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Until United Stop Leaking Goals, We’re Always Be Playing Catch-Up In Games

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My recent assessments of Manchester United’s games seem to have settled into a consistent pattern of – bad start, deteriorates into a fiasco by halftime, presumably a roasting with the hair dryer with the cuppa followed by a recovery concluding with post match report about the Referee, time keeping or penalty appeals.

Wigan, Spurs, Southampton, Galatasary – different teams but same modus operandi. Why?

United keep starting slow because old players take time to warm up and our increasing reliance on Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Michael Carrick and Rio Ferdinand means our spine is creaking as much as theirs is.

Watching Gareth Bale slice through our heart is not what we are used to seeing but frankly the players in those positions no longer have the legs to stop him.

As the opposition slow down later in the game then our better skills take over, and though we remain vulnerable to counters like the one that led to Clint Dempsey’s winner, we generally regain control as the pace drops to one that suits us.

Frankly it’s age, I feel it every day when I jog or swim, always an achy start but once the pace is set then I’m fine, it’s that start and the later aches that signify I’m past my sporting prime.

I’m a strong believer that flair players need a platform established by the spine before they flourish, and presently the keeper debate, the injury crisis at centre-back and the ageing midfield leave our spine vulnerable.

My advice is this.

Pick a keeper and stick with him. If its David De Gea the defence know he will be rooted to his line and they can then attack the crosses, if its Anders Lindegard then they’ll know he will spill cross shots and cover is essential. I wish Sir Alex Ferguson would make a decision and stick by it, once and for all.

With Rio and Jonny Evans at the back we have to have two defensive midfielders and wingers that track back.

Antonio Valencia does it, Giggs could but his legs are failing so play Alexander Buttner left side in front of Patrice Evra. Nani is a luxury when Carrick and Scholes play so use Anderson or Darren Fletcher to allow Scholes to drift.

Yes that means only two of Shinji Kagawa, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney fit in the first team but we have to stop people running at the centre-backs. Buttner and Valencia would stop crosses and allow Fletcher and Carrick to stop the runs through the middle. In this set up De Gea is the right keeper

Until we stop leaking goals, get some clean sheets and shore up until the injuries are healed we will see this cavalry charge second half trying to rescue the first half debacle.

I’d rather it be 0-0 when we take control, at least we will win more games that way although it may not be pretty.

Stop the leaks Sir Alex, play smarter.

By Steve Burrows CBE @ifollowsteve