Being a Manchester United fan this season has been quite a roller coaster experience. New players have come in and to a large extent, they have given off some good performances. Matches have been won by the usual attacking sharpness laced with some brilliant individual displays. The joys of the upside of the ride. But there have been moments that have left many a Red Devil to wonder if the team will achieve something this term. In 12 games played in all competitions, the team has conceded first in 7 of them and in recovering from a lot of these setbacks , the team has won the accolade of picking most points from losing positions (12). Of course, bouncing back underlines how tough we are mentally and the strength of the tacking talent at our disposal but personally, I believe it highlights how misplaced our priorities are.
Surely a team that has Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie, Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck will give you goals by the bucket load (26 in all competitions so far)especially when Antonio Valencia, Shinji Kagawa, Tom Cleverley and Paul Scholes are the supporting cast. However, in scoring those 26 goals, we have given away 15 and it seems Sir Alex Ferguson is not giving it the attention it needs. Many of his decisions this so far seem to point in the direction of building a menacing frontline. Playing the diamond formation at Newcastle helped prevent goals simply because Cleverley, Rooney and Van Persie worked extra hard to stop Newcastle from finding some rhythm in midfield but the Magpies still had very good chances to score. The constant deployment of Welbeck out wide on the left only tells us that the gaffer wants to accommodate his best attacking talents in a single line up.
For that, he gets top marks because goals certainly win games and we must score a lot of them but if he is trying to stop a repetition of last season’s close loss of the title to Man City on goal difference, then he is not doing so much of a good job because the defence has not been given the right amount of care. During the summer when Vidic was still feeling his way back to full fitness, why did we not acquire a centre back as a safety measure when the dark, uncertain moments marked by long injury lists catch up on us? Better yet, why were the likes of Scott Wootton and the other young defenders not blooded into the squad very early in the season? They may lack the needed experience but only playing can guarantee that vital element as we have all seen in the development of Jonny Evans. I can understand the fact that Vidic’s current absence was not foreseen and sometimes, these things can derail plans and reworking the engines can take a bit of time but it is also imperative we get our thoughts and plans right because time is not a luxury for us this season and nothing is certain at this point of the season.
I have always believed in the gaffer and his methods and so, this is not to downplay his intentions for the club. He shares the same desire for success as the fans do. However, I believe that team building is a holistic job. Sharpening the attack is as important as strengthening the defence but decisions like Carrick’s use at centre-back against Braga previously for example, only say only one thing: we have our priorities wrong and we must quickly begin to find the right balance if we wish to be successful this season.