Manchester United - It Smells Like 2004 - United Aren't Good Enough
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It Smells Like 2004 - United Aren't Good Enough

OK, so after a workmanlike win over Birmingham, United slumped to a pathetic 1-0 defeat at newly promoted Burnley in only the second game of the season. Doesn't bode well, does it?

I've said all along that we won't win the league with this squad unless... well, there are thousands of criteria, I won't list them all. However, it looks fairly clear now that most of them won't be met.

For a start, we should have bought a central midfielder. Neither Giggs nor Scholes can be regarded as good enough for that position, Anderson seems to go backwards - he was pathetic tonight even though his role was less than clear to me and Hargreaves is unlikely to be a proper player ever again - which leaves us with Fletcher and Carrick.

And if one of them is absent and the other is having an off day - as we saw it tonight - then we're in big trouble. As we were tonight. It's nothing new: most United fans have been saying since the end of last season. While I can understand the faith in Anderson - he's still only 21 - only my immense respect and admiration and affection towards Giggs and Scholes prevent me saying that they hold the team back.

I'm trying to avoid knee-jerk reactions in the case of Michael Owen but it's difficult as I was against the idea of signing him from the start. He looks slow, unambitious, he seemingly lacks courage and confidence. He was invisible and when a ball found him he missed the chances.

Park is an honest tryer and a good tactical option - but it was utter madness to start him when skill and inspiration, rather than hard work was necessary. He offered very little and therefore the only real width came from Patrice Evra who was our best player by some distance.

My other problem is that we only woke up in the second half - more precisely, after 70 minutes. The arrival of Berbatov and Valencia helped a lot but we lacked the quality, the creativity, the imagination to weave our way through the solid wall that Burnley created.

And in that sense this game smelled like the 2003/04 or the 2004/05 season. Those campaigns saw the least creative Ferguson sides and I'm afraid we could be in for a repeat this season. This performance was every bit as pathetic as the Wolves defeat in 2004 January, against a team we should have beaten easily. It's not a knee-jerk reaction: it simply looks like that we won't get away with the lack of significant strengthening. As we've suspected ever since Ronaldo departed.

And before I finish this, one more thing. Burnley deserves credit and they deserve the three point. They scored a wonderful goal, defended brilliantly and their keeper Brian Jensen made a magnificent save from the penalty. Well done to them; shame on us.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: Zae Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday August 19 2009

Time: 11:04PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Are you all sure this isn't a bad knee-jerk reaction to just 2 games?
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19/08/2009 23:17:00

Even as an Arsenal supporter, the comment above makes me laugh. He must have forgot the past three years....
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19/08/2009 23:29:00

You guys historically start slow,so may be you should wait for about 10 games to be over before you start your pessimism. You are right about your midfield being old and light weight
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19/08/2009 23:57:00

Yeah,sack Ferguson,gut the squad,hahaha.
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20/08/2009 00:54:00

I don't mind that Giggs and Scholes are in the squad, but its annoying that everyone bar Fergie can see they should not be relied upon. We don't yet have the right balance in midfield. Park, Scholes and Giggs should not get near the team without injuries. Its annoying to keep talking about hargreaves, but his abilities perfectly complement all of our other midfielders. He has the quality on the ball that fletcher lacks, he has the pace and the determination that carrick lacks and he has the positional sense and consistency that Anderson lacks. The only way I can see us making up for his absence is to play all three together somehow. I think at the moment our best bet is to play 4-2-3-1 with carrick, fletcher, anderson, rooney, valencia and berba with Nani and owen off the bench to change things up.
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20/08/2009 00:56:00

I say not to get all worked up yet. Its 2 games. Although based on United's performance, they really lacked the penitration in to the penalty area that Ronaldo brought to the team. I agree with the fact that United should have made a midfield signing. Maybe it was a game for Gibson to play in? Like you said before though Zae, this is more then likely a "reformat" year.
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20/08/2009 03:47:00

Although coming from a Chelsea fan. you can never write off United. They always start off slow and speed up especially in mid season till the end. But i would just like to say that I remember at least 4-5 games like the ones last night. you guys go 1 down in a game. And you know who it was that gave that extra magic, threat, and a little luck that put you guys up or brought that extra spark to come back. Yup you said it Ronaldo and Tevez.
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20/08/2009 05:51:00

but really. you got to admit that was a cracker of a goal scored. and no keeper could have saved that
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20/08/2009 05:54:00

ronaldo, tevez, for valencia and owen {who} thats the prob...
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20/08/2009 07:00:00

The team that was on show just did not have any pace,thats why its so important to play valencia and nani and atleast put tosic on the bench.Playing park and giggs on the flanks was risky and it was proved in the end.
Antriksh (abmtd)
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20/08/2009 07:16:00

As everyone knows our midfield is going to be our downfall this season,its lacking bona fide penetration,we got solid players and experienced players and players with potential but we seem to be lacking proper quality,shoulda grabbed wesley sneijder in my opinion,he'd of come and wouldnt of broken the bank.Also should of grabbed Defoe,have thought this for a couple of years.The problem is most of the established big name players dont want to come to utd(historically so I'll add)Who can rescue our midfield,if only Anderson could fulfill that potential!?This could be a bad season for us,hope I'm wrong!!
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20/08/2009 09:06:00

Have to say I am enjoying this a bit. All of my ManU supporter-friends were "glad to get rid of Ronaldo", as he wasn't "a team player". And Tevez was ungrateful and not good enough. Still think you will finish in top 3, and my beloved Spurs at 6th....and when the summer comes, you will steal Lennon and Modric for a total of 60mill, and be a top club again!
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20/08/2009 11:08:00

I keep hearing that "United start slowly" mantra again and again. OK, it happened last season, and then the ladyboy came back from injury in October and picked you team up by the scruff. Who's going to do it this year then? Better get the glazers to remortgage the swamp, cause you will win nothing with the squad you have. I'm personally looking forward to the end of the transfer window, when you at last realise that the cupboard is indeed bare and that you've all been lied to. Long season ahead for united!
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20/08/2009 11:14:00

wow I never thought any of our supporters would be happy with ronaldo gone...Norwayid I think your friends just tried to make themselves feel better about it by trying to highlight his flaws....and i never got that critisiscm of ronaldo he was a team player...look at his assists...initially when he came to united absolutely not....but later he improved we were happy for ronaldo...b/c we all wish we could play for our dream team...but we miss him, and wish he had retired here
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20/08/2009 14:13:00

I'm not too worried yet - we've scored as many goals and got more points than we had 2 seasons ago and we won the league then. We're equal on points with Liverpool; let's give the team time to sort themselves out after summer and see how it goes before we panic. My only worry is that we appear too reliant on Rooney - he didn't have a good match against Burnley and it showed. We need someone else to come to the fore and show us they are up for replacing Ronaldo. Having said that, if Carrick had equalised with the penalty, I really think we'd have gone on and won. Don't think it's a case of we are much weaker without Ronaldo; more perhaps that we think we are, and therefore do not play with as much confidence. It'll take time, but come the end of the season, we'll be there or there abouts.
Man utd champions
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20/08/2009 15:45:00

Great article mate completely agree with what your saying,people will say that its only 2 matches and we usually start slow but anyone can see that with Scholes and Giggs now past their best and lets be honest Carrick and Fletcher(although honest players) not being up to the standard of what is needed to win the prem and the champions league especially considering our high profile departures, we badly lack creativity in midfield something that a player like David Silva would solve, we've been unlucky with defensive injuries but whats more worrying is if Rooney gets a bad injury who becomes the teams talisman. We do have a lot of good honest pros but we are not a midtable team we aim to win trophies its what we expect just look at our rivals Gerrard, Torres,Essien,Drogba,Fabregas,Mascherano,Arshavin, would all get into our team no problem how many of ours excluding our defenders would get into theirs Rooney and... We supposedly had 100 million to spend wheres it gone? There are players out there like Aguero,Silva,Villa even take a punt on the likes of Robben, Sneijder. People will say its early days, thats harsh, we'll come good, but come on to lose Ronaldo which we had plenty of time to plan for and Tevez, again plenty of time to plan for, then to sign Owen is just going backwards and its a long time since anybody could say that about us. I can only hope that I'm completely wrong and if that proves to be the case I'll admit my stupidity and be delighted to do so.
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20/08/2009 19:10:00

Norwayid, i dont think paying 60mill for them is stealing mate...Anyway, we wouldnt have them... They're good for Spurs, not for us. Still, our midfield is dying for a proper playmaker and defensive midfielder. I thinkif we patch up those holes, our offense will come to life as well. 2 nights ago against burnley, rooney had to track back all the time to get the ball and make play. Carrick was nowhere to be found as with the friendlies, and anderson was just horrific... I know we 've got players coming in still especially in January, Diouf is coming, and he seems like a good forward (better than owen at least) and Liajic from partizan as a playmaker, but they are too young to produce anything special yet. I think we'll battle it out with Pool for 2nd/3rd place the way things are now. Why though do our players seem so uninterrested? I watched the Chelsea Sunderland game on tuesday, and chelsea came back after halftime with so much power and will, and got the score they deserved. We on the other hand, were half-dead on the pitch... I dont get it.Especially our midfield, they were always too close to the defensive line, thus leaving space for burnley to get closer and also no one could challenge for the ball in midfield after a successful block or header away... In attack, again, all those corners came to nothing, and no one was ever outside the box to pick up a loose ball or even mark burnley's players to delay the counterattack...Our midfield is so mediocre
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21/08/2009 07:02:00

Cut the crap, fellas. Its just 3 games over and you lot traditonally start slow. Arent good enough? That's plain stupid!
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23/08/2009 09:36:00


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