It’s Back, We’re Back……United Are Back!!!

The season starts officially today.  Having had a relatively quiet summer in the transfer window we are fully expecting a flurry of activity in the next two weeks.  I cannot see that we won’t sign at least 2 – 3 more players given our squad at the moment.  However, we stated at the beginning of the summer that we wouldn’t engage in rumour and we stuck to our word.  We said all along that we are here for the fans and focused on analysis, not to try and make money of clicks by selling you headlines.

Today we take on Swansea in Van Gaal’s first home Premiership game….which in his words is “the one that counts”.  Forget everything that has happened pre-season, it means relatively little.  If we lost today all the good work would at the very least be questioned.  Unfortunately, we are without Luke Shaw who has been outstanding so far.  Van Gaal questioned his fitness but in every game he’s played his output has been superb.  Solid at the back and extremely clever with the ball going forward.  Nani could learn an awful lot from him, because Shaw’s decision making is second to none.  It seems as though he simply knows exactly which ball he should pick and nails it 90% of the time.  Herrera has perhaps been the stand out player during pre-season, he’s like a Carrick who loves to get stuck in and tackle!  His distribution has been classy and he doesn’t stop running.  United’s midfield has lacked energy over the past few season and Herrera certainly brings that.  He’s not known for prolific goalscoring but even if he grabs himself 5-10 a season it’ll be more than we’ve had all of our central midfielders combined last year.

It’s exciting times again at Old Trafford.  The players have a belief, the fans have a belief and yet the squad is very very similar……with the loss of some of our most experienced players.  Last year I constantly spoke about the influence a manager has on a club.  Many fans blamed the players just as much as Moyes but I lay the blame firmly at Moyes’ feet.  He dragged a great club down to his mediocre level.  To be a top manager you have to have the vision of where you need to get your team to be challenging for trophies.  Moyes never had it……where as Van Gaal has it in abundance.  He knows what he wants and the players and the fans believe in him.

Let’s get today of to a positive start and I’m going for 3-1.  Come on United.

Why We Won’t Deal In Rumour Here. Manchester United

Since the season ended there has been very little of note to discuss.  We appointed Louis Van Gaal which we all expected would happen once he became a huge favourite at the bookies.  Since that day, nothing has happened.  Despite that, every day sees some media outlet link us with a different player who is supposedly a “target” for Van Gaal, or a player who has spurned/snubbed us.  Many different websites and blogs seem to be covering, and regurgitating the nonsense in an effort to generate more visits to their site.  We will not do that at TikaTakaUnited.

The aim of this site, is, and will always be analysis.  In order for analysis to be performed you need to have all the facts.  We will undoubtedly analyse signings as and when they happen but we will not engage in rumour.  We want this site to be the place United fans come for confirmation and discussion of signings, not to read the latest made-up story.

As the build up to the World Cup commences it will be possible to look at some of our players, and perhaps some of the games they are playing in and analyse their performances.  We will have a special series following Holland and looking at Van Gaal’s approach there.  Things will no doubt pick up again soon and we hope that readers are patient enough to sit through the lull, in preparation for what undoubtedly be a busy period.

Thanks

ANALYSIS: Southampton vs Manchester United

Final game of the season!  Thankfully!  It’s been a season that most United fans will be glad to see the back of.  The David Moyes tenure will go down as perhaps one of the worst in history and the anticipation around a new manager in charge for next season is palpable and clearly has most people excited about the future again.  Today we travel to Southampton to take on Pochettino’s men, who have performed extremely well this season and are a side no team will have particularly enjoyed facing.  They play good attacking, high-quality football and are enjoyable to watch.  If Giggs picks the right team it should at least be an entertaining match.

I fully expect Giggs to go all out attack today. I think this may be the game we see Mata, Kagawa and Januzaj on the field at the same time.  RVP will likely lead the line.  In Defence we’ll see a shuffle up, with Rafa coming back in at right-back, Smalling and Evans in the middle and Evra at left-back. A centre midfield pairing of Carrick holding with a 2nd midfielder, either Fellaini or Cleverley pushing on higher up the field.

It’s a ‘nothing to lose’ game really, the odds of Europa league football are extremely slim with Spurs needing to lose at home to Villa….and that’s if we even really want it.  Europa football brings with it a heavy schedule and some feel we’d be better off without it.  I think it would be a great chance to give some experience to some of the fringe players and youngsters.  Why not go into the tournament, focused on testing players and trying out variations, without too much care of the result, rather than just be out of it completely?

We’ll likely here about the appointment of LVG this week.  He’s a little eccentric to say the least but it’s nice to have a personality back at the helm.  Clearly a ‘take no prisoners’ type of manager, those who don’t toe the line will not be tolerated and that may well be just what some of the players need.  I personally think the lads who “played up and undermined” Moyes did so because he fail to command respect by his actions.  LVG will be entirely different and his training ground practices will be more aligned to the “United way” which some players felt was clearly missing under Moyes.  Whatever happens today, and I expect a United win if he picks the team mentioned above, we can look forward to an interesting summer.

ANALYSIS: Manchester United vs Hull City

The game was pretty much how most people anticipated.  United put in a good performance but the game felt more like a testimonial match than a premier league one.  Giggs surprised everyone by giving two youngsters their shot, with James Wilson up top and Tom Lawrence out on left wing.  Valencia started at right back and Jones, Smalling and Buttner made up the rest of the defence.  Centre midfield was another surprising decision with Kagawa in alongside Carrick and Fellaini pushed further forward behind Wilson.  Januzaj started the match on right wing.

Wilson nearly got his debut off to a cracking start when he was unlucky not to put the hosts in the lead on the 3rd minute.  As the game wore on United became more dominant and we’re starting to look threatening with each move forward.  Vidic came on to a standing ovation on 22 mins after a typical Jones “take everything” challenge for a header went wrong.  He clattered into Figueroa and came off worse, landing awkwardly on his shoulder and left the field clearly upset that his World Cup chance may have just disappeared.  Wilson grabbed his first goal on 31 minutes after some good work by Januzaj and Fellaini.  The ball dropped at Wilson’s feet 6 yards out from goal and he finished well given the pressure you might expect he felt on his first game at senior level. He then grabbed his second of the game on 61 minutes after another good run from the ever impressive Januzaj found Fellaini with just the keeper to beat from 6 yards.  Unfortunately he hit it straight at the keeper but Wilson gratefully finished it in with a tap in off the rebound.  Fryatt pulled one back for the visitors on 63 mins but that was to be their lot and Van Persie came on to make it 3-1 on 86 mins.

Giggs made an appearance but failed to get the goal which would see him continue his record of having scored in every premier league season since it’s inception.  Whether he gives himself another chance on the weekend will be interesting.  James Wilson is already being lauded as a superstar, but I will hold off on the superlatives.  Whilst he is undoubtedly an excellent goal scorer, his all round general play was quite sloppy and he looked awkward at times.  Tom Lawrence however, looked comfortable and quite classy.  He made good use of the ball and the right decisions often, without doing anything too special.  Whether either have a future in the first team is too early to know but it’s nice to see these lads getting a shot.  I do feel there are others more deserving and this should’ve been the season to give them their chance.  Powell, Lingard and Zaha all looked lively in pre-season yet have spent their year out with other clubs when United were in desperate need of some energy and enthusiasm.

Vidic’s final home-match send off was special and whilst he doesn’t seem the emotional type, he was clearly touched by the response from the crowd.  He took to the microphone to express his gratitude and state the “United will always be in his heart”.  It’s a shame to see a player leave, because of a poor manager, when he clearly has what it takes to play at the top level for at least a couple more seasons.  But at least we got to give him a send off, unlike some of the other players, namely Giggs, Rio and Evra whom we may not know for definite that they are leaving until the end of the season.

Either way, this will be a season everyone will be keen to forget and move on from.  David Moyes was a disastrous choice and the fact that he is now gone fills me with positivity.  It is likely that LVG is going to be the man chosen to lead the club forward and it’s certainly going to be an interesting ride.  His C.V. is worthy of the job and the eccentric nature of the Dutchman will at least see some kind of personality back at the club.  The only concern is that he is particularly uncompromising, which whilst some might suggest is needed, may be, at least in the short-term, quite divisive.

PREVIEW: Manchester United vs Hull City

This match sees Giggs take charge of his 3rd and final home game of the season as the Champions host Hull City.  With Hull preparing for an FA Cup final, I do not expect them to mount a particularly tough challenge.  They may in fact rest a few players and I expect Giggs may well anticipate that and play a younger side.  The rumours suggest that we will see young James Wilson who has been in fantastic goal scoring form this year.

Giggs will likely go for a young team and the old heads which showed so poorly against Sunderland will likely be dropped.  I expect Vidic to play since it is essentially a send off for him, who we know to be leaving for Inter Milan.  If Rafael is fit I expect he’ll be in at right back and the midfield should see Carrick & Fellaini given their shot.  Ahead of them I hope we’ll finally see Januzaj, Kagawa and Mata given a run out together with Wilson leading the line.

The game is a ‘nothing to play for’ game for either side now and I expect a pre-season type match with good possession play, relatively open at times and both teams experimenting a little.  I hope we’ll see some other youngsters given their shot, but with the ones I’d really like to see currently out on loan I don’t know if we will.  Giggs will perhaps give himself a run out during this game and everyone will be hoping he can grab himself a goal.

 

ANALYSIS: Manchester United vs Sunderland

Anybody who read the preview will know I had stated that, in my view, Giggs had to show he was different to Moyes by picking Kagawa, Mata & Januzaj together.  I stated a team which included one of Valencia or Young in a 4-4-2 would be a mistake, and one that Moyes made far too many times.  However, it appears Giggs did not read the script and chose to make exactly those same mistakes.

One thing I will support Giggs for here was that he said he would give all players a chance.  Many fans thought Giggs would just take the opportunity to showcase his own ability, but if Giggs was being truthful in his pre-match interview, he put the players futures before his own.  He clearly knew many of these players had very little time to prove themselves to fans and to a new manager.  He knew that the last 4 games would mean very little for his fledgling managerial career.  Whilst many United fans, myself included, felt that he was worth a shot, the result yesterday meant that any hope we, and Giggsy, may have had, was completely dashed.  With Giggs being classed as a huge risk, the 4 games would’ve needed to be hugely convincing.  Sadly, yesterday was anything but.

From the outset the team selection was poor.  Carrick, Fletcher, Nani & Young were given run-outs with Mata in a number 10 role and Chicha up top.  Mata looked isolated and it served to demonstrate how players who like to keep the ball on the ground and move it around quickly, need other players comfortable with doing so around them.  Mata openly admitted to “loving playing with Shinji” and that has been evident in the teams performances when they get that opportunity.  Not having Kagawa on the pitch saw United reverting to aimless crosses, hoping that Chicharito may somehow get on the end of one because Mata found himself with the ball at his feet only a handful of times.  Chicha looked like a centre forward devoid of confidence and lacking in match practice and his touch was extremely poor.  However, by far the worst performances came from the 4 in midfield.

Carrick, Fletcher, Nani and Young turned out performances on par with the worst we saw under Moyes.  None of them looked like they knew how to play their role.  Carrick and Fletcher sat way too deep and Nani & Young couldn’t cross for toffee.  Young continues to play with head down and seems to run on auto-pilot…..running his own personal set-plays time and time again, whilst Nani’s decision making has just not progressed in his time at United.  On ability, Nani should be one of the best players in Europe, sadly, because he lacks the football brain the likes of Ronaldo and Rooney have, he’s no where near even one of the best players in the Premiership.

There’s little else to say about the game other than we went behind to a sloppy goal and could not get back in the match due to a complete lack of ingenuity or guile.  We need to move on to the next match where I hope the “give everyone a chance” approach from Giggs will continue, and extend to some of the youngsters.  Rumours suggest we many well have confirmation of the new manager by as early as Tuesday.

PREVIEW: Manchester United vs Sunderland

Today sees Giggs’ men take on Sunderland at home.  5 games ago Sunderland looked dead and buried.  The run ahead of them looked like this: Spurs, Everton, City, Chelsea and Cardiff before this game.  They were sat bottom of the table.  It didn’t start well, they were absolutely battered by Spurs 5-1.  Everton who were challenging for 4th spot, went to the Stadium of Light and came away with all 3 points.  Sunderland were gone surely?  Nope.  They found themselves 2-1 up against City, after Connor Wickham grabbed his second on 83 mins, and were unlucky to see 2 points taken off them by a late equaliser from Nasri.  They followed that up by taking Jose Mourinho’s unbeaten record at Stamford Bridge, winning 2-1.  They then thrashed fellow relegation battlers Cardiff 4-0 and now they find themselves coming to OT with it all to play for.

A couple of seasons ago the Sunderland fans rejoiced as the Premiership title was snatched away from us in injury time.  Not because Sunderland themselves had taken even a point, but because Aguero had scored for City.  United had beaten Sunderland, there were literally seconds to go in the City game, and every Utd player (and fan) was buzzing thinking the Premiership was their’s again, nervously urging the ref to blow his whistle.  When Aguero scored, the Sunderland fans celebrated like they themselves had won the title, doing the Poznan celebration that City had adopted as their own.  They loved rubbing it in the faces of the United players and fans, even when it had absolutely no bearing on their own teams season.  So today is a big day.  A big win today and United could send Sunderland back into the relegation zone and play a huge role in watching them fall out of the Premiership.

Giggs has some decisions to make today.  Last week he felt we needed power and pace, wanting to start quickly, so went with a standard 4-4-2 and dropped Januzaj completely, and Mata to the bench.  It didn’t really work, and whilst it was far better than what we have seen at other times this season, the difference in the 2nd half was dramatic.  This week I expect Mata has to start.  Given that Kagawa was perhaps the man-of-the-match if you remove Mata’s expert cameo, you have to think we’ll see the both of them playing.  So I’m expecting a 4-4-2 and for Valencia & Welbeck to be dropped to subs bench.  I’m going to expect to see the following team:

DDG

Rafa (if fit)   Rio Vida       Evra

Januzaj        Carrick  Cleverley        Kagawa

Mata

Rooney (if fit)

Today will give us a good indication of how brave and attacking Giggs really is.  If he goes with the team above he will be demonstrating that he believes keeping the ball and using it well in the final 3rd, basically trusting our attack more than worrying about theirs, is key.  If we see Valencia or/and Young in, with Januzaj and or Kagawa on the bench then he’ll be making the same mistakes as Moyes.  One thing that will always be different under Giggs, even if he goes with the same players as Moyes often choose, is his philosophy will undoubtedly be to attack.  He’ll want men committed forward on every attack.  Last week was the first time this season we saw 7 players in the final 3rd.  It was the 1st time that we saw variation in the style of the attacks….i.e. “getting to the byline” was not just a signal to throw in an aimless cross, we changed it up and made ourselves far less predictable.  We cut balls back to the edge of the box, we tried to keep it short and play through them at times and sometimes, if there was nothing on, we held the ball up and went backwards.  It’s these subtle differences that led to us having better attacking stats in Giggs’ first game than in any under Moyes.

Whatever team Giggs chooses the smiles are definitely back on Utd fans’ faces and we go into these games looking forward to watching entertaining attacking football.  We go into the game knowing that even if we were to drop points to a counter-attack goal, we’d do so having thrown everything at them and that for 90 minutes the opposition will know they’re in a game and they have come to OT.  That fear factor will be back in no time.  Bring it on.

The Field Is Narrowing & It Looks Like LVG or Giggs: Manchester United

Giggs appears to be easing himself into the manager role and the Norwich result was an excellent way to start his (potentially short) tenure.  People may say it’s easy to win your first game but many managers have proven that not to be the case.  He’s not likely going to be the first choice due to his lack of experience and ultimately it will come down to whether the Glazers view short-term finances over potential long-term stability.  If Giggsy was selected it may take some time to get back to the level we expect, since it will be a tough ask for him to out-wit the likes of Mourinho, Wenger, Pellegrini & Rodgers with no experience in the role.  However, stranger things have happened and I personally believe Giggs has more about him than the fact he just looks good in a suit as one article put it.

Giggs brings with him over 2 decades of knowledge of the club, and also of its rich history.  He understands what the fans expect and how football should be played.  Yes, defensively he could be a little naive but let’s not kid ourselves that Fergie was a tactical genius like Mourinho.  Fergie was a “Plan A only” type manager the majority of the time.  He built teams around an attacking philosophy and for years followed the mantra “you score one, we’ll score 2”.  It worked for him, but ultimately Fergie’s greatest strengths lay in his ability to motivate players and get the best out of them.  Fergie filled every player on that pitch with the belief that they could win, no matter who or where they were playing.  Giggs has that very same belief and I think he can motivate players in much the same way.  He will need to toughen up though, whilst he’s known for being quite a strong character in the changing room, it’s always a different ball game when every decision regarding team selection and tactics rests with you.  The relationships you have with players, as a fellow player, is very very different to those that you will have as a manager.

LVG is a man who has a CV that speaks for itself.  The problem is, he knows it and he has an ego bigger than OT.  The man once openly joked the difference between himself and God is that “God knows he is not Louis Van Gaal”.  I don’t have a major issue with that and I would rather have somebody with total courage of their convictions and belief in their own ability than somebody like Moyes who just oozed self-doubt.  The difference is highlighted by a strange paradox.  Moyes was quite obviously aware that the job was huge, that he didn’t have the experience at a club like United and that he would take time to learn…but he chose to try and do it ALL his own way.  He disregarded the advice of the likes of Meulensteen and senior United players to the point that they either left, or were advised they could leave.  LVG on the other openly states that it is always his desire to keep “at least one” coach from the former set-up if not more.  He knows the importance of having a good team around him, with different opinions and ideas, Moyes didn’t.  LVG is an attack-minded coach and is in some part one of the founding fathers of “total football” which emanated from Holland.  Often credited for the revolutions that took place at Barca & Bayern he knows how the game should be played and knows that it is his philosophy that binds him to players and fans.

Whoever the Board chooses I look forward to moving on from the disastrous Moyes era and not having to hear any further analysis of “what went wrong” or “why he was sacked” being regurgitated by the media.  It’s an exciting new chapter that has once again got United fans buzzing looking forward to a summer, full of hope rather than dread.  A quick announcement would be nice but if they are waiting for the final few games to decide it is understandable and probably quite wise.

ANALYSIS: Manchester United vs Norwich

Yesterday saw Ryan Giggs make his first appearance as interim United manager.  This week he has looked and sounded the part and the hosting of Norwich at Old Trafford was the first chance to see whether he could act the part and “walk the walk”.  First off, his team selection.  He was brave, and made decisions that shocked a few people.  I personally believe it was a touch of class, to give players who had been on the receiving end of some unfair criticism a chance to prove themselves.  To demonstrate from the outset that it was the style/philosophy of Moyes that had the players failing to do what they do best.  He brought Cleverley, Rio & Vida back in, stuck with Welbeck up top (dropping Mata to the bench) and reverted to a 4-4-2.  Januzaj didn’t even make the bench, which was perhaps the only thing I would’ve changed.  Readers know how I feel regarding Valencia & Young and for me, Januzaj would’ve been on the right, with Valencia on bench, relegating Young to the reserves.

Anyway, the game started and whilst some have said we were lethargic and poor, I think credit had to lie with Norwich for making it difficult for us.  They closed us down quickly and made it hard for us to play the game how we wanted.  However, there was a huge difference for those who sat back and looked objectively.  We played pretty much the whole game in the opposition half.  We were committing players forward and were trying to keep the ball on the floor in and around the box when possible.  Valencia’s crossing was terrible again and it never fails to amaze me how a winger can have a weakness that is such a massive part of his role.  However, you could sense from around 15 mins that we were building and it always felt like a goal was coming, but for a little rustiness and sloppiness in the final 3rd.  In the end, it took a little luck to get the first goal just before half-time.  Welbeck was brought down after a bizarre series of deflections put the ball on a plate for him 6 yards out.  Contact was minimal but it was enough and Rooney dispatched the penalty with ease.

Half-time Giggs obviously had some harsh words for his players, and clearly urged them to up the tempo and commit to taking the game to Norwich.  Like I have said previously, movement off the ball is just as important as movement with the ball.  If you don’t commit men forward and have people making runs, defenders can sit in and hold their positions.  A good run can create an opportunity for the player with the ball that, without out the run, would be closed down.  That’s exactly what happened with Rooney’s second.  A great little run from Kagawa dragged defenders away and opened up the goal for Rooney.  He got a tad lucky but his strike found the far corner perfectly and United were 2-0 up.

This is where Giggs proved he thinks differently to Moyes – that he understands the United way, to build on leads.  This season, we have seen bizarre decisions to try and defend a 1-0 or 2-0 advantage, with changes like taking off a striker and dropping Rooney into midfield.  Each time it allowed the opposition back into the game.  Giggs didn’t do that, he decided to introduce Mata and took off Welbeck.  His impact was almost immediate and within 3 mins of being on the pitch Mata had a goal to his name.  United were flowing with confidence and looking dangerous on every attack.

At 3-0 up, did Giggs then go defensive?  No, he was positive again, choosing this time to take Cleverley off and put Chicha on the pitch.  Chicha’s movement was superb and defenders were struggling to cope with him.  It was no surprise that his little run created an opportunity at the back post for Valencia to deliver the ball in the danger area after it had found him on the back post.  For the first time in the match, Valencia delivered and Mata had ghosted in to find himself with a simple header from 2 yards out.

The final chance of the game fell to Chicharito after a lovely move saw Mata play him through one-on-one with the goal keeper.  Unlike what we have come to expect from Hernandez and more like a man who hasn’t seen much football, he slotted a ball wide of the post when in any other season we’d have been celebrating a 5th goal.

It was a great second half in particular and the stats showed we had more attempts than in any other Premier League game this season, more on target than in any game since Dec 2012 and we secured our biggest home win of the season.  Cynics are already saying “any new manager always gives the team a boost” and doesn’t mean anything.  Truth is, with Norwich fighting for their lives, it could easily have been a different game.  I personally believe had Moyes been in charge the result would have been very different.

After the game, Giggs fielded questions like he’d been in the job for years.  He talked about how he “believes in all of the players” and “could’ve picked 2 teams”.  He said the 1st half wasn’t as high a tempo as he’d have liked and he let them know that at half-time.  He explained why he’d gone for the players he had, and that he’d spoken to each player who was dropped in person, individually.  He commented on how, although disappointed, each of them had been professional and “not sulked” and Mata was singled out for praise for his professional response.  All of a sudden, things appear to be on the right track once again at United.  I don’t know if he’ll get the job full-time, but if the club genuinely want stability and continuity then they could do far worse than appointing a player who has spent his whole life at the club and is respected by almost everyone inside the game.  For the first time this season I’m looking forward to our next game.  Roll on next week-end

 

It’s Not About Effort…It’s About Philosophy: Manchester United

I keep reading people talking about how United players should be ashamed of themselves if they return to good form because supposedly it shows they “didn’t put in the effort for Moyes”.  It’s a naive, simple analysis of the situation.  If you look at the ground covered by the players under Moyes, it’s no worse, and in most cases is actually greater than under Fergie.  The difference is how they spent that effort and energy.  Moyes, as I consistently wrote, encouraged a negative, defensive and anxious approach.  We gave up too much of the ball and didn’t commit men forward in the final 3rd.  As a result, we spent a lot of time chasing the opposition, and we were ineffective when we attacked.  That’s what will change under Giggs – something which he openly acknowledged in his first press conference.

Giggs wants players playing with passion, imagination, speed, tempo….he wants players taking people on, scoring goals.  He understands the difference it makes to have the belief going forward and putting the opposition on the back foot from the outset.  He knows how dangerous it can be to give the opposition belief.  When you reduce a football to its basics you have 4 approaches you can take.  For example, take todays match vs Norwich.  We have the option to view the game as the following options:

1) Our attack vs Norwich attack – results in high tempo, open game and tests each teams counter-attacking ability.  Likely outcome: United win comfortably

2)  Our attack vs Norwich defence – results in Norwich parking the bus and saying “break us down if you can”.  Likely outcome, United win if we commit to the attack

3)  Our defence vs Norwich defence – Both teams play anxious football and sit back trying to keep possession and not committing men forward.  Likely outcome – awful game of football, draw or somebody pinches a 1-0 from a set-piece

4) Our defence vs Norwich Attack – we sit far too deep and give up possession.  We invite Norwich forward and give them opportunities, hoping we can hold out and pinch a goal on the break.  Likely outcome:  Norwich win, draw, or we “pinch a 1-0”

The problem is, we have seen Moyes selecting option 3 and 4 far too often this season.  He worried more about the opposition than he did about focusing on our own strengths.  He picked defensive players over creative attacking ability, he picked defensive formations over attacking ones…..basically, he just loved the ‘defend first’ approach full-stop.  Giggs will undoubtedly go for option 1 or 2.  He will say to the opposition “you are playing United, expect us to throw attack after attack at you, and if you want to try to score, be prepared to concede each time you try”.  Of course, it depends on what Norwich do and I think we’ll probably see them sat back with 10 men behind the ball.  You can never guarantee a win but I’m confident if we get 1 early we’ll get at least 2 or 3 more.

The United players will no doubt ‘look’ like they have suddenly decided to put in more effort, if you only look superficially that is.  However, the truth is they will be playing with the shackles of, expressing themselves going forward, instead of worrying about defending.  If they get a couple of goals the confidence will be flying high and you’ll see every player wanting to stick it to anyone who has criticised them as “past it” or “not United quality” this year.  It has nothing to do with “effort” and everything to do with “philosophy”.

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