Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Holy Cow! Six Things We Learned in a Shock Champions League Draw with FC Basel

photo by gamerscoreblogvia PhotoRee

1. I'm stating the obvious here, but United have some major concerns on defense, at least as long as Nemanja Vidic is sidelined. Sure, Basel may have scored three, and emerged with a draw -- but that was only a symptom of the larger problem last night. This is shocking to say, but three is probably the least number of goals Basel should have scored last night, and the number of opportunities the visitors created has to be extremely unsettling for Sir Alex. Especially when noted that last night was a European night -- you know, the same type of European night in which United conceded only once during the Group Stage last season -- this has to be setting off some major alarm bells for the Scot. It's actually quite shocking as to how open a game United are playing, whether by design or accident -- although I can't imagine its by design. Scoring lots of goals has a way of papering over any cracks in defense, but you can be damn well sure that Sir Alex knows this is a situation that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later if this season is to end in trophies of any kind.

2.  Giggsy's vision is still pretty damn good. He may not have the speed or the moves that he used to have, but as he's slowed down, the game seems to have slowed down for him, as well. And by that I mean that Ryan Giggs seems to be seeing the game in slow motion. Sure, Danny Welbeck scored the first two goals of the game, but they were merely the end product of Giggs' Matrix-like vision -- in which the Welshman seems to slow down time itself while pondering his options, and then land the dagger blow with stunning accuracy. He may not be 17 anymore, but Ryan Giggs at age 37 is the very definition of the complete modern player, and -- if this is possible -- even better than he was several years ago.

3. I'm starting to wonder exactly what the Da Silva twins are made of. Maybe marshmallows, possbly a bit of jello mixed with some gummy bears, but definitely not anything very hard. Or anything that lasts a full 90 minutes. In fact, I'm kind of thinking of them as the anti-Viagra....  I tweeted pre-game that I was concerned Sir Alex had opted for no defensive subtitutions on the bench, and wondered aloud the last time either De Silva had managed to play a full 90 minutes -- with the concern in the back of my mind that there was no way Fabio would last the whole game. And it was right about on 70 minutes that the diminutive Brazilian's carriage turned back into a pumpkin, necessitating the movement of Valencia to right back -- clearly not his best position, as the penalty showed -- and the introduction of Nani into the game. I'm not saying that United didn't need Nani, at that particular juncture, but instead that I hate having to use one of our substitutions every game on a defender whenever one of the Da Silvas is in the starting lineup.

4. David De Gea's distribution is excellent -- and a very underrated part of his game, in my opinion. Everyone wants to talk about his shot blocking capabilities -- or, if you're a member of the English media, overlooking that to focus on the 'soft' goals he's allowed -- but  I've lost count this season as to the number of times that De Gea has started an attack from the very back of the pitch. His passing accuracy is extremely good, and it's like having an extra attacker on the pitch when you have a 'keeper who's this good at gettign the ball to the feet of the attacker, and starting yet another fast break There's no let down from Edwin in this regard, and it's hard to believe that the young Spaniard is this skilled at this particular aspect of the game at such an early stage in his career.

5. RedNev's pretty good as a commentator. The match against Basel was the first opportunity I've had to hear the former United defender behind the microphone for a broadcast over here in the States. He's got great insight into the modern game and players -- much of it personal in nature -- and he's also an astute observer of the action on the pitch, describing tactics and philosophies with equal ease. And most importantly, he's not afraid to criticize his old club and point out their deficiencies, of which there were many last night.

6. The streak may still be alive, but just barely. It's been 17 months since United last lost at Old Trafford, and they came darn close last night before being bailed out by a late Ashley Young header that gave us a 3-3 final score. I would not want to be Norwich City this Saturday -- I expect a big bounceback.

This is farlieonfootie for September 28.

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