Posts Tagged ‘Ryan Giggs’

Tactics: Willing Welbeck key to Moyes’ United blueprint

Danny Welbeck and David MoyesDavid Moyes is only two competitive games into his tenure as Manchester United manager, and his tactical strategies are likely to evolve as the season progresses, but his side’s early performances have already benefited from the unique skillset of versatile forward Danny Welbeck.

In both the 2-0 victory over Wigan Athletic in the Community Shield and last Saturday’s 4-1 win at Swansea City, Welbeck operated in a role that was difficult to define; hugging the left touchline one minute, darting into the box the next. In this respect he dovetailed with Ryan Giggs, who was United’s most advanced central midfielder in both games.

Welbeck and Giggs were the only players in the United XI who could be said to have taken up unorthodox positions in the two matches. Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley patrolled the centre of the pitch – Cleverley slightly ahead of his England colleague – and while Wilfried Zaha (in the Community Shield) and Antonio Valencia (against Swansea) stayed wide on the right flank, Robin van Persie led the line as a conventional number nine.

Welbeck and Giggs, however, were harder to pin down. Giggs played slightly in advance of Carrick and Cleverley, and was often the player charged with carrying the ball forward into opposition territory, but he occasionally drifted wide to take up a role on the left. Welbeck orbited in support of Van Persie, typically moving to the left when Giggs was not there, but in the game against Swansea he also made a series of bursts into the penalty area from central positions, as his two goals demonstrated. The 22-year-old blends the stamina and work ethic of a central midfielder with the pace and dainty footwork of a winger, and his mobility equips United with both an outlet on the left flank and a foil for Van Persie.

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Report: Van Persie treble fires United to 20th title

“Villa threatened to spoil things when Christian Benteke side-footed over from Andreas Weimann’s pass, only for Robin van Persie to double United’s lead with a strike to rival any goal scored in Europe this season. Wayne Rooney floated a 40-yard pass behind the Villa defence and van Persie met the ball first-time with a technically immaculate volley from outside the box that rocketed past goalkeeper Brad Guzan and into the net.”

My AFP match report from Old Trafford on the 3-0 victory over Aston Villa that gave Manchester United their 20th league title can be read here.

Reaction: Ferguson sees echoes of greatness in van Persie rocket
Analaysis: Manchester United’s championship of contrasts

Report: Ronaldo sends United out of Champions League

“MANCHESTER — Cristiano Ronaldo scored the decisive goal as Real Madrid controversially came from behind to win 2-1 at Manchester United on Tuesday and reach the Champions League quarter-finals.”

My AFP match report on Manchester United’s contentious defeat by Real Madrid can be read here. You can also read a reaction piece: Dumbstruck United get Mourinho’s sympathy.

Report: Chelsea avenge United loss in League Cup goalfest

“LONDON — Chelsea claimed partial revenge for their stormy loss to Manchester United at the weekend by prevailing 5-4 when the teams resumed hostilities in an end-to-end fourth-round League Cup tie on Wednesday.”

My round-up of Wednesday’s Capital One Cup fourth-round matches, including an extraordinary encounter at Stamford Bridge, can be read here.

Report: Giggs’ bolt from blue spares sluggish United

“LISBON — Manchester United were indebted to a superb Ryan Giggs goal as they drew 1-1 with Benfica on Wednesday despite a below-par performance in their Champions League Group C opener.”

You can read my AFP match report here.

Report: Unrelenting United bring Schalke down to earth

“GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany — Manchester United produced a devastating attacking performance to record a 2-0 win over Schalke 04 in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Tuesday.”

Read my AFP match report here.

Birthday boy Giggs a master of his craft

Ryan Giggs today celebrates his 36th birthday, the day after scoring his 100th Premier League goal in Manchester United’s 4-1 victory at Portsmouth. It would be remiss not to mark the occasion.

The Welshman has enjoyed four or five careers within a career in his 18 years as a professional player, from boy wonder, to international superstar, to model professional, to elder statesman. His hair may now be flecked with grey but England’s most decorated footballer has arrived at a moment in his football development where his every touch is characterised by a serene sense of awareness, almost as if he is playing in slow-motion.

Nowhere was this more evident than in his superb second-half performance at Fratton Park yesterday, where he set up two goals for Wayne Rooney – who described his team-mate’s contribution as “truly incredible” - before reaching his goalscoring milestone with a well-placed free-kick.

It has not always been like this. There were times in his career when his inconsistency was maligned to such an extent that many United fans wondered aloud if his best days might already be behind him. It is to his credit that he rode out that rough spell and to watch him today is to behold the work of a true craftsman.

It will be a sad day indeed when he leaves the field for the final time. That that day moves closer with every match he plays makes these final virtuoso performances all the more poignant.

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