Manchester United 1-0 Galatasaray – talking points

Michael Carrick celebrates scoring against Galatasaray

Author: Doron

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Having performed so disappointingly last season, there was a sense of ‘owing’ the fans in the Champions League this time round. Yet again the draw had been kind with United getting, and no disrespect to our opponents, an easy group relative to what we could have got. First up, Galatasaray came to Old Trafford, evoking memories of clashes in the early 90s. Welcome to Hale, (nearly).

Carrick delivers again

Since his non-selection for Euro 2012, England’s failure, and the success of Pirlo, much has been written about Carrick and his qualities. His importance to his club though, is considerably greater than his country and much more appreciated. People describe his metronomic – that suggests accurate repetition but also implies a dullness, something Carrick’s not.

It’s never a surprise that after games he’s often run further than any of his teammates. Indeed, last night was one such occasion – paired with Scholes and often overrun, he had to cover a lot of ground. Far from being immobile as is sometimes perceived, he simply understands where space is and how to use it, often meaning that his movements come off the ball and therefore aren’t always noticed.

Carrick’s importance to United is clear – he’s the most consistent midfielder and is the only player to have played every minute so far this season (in all competitions). Some bemoan the fact he chooses to pass sideways and backwards sometimes – but they’re often the people who don’t realise the value in retaining possession. The same people who probably don’t realise how good a defender he is – often, like Rio, not needing to go to ground because he reads the game so well.

Last night he was unquestionably United’s best performer although that potentially says more about his teammates than him. His goal showed what he’s very capable of when the shackles are off – a rare foray forward showed intelligence in the run and quick feet in the build up. The finish was calm – rounding the keeper is a skill seen less these days but something to enjoy. He could of course gone down, won a penalty, and seen the goalkeeper sent off but given that we can’t seem to score from the spot, it’s good he didn’t!

Wingers – cause for concern?

OF all the areas to worry about, you’d have thought wingers wouldn’t be one. Yet, something’s not quite right at the moment. With Young injured, United only have two wingers – Valencia and Nani. Both should be playing on ability anyway but at present neither are overly convincing.

Since being given the number 7 shirt, Valencia has decided to morph into a lesser version of himself. Power has been replaced by moments of skill and he’s inexplicably forgotten how to cross. There are still some fizzed low balls but many are being over hit. Fans like him so he tends not to get the same criticism as say Nani, but his current form certainly warrants questioning. Maybe he’s simply trying too hard?!

As for Nani – he’ll forever frustrate and infuriate, that’s the nature of wingers. They can afford to take risks to create chances. For every silly thing Nani does he’ll create an opening – his value to the side remains high. His penalty was poor, a silly run up like that always shouted “miss”, odd given he’s been clinical from 12 yards in the past. Actually he was United’s most dangerous player, particularly in the second half. Playing with freedom to roam, he was able to pick the ball up in various areas of the pitch and proved hard to pick up.

There’s a wider question here – do United need a fourth winger and specifically a left winger? Nani’s better from the right but Valencia has that spot. Giggs is no longer a winger and Brady isn’t ready. Could Buttner provide cover there if needed or will we continue to see more of Welbeck used in an annoying wide berth? Wing play has been so important to United through their history – it’s important to get this right again.

Fletcher returns

To be honest, I didn’t think Fletcher would play for United’s first team again. His condition is one that requires management rather than healing and as such, one got the impression that it would very difficult to manage it whilst trying to get back to the high standard of physical condition required to play for United.

These are early days for Darren but his 16 minute cameo was a welcomed sight, if only just so Old Trafford could give the man a standing ovation. His return to the first team followed some encouraging performances with the U21s but even so, he was way off the pace against Galatasaray. In fact, he was like a passenger and although harsh, United effectively had less than 11 men on the pitch when he came on – everything looked too quick for him and he was sluggish on the ball. That’s not his fault of course but maybe one could question Fergie’s decision to bring him on at a time when United were under pressure and trying to see out a game. If it was fresh legs he needed, Anderson would have been the better option.

Still, welcome back Darren, you’ve been missed.


You could be forgiven for thinking you’d been teleported back 12 months. Despite a clean sheet, a win, and a strong starting line up, United managed to make hard-work of beating Galatasaray. Another referee may have awarded further penalties too – Galatasaray were denied two very obvious spot kicks whilst United could have easily been awarded one or two more.

The game will probably be remembered by United fans for the return of Darren Fletcher – the most likable of players. His cameo might have been both short and poor but it lifted a largely flat crowd. His central midfield partner, Michael Carrick, scored United’s only goal – a composed finish when others may have panicked. Oddly, a game that felt so forgettable had a fair few exceptional moments, as noted on the excellent Beautifully Red blog. Most importantly, United have a win and something to build on heading into the game away to Cluj on the 2nd October. Roll on Anfield…

6 Comments on Manchester United 1-0 Galatasaray – talking points

  1. Nice read as always! I want to also point out that the defence kinda looked tight for the first time this season,of course apart from when we almost conceded penalties, they kinda protected de gea and nulified the threat pose by galatasaray strikers(elmander,burak&co.)!! You didn’t point it out but kagawa was awesome yesterday,him,carrick,scholes,nani and de gea,,, were our best players yester-night.

  2. Thought we played alright actually to be honest. We could have scored 4 or 5 but chances were not taken advantage of. Was just one of those games. Thought Carrick played really well and pleased he got the goal. Another solid performance from him. Kagawa was brilliant again. He is some player that lad and 12 mill is looking like the bargain of the summer so far. Scholes was decent as well, defense solid too, valencia was ok…he beat his man a number of times but his crossing wasn’t of the highest standard to be fair. That’ll come though I have no dount! As for Nani, besides his penalty miss and wayward shooting at times, I thought he was one of our best players on the pitch. He created so many oppurtunities and having rewatched bits of the game last night I stick to my word he had a good game. He played some great 1-2’s with evra and kagawa, got into good positions, didn’t give the ball away and was a general threat all game. The lad takes huge criticism but in my opinion he’s still up there with the best wingers in world football.

    Now for LFC on Sunday… Absolutely MASSIVE game!!!! A lot of questions are going to be asked of out team?! We NEED a result at Anfield and a win is what I mean! We have won there in a while and its time to put things right! Fergie will have a tough time picking the team…I’d loved to have Scholes to start but it looks unlikey as he played in midweek and last saturday. So maybe TC23 or Ando can come in for him to play alongside Carrick or just infront of him as I can see Michael starting. He’s such a consistent player! What a pro he is! I’d play Buttner over Evra and why not?? Evra was ok vs Galatasary but nothing great again. Also, with the whole evra suarez situation I think by not playing him could be a good move. I’d also stick with Nano and tony V on the wings and Shinjki just behind Robin van Persie.
    Come on lads! I hope they can deliver! Still the biggest game of the season for me no matter what people say. United vs Liverpool is what English football is all about and I don’t think it will ever change. Come on United! Let’s av it!

  3. good to fletcher back the other night gotta say well done cos i suffer with a similar condition and i only just made it to my seat in teir 3 of the north stand! so for him to be back playing top level football again was a delight.

  4. Fantastic article, Doron. Completely agree with the assessment here. I think a lot of lament for the MU midfield is fed into the minds of fans. We played a really good game in the midfield and Kagawa was fantastic. His ability to take important positions is amazing and he must’ve ran more than 10 KMs!!! Amazing player. Carrick was also magnificent. Let’s see how it pans out at Liverpool now. I did a small piece on this game at Come by and let me know what you think…

  5. Against Wigan in the first half we were too narrow. When Nani stayed wide in the second half and Buttner got forward it made all the difference. In this game the wide play let us down badly. Valencia and Nani both started each half well, but it didn’t last. Valencia’s crossing was generally poor and Nani had a poor game.

    Injuries to others currently mean that this is Nani’s big chance to shine, but I think he has been really poor this season so far. I appreciate his unpredictability, and see this as a plus point for the team, but at the moment he isn’t doing it for me. The pattern of the last few years has been for Nani to start the season well and then fade. This year he hasn’t started the season well.

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