Article courtesy of the excellent The Busby Way
Welcome to the seventh issue of The Red Report, the round table discussion of all things Manchester United by your favourite United blogs: The Busby Way, Stretford-End, Bangalore To Old Trafford, ManUtd24, and Red Force Rising.
This week we look focus on three players – one currently playing for the club; one out on loan; and one true Red legend. After three defeats in four games we also assess what’s going on at our rivals, Chelsea.
Anderson tends to split opinion amongst everyone – fans, pundits and the media. Amidst rumours of a potential loan move in January we ask the question – what does his future hold? I stress this topic was chosen before the game against Blackburn
Chudi | The Busby Way: If ever there was a shut your mouth moment then yesterday was it. Anderson has a lot of detractors and rightly so as he hasn’t developed as we had expected. In his first season his performances lead us to sing of his toilet habits involving a certain Arsenal player and even though it may be in jest even those of us with the rosiest of rose tinted specs can’t truly believe it. Then he plays like he did yesterday and you start to see what kind of player he can be, surging runs, good positive passing, good ball retention etc.
I was starting to lose patience with Anderson many people had too but a tantalising performance like yesterday’s whets the appetite and buys him extra time, he is only 22 so the ability to consistently perform like that isn’t going to be there but we just hope he can play more like that more often than not.
Doron | Stretford-End: My thoughts on Anderson are not some knee-jerk reaction to his performance against Blackburn. In fact, for some time now I’ve been singing his praises and almost making it my mission to get Reds on his side.
At only 22 he’s a superb talented with heaps of unfulfilled potential. I believe he has been too hastily written off by people recently. It’s very hard to judge a player who is in and out of the side without a consistent run, let alone a player who has had some bad injuries. It’s true that the jury are still very much out to make their verdict on Anderson but played in the correct position for a consistent run will give the best conditions for him to be judged.
My pro-Anderson propaganda started in July and I decided it was necessary to update it on Friday in a new blog.
Siddarth | Bangalore to Old Trafford: Ando’s performance against Blackburn should put to rest all speculation of him leaving the club for now, it was a glimpse of what he is capable of, he was the driving force in midfield and that sublime pass for Nani’s goal just summed up his day, just excellent!
Like Nani, he’s struggled to settle in but he’s slowly finding his feet, and all he needs is a long run of games in the first team to help him improve, and things look very positive in that sense, if Ando can continue to perform like he did against Blackburn, then I don’t think we need to look far for a successor to Paul Scholes!
TG | ManUtd24: I really hope Anderson stays at the club. He has much more to offer, as he showed against Blackburn on Saturday. He played a part in the first two, before setting up the seventh – he got an assist for goodness sakes! I guess his problem is that he never really had a defined position, and so he could never nail down any real consistency. Against Rovers, he made 99 passes – 94 of which were successful – and so he, from that one performance alone, looked a revelation partnering Michael Carrick and playing just a bit behind him. Anderson has a future at the club, he’s had many other good games for the club but I’ll admit he didn’t quite lived up to the ‘next Ronaldinho’ tag. Still, he has more to offer the club – I’d personally be surprised if he leaves in January.
Alan | RedForceRising: Some journos have said he hasn’t lived up to his £17m price tag and maybe they have a point, but they don’t see the potential and talent I see in him. Anderson is probably the only player we have who can play delightful through balls along the ground to unlock a defence and play team mates into dangerous space. He also has the ability to pass the ball just in front of his team mates to run on to, unlike Carrick or Fletcher who tend to pass directly to the target or even slightly behind the target.
Anderson’s all-round game and ability to carry the ball forward are also very, very good. He’s just one of those unfancied players whose abilities tend to get underplayed. However, he really needs to work on his consistency. Energetic and dynamic displays like Yesterday’s haven’t occurred regularly enough and his off-the-ball movement is absolutely criminal at times.
I’m quite convinced this will be Anderson’s make or break season. If he buckles up, stops partying and focuses, he can go on to achieve great things. If he doesn’t, he’s going to become one of those journey men footballers who end up playing in Greece, Turkey and then the Middle East or the MLS.
(For more on Anderson, as well as Rooney and why their return to form and fitness are essential to United’s title aspirations based on tactical factors, please read my blog of the week)
Kyle | Stretford-End: In the middle of the week Anderson was linked with a loan move to Panathinaikos and on Saturday he was putting in what would’ve been a Man of the Match performance if not for Berbatov. Now what he really needs to do is pick up where he’s left off. It’s no secret this is a huge season for Anderson’s future at Old Trafford, and now he’s taken his chance well against Blackburn. Hopefully now he’s earned himself a run of games and can show us why Sir Alex signed him in 2007.
I think one important thing we need to do as fans is to adjust our expectations for the Brazilian. When he first arrived we saw him as an attacking midfielder and expected goals. As he’s developed though, I think it’s become clear that Anderson isn’t going to be the second coming of Ronaldinho that some anticipated. He’s developed into more of a deep-lying play maker. We saw against Blackburn that Anderson is capable of creating chances with his passing. Not only that, but his strength and energetic play makes him a good enforcer as well. He does need to improve his goalscoring certainly even in that role, but I don’t think he’s going to be the goalscoring midfielder we all thought he would be.
That said, I do think Anderson still has a future at United. Just because he hasn’t become the player we expected doesn’t mean he needs to be shown the door. He’s become a different type of player than what we anticipated, but it’s certainly a role that we could use. He had a fantastic game against Blackburn showing why Stretford-End has tirelessly campaigned for him. I look for him to build off of that in the coming weeks.
Clearly, United fans want Anderson to succeed but something just hasn’t clicked yet. Without being too knee-jerky, hopefully yesterday will be the start of a new chapter.
With four goals in three games for Sunderland, Danny Welbeck has hit the headlines. It would appear our young loan star is settling in and playing well for his team. Here’s how we think his loan is going as we consider his future:
Alan | RedForceRising: I ran an impromptu poll on Twitter recently asking if United fans would swap him for Jordan Henderson and the 40 0dd replies I received indicated that 60% were not in favour of doing so with 40% being quite emphatic about taking that deal.
The reasons were that he is unlikely to make it as a striker at United, whereas Henderson could make it as a central midfielder or that he simply wasn’t United class and didn’t have the potential to become “United quality”.
For me, we owe it to him to give him that chance. He’s born in Longsight, he’s got bags of pace, good ball control and is starting to find the net regularly. Danny has been doing what you’re supposed to be doing on loan and he’s improved with every game. He’s growing in confidence and it shows in his displays and decision-making. His all-round game is already way ahead of Macheda’s and that’s why Kiko needs to go out on loan next season and Welbeck needs to be at old Trafford where he should get a chance to prove if he has got what it takes to make the step up at United.
TG | ManUtd24: Steve Bruce is definitely enjoying his early Christmas present from Fergie. He now has four from his last three; and a reason as to why is that Brucie has played him more centrally. And sure, Bruce will make an offer. I’m still wary though – time will tell whether or not Welbeck can continue to develop. I hope by next season, we have a more mature, disciplined forward because everything else is there already. He needs to build on these performances for the Black Cats, and a couple of goals against our most fierce rivals wouldn’t do him any harm either.
Siddarth | Bangalore to Old Trafford: I had my doubts about Danny, he had never really lived up to all the promise he was showing at the academy and reserves level, he looked a promising prospect but I was always worried that wouldn’t really be able to find a position he’s best at, his attributes were enough to be a winger or a striker, but not exceptional in either position. But his growth physically over the last season has certainly helped him.
He’s now a threat in the air, and physically tough too, and Is finally starting to become the player Sir Alex rates so highly. Guess all he needed was a continuous run of games, and under Steve Bruce he’s improved tremendously, I hope we don’t sell him, and bring him back for next season; he’s going to be a real asset to have in the team. I think Macheda could also do with a loan, playing regular first team football; hopefully he can too next season
Doron | Stretford-End: I must confess that I’ve not watched much of Welbeck whilst he’s been on loan at Sunderland. Certainly I started to pay more attention when I saw he was starting against Chelsea, coincidentally the same game he started to make positive headlines. Welbeck first came to prominence in the first team three years ago when he travelled with the squad to the Middle East for Sami Al-Jaber’s testimonial, unfortunately Welbeck missed a penalty in the last minute in that game. Since then he’s often made the most of limited opportunities at United but also been frustrated by his selection as a winger.
This loan move to Sunderland seemed perfect – regular action upfront. Unfortunately it’s taken until the past few games for him to feature upfront rather than on the wing, and he are seeing the rewards. He looks, strong, quick, powerful, clever and with 4 well taken goals in his last 3 games he’s in form. I’ll be keeping a close eye on him over the next few weeks, and maybe at the end of the season United will have a real gem of a player returning.
Kyle | Stretford-End: I wrote a piece about Danny Welbeck recently for Stretford-End, and since then he’s scored again. Welbeck put in some indifferent performances early in his loan with Sunderland, but he’s really started to click in recent weeks notching up four goals in three matches, one of which was against Chelsea. Steve Bruce has started using Welbeck up front rather than on the wings, and that move has clearly paid dividends. That perhaps illustrates why Welbeck has failed to establish himself at United thus far where Sir Alex has often used Welbeck on the wings.
My one concern has started to flare up unfortunately. Steve Bruce has made public his intentions to try to sign Welbeck on a permanent deal. After all the promise Welbeck has shown in recent weeks it would be a shame if we didn’t bring him back next season. Hopefully, Welbeck’s performances have done the exact opposite and forced himself into Sir Alex’s plans. It’s hard to forget former prospects like Fraizer Campbell and Giuseppe Rossi who were allowed to move on. It would be a real shame if Welbeck follow that path.
Chudi | The Busby Way: I have a friend who feels that the loan spell for Danny Welbeck spells the end of his United career and slowly but surely he is being made to eat his words. Welbeck has shown whilst at the Stadium of Light that he can score goals, something that a few people worried about and the types of goals he is scoring are just as important as he is in the boxing getting them in rather than the spectacular efforts we have seen already. His header yesterday was a quality finish and looking at him it appears the loan spell has done him the world of good as his confidence has risen so many levels. I have always favoured Welbeck over Macheda as I feel as an overall player he offers more with the addition of goals (which if you followed his academy and reserve career you knew he had in him), he looks an even more exciting player. I would like for him to have a future at the club even if he won’t be drawn on talking about it at the moment.
It seems that the club owe it to him to give him the opportunity to perform at Old Trafford.
Our third United topic is another player debate: we remembered Red legend, George Best this past week. Five years since his death we share our emotions for one of the best players ever to have played the game…
Kyle | Stretford-End: Unfortunately, George Best was well before my time but that hasn’t stopped me for developing an enormous respect for him. I’m not going to claim that I love Best as much as older fans who were around to see him play. Those who were lucky enough to have see him play live have been touched by Best in ways us younger fans could never be. Just like one day the next generation will honour Ryan Giggs but will never be affected by him the way we were.
Sadly my only glimpses of Best have come from video clips, but what I’ve seen gives me chills. It’s not hard to see that he was a special player. I honestly feel like nothing I say could do Best justice. I don’t think there could be any higher praise than from another of our club’s beloved legends. So instead I turn to Eric Cantona: “After his first training session in heaven, George Best, from his favourite right-wing, turned the head of God who was filling in at left-back. He nutmegged him and scored a wonderful goal from 30 yards out. I would love him to save me a place in his team – George Best that is, not God.”
Chudi | The Busby Way: George Best was way before my time so my memories of him sadly aren’t footballing ones I remember George Best from Sky Sports ‘Soccer Saturday’ and looking back at it now the way in which all though he was ribbed like everyone he was also revered gives you an inkling of how high the panel thought of him. Looking back at footage, he looks an artisan, magical with the ball and perhaps beyond a fully fit Rooney, the kind of player we lack now.
Sadly a lot of younger fans/people will remember George for the champagne lifestyle as that’s the kind of thing that is hyped these days amongst people of my generation but the thing to remember is, without the tremendous talent that he had, it wouldn’t have been possible.
Doron | Stretford-End: Being a mere 22 years of age, my memories of Best The Footballer come from endless VHS, DVD and YouTube watching. Quite simply he was a genius. A man playing football in the 60s but in the style of players in the 90s and beyond. Best would have stood out in any era.
I’ll always feel guilty that there was nothing I could do to help his fight against his addiction to alcohol. Seeing the old footage of his playboy lifestyle I find myself wanting to step in and tell him how it’ll impact upon his life. Quite rightly though, George will always be remembered for his footballing talents. I find it bizarre that when people name the greatest players of all time, so often he is a side thought – for me, he’s one of the first names I think of.
His place in Manchester United history is secure; we must make sure we always teach the younger generations about the legend of George Best.
Siddarth | Bangalore to Old Trafford: I was unfortunately never lucky enough to see Best play, but from the videos that I have seen of him, i know I missed watching a Maestro at his best. Though his off field activities did take up a lot of press, everyone will remember Best for what he did on the pitch, and that was just being almost magical. Best is easily amongst the greatest players ever to play United, and I don’t think anything I say can describe how great a player he was, his skill and ability will go unmatched even today.
TG | ManUtd24: Was there ever a more aptly-named player, other than, of course, Danny Shittu or Robbie Savage? Bestie played long before I ever existed but, having watched numerous amounts of footage of him, I can see why people give him legendary status. The man had it all – the money, the girls, the attention but his late death was tragic and a sad time for us all. However, it’s was his football that should be talked about rather than his boozy lifestyle; and, heck, he was definitely above the rest.
Alan |RedForceRising: “In 1969 I gave up women and alcohol – it was the worst 20 minutes of my life” – George Best
The man was an utter legend on and off the pitch. Everything he did was extravagant and extraordinary. People will talk about all his attributes, but the two main aspects which always have me in awe are his balance and ability to run past players as if they weren’t there. Almost every highlight reel of Best will show some poor schmuck of a defender lunging into a last-ditch tackle and sometimes they even managed to connect. It didn’t matter – all George had to do was adjust his body slightly and off he went to score yet another goal. I’ve watched countless documentaries on this legend and he was awe-inspiring. I literally watch with an open, gaping mouth. It seems physically impossible how he managed to ride those challenges and stay on his feet.
The other great aspect of his game was Bestie’s ability to weave past players – nothing less than extraordinary! A swivel of the hips here, a shuffle of the feet there and he was away, gliding past one, two, three, four defenders and then refusing to pass to an open team mate, because he knew he would score. And he did.
At times he would be marked by two players and just had to fake one way, then the other and then just ran in between the two. Exquisite! There are few players in history who have played football that could inspire so much awe – Diego Maradonna, Messi, a young Ryan Giggs and as much as it pains me to say, the MasterCard man himself, Pele. Maradonna good. Pele better. George Best! Amen!
As per usual we decided to look at a non-United topic. Last year’s champions, Chelsea, have suffered a blip lately. Is this nerves, injuries or something else? We discuss what is going on at Stamford Bridge:
Chudi | The Busby Way: I won’t be shedding a tear for Chelsea, many of their problems at least off field are of their own doing. Wilkins was shown the door and whilst the official line is Arnesen stepped down I’m more inclined to believe he was forced out of the door. On field I have a touch more sympathy as they are missing important players but to be fair it happens to everyone. Nobody cried for us when we had all those defenders out last season so why should we care because they are missing Terry, Lampard etc. They sold off a number of team players in the summer Ballack, Deco, Carvalho etc I’m pretty sure they are ruing that decision now.
Doron | Stretford-End: I write this before Chelsea take on Newcastle this weekend. Their dip in form has coincided with injuries within the squad. This is no surprise to me. I highlighted pre-season that Chelsea’s squad is way too thin. They badly needed to bring in four or five players this summer, just for squad usage. It’s admirable that they are attempting to bring through youth but these are not the conditions to do so. One should never be forced into playing youth players because of injuries (unless it’s a huge crisis) – if that is the case then the squad is too thin – youth should be brought in transitionally so that there is less pressure on young players. I think Lampard’s influence is also being missed. I don’t like the guy but I have huge respect for him as a player – 142 goals in the past 7 seasons is just ridiculous, a measure of just how important he is to their cause.
Additionally, something clearly isn’t right at the club. First Wilkins leaves and now Arnesen is following him out the door – behind the scenes there has to be unrest. They’ll forever be obsessed by attempting to win the CL, but personally I feel that this year Chelsea won’t win anything and I can see some fans pressure being put on Abramovich to spend again or leave.
Siddarth | Bangalore to Old Trafford: Chelsea have gone from the best team in the Premiership and the unstoppable juggernauts to the other end in the matter of weeks, Chelsea’s so called unbeatable streak was more or less down to the weaker opposition they faced and the hype loving English Media, not surprising that they were the first to ditch them when they started to struggle!
As much as I hate Chelsea, I respect their manager and hopefully Carlo doesn’t get the sack just because they are facing a dip in form, the only reason they won the title last year was Carlo, and surely they won’t be stupid enough to let him go? They have just been missing fat Frank, and other key players off late and it would be silly to blame Ancelloti for it.
Kyle | Stretford-End: Something really strange is going on at Chelsea, and if I was a fan of the club I would start growing concerned. Ray Wilkins leaves under mysterious terms and now Frank Arnesen is apparently set to leave at the end of the season. All these changes in the back room are certainly not doing any favours for the club. It’s no coincidence that Chelsea’s dip in form has coincided with Wilkins’ departure.
The instability in the club’s staff isn’t solely to blame for the club’s recent struggles. Chelsea went into the season lacking depth. Carlo Ancelotti went into this campaign not even using all of their allotted squad places. Whether or not that was his choice is unknown, but I’m sure he’s hoping he had reinforcements right now. Some crucial injuries have occurred and the club has struggled to cope without adequate backups available. For years now United have been using their depth to push for honours on all fronts. Apparently that lesson never reached Stamford Bridge.
When Roman Abramovich first bought Chelsea, he was more than willing to splash the cash which led the club to their first title in 50 years. With the turn in the economy, the funds of suddenly vanished and it’s starting to show. The star signings that Chelsea were making five years ago are no more, and now it’s starting to show. The club is obviously still a title contender and I expect United to be doing battle with them until the very end, but there are certainly some growing problems at Stamford Bridge.
TG | ManUtd24: This is fun, eh? They’ve obviously suffered with many key players missing. I think they’ll lose more as the season progresses but will still be the biggest threat to the championship race. Although, I wouldn’t want to get too excited. Knowing Chelsea, one result and everything clicks back and normal service is resumed. This season will be tight; and don’t be surprised if it goes to the very last day of the season again.
Alan | RedForceRising: I’ve had a fair few run-ins with neutrals and Chelsea fans about the depth of their squad and their title chances. Chelsea are seen as the main title contenders this season and rightly so, but when neutrals, Chelsea fans and even pundits proclaimed two months ago (late September FFS!) that Chel$ki were going to run away with title, my feathers got ruffled. Chelsea no longer have the quality in depth they once had and some people simply refuse to acknowledge that, but if you need to player Didier Drogba when he’s still battling Malaria, that should be telling you something.
To understand why Chelsea were relatively frugal in the transfer market, you need to read this article on Chelsea’s academy.
The way I see it, Abramovic feels he’s splashed enough cash already and from the moment he took over at the club, he put a lot of resources into Chelsea’s academy and it’s time for the academy to start repaying those efforts. This might also partly explain why Frank Arnesen is set to leave at the end of the season. He has served his purpose as Chelsea’s sporting director and is no longer required.
Roman will also be acutely aware of UEFA’s financial fair play regulations and if they are to comply with that, they’ll need to supplement their high-salaried stars with talented youngsters, who cost significantly less.
It has been particularly pleasing to see Chelsea falter recently; losing two matches in a row for the first time in something like 166 matches and in doing so have proved me right. Nobody “runs away with title” in late September and people are currently under-estimating this United team, because we didn’t sign big-name players in the summer. Watch this space.
Their dip in form won’t last forever but clearly something isn’t right in SW London.