I have never liked Rafael. He’s reckless, and doesn’t know how to defend. Lost count of how many crucial goals United have conceded because Rafael failed to mark an attacker properly. I have also lost count of how many reckless penalties he has given away.
Look, I played as a defender in primary school. PRIMARY SCHOOL. His thought process is below that of a primary school defender – why the heck would you make a challenge like that on the Leicester player? Yes, he fouled you… but so what? Immature, senseless, and totally unnecessary. All he needed to do was close down the opponent on the wing to limit his attacking options, and hope that De Gea or the rest of the defence could stop the resulting cross.
The match would have been so different had Falcao’s second-half shot not hit the bar. Or if Rafael had not conceded the penalty. I refuse to place the blame on referee Mark Clattenburg. He made a few bad decisions, but United’s loss was their own undoing as their defence completely surrendered their two goal lead.
I don’t know why Mata was brought on for Di Maria. The Spaniard’s only contribution was to give away the ball that led to Leicester’s fourth goal. Unless you tell me Di Maria was seriously affected by the arm burn that he suffered in the first half. But I knew that the moment Di Maria and Falcao came off – United’s two most technically gifted players – there was no chance for United to fight back.
I said in August that I would have to get used to watching horrible matches like MK Dons 4-0 Man United, and I was right. It’s ridiculously heartbreaking for United fans, but the problems are still fixable:
1) Play Antonio Valencia as right-back / right wing-back
He’s not the best header of the ball, but he has good defensive discipline and knows how to backtrack to mark attackers. And he’s definitely not a reckless idiot like Rafael.
2) Push Daley Blind into defence
Do you trust Tyler Blackett and Chris Smalling to stop opposing attackers? To keep a clean sheet? The answer is a simple no. Blind has experience playing in defence, he’s a seasoned international veteran for Holland. United need that kind of player to take charge in central defence. Pair him up with Rojo in the centre, and place Luke Shaw at left-back once he’s fit. A back four of Valencia-Blind-Rojo-Shaw is already ten times better than a defence with Rafael-Blackett-Smalling.
3) Drop Van Persie
Van Gaal has previously stated that his team captains have certain “privileges”. He wants his captain to start frequently on the team, and unfortunately this all but guarantees a place for Rooney since he has the armband.
Van Persie has been misfiring of late, and for unknown reasons. Whether it’s his World Cup fatigue, or his rumoured knee injury, he has missed several important and fairly easy chances in front of goal. This is not the RVP of old with his deadly finishing. Just drop him for now and replace him with Falcao.
4) Play Di Maria in the number 10 role behind the strikers
As the best passer and dribbler on the team, his best position would be in the number 10 role where he can receive the ball frequently from midfield and to make constant attacking forays into the opposition box, rather than being restricted to one side of the pitch. This also frees up the LM role for Adnan Januzaj, who deserves to be a starter in my opinion.
5) Drop Rafael, send him back to primary school
No explanation needed.
United’s playstyle now kind of reminds me of Real Madrid’s swashbuckling method: They have spent millions to assemble a star-studded offence that knows how to attack beautifully.
But in neglecting their defence, every strike from the opponent becomes a life-and-death risk. It’s swift, sudden, and extremely painful when the opponent hits.