How does Rafael deal with Ronaldinho?

Posted on March 10, 2010  by Stretford-end  in Champions League, Man United, Tactics   1 Comment »

Ronaldinho

After the 3-2 victory over AC Milan three weeks ago in the San Siro, Rafael came under some fierce criticism for his naive performance against Ronaldinho. The 2004 & 2005 World player of the year gave our young right back a big lesson, which will no doubt be of valuable experience to the lad as he develops even further. Firstly, my personal opinion was that Rafael did ok, although I believe he was at fault for not thumping the ball down the pitch just before Seedorf scored Milan’s second. However, as we approach kick off time, I wanted to look at the positions of both fullbacks in the previous game and their potential roles tonight.

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Is Dimitar Berbatov running out of time?

Posted on January 05, 2010  by Stretford-end  in Man United, Man United News, Players, Tactics, Transfer Targets   15 Comments »

Berbatov

There is no doubt that Dimitar Berbatov is a fine footballer who is capable of genius at times.  However, there is no doubt that there is an element of frustration around Old Trafford when Bulgaria’s top  goalscorer ever gets into a strop and throws his hands up in the air.  His hefty price tag hasn’t helped, considering we would have got him for around £10 million less had Manchester City not come in for him – but I think we’d all agree that we all gawped at the £30.75 million fee was a tad too much.  This blog looks at his movement, passes and goals against former United strikers.

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The decline of 3-5-2 in modern football

Posted on December 28, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Quotes, Tactics   No Comments »

Carlos Bilardo

Although at the Stretty Rant we concentrate on issues involving United – we do like to engage in debates over other aspects of the beautiful game. I got a royal ROASTING in the ‘Ferguson criticism blog‘ the other week. Some justified, some total bullshit – but it got people talking about the tactics Ferguson adopted against Fulham. I for one would never promote a three man defense – although I do adhere to a 4-3-3 shifting to a 3-4-3 if you have the players when attacking. So what do you make of the decline of the 3-5-2? Or is the 3-5-2 alive and kicking as it was back in 1986 when Carlos Bilardo (pictured above) shocked the footballing world with the removal of two wingers?

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Stretty debate: Villa performance poor or blip?

Posted on December 13, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Aston Villa, Injuries, Man United, Stretty Debate, Tactics   2 Comments »

Fergie blows his top

Yolkie and I have been discussing the 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa last night in depth and we’ve both got conflicting views on the events at Old Trafford.  I generally feel that we just had a bad day at the office, even though United didn’t play that badly.  Yolkie feels that, Giggs aside, we’re missing a creative spark from midfield, whilst many first team players are simply going through the motions.  We are going to try and have at least one ‘Stretty debate’ every month, which looks at a conflict of opinion.  We encourage you to get involved, pick a side and join in the discussion!

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Zonal Vs. Man Marking

Posted on December 10, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Liverpool, Man United, Old Posts, Tactics   1 Comment »

Blackboard

I am in the process of migrating everything across from the old website to the new layout – I know i’m useless in terms of time scales. The article has received some great praise from around the web – including The Times. I’m going to store this under ‘old posts’ (new category) but I believe the arguments are still valid when assessing the pros and cons of either setup.

Date of publication: December 2006

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Why United must play 4-3-3 against Chelsea

Posted on November 07, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Chelsea, Man United, Tactics   10 Comments »

Anderson

United were humbled in Rome back in May and outfought at Anfield a fortnight ago – hopefully the old ‘third time lucky’ saying can apply tomorrow. United have been subjected to an element of stage fright in the big games since the superb 3-1 victory over Arsenal last May and is important that this stops tomorrow. United’s midfield has been put under the microscope on both occasions – with a lack of shape or urgency being cited as the problem.

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What has happened to Nemanja Vidic?

Posted on October 25, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Liverpool, Man United, Players, Statistics, Tactics   14 Comments »

Nemanja Vidic

Ok I admit it – there are a few things i’m scared of. Spiders are one, being caught wearing a trilby hat and ghost pets – however I think we can fairly conclude that the sight of Fernando Torres puts our no-nonsense, swashbuckling centre half turn into a nervous wreck. Nemanja Vidic was sent off for the third consecutive match against Liverpool today in the 2-0 defeat at Anfield. Looking back at last year’s fixture at home – our Serbia defender was all on course for a whole host of awards following an impressive season – which included a last minute goal against Sunderland and being part of a 14 match record breaking match run in which United didn’t concede a goal. However, after the Torres goal in which Vidic totally misjudged the flight of the ball – I ask – what has happened to Vidic?

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Fletcher and his rise in the United ranks

Posted on September 25, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Man United, Players, Statistics, Tactics   2 Comments »

Darren Fletcher

– View 2009/10 statistics for Darren Fletcher

Its quite a remarkable rise from a player who was so widely criticised on the terraces, bars and pubs (and the MUTV studios) – in my opinion rather harshly. Darren Fletcher has always a been a good player – a very good player – however, when he was learning his trade United were in transition and was quite often or not made a scapegoat by fans who didn’t appreciate the Scot’s quite brilliant closing down of play combined with at times some excellent passing. His performances in the 2004/05 season – helped to free up Roy Keane and gained him a place in the FA Cup final.

The following article hopes to examine the importance of Fletcher in the team today and how he has improved over time. We will be using screenshots from the Guardian’s excellent Chalkboard - which I encourage every Red to use. This may go horribly wrong but we’ll give it a shot and see what we come up with!

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Shock horror! Barca like to pass the ball….

Posted on May 28, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Champions League, Man United, Press, Tactics   14 Comments »

Iniesta
There is one thing that I can’t stand about football fans and that is the fickleness that arises once something doesn’t quite go the way you had hoped it would – or had planned. Last night’s victory for Barcelona was credited as a ‘win for football’ and we should all bow our heads in acknowledgment of the beautiful football that Barcelona play. In case anyone didn’t know – Barcelona have always played that way and will continue to always player that way. It is instilled in their blood and soul – ever since the days of Johan Cryuff. Barcelona play 4-3-3, all the way down to the youth teams might I add, as Cryuff believed there are more attacking options available to you. They also continue to produce the same type of ball playing footballers – do people believe this is coincidence??!

Lets face facts, non-United fans are over the moon at United squandering their European crown, in such a limp fashion, but you have to ask yourself ‘did Barcelona dominate proceedings or did United throw away an great opportunity?’ In reality it was a bit of both, Barcelona passed United off the park – like they would to any club – but it was United’s poor game plan that in my eyes was the inevitable downfall of the 2008 European Champions. Firstly, it was a brave move by Ferguson to take the game to Barcelona in the opening ten minutes as United tried to get that early goal – against the run of play Eto’o went down the other end and scored – an enormous blow to how United set out – it was a gamble that didn’t quite play off.

After that United didn’t turn up. Wayne Rooney was anonymous whilst Ronaldo proceeded in trying to take the whole side on his own (or trying to hard to impress Spanish opposition) – Michael Carrick and Anderson were chasing shadows and the whole defense looked shaky. It is painful to say but this is the reality of the matter – we had an opportunity to win back to back European Cups and we didn’t take it, simply because we didn’t compete with Barca after they scored and our initial gameplan was wrong.

There was far too much space between the defense and midfield, which gave the likes of Xavi, Messi and Iniesta time and space to pick their passes. I highlighted in the preview yesterday that United needed to contain Barcelona forcing them wide rather than through the centre – as we had done on the two previous occasions last season. Don’t be under the illusion Barcelona were a poor team last season – of course they’ve improved under a bright, young new manager – but they played the same way and we contained them. Its interested to see that the top three for pass completion were Xavi, Iniesta and Messi – whilst the next three, who were United players, were Ferdinand, Vidic and O’shea - highlighting where we and they played most of the football.

However, who I am to criticise Fergie? We’ve had an amazing season and were let down in the last game of the season. I’ve heard people talking about rebuilding and the end of the line for some players. I’ve never heard so much nonsense in all my life. A month ago United were on course for five trophies – something that in ridiculous to even consider. Twelve months ago we had won a glorious domestic and European double – only the second time in our 130 year history – indicating how difficult it is. But remember four years ago? The summer of 2004, Porto were European Champions and we were a million miles away from achieving what we did last season or even this season! Think about 1993 when the club had to wait 26 years to win a trophy – do people not remember this? We’ve been spoilt under Fergie and mark my words – this isn’t the end of this side yet.

Touching on the point raised in the opening paragraph about fickle supporters – it really does annoy me. How can you ninety minutes before think someone is a glorious champion then at the end of the game believe they are a total clown – its moronic! Remember United went unbeaten a record 25 times in Europe and lost to one of the best teams in the world. I accept that the performance was inept and Barcelona dominated proceedings but to sum up all the work you’ve done (over a couple of seasons in this instance) in one season in one game is plain ignorant. Forget Real Madrid’s nine European Cups and Liverpool’s five European Cup (arguably at a time where it was maybe easier to win the competition) – United should be proud to have had three amazing seasons where we tasted disappointed in Milan two years ago, success in Moscow 12 months ago and unfortunately – last night – we just didn’t turn up.

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Why Michael Carrick can be the match winner against Arsenal

Posted on May 04, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Arsenal, Champions League, Man United, Tactics   3 Comments »

Michael Carrick

Michael Carrick is a fine footballer, who has grown into one of the best midfielders in Europe since his 2006 move from Tottenham to Manchester United. His passing range is immense and has proven how valuable his creative vision is in the center of the park for United. However, he does still get his fair share of criticism from rivals fans and of course United fans who don’t get too excited when he gets on the ball.

To quote Johan Cruyff ‘Football is simple, but the hardest thing is to play football in a simple way’ – something that you could apply to Michael Carrick. He doesn’t score too many goals, rarely gets in the box like Scholes used to but he has been pivotal in United’s success since he joined the club three years ago. His ability to switch play is superb and his vision helps us counter attack – something that will be extremely important tomorrow. I have no doubt that he will be part of a midfielder three consisting of Anderson and Fletcher – with Carrick being the main creative force.

I had blogged about Carrick earlier in the season, which was when he was playing out of his skin – however in recent weeks he hasn’t been at his best.  Against Inter Milan I though he was poor and off the pace whilst against Aston Villa he was anonymous – however tomorrow he can really stamp his authority on the game and control proceedings – something Gooners will be hoping Cesc Fabregas can do.  The duel between Fabregas and Carrick may be closer if Robin Van Persie plays from the start – with Fabregas more likely to adopt a deeper role rather than the second striker role he adopted last week and against Middlesbrough and Liverpool.  Both midfielders are capable of controlling the game with outlets in the form of Anderson and Song aiding their creative guile.

I am confident that United can build on the one goal lead obtained from Old Trafford last week – however Arsenal will not play anywhere near as poorly as they did in the first half last week.  Ferdinand and Evra are confirmed starters with Robin Van Persie back for Arsenal.  I presume that Robin Van Persie will replace Diaby with Nasri going out left and Fabregas dropping a little deeper to influence play.  I don’t know who Fergie will play up top out of Berbatov and Tevez – my gut instinct would be Berbatov with instructions to Anderson to get forward to support.  It should be a fascinating encounter and I just hope that United can get that away goal early, which will really silence the Emirates – hopefully through a Michael Carrick assist.

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