A Comprehensive Analysis Of All Goals Conceded By Man Utd This Season


Picture Courtesy-Graeme Bandeira

Manchester United have played 11 games this season and have conceded 11 goals. While they look brilliant going forward they have looked shaky at times at the back. Their opponents have had an average of 15 shots on goal per game, while the policy of you score 3 we score 4 might provide classic entertainment,but the great United sides were always built on a strong defense. Some still blame the midfield, some blame the loss of United’s “Captain marvel” Vidic and the rest just blame Carrick, Berbatov or Gibson. Let’s investigate the crime scenes and find out the culprit.

Manchester United Vs Manchester City

1: Dzeko (2-0, 45+1min): With nobody in a red shirt within 15 yards of Carrick, he attempts to make a pass to Welbeck which gets intercepted. From there on City make a couple of passes and United’s midfield now lacks shape as Anderson is too far away from his midfield partner leaving united with a front 5 and a back 5 with Dzeko having all the space and time in the world to let fly from 30 yards. De Gea who was on his United debut,fails to get down quick enough to stop the shot from finding the bottom corner.
Verdict: Carrick and Anderson were too far apart,therefore Carrick had to aim an ambitious pass, and when City launch an attack United are left with a flat back 5 and no one even tries to close Dzeko or get in a block. De Gea who was making his debut and that too in a Manchester derby at wembley was bound to have nerves.This shows that the simple passing game of Michael Carrick is highly effective in retaining possession and building momentum,even though Cleverely’s been in good form,i doubt that in the tough away fixtures in the Champions League,Carrick will be watching the game rather being on the pitch.

West Brom Vs Manchester United

2: Long (1-1, 37min): Smalling heads a long ball into the path of Ferdinand who heads it into the path of Fabio who is in the center of the midfield alongside Anderson, with Cleverley nowhere near. Fabio has a poor first touch and gets dispossessed. To be fair Fabio does come back to help out the defence but is easily shoved away by Tchoyi. By the time Tchoyi’s ball comes to the feet of Long,Cleverley comes back to help out the defence and Albion manage to get five players forward. Long plays a one two with Brunt and the move creates a yard of space for Long to hit a shot before either of Smalling or Cleverley can get in a tackle.The shot beats De Gea,who clearly failed to get down quick enough.
Verdict: Cleverley returns slowly and therefore Anderson is left alone in midfield. Fabio has a poor first touch and therefore United concede possession cheaply and are short on numbers at the back. Fabio lacks the upper body strength to make a proper challenge,so he fails to make amends for his mistake and De Gea  makes his second blunder in 2 matches.

Manchester United Vs Arsenal

3: Walcott (3-1, 45+3min): With 2 mins of stoppage time already played and United leading by 3 goals Anderson tries to find Rooney with a through ball that is over hit. Szczesny then finds an Arsenal player and they build an attack, Arshavin’s cross is chested down by Evra but his right foot clearance lacks distance. Ramsey wins the aerial battle against Anderson and slips the ball into Arshavin who finds Rosicky. Now Cleverley, Jones and Evra are close to the midfield two of arshavin and Rosicky thereby leaving plenty of space behind them and no one to mark Walcott as Evra is completely out of position. Rosicky manages to pick out one of Walcott and Van persie who are in acres of space. Walcott fires a low shot from a tight angle that goes through the legs of De Gea.
Verdict: With a minute of stoppage time remaining and United leading 3-0 it was foolish on Anderson’s part to attempt an ambitious through ball and give possession away. Evra makes a poor clearance with his wrong foot and Anderson makes no effort to win the aerial challenge. Evra and Jones both go to close down Rosicky and that results in the defence losing its shape.Clear lack of communication between the defenders.

4: Van Persie(6-2, 74min): United get caught on the counter attack with Smalling on the right wing. Arshavin finds Jenkinson with a superb ball that Young can’t reach and as Evra is infield he is caught in no man’s land. Jenkinson puts the ball into the box and Jones gets his head onto it but his clearance goes straight back to Jenkinson who heads the ball into the path of Van Persie. With Jones’s momentum carrying him into the goal, Van Persie who is onside slams the ball into the net from a couple of yards.
Verdict: It was a superb counter attack from Arsenal who had managed to catch Evra out of position. Jones should have headed the ball out for a corner, but showed his lack of experience by trying to keep the ball in play especially when United were short on numbers at the back and were caught on the break.

Manchester United Vs Chelsea

5: Torres (3-1, 46min): Chelsea start the second half and manage to keep possession for 30+secs. Mata finds Anelka on the left wing and Cole makes an overlapping run to take Smalling with him. Nani is a little infield therefore Anelka has enough time to measure his pass. Torres makes his run in between Evans and Jones who are ball watching and dinks De Gea with a superb finish.

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Verdict: Maybe Nani could have closed Anelka down quicker, but Jones and Evans should have kept an eye on Torres instead of looking at Anelka. Jones will get better with experience,but this goal shows clearly why Ferguson prefers Valencia to Nani in the big games.

6: Torres (3-1, miss): United have a have a flat back 6 with Fletcher and Young filling in, but all are ball watching and nobody follows Torres. Carrick too doesn’t get tight on Ramires to prevent him from picking a pass.
Benfica Vs Manchester United
7: Cardozo: (1-0): The goalkeeper finds the left back, who passes it towards Gaitan. Fletcher gets easily turned by Gaitan who sends a superb ball with the outside of his left foot towards Cardozo. Evans gives the striker too much time and space to turn and shoot across goal that gives Lindegaard no chance.

Verdict: Fletcher is not a proper CDM and therefore doesn’t get a tackle in on Gaitan who easily turns him. Evans gives too much space to Cardozo and although he shows him onto his weaker foot, but when you are playing at highest level you would expect the strikers to score with either foot.

Manchester United Vs Basel

8: Frei (2-2): Evra makes a run from left back but doesn’t release the ball soon enough and therefore loses possession. When he does return back to his positon, he is not close enough to prevent the cross. Jones is caught out of position too as he doesn’t know whether to go close to Evra’s man or to come back to help out Rio. When the cross is whipped in Fabio is on the edge of the box and Rio is caught in no man’s land leaving Frei to score with a free header.

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Verdict: If the full backs and Jones are going to go on marauding runs into the opposition half,United will need a specialist CDM who just sits in front of the defence and slots in to fill the gaps. The midfield cannot be blamed if the full backs go forward and lose the ball.

9: Frei (2-3, pen): Their midfielder just ghosts past Park and Carrick as if they don’t exist. Jones is on his European debut and doesn’t know whether to close down or to stay back and does something between the two. Although he reads the one-two very well and intercepts it, he tries to be too cute with it and instead of sending the ball into row z, he plays a 5 yards pass into the make-shift right back (Valencia’s) path, who fails to control it and ends up getting the wrong side of the attacker and making a challenge from behind thereby conceding a penalty.

Verdict: Jones will learn from this type of experience that although he is a ball playing defender it isn’t a bad thing to clear the ball when under pressure to take the sting out of the attack.

10: Set Pieces: United conceded 3 goals from set pieces out of the 10 goals conceded ( I am excluding the penalty against Basel over here) – One against Man City when Lescott made a run in front of the defender.  The goal conceded against Stoke was due to Crouch’s movement and the height difference between him and Jones(Vidic was needed in that game or Rio should have taken up the responsibility of marking Crouch). The third was against Basel where in De Gea saved the initial shot from the corner but the snapshot from Frei went in off the post (no one was there on that post to save it).


1: Jones is inexperienced and is bound to make a few mistakes, but he should know when to clear the ball and when to play it from the back (Van persie goal and penalty to Basel).

2: Evra hasn’t been at his best since his debacle at the world cup and it is wrong to tell him to lead that young and inexperienced back four especially as he is caught out of position so many times.

3: United defenders are the ones that bring the ball into midfield and concede possession and as we don’t have a natural CDM those gaps result in goals.

4: The fitness of the Da Silvas and Rio are a major concern.

5: Some of the goals conceded or the attemps on goal are due to the lack of closing down of the opposition attackers. United players do come back to help out the defence but it often results in them having a flat back 5 or back 6 (Dzeko goal and Torres miss) and there is lack of communication on who should sit back and who should go in and make the tackle (Walcott goal).

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