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Do You Want Heads Or Tails?



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Depending on what side of the coin a supporter values, will determine how they perceive Manchester United’s performance against Wigan Athletic.

On one side of the performance coin, United were applauded for keeping a clean sheet against the worst goal scoring team in the Barclays Premier League, but that was aided by the recklessness of Wigan’s Antolín Alcaraz and Hugo Rodallega.

However, on the other side, United lacked of desire and ruthlessness to continuously buckle the Latics net, which left portions of the crowd completely frustrated and unsatisfied.

Ultimately, United did their job to get all three points to move level on points with Chelsea atop of the standings with their deserved two-nil win, but the Reds were still way too guarded to really impress the Old Trafford crowd against Wigan.

The most confusing part of United’s season has been the inconsistency in their performances, but that can be quickly ignored if you at their very enjoyable, but deceiving league position.

To be fair on United, the every team in Premier League this season has been very inconsistent, but some critics say it is parity, though.

For instance in regard to the inconsistency, the league leaders, Chelsea, slumped to their consecutive defeat with a 1-0 loss to Birmingham City, who entered the match in the relegation zone.

Since the inception of the Premier League, United has always set the precedent for the other clubs to follow, but this season they have done anything but, which is why it has left a bad taste in the mouths of the supporters.

Right or wrong, there has been a fair amount of criticism for United, because they have lacked the killer instinct – at one or both ends – which is needed to see off their opponents, and that was clearly evident again against their Greater Manchester rival.

For some unattainable reason, the confidence of the United players in the offensive-third is still sputtering, which has been more than likely has been caused by conceding so many goals after they have been in the lead.

Sir Alex Ferguson did everything he could to encourage his players to go and get some goals against Wigan by sending on three very attack-minded substitutions in the second-half, but, for the most part, that request fell on deaf ears as United squandered some very good chances to stamp their authority in the match.

There were loud shouts from sections of the crowd to “Attack! Attack! Attack!” and “Shhooooot,” but they did not register with some of the United players, because the certain player decided to pick an extra pass rather than strike the ball goalwards when given the space by the Wigan defenders.

To be fair on them, Wigan did well offering up a stern resistance to counteract United’s passing, but it was rather disappointing to see the home team not take full-advantage of their dominance on the ball.

United was by and far the superior team in terms of possession, having 67% of the ball, but they illustrated their inability to be quicker and more precise with their passing, which prevented them from lighting up the scoreboard at Old Trafford.

Two red cards in a two minute span in the second-half, should have also given United all the confidence in the world to continuously bang the ball into the Wigan net, but their finishing was filled with nervousness, inconsistency and hesitancy.

Unsurprisingly, Wigan sat all of their players behind the ball to prevent a shelling, but that is something that United has faced since the mid-90s, and the players should expect this type of negative performance from visiting teams.

The lack of willingness is has been a reoccurring theme all season long for Ferguson, because when United are scoring goals at one end, they are conceding them at the other, and the reverse is true as well.

The lack of consistency in the performances by United is somewhat worrying, because they are not finding the balance at both ends.

The United boss has always had to adjust and adapt his way of thinking to keep the upper hand on his title rivals, which he may have to do again.

The United way was always to just outscore your opponents – no matter if the scoreline was 5-3 or 1-0, but the introduction of Jose Mourinho’s defensive-minded tactics at Chelsea in the middle of the last decade forced Ferguson focus more on keeping a clean sheet.

On a few occasions, Sir Alex admitted that he would take numerous one-nil wins if it meant that United would win the league, but, like it or not, that mindset comes at some cost in the offensive end.

The focus shifts in training from attacking to defense, and problems come about when more emphasis is spent on one and not the other.

When everything is said and done, a win is a win and the only thing that matters at end of the season is that Manchester United accumulation of points is higher than any other club.

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"The United Religion: A Manchester United View From Abroad," www.theunitedreligion.com, is a blog that delivers an American perspective on one of the world's most successful football clubs. Since I have an opinion about anything and everything, I decided to put many of my off-the-wall ideas as well as passionate feelings about the ongoings of United into words. In my writings, you will discover that I do my best to back up all of my outlandish opinions, and finicky analysis with statistical and/or factual evidence. If you wish to publish any of the articles, or have any questions, please contact me directly at theunitedreligion[at]gmail[dot]com.