are far too many mediocre players, as pointed out above.

    There are two massive question marks with Manchester United. 1) What to do with Shinji Kagawa? He is obviously not happy on the wing and is not a winger at all. Where would he fit in with this squad considering that his preferred position is also Rooney’s preferred position.
    2) What happens if one (or more) of the top players leaves? What happens if Rooney decides he’s had enough? Or if a Spanish team (Barca) swoops in for De Gea? Will they be able to replace any of these players? They are already having a hard enough time trying to bring in any world class players and I can’t imagine them also needing to replace any of their top players leaving. I would only assume that one of these players leaving would lead to a mass exodus of any of their top talent, the few that are left anyway.

  4. Mufc77 says:

    The current players are good enough its just right now in every game you have 6-7 of them underperforming at the same time.

    No team can afford to be carrying that amount of players in every game. You can get away with 1-2 having a off day but when literally half your team is underperforming at the same time your going to look like crap.

    It all comes back to lack of quality in the central midfield area. There is no top player that compliments Carrick. They need someone who can play between the two boxes, someone who can get up and support the forwards but has a good enough engine to get back behind the ball and help defend. Non of the current players can do both of theses jobs.

    As for Kagawa he’s never going to play centrally while Rooney is fit. Rooney offers more to the team with his goals and defensive ability. I’d be all for sending kagawa back to Dortmund in january in exchange for a top midfield player.

    8 points behind at this stage is nothing to stress over. Every team is going to hit a bad patch eventually so we just need to keep grinding out results and picking up 3 points each week. Don’t be fooled by Arsenals early lead you only have to look at the teams they have played to see a lot is going to change between now and when it really matters which is after the Xmas period.

  5. Taylor says:

    Kagawa and Rooney can play together. You can see that Kagawa ends up drifting into the middle and Rooney can move to the left. If they build good understanding, they can confuse their opponents.

    Nani has been wasteful and I don’t understand why he was given a 5-year contract. That really baffles me. Young and Valencia needs to go. The only reason Valencia stays is he can also play as a right back and has better defensive discipline.

    Cleverly might need to go to. Anderson should be sold – can never stay fit to play 90 minutes. They need someone like Darren Fletcher who can be a box-to-box midfielder.

    The defense are in shambles: Smalling is not good enough as a right back. Evra suddenly gets old. Jones and Evans haven’t gelled well yet.

    • Peter Quinn says:

      Yea, I’ve been a huge defender of Nani. I was hoping that a new manager would bring a renewed focus from him. He looked transformed before he was injured during the preseason. And later in his first match back, he actually put in a good performance. But he’s back to the old Nani.

      Cleverley has been a major disappointment. I actually followed him while he was on loan at Leicester City, Watford, and Wigan and was excited by him returning to the club. He looked like a solid player during his first full year with United, but he suffered an injury. But he is another of MANY players who have just not developed since they arrived….OR they developed some, but stopped.

      As for the defense, unless Vidic and Rio come back, United are stuck with this unit. So we’re all going to have to deal with their growing pains.

      And Smalling isn’t a right back. I guess he’s there because United have no one to backup Rafael. If it weren’t Smalling, I guess they’d use Valencia.

      I like Jones, but right now he’s a wrecking ball on the pitch and can make rushed decisions.

      Evans is solid, but he’s back there with a new group and Evra.

      It’s nice that Evra can go forward, but he’s a left back. He seems to lose focus on his defensive duties a lot.

      Good post, Taylor.

  6. rkujay says:

    It is indeed up to the players, since the manager is out of his depth. The Chosen one can only be counted upon for premature defensive moves and ‘what was he thinking substitutions’. Nani of the new contract, Notso (Cleverly), who has never seen a makeable pass forward, The next Ronaldinho (Anderson), and the all time worst signing, Greg Lougainis (Young), need to enjoy gardening leave along with the chosen one as soon as possible.

  7. Glen M says:

    I can’t tell you how happy I am watching ManU fall apart. Hahahahaha!

    Joking aside, good article. For a ManU supporter you’re pretty fair with your articles.

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