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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

It Wasn't Anti-Football But Wenger Has A Point

OK, Arsene Wenger, amid all the crying and bitching and moaning, had a point. Two, actually. We won 2-1 and he could not bring himself to admit that it was fair and square, undeserved though it was.

'I have seen today a player who plays on the pitch only to make fouls,' he said.

'For me, this is a point that is more urgent than diving. The players who are never punished. Who get out of the game without a yellow card. I think it is more anti-football than a player who did what Eduardo did.'

Well, yes, in a way I agree with that in all honesty. The fuss about diving is rather exhausting and it's much more important to talk about the players who are charged with harassing and doing niggly fouls all the time and doing little else.

It was suggested that Wenger had meant Darren Fletcher but if he had then that's nonsense. Fletch is by no means a Mascherano, he's got much more attacking duties - actually, Carrick was so intent on either A) hoofing it forward aimlessly or B) making square passes that penetrating forward passes were made exclusively by Mr. Fletcher. Of course it did no good to our performance but that's an aside.

So, Fletch is no simple destroyer, he's a more complete midfielder, especially as Fergie's not a fan of specialists, he loves all-rounders. I'm sure he wasn't simply charged with ruining Arsenal's football.

But Wenger has another point as well even though he did not really articulate that one. So it's my point, actually. Oh well. The gist is that we should stop prioritising negation. Fergie always wants to adapt to the other teams' style these days, we very rarely try and impose ourselves.

We did that against Arsenal at Old Trafford in the Champions League - and with spectacular success I must say. We won only 1-0, true, but only because of a combination of bad luck, profligate finishing and excellent goalkeeping. The performance was first class even though Ronaldo wasn't at his best.

But Fergie reserves this approach to cup games. We started that semi-final at home so we had to get a good result, cue pressure from the start. Or there was the FA Cup game in 2008 where a replay was the last thing we needed so we were going all-out attack and promptly smashed them 4-0. But in the league - or away from home in the Champions League - we are always so careful, always insist on negating the other team, on stifling them first and expressing ourselves second.

We should try to assert ourselves. We should give Rooney the chance to run the show in these games as well - sticking him up front without adequare support is cruelty and what's worse, doesn't make sense. It did not work on Saturday and was never going to work without a 28-year-old Paul Scholes. The closest we have to him is Wayne Rooney - so use our centre-forward up front and go for the throat. Even against fellow members of the big four.

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The Journalist

Writer: Zae Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday August 31 2009

Time: 10:10PM

Your Comments

I think Arsene was having a go at referees and football's governing bodies with this statement, rather than at United, like it's being reported in the press.
I agree from a rivals point of view. Utd have the talent to play beautiful attacking football and Rooney could be a 25-25 a season man. Take a leaf out of Arsenal's book and play football every time you play. Having Hargreaves out doesn't help. What's the solution to DM for Utd? Excuse my ignorance, but is Anderson a holder or an attacker?
Our DM solution is Fletcher - not because of any ability to read the game or make well timed tackles - he is simply to only player with the pace and discipline to not get caught out of position in that role. Fergie is caught between a rock and a hard place. Without hargreaves, the only way to get balance in the middle is to play Fletcher, Anderson and Carrick whose abilities compliment each other. This however leaves Rooney as a lone striker which diminishes his influence on a game. To get the balance in midfield for a 4-4-2, we either need Anderson to get consistently good overnight or we need to buy 2 new ones,
It's hilarious how some fools are writing us off after a performance against l'arse just 4 games into the season! We always start slow and I couldn't give a ***** on how our performance was, only the results matter in the first 10 games. If we play like that come late October early November then I'll be concerned. Anderson was an Attacking Midfielder before he joined us, now I don't even know what his best position in midfield is anymore. Fletcher and one other, would say Carrick but he needs to get over whatever it is thats holding him back. Hopefully Hargreaves will be back for the dippers game.
Totally agree to the last paragraph, Zae. Rooney at the moment, is the only player (certainly attacking) playing even remotely near his best. 5 goals in 5 games shows that we need to play to his strengths if we're going to win games. It required Rooney to run round everywhere in a determined manner in that formation to win the game in the second half (and if he had to do that every match, injuries and tiredness...) Yes, NotoriousRedDevil. We got the 3 points; Arsenal didn't. At the end of the season, no one (except perhaps Wenger) will remember how deserved or undeserved they were!) Our whole team needs to start performing and we need to get something going.... we've been very slow so far, which I'm not too worried about yet, as we've had a better start than the last two seasons (and, despite a brilliant start to the 2006/07 season, we have as many points now - albeit with less goals but we can worry about them later)
Man utd champions
Totally agree to the last paragraph, Zae. Rooney at the moment, is the only player (certainly attacking) playing even remotely near his best. 5 goals in 5 games shows that we need to play to his strengths if we're going to win games.
Patrick United

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