Was Ferguson’s Team Selection Really At Fault?

Alot has been made about Fergie’s dramatic change in personnel from the League draw at Goodison Park on Saturday to the Champions League game against Rangers three days later. For those of you who missed it, here are the two line-ups:


(11th September)

Van der saar












(14th September)












*(Fletcher being the only player to keep his place)

Some good pieces were written in response to this team selection, in particular this one from Scott at Republik of Mancunia, claiming the team was fair, and another contrasting view from Football 365.

Both pieces are good at highlighting the issue at hand. One dealing with the ignorance of the claim (RoM) and the other choosing to look at the bigger picture (F365).

So which is right??

Well  I personally feel the claim that Ferguson’s team selection was foolish and the sole reason we failed to score – or even get close to scoring – in Tuesday’s game, is not entirely true.

Lets think about it for a minute. Was the problem really in the team? Rooney, our best player, started alongside our promising new striker up-front…and why not?? What better time to try out this potentially devastating partnership than in the earliest stages of the Champions League?

And then you look at the midfield. Hardly weak, was it? Valencia and Park on the wings (the former’s a regular, the latter’s a fans-favourite), Fletcher (God) and Gibson (who provided our best chances of the game). So why were we so lackluster and uncomfortable going forward? Sure, the ‘team bus’ approach by Rangers worked a treat, but we are better than them and more than capable to penetrate their defense. Aren’t we?

On to the second argument; a deeper view that takes into account our fairly average brand of football this season. One, you could argue, lacks any genuine ambition or urgency.

However well United do this season, the strange, overly subdued summer will undoubtedly be referenced.

On the outset, it was all so shockingly disappointing. There were yet more claims from Ferguson that the £80million from Ronaldo’s sale the previous summer was available. And with it more rubbish about the lack of value in this current transfer market. But value was found…in the form of complete unknowns Smalling, Hernandez and, most curiously, Bebe. All costing around £25million. The same amount that City spent on world class David Silva and the same amount we failed to cough up on Benzema the previous season. But there is no value in the market…

So did Ferguson make a mistake this summer? Especially in failing to bring in the likes of Ozil and Sneijder? Or will the wise old man of football – one footballs greatest ever managers with an unparalleled knowledge of the transfer market – prove us all wrong and turn each one of those understated signings into legends. Of course, only time will tell.

Early days for sure. But one thing is certain about our current state of mind on the field: we’re nervous and seriously lacking fluidity. Unable to kill games off and worryingly unable – on the evidence of Tuesday night – to find an alternative, innovative attacking route once our initial approach has failed.

Something needs to be done, and I don’t necessarily think it’s got anything to do with the players. The player’s as we know are class. But the flow, confidence and overall quality is not quite.

Poor team selection? Poor tactics? Lack of decent summer signings? A mixture of all three?

What does everyone else think??

Also see: Read the latest Manchester vs Liverpool Match Preview.

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