Thursday, August 24, 2006

MidWeek RoundUp (23 Aug 2006)

Despite ManUtd without the services of Ruud van Nistelrooy, Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney, the Red Devils were still able to carve Charlton apart with a majestic 3-0 performance.

Ironically, star-studded Chelsea fell 1-2 to unfancied Middlesbrough.

Perhaps there is something we can infer from this?

Perhaps ManUtd's lacklustre performance last year was due to over-reliance on Rooney and van Nistelrooy which as a result, got too comfortable to want to break out of the realm of familarity? The lack of creativity proved to be ManUtd's demise as they keep sticking to the formula of feeding the ball up front and let the strikers do the rest of the work. Having figured that out, opponents were able to cut off the ball supply to the front and time and again frustrate the strikers. As frustration grows, more bodies get thrown forward leaving the back vulnerable to counter attacks which costs us valuable points in the running for the title.

The absence of Rooney, Scholes and van Nistelrooy, this time round, is just proof of the fact that Fergie needed a new strategy as a work-around. This certainly paid dividends as Charlton weren't able to handle the new attack strategy of ManUtd.

The keyword is Creativity. As soon as your game gets figured out, you are finished. Just as Beckham, during his last season at Old Trafford, was neutralised by Real Madrid during their Champions League's clash. It was finally figured out that Beckham only knows how to run down the flanks and provide the perfect cross. So as long as the flanks get locked down, Beckham is useless as unlike Zidane or Figo, this ex-Captain England, can't dribble for nuts.

Another prime example is Ipswich when they first burst into the EPL. They did very well for the first season, even getting a place in the UEFA Cup tournament at the end. However, it was only 2 seasons before the Tractor Boys ran out of ideas and was easily taken apart after that. Ipswich was relegated only after 2 seasons in the top flight.

Another keyword is Continuity. Middlesbrough deserves full accolades for the scalp over Chelsea. This is a team of 16-strong where over half of them rose from the junior ranks of the academy. As disastrous as Bryan Robson did when he was manager of Boro, this is one area he did right as part of his re-organisation efforts of the backroom before McClaren took over.

Looking at the squad lists of both Boro and Chelsea, we learned that simply splashing the cash to buy in superstars isn't the real way to go. Not in the long run, at the very least. Superstars don't always gel very well right away but academy juniors do as they have been playing together since way back. The partnerships of Neville brothers, Beckham, Scholes, Giggs as well as the second generation of juniors of Fletcher, Brown and O'Shea are exactly what separates a great team from a good one. Financially, it is also most prudent for how many Ambramovich can there be in this world?

Let's keep the game of football beautiful and not stink of money.

Anyway, get ready for Fergie's 3rd crop of academy graduates making their mark in the EPL this season.


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