All posts by Jason Bowditch

Supported United since the days of the yellow and green Sharp Jersey! Looking forward to Jose taking us back to the glory days of old. We're stepping in the right direction. Exciting times! Come on the lads!

Sign Lindelof for £38mil or Promote Axel for Free?

There’s been a lot of news that’s come out over the last few days that Lindelof is set to be Jose’s first signing in the January Transfer Market.

As we know, Lindelof plays for Benfica and is predominantly a Centre Back but can cover for Right Back if needed. There’s been plenty of speculation, and if you’re like me you want to find out two things; one – what he’s going to offer United in defence? (and more importantly) two – will he be an improvement on players we already have?

What’s he going to offer us? Let’s start with the positives. Firstly, he’s a ball playing defender and can carry the ball out of defence and find a pass more often than not. This is the same attribute of John Stones, but this attribute is precarious and has cost Man City goals already this season for taking unnecessary risks. However if done properly can set the attack up very quickly and get the transition of play up the pitch fluid and direct which has been proven effective in the Premiership. We’ve seen many Prem teams trying to play out the back but it’s still a new concept and teams are conceding goals because of it. He’s 6’2” and is good in aerial battles. His last ditch tackling is accurate and has gotten Benfica out of some difficult situations. He’s also a strong, powerful defender which is needed in the premier league to defend against teams going route one into the box.

Onto some negatives; he’s not very quick and many of the strikers in the Portuguese Primiera Liga get past him without too many problem by simply knocking the ball past him and running, however he does recover it with an accurate ‘last ditch’ tackle. Coupled with Bailly’s pace at the back, could this be a partnership that works? £68 mil for the pair, you’d like to think so! I think it’d be better to get a defender who can defend effectively as a base standard, and if he has the ability to play out from the back as well then it’s a bonus. Victor I fear, is not that player.

Is he an improvement? Lindelof is reportedly going to cost us £38mil, and for that fee I don’t see much of an improvement on what we already have despite all the hype in the media. We already have Bailly, Smalling, Blind, Rojo and Jones in defence. That will be 6 defenders in the first team, are we in danger of hoarding too many defenders? If he is signed we certainly have to offload at least one possibly two defenders. Could that be potentially why Rojo and Jones have been put in the shop window and playing very well recently?

We also have Axel Tuanzebe who receives Man of the Match regularly for U23’s at only 19 years old. Axel is strong in all areas of defence and not many people are aware that he plays the ball out from the back for the U23’s too. If and when Lindelof is signed for £38mil there will be 6 defenders ahead of him in the first team and the chances of Axel getting a first team opportunity is close to none. Performing ahead of his peer’s week in week out he is simply too good for Premier League 2 and either needs first team football or a loan deal to another Premiership team.

From the clips I have watched, I haven’t been too impressed (for £38mil) with what I’ve seen from Lindelof and truly believe Tuanzebe is a better defender and would cost us nothing! It would also give Jose the ‘promoting youth players’ tick in the box and please the fans. It’s as quick a win for Jose as selling Fellaini!

In Jose we trust though, especially judgement in defenders, and I really hope Lindelof (if signed) proves doubters like me wrong.

Mour Xmas Cheer? Yes Please Jose!!

We’ve had dark Christmas periods over the last two seasons. Could this be about to change? Without trying to jinx our trip to the Hawthorns, I certainly hope so!

We have just beaten Crystal Palace away and Spurs at home. Although the Palace game should have been easier, all we need to do is win games and keep collecting three points. During the last round of fixtures we gained points on Liverpool, Man City and Spurs. This round we have gained points on Arsenal. All we need to do? Win our games and the League/ Top Four takes care of itself.

The last two seasons our form during the Xmas period has been fairly woeful and as a result we had lost ground against our rivals. In a traditional Man Utd Season, the Xmas period has been a bit of a spring board into the second half of the season and we come together to push on until the end of the season. Let’s hope that’s what Mourinho has planned for us again this year.

Period 10 Dec – 4 Jan
2014/2015

Pld W D L Pts
Man City 5 4 1 0 13
Spurs 5 4 1 0 13
Arsenal 5 3 1 1 10
Chelsea 5 3 1 1 10
Man Utd 5 2 3 0 9
Liverpool 5 2 2 1 8

2015/2016

Pld W D L Pts
Arsenal 5 4 0 1 12
Man City 5 3 1 1 10
Spurs 5 3 1 1 10
Chelsea 5 2 2 1 8
Liverpool 5 2 1 2 7
Man Utd 5 1 1 3 4

2016/2017 – Currently

Pld W D L Pts
Man Utd 2 2 0 0 6
Chelsea 2 2 0 0 6
Liverpool 2 1 1 0 4
Spurs 2 1 0 1 3
Arsenal 2 1 0 1 3
Man City 2 1 0 1 3

 

Our next run of games between now and 4 Jan consists of West Brom (A), Sunderland (H), Middlesbrough (H) and West Ham (A). These are all very winnable games and we’d be disappointed if we didn’t. On current form the West Brom game looks the most dangerous. If we get through next weekend’s game unscathed then we just need to guard against complacency during the following three.

In the same time period there is Man City vs Arsenal, Everton vs Liverpool, Liverpool vs Man City and Spurs vs Chelsea. Therefore IF (and that’s a big if) we win all our games we will certainly keep chipping away points against the other top 6 teams and could well find ourselves very close if not inside the top 4 as we enter the New Year.

Mour Xmas Cheer? Yes Please Jose!!

Play Fosu or Risk Another Pogba Scenario

Fosu Mensah came bursting onto the scene for the first team last season and has shown that he is a star in the making. Only 18 years old, the versatile defensive midfielder has spent most of his games playing right back, and doing a very good job.

Mensah was bought from Ajax U17’s for £323k to develop in the U18’s squad. Needless to say he impressed LvG and got promoted to the first team squad last season as we were short of right backs. His first game was against Arsenal at home in the 3-2 win on 28th Feb 16, but his performance slipped under the radar as Rashford took the limelight.

Including his debut Timothy has featured 10 times for the first team, starting three and being used as a sub in seven. In those 10 games, Man Utd have won 8 and lost two and although he wasn’t the sole reason for the rich run of form in the games he’s been involved in, he certainly was a factor. High work load, great stamina, strength, speed and a calmness on the ball that only usually comes from an experienced player. Being only 18 years old, it’s fair to say Timothy is ahead of his years and is going to be a certainty to develop into a global star. All he needs is games!

What frustrates United fans is that players who are either not good enough in midfield (Fellaini) or deadwood waiting to be moved on in right back (Young) are being picked ahead of him. Personally, I don’t mind too much that Fosu isn’t getting games as right back. However I do mind him not getting games in midfield; I see him being a player that can ultimately take Carrick’s place in the team as a long term defensive mid who will cover the defence as a ball winning midfielder.

So, we have a potential superstar in midfield that need games to develop and isn’t getting nearly enough time on the pitch. Sound Familiar? Paul Pogba. Pogba left the club after becoming frustrated through lack of playing time and left the club for £900K at 19 years old, he subsequently returned 4 years later for 100 x the value. Whilst we accept this is poor business from our point of view, Pogba will eventually be worth it.

Are we running the risk of making the same mistake twice? Let’s not wait to find out! Let’s start utilising Fosu Mensah a lot more in the near future! Especially if it means cutting down ‘the tree’s’ playing time.

Mourinho is the Real Deal!

How many United fans had a sense that a huge weight had been lifted off their shoulders when LvG was moved on this Summer? How many more fans then went on to feeling lifted by the appointment of Jose Mourinho? I’ve put my hand up to both. But after 14 games, has there been much change? Is it all just the same under a different name? Let’s take a look at some of the facts.

Life under Louis Van Gaal with his ‘Philosophy’ was at times very frustrating and hard to swallow as a fan. Especially last season when we would literally go games without putting the ball in the back of the net. His Philosophy is actually very similar to many of the top managers we see in today’s game, Mourinho included. However, Louis’ tactics were slightly different. Van Gaal loved his team to be structured from back to front and split his philosophy into four phases. Phase one; Get into the right positions dependant of where the opposition has the ball on the pitch in order to effectively get the ball back. If you don’t have the ball you don’t win the game. Phase two, how the team reacts to losing the ball. Phase three, Offensive Organisation. Essentially wait for the opposition to get frustrated, make a mistake through poor discipline and to capitalise on it. Phase four, the method of attack (counter, slow attacks, flanks or through the centre).

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that this method of play is very one dimensional and not very dynamic. When the opposition have sussed out our tactic it is easy to play against, especially when they don’t mind taking a draw (most cases). Then it just becomes a concentration game for the opposition. This results in little to no creativity, few shots and even fewer goals for United. Fans then become frustrated, which shows on the players and things go sour.

Mourinho has come into United from two years of the LvG mentality and is attempting to turn things around in a short space of time. However, their tactics are not too dissimilar. They both prefer to use 4-2-3-1, and both have a very structured defence to not leak goals. The fundamental difference is the fluidity upfront. Under Jose the front four interchange positions to create a wealth of chances making it almost impossible to defend against. When you have someone with the skillset of Pogba sat behind the front four feeding them with accurate and varied passes you have a very dangerous team.

So why are we not winning more games? That is the million dollar question!
Is it that our strikers are not being clinical enough? We have already drawn 5 games that we arguably should have won through lack of goals. That’s 10 needlessly dropped points! However we are creating an abundance of chances to score the goals which comes from Mourinho’s tactics. The stats back that up. Therefore the strikers being wasteful could well be the case.

Or is it the defence leaking too many goals? Comparing the stats to last year we have conceded significantly more at this stage of the season than last year. But by being careful at the back does hamper the ability going forward and taking risks up front which is clearly proven by the table below.

We have conceded three less goals than in the first 14 games of our last title winning season. We also have had a similar number of shots on goal and chances created than at this point of 2012/13. Best of both worlds? It would be if we could put the ball in the back of the net at the same rate as Fergie’s last season.

First 14 Games
Mourinho LVG LVG Moyes Fergie
Season 16/17 15/16 14/15 13/14 12/13
Shots 229 147 199 186 231
Chances Created 169 104 146 127 175
Goals 19 20 24 22 33
Conceded 17 9 15 17 20
Points 21 28 25 22 33
Final Position ? 5 4 7 1

More chances created = More goals = More wins. Well… logically that should be the case.

Needless to say: There is absolutely no way that this season is anything like the seasons we have experienced over the last two years under LvG. I would even stretch that to include Moyes’ term. There is a real buzz around Old Trafford which hasn’t been around since the days when Fergie was in charge, and that is thanks to Mourinho.

Jose is the real deal! So let’s come together, unite and get behind the team. We are finally heading in the right direction!

Manchester United will soon be back!

Sell Memphis? You will DePAY!

If Jose Mourinho’s guilty pleasure is reading fans opinions on The United Stand (obviously very likely) then Jose, please read this!

Do not sell Memphis Depay! Send him on Loan instead.

Obviously there has been a lot of rumour surrounding this and the more you think about it, the more it starts adding up that Memphis is on his way to Everton on a permanent deal. The main tell-tale sign is his lack of appearances at United this season, especially in games like the EFL Cup and not even making the bench!

Listening to the callers on our Youtube Channel and reading the live comments it is clear that the vast majority (myself included) know what a talent we have in Memphis. To sell him when he’s still an unknown quantity would be short-sighted. We only bought him 18 months ago for £25mil and during the season before he was Eredivisie’s top scorer with 22 goals. No mean feat.

Since he came to Manchester he had a great start. We all remember those two goals against Club Brugge in the Champions League Qualifiers. However the goals and assists soon dried up and this could come down to a number of reasons. For example playing under LvG, a manager that stifled creativity and anything spontaneous, or that Memphis is a bit of a one trick pony that can only cut inside and shoot. The quality and strength of players in the Premier League is a big step up and it takes any foreign player the best part of a season to bed in to English top flight.

United fans were crying out for him to learn to take the ball wide and whip in a cross just to add variety and be harder to defend against, he’s very Mkhitaryan-esk in terms of the direct running style. Last season he did just that in his best game against Arsenal. During the 3-2 win he showed us what he is capable of; going outside one attack, cutting inside and shooting the next (not to mention a bit of showboating!). Bellerin, one of the best Right Backs in the league, didn’t know what hit him! However, as soon as it started… it stopped. It seems confidence and a run of games is the key to a good Memphis performance.

This season we have a new manager. So has Depay had a fair crack at the whip?
Memphis has started one game since the beginning of the campaign against Northampton in the EFL Cup, but even that was cut short by coming off for Zlatan in the 55th minute. He’s been a used Sub 4 times in the Premier League; coming on in the 88th, 85th, 83rd and 81st minute. He’s featured as a Sub 3 times in the Europa League; coming on in the 66th, 63rd and 81st minute. That is less than a game and a half playing time in total so far this season!

Yes, he’s a professional footballer and should be ready to come on and perform at a moment’s notice, but this is not enough time to have a fair assessment of the potential world class player. So if Jose can’t afford to give him a run of games that Memphis needs to develop then I have a short term and medium term solution.
Short term solution. Stick Memphis in the U23’s to build confidence and demonstrate exactly what he can do. Memphis needs game time and confidence, U23’s are crying out for an attacking player. It’s a win-win situation for the short term, until a loan deal can be sorted.

Medium term solution. Loan Memphis out to a Premier League team (Everton) that will guarantee him game time. This will give him the consistent run of games he needs to get to know the Premier League and prove to Jose what we all know! If he is still not performing or do the business to Man Utd’s standard, we should then (and only then) look to move him on in a permanent deal.

But not now Jose! Not this January!!

When Will Griezmann Depart Madrid?

With January fast approaching, transfer speculation will surely follow. This transfer story is obviously not one for the January window, but could it be one that is completed in the summer.

During Antoine’s interview with Telefoot in September, he will not leave Athletico Madrid while Diego Simeone is manager at the Club. However, two weeks after that interview Simeone had reduced his contract length by two years which has put all major European clubs on red alert for the potential availability of arguably the third best player in the world.

As we’ve said, Simeone’s contract has been reduced by two years and now expires in summer 2018; which obviously means he may stay an extra season following this one, making it less likely Antoine Griezmann will move clubs this summer. However, with a release clause of €100mil and sacking his agent in September, there is no middle man getting in the way like the Pogba deal. Who knows what could happen?

Who are interested in his services? Probably easier to ask the question ‘Who isn’t?’
A whole host of clubs are monitoring the situation: PSG, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Man Utd, Man City and Chelsea.

Antoine has said in his interview with Radio Station France 3, that he doesn’t know the future but PSG are not in his plans at the moment. In other interviews he has expressed interest in joining the French giants in the future but has no desire to play in Ligue 1.

Out of respect to Athletico Madrid he will not play for Real Madrid and Athletico will not let him go to title rivals Barcelona either. Which leaves three remaining interested clubs, and they’re all in England.

The only English Club Antoine has openly flirted with is Manchester United. Usually a player uses transfer speculation to get a better deal with their current club. Having just signed a 5 year deal with Athletico in June 2016 this reason seems very unlikely. Most of the ‘flirting’ has come out since Simeone reduced his contract. He has a very close friendship with Paul Pogba in the National Team and has openly said in his interview with Sky that he would love to play alongside Pogba at Club Level.

“I always ask Paul Pogba about Manchester United. I think they are a huge club with a really good infrastructure. I ask Paul about some of the players, and if they’re really that good, or if Jose Mourinho is really that good.”
“You hear a lot of things about Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain but right now I don’t see me moving to a new club. But it would be awesome to play alongside Paul one day.”

Finally some more trivial points about the potential future transfer. Griezmann’s brother is reported to be a huge Man Utd fan and will no doubt be putting pressure on him to move. Pogba would love to have his best friend at the same club and with Pogba’s recent arrival at United it is unlikely it’ll be Pogba moving. David Beckham is Griezmann’s footballing idol, hence he wears long sleeved jerseys and with the Memphis reports on an impending move to Everton, Beckham’s United Number 7 Jersey will be vacant.

In my opinion this transfer speculation has legs and I think it will happen. It’s just a question of when; this summer (2017)? or next summer (2018), when Simeone’s contract expires.

No Champions League football? Where is Paul Pogba now? Anything is possible!

What do you think? Comment Below!