United is a team that has spent the last three years paper taping all its problems instead of solving them. When the great manager retired the problems were masked under the ineptness and inexperience of the then manager David Moyes, which was followed by getting a manager with a text book for curriculum vitae. He had won trophies in nearly every country in Europe from Spain, to Germany and even his native Netherlands using un orthodox methods.
Problems then were masked with injuries, signings as well a need for time which he has been given and right now to mask his under achievement the kids are fast becoming the new excuse in town after injuries became un sustainable excuse.
Its true united is one of the few clubs that can look at its record of passing through young players into the first team and blush about it. However the difference with this passing on of young players was done differently and what happened back in the day was the young players were blooded in a structured way. Players were identified for the positions they were going to play in the new team the manger was playing and they were played in those positions until they mastered them.
This was the template used when the likes of Wayne Rooney and Ronaldo were coming through the ranks the manger stuck with them ahead of the senior players and to drive the point home he even shipped off some senior players to create room for the young players to come good Ruud Van is a famous example. This was not the first time in 1996 he had done the same thing that culminated in the famous phrase you can’t win anything with kids right now can you say the same about Van Gaal I doubt his team is going to change in the summer.
Right now even if many young players are getting chances you can’t really say the players who have had a crack at the first team spot are assured of those positions. That they are being groomed to eventually take them instead they are stop gaps that have actually worked to the mangers surprise. This is because even in situations where the younger players have shone the manger has always resorted to his older players if fit instead of panel beating the young players into these positions.
Then also is the manager own pursuit of perfection which discounts the whole idea of grooming and blooding these young players into the first team. His shown that his willing to cut and chop to meet an end however this is not in response to a need but rather to a whim. This would explain his substitutions, the whole some dumping formations as well as his famous like for like substitutions and not in reaction to the opposition’s weaknesses. The kids have now joined a long list of excuses since Fergie retired unfortunately that every Manchester united fan likes to see about the club were are sticking to the clubs philosophy of blooding in new players into the first team but actually there is no first team to point at.
Memphis and the struggling number 10s at united
Last night Memphis made a cameo in a united shirt as usual another 10 or so minutes to justify his 30+ million investment of a transfer fee and as predicted he collapsed under the pressure but unlike the other cameos this time he proved he may be struggling but his no wimp. Even at his lowest the boy still carries some fire in him reminding Kyle Walker you may be having a good season but that doesn’t mean you will walk because you want. Away from the fight the boy looks lost and ignored by even the manager who signed him on a rush to beat Liverpool from tying down his signature.
Overall I can only compare this season to my days as a young boy screaming and assuring my dad I want to be a doctor on those old VHS film recorders but as my dad can testify there was a moment during school he once admitted just get done with school I don’t care what grades you get just don’t be a drop out and through I swarm through the system. This scenario best explains united season great signings coming off a great run last season and yet we are a shadow of that team and have been reduced to just getting done with the season so in the meantime we are pre occupied with experiments.
Can young play as a striker of course then play him thee how about Lingard number 10 I think so play him there how about Rashoford don’t be a wimp didn’t you see what he did against arsenal and Manchester city and the experiments go on and on. Unfortunately amidst all these experiments one player has been ignored largely and that Memphis Depay.
His been tried at only in two positions as a number 10 initially and a left winger away from that his been on the bench or puking on himself during the course of the game. Compared to the players like Lingard who have had several experiments left wing, right and now number 10 and like Januzaj he lacks the killer pass of a number 10 however for some strange reason he is the next guinea pig for the next experiment.
All this had left Memphis frustrated and yesterday attempted fight and tag at Kyle Walkers shirt was his way of fighting back, trying to be seen to tell the manger I have been a problem child but hey through a glance at me too. I have big faith in Memphis that he will come good but someone at Manchester United has to start heeding Phillip Cocus advise the best way to get the best out of Memphis is to let him be not box him in in apposition or role. This is how Memphis shone at Ajax as a centre forward cum free role and the world cup but at Manchester United looked like the manger prefers to box in not beyond the left wing position.
Initially it seemed to work but that experiment died with Luke Shaw’s injury because of his way of play bombing a pace at opposition players his marauding runs created the room Memphis thrives but instead of helping create this space Van Gaal has opted to box him in and history has shown this won’t work any bit while boxed in.
The number 10 wont work at united
Fergie once claimed one of the reason he didn’t sign number 10s like David Silva was he would need to kill a position since they can’t defend which is true yet he liked to have everyone to defend and attack at the same time. This lack of interest in number 10s has left a heavy cloud on Manchester United long after he retired and in Van Gaals heavily detailed, heavily crowded midfield the position of number 10 has been increasingly becoming important yet the antidote is yet to be found.
Unfortunately because we didn’t need them hence we didn’t make them in our academy and it has come back to haunt us. From Juan Mata, to Januzay, Wayne Rooney, Herrera, Memphis and now Lingard all the managers post Ferguson are fixated but grappling with this position with no fruits to show for it.
Back in the day the number 10s needed a lot of space so mangers always created space for them which backed Fergies lack of interest in them but now the number 10 has to create space for himself. Hence the number 10 has to have the ability to not only split a defence with one pass but create spaces playing dangerous one- twos with his team mates.
Scanning through the current united team no one has the skill set to play such a position given its demands and on the market there are none out there so Manchester united have masked their need under the need for speedy wings which is not the problem. For these speedy wingers Manchester united claim to need will want supply from a number 10 who can pull off a no look pass that throws chaos into defence lines. The existing number 10s at Manchester united have all specialised in going for the easy pass to the wings but none to split defences. Case in point was the game against Tottenham hotspur who bullied Lingard into making easy sideways passes to the wing instead of playing one twos to the heart of Tottenham’s defence.
Back in the day Manchester united by passed the problem by playing the long searching pass to a winger hidden far off at the extreme end of the pitch and this relied a lot on the skills of Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick but one is retired and the other fast becoming a liability at the heart of Manchester united midfield. Schneiderlin is the only midfielder who can pull of the long searching pass but united play a heavy possession based game plan where players are an average of ten yards away from each other which makes the long pass not the tool to use most of the time.
All this has left united at cross roads do we play more modern possession style that the manger and the times favour, or return the Fergie style where players are given freedom to widen the pitch as much as possible that a question for manger to answer. Until then united will continue to pretend to be playing number 10s but if you can’t pull of a David Silva or Thiago Alcantra like pass out of the blue pass then you are pretending.