I'd go with the same team depending on how Ando is, clearly not 100% but he'll be a lot better after tonight, maybe Saturday will be too soon though. Park the other debateable selection in my opinion. Would like to see Bebe or Obertan get a chance, but I think Fergie will stick with Park's energy, experience and intelligence. Park is better off centrally than as a winger now it seems.
Ando looked exhausted as he came off, more likely that we'll see Gibson start along with Fletcher, even Berba looked tired, people forget he's 29-30 and he's been working really hard in games, much more than he has been in the last 2 seasons at least.
Sunderland are a tough game, wrong time to go there i think, they're on a high, been getting good results lately,
We might look a bit like this to try to allow Berba and Ando some rest as they both played very hard and looked spent when they came off in Spain. I see us scoring two against Sunderland and claiming our second clean sheet in a row. Back four starts to gain positive confidence in each other as a unit.
I'd prefer us to go 4-5-1 at Sunderland. But I don't think we've got anyone else who can play as a lone striker, doubt Berba can do it for 2 games in a row either. Still expect Berba to play Saturday as he's got a break coming up due to internationals. Berba and Owen seems likely but despite Owen's recent goals, he still seems 5th choice after last night. But then maybe Chicha and Kiko were the better options off the bench due to their pace.
Rafael looked injured for about 10 mins before he actually went off, not sure if he will start on Saturday, played brilliantly though. If he is injured I hope Brown plays but I think JOS will, Wesley seems oddly out of favour, not sure what the crack is there.
if Rio is not playing, is it too silly to say maybe Smalling deserves a chance?
even i think Fergie will start Berba and play him for maybe 65-70 mins?
with Scholesy missing there's a good chance that we might go 4-5-1vs S'land?
Fletcher-Gibson-Anderson/Carrick in midfield
with Rooney out, i think Berba is our only option.. he's been better than last season as a lone striker, working hard to get the ball.. Sunderland's defense isn't the greatest either, they're play Phil Bardsley at LB. but their attack and midfield is great
Still questions for me over who is at RB. Rafael played a bit at LB recently, I assume JOS is at LB though. Are we 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 the other question. Ando is naturally left footed so might well be playing on the left.
Don't know what to say, still trying to figure out our formation and Fergie's thinking... Why have we got Owen and Kiko swapping as left wing in the first half. Then we bring Berba on and keep Kiko on the wing, didn't realise he was a winger. Not even bothering talking about anything else, it was all dreadful. Apart from the defence.
Ando was the main positive from the game for me. Scholes and Fletch weren't at their best especially Fletch, hasn't got going really this season. The way we lined up, we'd have been better off playing Bebe and Berba from the off. Kiko and Owen just weren't suited to how we setup. Left side was like playing without a winger. Might have been better with Evra playing. Can't fault O'Shea on much today though.
The stream I had didn't even have english commentary, I was saved. Hard to know who was on the ball at times but sometimes it's a blessing to not have to put up with muppets like David Pleat and Steve Mcmananamanamanaman. The irish guy on ITV who's name I can't remember right now is also annoying. Jim Goblin or something. David Pleat is the worst though.
I thought we were made to really suffer by Sunderland's energetic performance, and we can count ourselves a little lucky to escape with a point. Its disappointing that we passed up on yet another chance to put some real pressure on Chelsea, but I guess with Sunderland having taken points against many of the big teams this season, a draw against them can be considered a respectable result in the context of this season, especially when it could have been much worse for us.
I believe the biggest takeaway from this is not really about the lack of quality, but rather the lack of versatility in the players we used today. The idea behind the starting XI was the correct one imo: with Berbatov running himself into the ground in Valencia, it made perfect sense to start with some fresh legs up front in Owen and Macheda. Furthermore, given the energy of Sunderland's midfield, playing with two in the middle could have cost us, so the choice of Anderson, Fletcher and Scholes was sound as well. The catch is, for the system to work, Anderson, being the pseudo-left midfielder, would need to have the tactical know-how to know when to drift in to help Scholes and Fletcher, and when to stay out left help protect the leftback. Furthermore, when Anderson does drift in, one of either Owen and Macheda would have to slot in to the left flank to cover the space left behind, essentially playing a little like what Pandev did for Inter Milan last season: a more defensively minded forward down the left. As it turned out, Anderson clearly lacks the tactical savvy that is necessary for his role, having stayed perpetually in the middle, and while Owen and Macheda tried to drift out to the left at times, they were clearly only familiar with playing centrally, and failed to be a factor at all. As a result, this caused our team to have a really lop-sided look to it, with our only real attacking outlet down the right through Nani and Rafael, and the left totally non-existent, made worse by the presence of the more defensively-minded O'Shea at left back. Little wonder that we put out a disjointed performance and offered little going forward.
The substitutions for Berbatov, Hernandez and Bebe late on helped to give our a team a more familiar shape to it, and we had a few opportunities to sneak the win, but with Sunderland still working hard, it was really tough for us all the way to the end. Imo Rooney could have helped a bit today tbh, as he was familiar with playing as a left wing forward, and could have filled the gap left behind by the centrally-drifting Anderson. Ultimately today is just a day when the tactics were right, but the players used were unfortunately unable to adapt their game to make it work.
Before the game, I commented here that I didn't like the idea of seeing Anderson as a winger. And in the game my fears were confirmed. Ferguson had tried this before with Gibson and the result was the same. The team needed a left winger and there wasn't. As with Gibson, Anderson ended up playing more centralized. And despite errors in marking and passing, he was the best man in the midfield. by the way, what a mess this midfield yestarday. Scholes was null, Fletcher was bad again, Nani had a quiet performance. and tMacheda had to be the left winger. And most affected with that was Owen, which was isolated in attack. He didn't play as sole striker, he can't be the sole striker. Started in 4-4-2, then 4-3-3, 4-5-1 and ended at 4-6-0.
The team only started playing in the last 10 minutes. Things only improved when Chicharito was on the game.
The positive thing was once again the defense. Another game without conceding goals. Rafael played well. Vidic and Ferdinand were two monsters yesterday. The team don't suffered a defeat yesterday because of them. But O'shea, was the big disappiontment. Was OK in the second half with some decent tackles and marking. But it was very bad in the first half. Gave too much space on the left and everything was wrong. Passing and crossing mainly. I think he should stay out of the team for a while. As I said before, since his last injury he has not been the same.
The team started slowly, as in other seasons. But there's always that period between December and February that the team flies in the season. and that's my hope.
My time machine is working, I've been to 1995, 1998, 2002, 2005 and 2006 in a matter of minutes. And every time, despite being written off as 'finished' 'no longer having the energy' 'his empire is crumbling about him', etc, Fergie has ultimately had the last laugh. I'm gonna fecking piss myself the next time we win a trophy and all the doomsayers act like they didn't write us off.
Me too. We always improve as the season goes on. When we come back after the international break we need to hit the ground running, West Brom are doing well this season but at OT I think it's the perfect place to get the season back on track.