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

Ronaldo And Tevez Weren't Missed At All

Once again, we are back to square one and the papers are gleefully reporting what a mistake Fergie made when he did not sign Tevez when he still had the chance. Of course any reasonable United fan knows that Tevez scored 5 league goals in 29 games last season so it would have been foolish to pay huge amounts of money for such an underachieving and limited player. He's going through a purple patch right now, just as Bobby Zamora - but neither is good enough to feature in a team expecting to challenge for the biggest honours.

The question of Cristiano Ronaldo is a much more exciting one because he's a player of true quality, whose efficiency and astonishing skill helped to mask Tevez's limitations in 2007/08 and made the Argentine look like a player of United standard. But was he missed this season?

Not really. United scored 77 goals in the league so far this season which is nine more than last season's total and there are four games to go. Just to compare: we scored 83 and 80 league goals in the first two title-winning campaigns of the current run which is set to end this season. So we can still outscore our most prolific campaign under Ronaldo.

But what about the Champions League, you may ask. Well, we cruised through the group and then scored 11 goals in 4 games in the knockout stages. Last season we scored 9 in 7, the season before we scored 7 in 7 after the group stage. Can anyone argue, having watched last Wednesday's game, that our attacking play is to blame for elimination? I don't think so.

There were games when Ronaldo could have made a difference, yes. I specifically think about the defeats to Villa, Burnley and the draw at Blackburn: in these games we were dominant but lacked cutting edge up front, something he would have provided. But overall statistics indicate that we did not miss him at all.

What changed, then, why shall we end up empty-handed apart from the Carling Cup? Well, first, the injuries to the defence played a massive, massive part. The Ferdinand-Vidic duo played together in less than a third of the league games. Edwin van der Sar who is still a frighteningly important part of the team missed months due to injury and his understudies never lived up to his abilities.

Last season and before that, even when the midfield did not work well and the attackers were misfiring, we could rely on the defence. Not this season though when not just Ferdinand and Vidic but Jonny Evans, Wes Brown and John O'Shea were all blighted by injuries. And having to play every single game did not exactly do Patrice Evra a world of good.

Then there is the midfield. Paul Scholes had a better season than last year but the limitations imposed by his age are all too apparent, just as in the case of Ryan Giggs. Anderson showed promise but missed half of the season due to indiscipline then injury. The Owen Hargreaves gamble failed for this season but that should have been expected. The main reason, in my opinion, for the midfield's inferiority compared to the past three seasons, is the significantly worse form of Michael Carrick.

Carrick still has his doubters but they should have been convinced by this first three seasons at United when he proved himself to be a top-class midfielder. He has his faults - who doesn't? - but he was part of the backbone of the decade's most successful English club. This season, however, he was a mere shadow of himself, a few giddy weeks apart (around the Arsenal game in January). He never recovered from the Rome final where he had to play with a fractured toe and it showed...

So there you go. The attack was certainly good enough with Rooney, Valencia and in the latter part of the season, Nani but central midfield and the defence failed to live up to the high standard expected of them. In my opinion, this is the number one reason for our comparatively poorer season, not the departure of Ronaldo. And don't even mention Tevez, please.

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The Journalist

Writer: Zae Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday April 14 2010

Time: 10:10AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Zae, if you were secure about the fact that you dont miss Ronaldo and Tevez, you wouldn't write about it so often. Your insecurity is showing. Ronaldo's contribution especially was felt in midfield as well as up front. United's threat from set pieces has waned afer his departure and there has been a dramatic increase in the reliance on Rooney. Over reliance on one man for your goals is risky considering your second highest scorer is Mr. Own Goal. Its safe to say that last year's United team which won the title was the strongest team I have seen in the PL after the Invincibles of 2004.
Report Abuse
14/04/2010 10:43:00

It's been more the case of a fractured defense, injuries and bad performances than the lack of an attacking impetus this season that has often set us back. Though the lack of goals from our other "strikers" is a little concerning.
Report Abuse
14/04/2010 11:00:00

Whilst Ronaldo would have been more of a hindrance than a help when we were defending for our lives with Carrick Fletcher and De Laet at the back - Deltaforce is right about our lack of threat from set pieces. Ronaldo could score and make assists by taking them, or could score or provide distraction when receiving them. This is another reason why I dont necessarily agree with all this talk of Villa, Silva, Aguero, Ribery etc. We're a small enough team as it is.
Report Abuse
14/04/2010 13:14:00

As for missing Tevez - that's debatable. Would we have gotten as far in the league and CL with his two goals up until december? Probably not. Would his 20 goals since have helped us? Definitely! If we had paid the extra 25M we'd have spent a total of 35M on the argentinian rooney. Playing 4-3-3 would mean he would either be benched or shunted onto the left wing as Rooney has proven his worth through the middle. Tevez himself has said how much a free role at city has helped him and thats something we could never offer as our team is built around Rooney not him. Also he only wanted to sign a 3 year deal with us because he claimed that he intended to go back and play for Boca at 28 (in his prime). This would make a 35M transfer fee and 100k a week look even more ridiculous for a shorter slower version of Rooney who had just scored 5 league goals. Would I rather have Tevez than Berbatov - yes 100%. However that was not the choice we had to make at the end of last season. It was either spend the money on tevez and have 2 unhappy 30m+ strikers on the bench (neither of which were prolific in the role we needed them to play). Or let Tevez go, give berba a chance, then sell him at a significant loss and use what you would have spent on tevez to buy a striker that actually fits into the system we want to play. So lets no pretend that Tevez is crap, or that Berba is better. Tevez is a good player - just not the player we needed in the long run (despite the fact he would have probably been infinately more useful than Berba turned out to be).
Report Abuse
14/04/2010 13:28:00

It's been a very strange season no doubt, but u definately think we missed one of tevez or ronaldo last week or against Chelsea
Report Abuse
14/04/2010 13:32:00

Missing Ronaldo has definatley hinded your chances, youre not as good a team without Ronaldo, simples
Report Abuse
14/04/2010 14:55:00

Personally i miss Ronaldo. He s the cutting edge we are missing. Rooney is fantastic but i would still want Ronny in my team. But he left us. Got to live with it. This time ain't so bad as people say. We lack midfield. Get a creative midfield and hargreaves back we are better than everybody in the league. Carrick is not the player he used to be. He will i suppose never be a midfield maestro like the Ginger prince in his prime. We also need another winger for cover. People say the wind is turning in manchester, well dream on pals. Manchester is RED. Getting millions will never make you a better club. See Real Madrid(Sorry for comparing madrid with city). All their money doesn't bring them success. Those bunch say there are going to be a European force next year.. Going to bring in Torres, Fabregas and gerrard .. Stop kidding yourself. All the players are not Adepaymemore and Tevez.
Report Abuse
14/04/2010 17:03:00

The author is like Fergie - totally deluded and obviously has been on the scotch.
Report Abuse
14/04/2010 17:41:00

I got to the end of the first paragraph and couldn't read on I was laughing that much. Fergie didn't know how to get the best out of Tevez - simples. The same way he doesn't know how to get the best out of Berbatov. Do you seriously believe your headline? or are you just looking for a reaction?
Report Abuse
14/04/2010 19:37:00

Wswilly seems to have an agenda against fergie as 95% of all his comments are criticisms of perhaps the greatest manager the premier league has ever seen. Fergie has done a tremendous job this season when you look at all the injuries and players that have left us, even if you look at our overall squad, which isn't that great this season, he has done a tremendous job.
Report Abuse
15/04/2010 12:54:00

Thats because he is a city fan khoder. He'd love to see fergie go because he is the best.
Report Abuse
15/04/2010 13:22:00

last season we scored 68 goals and the season before 80 goals,this season we scored 77 goals with 4 matches left so do we miss ronaldo and tevez?i don't think so,maybe our big player 'own goal' filled the gap (kiddin)...what we needed this season was "courage and belief" and not "tevez and ronaldo" ...every up faced by a down....good luck next season.
Report Abuse
15/04/2010 19:59:00

Stats are impressive lads, but stats can be used to prove anything. Fact is Ronaldo and Tevez are big game players that you could have done with in a few games this season........Bayern springs to mind.
Report Abuse
15/04/2010 22:23:00


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