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Benfica Synopsis

By Mike Oates :  06/11/2009 :  Comments (3) :
With little else to do today, I think I’ve read every comment posted either in the Mailbag or as Fan’s Articles on last night's game. It’s interesting to note that, for every comment that Fellaini was good there was another saying he was a waste of space; for every comment that Bily did the job another said he was disinterested; for every comment that Baines was our only attacking threat, another said he didn’t get a cross in all night. Just goes to show the amount of prejudices held against certain players even before a ball was kicked.

What was even more interesting was the number of comments re the formation, team shape, players positions we supposedly had throughout the night, why was Yakubu left wing? Bily played better in the middle... why was Cahill in the defensive midfield role? etc etc.

I think the real problem is that the 14-15 players we are using at the moment know they have serious limitations in the creativity area and so much emphasis is being placed on keeping a clean sheet and sneaking a goal. Keeping a clean sheet at the moment is a dream; we have a back 4 changing every game, a back 4 lacking a true leader and a back 4 with little quality cover in front of them.

Sneaking a goal is Cahill’s expertise area but again his form is dire. The reasons again would fill an article ranging from he can't play with Fellaini, he’s knackered, he’s lost his creator in Arteta, the captaincy role is affecting him etc etc. Yakubu is still 3-4 weeks away from being fit and we rely on Saha for any goal we manufacture.

What we are witnessing is a team devoid of shape, ideas, devoid of true creative quality, and devoid of pitch leadership. The players have lost faith in themselves, faith in their mates and, quite frankly, faith in Moyes and the coaching staff to help them turn it round. The crowd are also turning on them when in all honesty these 14-15 players have got the management and tools to do anything about it at the moment. We all know the reasons we are where we are and we cant do anything about it until we get Neville, Jags, Pinnear and Arteta back, or at least 3 of them. The worry we all have is how long is this going to take and what will be left for us. I cant see us getting anything from Athens and even Bate should have won easily at their ground – so will we be in Europe still?

Most of our games in the Premier League over the next 4 weeks are tough: West Ham, Man U, Liverpool, Spurs and Chelsea – only Hull where we should win?? So what say languishing in bottom 5.

My fears as expressed in numerous comments recently is basically we don’t qualify for Europe at all next season and our hopes to retain our better players is gone. Begs the question... Was Lescott right?

Reader Comments

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Alasdair Mackay
1   Posted 07/11/2009 at 12:33:49

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Wow!

Cheer up - it’s not that bad!

At least we have the players coming back, because we certainly don’t have the money to go out and sign new ones.

I’ve just posted on Selby Well’s article about where I think the problems lay with Benfica, so I am not going to go into that again, but I do agree with some of the things mentioned in this article.

We are relying too much on Saha a the moment, chiefly because Cahill is in miserable form and Yak is not 100% yet. Both these things will change with a couple of breaks of the ball.

Do we lack leadership? To an extent - the leadership provided by Phil Neville is a tough act to emulate.

Is Fellaini rubbish? No - massively limited. He is not a central midfield player and not a centre forward. He is a support striker. So is Jo and so is Cahill (all 3 offering a different type of threat, but all 3 having to play in less suitable roels at present).

Is Billy better through the middle? Jury’s our on his best position. he does not hvae the pace to beat a full back on his stronger foot, so can’t play on the left wing. I am not sure he has the strength to play in the middle in the premier league yet. For me his best position is on the right, where he can cut in onto his left, wrong-footing the left footed left back he is up against and giving him the time he needs to put in a good cross. I also think that this suits us in terms of the other side. Piennar’s tendancy to cut in from the left means he is forcing a right back onto his left foot and creating space for Baines’s overlaps.

I think it is a tough ask to get Europen football next season, outside of wnning either the Europa or FA Cups, but I am not sure the players will leave. Most are such big fans of Moyes that they will stay and make sure we qualify next season.
Phil Paulson
2   Posted 07/11/2009 at 14:22:05

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Three things, Mike.

1. Fellaini.
A support striker?
A striker, whether support or otherwise, must do one of two things - score or make chances in the box ( think Sharp, Gray or Heath); Fellaini has litle talent at either.

Actually, I wonder how he ever became a footballer at all. I think he’s just someone who was really interested in football and played a lot as a kid. But the physical body that is Fellaini is not a natural born player.

Too tall, too thin and too slow - if he does half a dozen good things in a game, he equally disappears for 90% of it, or makes two dozen crap passes or attempts countless mis-timed tackles.

2. Bilyaletdinov

He doesn’t need pace to be very effective. He just needs to focus on his strengths.

Sheedy was not fast as wingers go. Soem would say he was slow as wingers go.

But he created so much with vision and the ability to play a pass.

3. Generally we do lack pace where it matters, and equally, we lack movement when it matters.

We also lack the ability to vary the pace of the play. Think of how Reid and Bracewell could slow it down and speed it up. Except for Arteta at the top of his form, we lack a midfield general.
Andy Morden
3   Posted 07/11/2009 at 20:23:48

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I actually thought that fear was a large problem of Thursday's performance — we seemed static and players were reluctant to leave their station when we had the ball. Our first priorty seemed to be to keep a disciplined shape and not allow Benfica to punish us. As a result, it struck me that no-one ever tried to break from midfield, or try a run to confuse the opposition. Such a shame to see.

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