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  • Loki Loki Apr 2, 2013 09:09 Flag

    Our Form since December

    Tau - I agree with that. The season is a season of two halves. The first was obviously transition and the second half does show some progression. Of course, no reds fan is happy with our position but I really believe that as you say, we get a coupla CBs - and a destroyer in the middle - we really will be looking at top 4 next year.

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    • I'll disagree with you slightly here by saying the entire season is one of transition and not just the first half. I say this because while we have improved over the 2 halves of the season I still see consistency issues we've suffered in the second half such as the loss to Oldham, the inability to hold leads like against City, or fluffing our lines like we did against Southampton, and I honestly worried we might of in the first half on Sunday.

      I say this not to have a go at the team or BR, but for 2 reasons. First to set expectations, as we are not nearly the finished project BR has been working on, and second because I do think there is still more we can get out of the squad we have before even thinking about needing to add millions of pounds worth of new players.

      That is not to say I don't want or think we don't need reinforcements this summer, but it is to say I think we're extremely close to top 4 form with the squad we have, which is what I think is what tauseef's stats show. Therefore while I know we're all working on our summer wish list, I think we start with replacing with as good or better any player who leaves (Cara is the obvious) keep pace or surpass improvements made by our current direct competitors for top 4 (Spurs, Arsenal, Everton, and Chelsea), adding top quality in a couple key areas, and then building out more quality depth in the squad.

      • 1 Reply to dsteer_lfc_68
      • Colin, defensively on the set pieces I agree with you, but not in the fact that everything is laid at the manager's door step. I'm sure he knows well enough as we do, what the situation is back there, and if you consider we have last year's player of the year, Skrtel, our most physically and aerial gifted defender and player, along with a 6'6 Coates, and neither is getting ahead of a 35 year old, declining and short Carragher, says he's a bit hamstrung with out much other options.. Agger is not a good man marker and not physical.. Rodgers had said from day 1 his priority was to add people in the final third, and we are the 3rd highest scoring team in the prem.

        Going forward on attacking set pieces, aside from Agger, and occasionally Suarez who finds the right spot to sneak in, we are severely missing Skrtel who attacks the ball like a monster, so again, with a shorter and terribly inept jumper in Carra, we're limited there as well. The good thing and importance is that we are winning alot of corners, and that will continue to improve next year, and when we have added 2 CBs and a strong/powerful mifielder, along with another rotatational striker, that will only get better..

        Sometimes you can only tell someone to do something, and how to do something so many times, and if they still don't or can't, you need to find other options. Rodgers can't reinvent tthe wheel, so overall I agree with you that we lack there, but he really had 1 window to really work with, January, and he got it spot on with Sturridge and Coutinho, and for years and years when United have not been strong defensively, often times quite leaky up until recently, their best form of defense was attack. Yes I want us to be stout as a rock back there, but at the same time, as we continue to evolve up front, 3/4-0 leads more often, will allow us to sit back, counter and absorb pressure leading to bigger wins.. Even 2-0 leads, where we've been prone to drop.

        Simply put, this summer he needs to sort out Skrtel, rid of Coates and bring in 2 CBs, one of which will inevitably be Ashley Williams, who is nobody's favorite, but a tall, strong and experienced body, who ranks highly in blocked shots.. no thanks to Lescott please.

    • Loki Tau agree with u both in principle but think there is a definite coaching flaw that MUST be rectified asap...we seem incapable of defending set-pieces particularly corners ? The blame for this must be placed at the door of the manager and coaching staff. Much of the time it still looks like we are employing a zonal marking system...much prefer man marking. We in turn seem to pose no danger whatsoever from the many corners we win; again this is a problem we must rectify asap and again the blame for this must be laid squarely at the door of the manager and coaching staff..from the amount of corners we win we should be scoring far more from them than we are ?

      • 1 Reply to colin
      • Colin, I would agree we have room for improvement when it comes to corners (and other set plays in the final 3rd), however I think you have to look at this beyond a simple "it's a coaching problem".

        On the attacking side, I tend to agree with Jason it’s a matter of do we have the right players to really be a threat from corners, and I think the answer is no. Last year I think our best corner threats came from Carroll, Kuyt, and Skrtel, two of whom are not with us, and one who seems to be out of favor. Now it could be argued we should still have 1 or 2 of these in our starting 11, or have replacements that have similar attributes, but the counter would be we've upgraded in other facets of the game other than attacking corners.

        I think we would both agree it would be nice to have a couple players who were a real threat on set plays, but I'm not sure either of us would say that should be our priority. Teams lower in the table or just trying to survive in the prem may often prioritize set play opportunities but that is usually because they lack enough talent in the starting 11 to both retain the ball and create many opportunities from open play. I hope we have ambitions beyond that, and prioritize open play creators rather than set play specialist in our transfer policy.

        On the defensive side, I'm not sure how big an issue this is, or whether it’s just perceived as a big issue. I don't have stats, and wonder if anyone does, but it seems likely to me that clubs in the top half of the table, and especially those nearer the top most likely concede more goals from set pieces than from open play. Basically due to my last point being sides who cannot keep the ball are more likely to prioritize set plays over open play because it gives them more opportunity.

        Of course we can improve, but to be fair I think we have over the course of the season, or at least that is my impression. As for the marking, man to man versus zonal, to be honest I don't really care, so long as we stick to one and get it right most of the time. I know Rafa got lots of stick for his zonal approach, but actually statistically we leaked no more goals as a percentage of conceded corners than any other of the top 4 clubs at the time. The only difference is that it was highlighted every time we were scored against, I think because man marking is what most pundits grew up with, so they never questioned whether there was a better way to peal an onion.

        But bottom line when it comes to defending, set plays or anything else, is for defenders to know their assignments and stick to it. Most of the time when things go wrong it comes down to one of two things. Either a bit of brilliance by an attacking player, and there is not much you can do about that, or a lapse or mistake by the defender. I can't recall every goal we conceded, but it seems to me quite a few have been down to simple errors, and or lapses in concentration. You can coach a player to do certain things, but whether he does it consistently every time is really down to the player himself.