Whilst the glory of three points lifts the dark clouds above St James Park, what the performance against Liverpool highlighted to me, was exactly where our critical weaknesses lie.
Firstly, we need to address the issue of our captain.
In the final 20 minutes Coloccini was excellent, but what that has hidden was that for the first 70 minutes he was a passenger in the game. Not bad, not making errors, but also not adding anything. The strong performance from Mbemba and the lack of any real presence from Benteke, in my mind covered over some of the cracks.
Alongside this, Dummett had a poor performance at left back, but when drifting into the centre I genuinely felt that he looked strong. He is not a full-back, but he could well be a much better option than our current gallant leader in the heart of defence.
The second point, Siem de Jong isn’t good enough for this league.
Unfortunately, our vice-captain lacks strength or pace. He seems to have an amazing ability to fall in slow motion and seems to be totally unaware of the need to then get back up.
Whilst there was an element of celebration around Siem de Jong’s inclusion in the starting line up, the reality is that he is never going to be the solution to our problems. As long as Ayoze Perez is in the squad then he must take the number 10 position, then after that then we must hope that Adam Armstrong can step into those shoes.
Unfortunately, Siem de Jong needs to move on.
Then there is Sissoko. He plays when he wants (as the chant goes). That only seems to be when we are on TV. He needs to be replaced by someone who is willing and able to fight for the cause week in week out. Not sure if Townsend is that person but worth a punt in my eyes.
Finally, there is the bench. Gouffran, Obertan, Tiote, Williamson etc need to go (no shock there). We have a bunch of 20 or so year olds in the squad and frankly they can’t do any worse than these lot. Let’s see how Mbabu, Satka, Smith and Sterry do when given a chance.
Steve McClaren was concerned about having to fill the bench with ‘youngsters’ but this is another example of United having no faith in their youth system. If the senior players were performing then I can understand the reticence but now is the time to ask these players to step up or ship out. Let’s use the passion of youth to add something new to the squad.
Don’t get me wrong. The Liverpool performance and result was brilliant.
To see such commitment helped bring some faith back that had vanished over the past few weeks, but it also made the major problems stand out much more than ever before.
Before the game I was thinking we need to get rid of the lot. Now it is apparent that it isn’t quite that bad. We do need to get rid of 7 or 8 of them though and by doing so I really don’t think we’ll lose anything at all.
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