Friday 9 September 2011

Manchester United vs Bolton Match Preview.

Kick-Off:17:30, Saturday 10th September 2011
Referee: Andre Marriner.
Venue: Reebok Stadium.
                     Woo!!!! There goes the chant of Premiership lovers across the globe as the biggest league in the world comes back to session, and by 17:30 on Saturday, The biggest in the league Manchester United will take on not to easy opponents Bolton, United travel to Bolton in the wake of an exuberating display at OT last week after defeating Arsenal 8-2. But the away form of the Red Devils hasn’t really been tested as the oonly away opposition so far has been West Brom, a match in which United struggled to find fluency and rhythm as they came out with just a shot on target, Wazza’s goal so the real deal begins tomorrow, Will Manchester United continue their poor showing away from home or Will the youth of Cleverley, Anderson, Smalling, Chicha and Jones make the difference.
This match will be the first of an upcoming congested fixture list for the Red Devils -- a 22 day period that will see them play seven matches prior to the next international break in October so expect the gaffer Sir Alex Ferguson to make use of the depth available to him, as opposed to Owen Coyle’s side who have a less tiring fixture list.
League leaders with three matches played, United look good value to win the EPL this season and a win at Bolton would do no damage to their credentials.  The players look in mesmerising form as three United players were on the score-sheets during the internationals (Young,Wazza and Chicha). The injury list has got a new comer as Danny Welbeck pulled his hamstring against Arsenal, a match in which he carried his sublime form into only to get injured after opening the floodgates for the rout of Arsenal he is expected to come back training for  Chelsea, expect last seaon’s hero Javier Chicharito Hernandez to come into his place, Also out are Rafael, Vidic, although the latter is expected back before the end of the month. Scotland captain, Darren Fletcher came back with a bang as he scored and set up one during the EURO Qualifiers against Czech Republic. Valencia is also expected to come in contention.
Bolton have earned three points from three. After a wonderful rout  away to  Queens Park Rangers in the season opener which ended 4-0, the fixture list has not been really kind to Bolton as they faced rejevunated sides of Manchester City and Liverpool losing 3-2 and 4-0 respectively, although there are positives to take including the form of Ivan Klasnic, the meeting with Manchester United will be an intense one as Owen Coyle tries to rile his team from misery to mileage. Lee suffered a horrific leg break during the pre-season, thus, he is expected to miss the entire season. United States international Stuart Holden continues to recover from a severe leg injury suffered from a Jonny Evans tackle last time out The midfielder, who was Bolton's player of the year, featured for their reserves during the week but his availability for this tie is uncertain. Sean Davis appears doubtful due to a knee injury(The Busby Babe).
New signings are expected to come into play including former Liverpool striker David N’gog , Tuncay Sanli, and Nigel Reo-Coker.
Projected Line-Ups.

Manchester United:

I  will be expecting Manchester United to file out in their normal 4-4-2 formation giving rest to Patrice Evra as he almost broke his leg on International duty for France, so Fabio comes into play, I would also have opted that Young be rested but his form so far might get him the nod ahead of the likes of Park and Giggs,Mexican hitman, Javier Hernandez is expected to return to the starting XI, expecting Darren Fletcher and Dimitar Berbatov to feature at some point, also expect Rio to be rested or given a few minutes to get him ready for the mid-week match against Benfica.
Bench: Lindergaard, Berbatov, Fletcher, Carrick, Rio, Giggs,Park.


Expecting Owen Coyle to field a 4-4-2 to match Manchester United’s wing play and their will be a welcome back for former Academy player Chris Eagles, also the the speed and experience of Martin Petrov will be a key factor, and the job of snuffing out the threat he poses lies with young Smalling, Mark Davies ability to run at people could get him the nod over Fabrice Muamba and Kevin Davies aerial and physical presence would be a tough watch for Jonesy.
The Official
Andre Marriner is the man to officiate the game and the 40 year old will be looking forward to a game of physical nous and power. He is not the new to the United supporters as he booked Neville, Giggs, Scholes twice in the four matches he was in charge of the Reds last season also sending off Jonny Evans just recently in the 1-0 victory at the Reebok mid March.Last seaon Andre officiated 36 games dishing out 125 yellow cards and five red cards.
Danger Men.
Wayne Rooney & Chicharito:
Talk about a banger to start the season, Wayne Rooney has started this season looking like the once happy 16 year old he was at Everton, he has so far scored five goals in his first three premier league games averaging a goal every 54 minutes and the bookies sure do havee him down to continue his goals galore at high stakes.
The little lovable Mexican, Chicharito is back after a concussion denied him participation in the pre-season tour of US and he is back looking hungrier than ever.

Kevin Davies & Chris Eagles:
Coming back to face his former team, Chris Eagles will look to prove to Sir. Alex Ferguson what he missed out on by letting him go, expect a battle between he and Rafael. Kevin Davies is no stranger in the Prem, and say all you want he is a talisman for Bolton, his aerial prowess would be one to look out for.
Manchester United 2 Bolton 0

Monday 15 August 2011

What Is The Best Formation Ever?

Our Expert Analyst analyses all the various formations used today in World football, whet your footie appetite by reading this rundown.
                                                                                                    By: United Expert

 How your team is going set up against the steel of Chelsea or the bounce back ability of Manchester United or the Possession Catenaccio (Tiki-Taka) of Barcelona. Formations is only a quarter of what wins you game the other three being your philosophy, the ability of your team and your manager but an extra impetus have been put on formations recently especially considering the backlash of the 4-4-2 England used at the World Cup when the media cried for the 4-2-3-1. And this got me thinking what the best formation is?

There will be four formations which will be discussed and analysed to see the strength and weaknesses. The formations will be the: traditional 4-4-2, 4-3-3, 4-5-1 and the diamond 4-4-2. Every single one has their strengths but the best formation will be decided on how much strength to weaknesses they have.

Traditional 4-4-2
We will start with the 4-4-2 which has been used since the earlier years of football but has faded from the spotlight because of changes in football strategies and philosophies. It works best when the wingers and the full backs get far up the pitch and crosses are constantly put into the box where the strikers are most likely going to be unless one of them is a striker who plays between the lines e.g. Rooney. In the heart of the midfield, they often have a player who marshals the backline for attacking midfielders or second strikers and the other is a box to box midfielder who defends when their team is on the back foot and is in the other team's box when his team is making waves of attacks. If all of this goes to plan then it is virtually unstoppable and even the formidable Barcelona have been undone by it by Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool. Note all the teams come from England where the 4-4-2 still lives on strong. The problem with it is that it is susceptible to being nullified if the game is based in the midfield. If faced with the 4-5-1 or 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 then the possession is normally with the other side meaning that the odd chance is created and has to be taken otherwise they might not get the ball back for 5 minutes (cast your mind back to whenever Barcelona play). This is the reason why it has fallen out of love with so any coaches as it modern football it is about possession because the more possession you have the more you are able to do with it.

      Many think that the 4-3-3 and the 4-5-1 are different. Well, they are but only when specific details are followed. This will crop up in the 4-5-1 paragraph. The 4-3-3 when played proper is a great formation when you want to amalgamate possession with attacking football. 3 strikers. Often works best one there is one velocista (speed merchant), prima punta (goal scorer) and fantasista (Playmaking striker). Each do a specific job and each cause a different problem which means that the defenders have to change tactics each time they face up to each one of these strikers. This helps with the unpredictability factor and soon enough the defender is going to use the wrong tactic on the wrong striker which means that he will get past his man and get a goal for his team. The midfielders will probably have an anchor man there to marshal the defence for the same reason as in hte 4-4-2 two. Then it starts to diferentiate from the four four two as they have a deep lying playmaker added to the ranks along with the box to box midfielder. In Italian terms, they are called the regista and are often at the base of the midfielder in Italy but because they often don't have the defensive acumen to carry out the dirty work of a anchor man, in the 4-3-3 they are play alongside the box-to-box midfielder. On the team sheet, anyway.

             Going back to the start of the last paragraph, 4-3-3 and 4-5-1 are now basically the same formation. The only difference now in modern football is the in the 4-3-3, the wide players are wingers instead of wide midfielders. When I talked about the 4-3-3, I never once said anything about wingers because when played at it's best, like Barcelona, it is played with three strikers. Anyway, the great thing about the 4-5-1 is that whenever a manager sets his team up is to stifle the other team because there are 5 midfielders in there to make it as difficult as possible to build attacks through the midfield so they either have to go over the top or get frustrated for 90 minutes. If your defence is lacking in height and heading prowess then the over the top option will identify a weakness in your team which cannot be fixed with a congested midfield. And, it could also mean cutting off supply from your lone striker which means that if he cannot hold up play it would mean that wave after wave of onslaught will be pounded upon your team.

Diamond 4-4-2
          Diamond, of which I talk of, is the formation played with 4 midfielders. Popularised recently by Carlo Ancelotti with AC Milan and Chelsea in the first part of the 09/10 season, it is a formation which is brilliant for possession and intricate, quick short passing football that often cannot be combated. Milan, as an Italian team with an Italian manager, they followed the Italian philosophy to the tee which meant they had the regista (deep lying playmaker), Battaglia (midfield battler) and tuttofare (all-round midfielder). They also kept the instructions of only having three attackers with the prima punta and fantasista along with the segundo which comes in many different forms like the velocista. If you want to see how just look at the AC Milan midfield that won the 2007 Champions League, you'll see what I have just been talking about...
Gattuso: Battaglia
Pirlo: Regista
Ambrosini: Tuttofare
Seedorf: Fantasista
Kaká: Segundo Punta
Inzaghi: Prima Punta
Even in the 2005 final when the 'Miracle of Istanbul' occured, you could you see that they used the same formation and philosophy...
Gattuso: Battaglia
Pirlo: Regista
Seedorf: Tuttofare
Kaká: Fantasista
Shevchenko: Segundo Punta
Crespo: Prima Punta
After Ancelotti left, the formation changed and the football changed and AC Milan haven't been the same since. With Chelsea, the reason why it didn't work was because of the fact that they didn't have the right player for the right roles. For example, they often played Essien as the base when it shoudl really be a regista. Essien should be playing as the Battaglia. Deco played as the Tuttofare when he can't do all the jobs so he would be more suitable for the regista. Ballack played as the Battaglia when he is better for the Tuttofare. Lampard played the point when he is not a creative force but more of a Tuttofare and when there's no point of creativity then all else fails because it is arguably the most important position. This is why he had to switch to the 4-3-3 and the same reason why they won the title. They still had the train of thought that they played in the diamond which meant that their first thought wasn't ot immediately pass it out wide, which is the other problem with the modern 4-3-3 and 4-5-1.

So what is the best formation?

Each formation have their own strengths and weakness more so than others. Like the traditional 4-4-2 being built for it's pace but being vulnerable to being over run in the midfield. Or the 4-3-3 with obviously lacks width but is a signal of intent to attack the other team and win the game. 4-5-1, which has the ability to nullify the other team with 5 midfielders but cuts you off from your lone striker, mainly making it a defensive formation. Then, there's the diamond with the elaborate quic passing to feet which is difficult to cut out. Which one do I think is the best? I would rank it as:
1st. Diamond 4-4-2
2nd. Traditional 4-4-2
3rd. 4-3-3
4th. 4-5-1
It is in these position because the amount of methodical thought that goes into each position from the defence up is incredibly detailed which means when things are orchestrated then the manager knows exactly what is to blame and change without hindering the aesthetics of the roles in these positions. The traditional 4-4-2 I love because it encourages attacking, direct football, which teams are often trying to move away from to get more possession of the ball. Because I hate the thought of five midfielders in the middle of the park just to stop the other team playing is such an annoying prospect for me that it had to be last which left the 4-3-3 in the third position which it would of ended up in, anyway.  

Thursday 28 July 2011

The "New Scholes" Doesnt Exist - United Just Need To Find The Player To Take His Place In Midfield!

                                                                                                                                                          BY: Justin Allen

                                 Let's face it - for the last couple of weeks, we've all woken up in the morning hoping for the newspapers' headlines screaming that Manchester United have agreed to sign Wesley Sneijder from Internazionale. The supposed-transfer saga was always inevitable after the just as inevitable retirement of Paul Scholes, but is it really as justified as so many people think, and can a player like Scholes really be replaced?

Every successful football team needs a heartbeat, and every great football team needs a midfield maestro. Zinedine Zidane's recent statement that Paul Scholes was the most gifted player of his generation is testament to the fact that Scholes made the some of the best teams in United's history tick - the treble winning team of '99, the Champions League winners of 2008. Out of the famous "Class of 1992" which included the likes of David Beckham, the Neville brothers, Nicky Butt and Ryan Giggs, Scholes has arguably been the most influential in making Manchester United the most successful club in the history of the English league and making United the dominant force since the Premier League began, winning more Premier League titles than all it's rivals collectively. The point is that Paul Scholes, the player and the icon, cannot be replaced. Sir Alex recently referred to him as a "once in a generation" player. The manager, as he is inclined to do, has got it right. 

The primary objective for Sir Alex and his staff is not to find the next Paul Scholes - it is to find a player that can replace Scholes in United's midfield most effectively. A player that can do what Scholes did - though it is of course unfair to expect this player to do it to the same standard as Scholes. A player who can dictate a game, determine the flow and rhythm of the game from midfield, distribute the ball with effortless accuracy and return a healthy 10 goals a season contribution. Scholes had the gift to do this in his prime, as Zidane said, better than anyone in the last 10 years. 

The player that can do these things to the highest standard that United can expect to tempt to Old Trafford is indeed Wesley Sneijder. Surplus to requirements at Real Madrid, he joined Inter and was the main reason, along with Jose Mourinho, for Inter's treble triumph in 2010. The Dutchman is a world class superstar who would fit the bill at a club like United. However, Sir Alex has poured cold water on all the speculation but surely it is too early to write off the possibility of Sneijder moving to United just yet. One thing is for certain : if United don't land him this summer, they won't land him next summer either - not for £35 million anyway. Even if the move were to materialise, it would be a risk - parting with £35 million and more than £200,000 a week for a 27 year old who was beset with injuries last season and does not have his prime years ahead of him would certain be a risk, albeit a calculated one, from the manager who has seen all there is to see at the highest level of football. 

Sir Alex has to make a decision. He can spend big money to bring in a replacement, such as Sneijder, Samir Nasri, or even Ganso from Santos, or he can wait. Perhaps the most sensible option is the latter. Remember that last season, Scholes played a peripheral role. He was probably United's best player in the first half of the season but think of how sparingly Sir Alex used him in the second half of the season. Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher and Ryan Giggs were the main contenders for the two births in the centre of midfield. The manager has gradually eased Scholes out of the equation, for a couple of years now, for this very period of time. The fact of the matter is this, as much as it pains me to say - United's first choice XI will be the same irrespective of whether Scholes is there or not. It is the same team, besides of course the absence of Edwin van der Sar, but David de Gea has come in as a direct replacement, and certainly hopes at Old Trafford are high for a young goalkeeper who has immense potential and has already produced simply world-class displays in his short time in La Liga. It will be the same team that proved to be the best in England and one of the top three teams in Europe alongside the two Spanish superpowers.

                                     The New Scholes? Does he exist? Justin Allen explains why there is no new Scholes.

As previously mentioned, Sir Alex gradually eased Scholes out of the spotlight at United, which proposes the question, why didn't Sir Alex buy a natural successor for Scholes when he no longer became an automatic choice in United's midfield. Well, maybe he did.

On 30 May 2007, United confirmed the signing of Anderson from FC Porto. Immediately, people started talking - this was Scholes's long term successor. This may seem a bit ambitious at this moment in time, but the young Brazilian deserves his chance to show that he can claim Scholes's place in midfield for the long term. Injuries have disrupted his development as a footballer but even so, his progress in the last couple of years has been notable, especially in some of his displays this last season, especially goal scoring displays against Blackpool and Schalke in a Champions League semi-final. Sir Alex should consider giving Anderson a consistent place in midfield to continue his development and win over the fans that remain unconvinced, and give Anderson the confidence that could see his emerge as United's diamond in disguise.

Tom Cleverley has been touted as a long term replacement for Scholes, and as much as he has shown remarkable ability and potential both at club level with Wigan and junior international duty, surely it is too early to expect him to feature consistently for United. In a few years time, or even next season, we can expect some of the potential unleashed, but for now, let him continue his development as a squad player.

It hardly needs to be said, but Sir Alex knows the situation better than any of us. If Sneijder were added to the United ranks, the team would only get stronger and I would be as delighted as anyone else. But the sensible option for the manager may be to keep the chequebook in his pocket and see if he already has United's next talisman in the squad already.

Gill’s Comments Regarding Transfers Restores Hope Amongst United Fans.

                                                                                                               BY: Sheldan Keay

                                      So Who would be that last signing Gill has promised? Sneijder? Nasri? Modric?

Earlier this week, Sir Alex Ferguson left many Manchester United fans frustrated, when he announced that their will be no more signings coming to Old Trafford this season. After the arrivals of David De Gea, Phil Jones and Ashley Young, a large void was still left in the centre of midfield following the retirement of Paul Scholes, a void that many believed Sir Alex would fill with a Summer signing. The likes of Wesley Sneijder, Samir Nasri and Luka Modric were all rumoured to be potential targets for United, but after Sir Alex’s comments, it looked as if those targets were no longer going to be linked with United. That was until David Gill’s interview on Tuesday. Speaking on MUTV, the United Chief Executive claimed that the club are looking to bring in one more ‘world class’ player, a statement that should bring hope back to United’s fan base. However, with the contrasting views between Chairman and Manager, it remains to be seen whether or not the United fans can expect another signing this Summer.

After Sir Alex Ferguson’s comments, the first question many United fans were asking was what happened to the proposed move for Wesley Sneijder. Many trusted news outlets and journalists were reporting that Sneijder had agreed terms to join United, and that the only stumbling block was the transfer fee between Manchester United and Inter Milan. Sneijder had reportedly originally demanded wages of £250,000 a week, but it was then reported that he had agreed to reduce his request to £190,000 a week. A £35 million transfer between United and Inter then looked imminent, but it was then reported that United had no interest in Sneijder. It initially appeared that once again a proposed move for a player fell victim to both internet and newspaper rumours, but many trusted sources still claimed that a deal for Sneijder could still be struck in the near future. However, the proposed move once again hit another setback, following the news from Sir Alex that United’s Summer spending was over. Sir Alex was quoted as saying, “We are always looking for good quality players, however we are satisfied with the players that we started the season with. At the moment we are looking at central midfielders from within the club to replace Scholes.” Sir Alex’s comments put the likes of young players such as Tom Cleverley on note, as it then appeared that they would be called upon this season to step up and try to command the position that was once mastered by Scholes. 

Cleverley had a successful season at Wigan, and many have tipped the England Under 21 star to be the one to replace Scholes, stating that he had the potential to achieve the success that Scholes obtained at United. However, at such a young unproven age, it is unclear whether or not Cleverley is good enough at this stage of his career to carry that pressure on his young shoulders, and with this Premier League season looking to be tougher than ever, it would appear to be unwise for Sir Alex to risk using Cleverley in such a staring role. This is why many United fans felt a Summer signing to replace Scholes was needed. While the signings of Ashley Young and Phil Jones were well received among most United fans, they were positions that United did not necessarily need to strengthen. If money was an object for United, it remained unclear why moves for these players were more craved rather than a move for a centre midfielder, a position which at the start of the transfer market, was arguably the position that needed strengthening the most along with the goalkeeper position following Edwin van der Sar’s retirement. Things then became more unclear when following Sir Alex’s comments, it looked as if United had finished their business in the transfer market for this Summer, that was until David Gill’s interview on Tuesday.

While speaking on MUTV, Gill said “Edwin made it known that last season would be his last so we had planned for a new goalkeeper well in advance. With the others, the opportunities came along and we were comfortable with that. We’ve made three signings. We're looking at one more player to bring in.” Gill went on to add “Nothing is happening and nothing imminent is going on at the moment, but we'll see what happens when we get home. There is still be 31 days of the transfer window to see if anything develops. But I'm not working on anything at the moment, in that respect." The news from Gill will bring renewed hope to fans, who only a few days earlier had believed that they would see no more signings this Summer. But with contradicting views from both Manager and Chief Executive, it does leave slight confusion amongst fans as to where exactly United stand. It would not be the first time that after claiming United were no longer in the market, Sir Alex would go out and complete a transfer, however it is confusing as to why Sir Alex would make that statement, only to have David Gill make a completely contradicting view only days later. You have to imagine that Sir Alex can not be best thrilled to have been undermined in such a way, but the relationship between Sir Alex and David Gill has proven in the past to be a successful one, and it is doubtful that any hard feelings between the pair will stem from this situation. Confusion aside, the news from Gill leaves United fans in a much more comfortable position than it had appeared earlier in the week, and it again fuels speculation on a number of potential targets for United, with the most likely option being a certain Mr Sneijder.

With no confirmation from within the club, it is still unclear whether or not it is a central midfielder that United are looking to bring in, although it is unlikely that they would be seeking players in other positions where new talent is not required. With the news from Gill that it is a ‘world class’ player that they are currently seeking, it looks more and more likely than it will be Wesley Sneijder who finds himself playing at Old Trafford next season. However, with sources close to Inter Milan stating that Sneijder has no desire to leave, and with him also being at the centre of a new formation debuted by Milan earlier this week, there are also still clear signs that he may indeed stay at Inter Milan. If that is the case, there is also still the possibility that Arsenal’s Samir Nasri may be the one to join Manchester United, but he also found himself the subject of another of Sir Alex’s statements, when it was claimed that United would not be signing Nasri, but it has been proven this week that Sir Alex may not be entirely truthful when talking to the media. The arrival of Nasri would be a great signing for United, however it is no secret amongst most fans, that the player they sought after the most is indeed Wesley Sneijder. If United are able to get Sneijder, it would bring to an end one of the transfer sagas of the Summer, and would arguably be one of the biggest signings of the Summer, and with Sneijder possibly being the face of the new United midfield, it would be very hard to bet against United not only retaining their Premier League title, but also once again becoming the marquee team in Europe.

Monday 27 June 2011

David De Gea Arrives For Medical, Forces Football Agent Off Twitter


     Seems like Manchester United, are set to make their third signing of the summer with pictures of David De Gea being revealed having a medical at 0T. It was first reported on twitter via the account of @FootballAgentPM and retweeted by various MUFC pages, the news caused uproar among many Manchester United fans, with some fans insulting the individual who has about 12813 followers and in respect to these insults, he deleted his twitter account.
Many top footballing pages on Twitter e.g @ManUnitedYouth, @MUFCBlogg, @James_Heneghan_,@Darren_Can reacted to the deletion of the account by posting various comments regarding the lunatics who had kicked the agent of Twiitter.

This isnt the first time, the uproar of MUFC fans have kicked someone of Twitter as Darron Gibson suffered the same fate, We hope that @FootballAgentPM can come back as his tweets were always 100% accurate.

David de Gea pictured arriving for his Man Utd medical, with his entourage doing a shoddy job of keeping him away from the cameras.