Red and Write – A Case for the Defence

The Pedro and Otamendi deals hit the Manchester United fanbase hard. After months of replying to the every tweet from the club account with desperate pleas for them to announce the signings of these two players, they have ended up at title rivals Chelsea and Manchester City respectively. The Argentine and Spaniard were seen as the answers to the team’s main issues: centre back and attack. In the past two years, Old Trafford has seen an evacuation of experienced defenders with Rio Ferdinand allowed to leave for free and Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra securing moves to Serie A clubs. In attack, this summer has seen the once talismanic figures of Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao leave with little fuss whilst the club record signing Angel di Maria left for Paris in a less quiet fashion. At first glance it appears that there are gaps at both ends of the pitch that United must patch. However, this may not be the case.

Louis Van Gaal’s first season in charge was punctuated by defensive mishaps. The enduring images of the season will be the misguided attempt to introduce 3-5-2, the MK Dons humiliation in the league cup and that comeback by Leicester City at the King Power Stadium. The last of these seemed to have a huge effect on the Dutch manager’s attitude and from then on there was a new emphasis placed on physicality and defensive solidity. United then failed to keep a clean sheet in their next five games until Michael Carrick’s return to the team in November against Crystal Palace. This is where the case for United’s defence kicks in.

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Club Bruges – Europe, but not as we know it

United 3:1 Club Bruges

Line up: Romero, Darmian, Blind, Smalling, Shaw, Schneiderlin, Carrick, Mata, Januzaj, Memphis, Rooney

Subs: Schweinsteiger for Carrick, Chicharito for Januzaj, Fellaini for Rooney

TUESDAY night saw the return of European football to Old Trafford, we got the theme tune, the line up debates and a glorious night overall. Romero continued in goal, LVG seemingly resisting the temptation to play David De Gea, leaving him cuptied for any potential (and increasingly inevitable) switch to Real Madrid. That would have been evil but a bit funny.

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Last Friday Night

Aston Villa 0:1 Manchester United

Line up: Romero, Darmian, Blind, Smalling, Shaw, Schneiderlin, Carrick, Mata, Januzaj, Memphis, Rooney

UNITED went to Villa Park on the back of a solid if not mouthwateringly impressive opener against Spurs; a keeper who made a few saves, a keeper who sat in the stands and enough positives to keep us going despite the apparent lack of a goal threat in the one goal victory.

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The Magic ‘Keeper Theory

David De Gea is becoming a subject. He was going to move, it was all but done in terms of our acceptance – I was all ready to wish him well and watch him go. I was at Old Trafford for the last home game of last season and I tell you now, not since Eric Cantona graced that stage have I ever watched a player so intensely. I was looking for anything, disinterest, too long clapping at half time, too much time looking around the stadium, I don’t know what I was looking for but some kind of indication that he was leaving. As it happens he limped off and everyone around me filed the biggest lot of conspiracy theories since Oswald ‘shot JFK’. He came back for the parade thing at the end of the match and I watched his head go back, and to the left, back and to the left, back and to the left… talking to Ashley Young. The single biggest piece of business we had to do that summer was, I thought, keeping David De Gea.

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Seven and the Ragged Tiger

SO that was the summer. Falcao went but we expected him to be off, Nani went too but he had been on loan so long you probably forgot we even still owned him.  The pea came back, a bit hairier than I remember him and whilst it’s fair to say the break was in both parties’ best interests I am glad to see it wasn’t a break up. There may still be some United resurrection for  Javier, that is something which Angel Di Maria didn’t need, want, look for or deserve quite frankly; whether he was unsettled in Manchester or unhappy at United (tried engineering a move to the blue lot across the road, did he? Snake), I care not – it nosedived spectacularly for that boy but I do think the new number seven will be fine with standing on the shoulders of giants. For a while it did seem like no one would be good enough, Robson, Beckham, Ronaldo… who could possibly follow that? United saw fit to bring the 7 down a peg or two, in the modern world it was perhaps becoming the Raheem Stirling of squad numbers; too big for its boots, so we cleansed it, with Michael Owen. Then there was the time Tony V was too scared, we gave it to Angel Di Maria – for all of one year. Following David Beckham, Ronaldo? New occupant Memphis might be a little scared, but following that Argentinian piece of work? I’m quite sure Memphis tra la la’d into Big L’s office and said “thanks boss, I can definitely follow that!”

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When Saturday Comes

United 1 Spurs 0

Line up: Romero, Darmian, Blind, Smalling, Shaw, Schneiderlin, Carrick, Young, Memphis, Mata, Rooney

Subs: Herrera for Memphis, Valencia for Darmian

THERE is something magical about Old Trafford on the opening day of the football season; not because of any kumbayah nonsense about all the teams starting on a level playing field, if that is your bag then this website is not for you. No, the first game of the season is the first time you get to look at the money your manager has spent, what the player looks like in the kit and what number he has been given.

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