Date:Thursday August 7 2008
Manchester United drew 0-0 with Juventus in a high-tempo, low-quality game. Our starting line-up - Van der Sar; Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Fletcher, O'Shea, Scholes, Martin; Giggs, Tevez - chilled my blood and their performance mirrored my fears.
We were quite solid in defence, as always but that could be expected as Europe's best defensive unit lined up. But up front... Giggs showed glimpses of quality but on the whole he was mediocre while Tevez was isolated though did his best. Lee Martin is a quick, honest player but he is nowhere near international quality and Fletcher is not a right midfielder.
We were slow and ponderous in our approach and when someone upped the tempo his teammates quickly lost the ball. It wasn't very encouraging, especially as Juve started pre-season preparations two weeks later than United and were therefore much further from match fitness than us.
The problem is, of course, familiar. We have an injury crisis, again, as was the case at the start of last season when it resulted in a very poor start.
Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney are both struggling with a virus, Owen Hargreaves' knee injury stubbornly refuses to disappear, Anderson is at the Olympics (and he's playing quite well against Belgium right now), Nani is suspended from the first league game, Park is injured, Ronaldo is recovering from ankle surgery... and of course Saha is out again.
Fergie ruled out a panic buy but I think we're wrong to end our interest in Berbatov as Robbie Keane's case proved that Spurs can be persuaded to do business, however mad they were supposed to be at a club. This squad is thinner than it seems and in need of strengthening if we are serious about retaining our trophies. But of course more there are more than three weeks left until the end of the transfer window so there's no reason to panic.
Date:Thursday August 7 2008
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