End of Season Squad Ratings, Part 2

I’m back.

I know I left the subreddit but I’m back and I’m back to stay. I’m DirectionVector by the way since I deleted my older directionalvector account. You can thank messers Rdzzl and HornberryFields for that.

So, you may be waiting to see Powell and some of the players who are on loan. We’ll be getting round to them in another post. As of now, you get this post from me with ratings from rdzzl added as a bonus. Spoiler: we don’t agree with the ratings. So, let me dive into the people who’ll be talking about this part of the post. So, here is the first one:

David De Gea

De Gea

The master of our Goal!

His chant is nice and catchy, innit?

De Gea had a bad starting season thanks to people trashing him all around the place. We stuck by him and he is pure gold and young. The video posted in the subreddit about De Gea’s super saves, his mistakes and sometimes brilliance was mesmerizing to watch. A guy slowly growing into a great goalkeeper.

The save from Coentrao in the Real Madrid game was spectacular. That save has seriously stuck to my brain whenever I think about David De Gea. I see that he has brilliant shot-stopping but he needs to slowly develop a better command of the box. All he needs time and I believe that he is the Goalkeeper who can replace Van Der Sar.

My Rating: 8.5

Rdzzl’s Rating: 8.5

Rafael

Rafae

We seem to have brilliant right-backs in our team. Following Gary Neville, Rafael is just a top-notch player on the attack and on the defense. He has excellent pace on the attack. On the defense, he is strong, great positioning and a hard-worker. More importantly, he is exceptionally consistent across the board. He sticks to the plan most of the time and some times he just creates something so spectacular, you know; you just know that he is Brazilian and he is a United player.

My Rating: 8.75

Rdzzl Rating: 8.5

Smalling

Doesn't he look stoned?

Doesn’t he look stoned?

Chris Smalling. He is a squid in the team. I’m torn up on how he has played for us this season. He has played 10 games for us in the league, 5 for us in the FA Cup and 2 in the EU. That is a total of 17 games. Sadly, I dont’ remember most of the games he has played for us. For me, Smalling is a really really decent player in the defense. But is he more than decent is the question I wrangle with. I don’t see him as a great ball-playing defender that Phil Jones can be. Is he the guy who can play with versatility? That is not sure too. He is not pacey enough but he is a very very decent defender. Maybe next season will make us understand what is excellent with Smalling.

This season, he wasn’t spectacular in any way. He just played and performed to expectation. That makes my rating to: 6 while Rdzzl’s rating of Smalling is 6.5.

Phil Jones

Channeling the classic look...

Channeling the classic look…

Rdzzl was very very caustic towards Jones when we were discussing the ratings yesterday. He told me that Jones was pretty uninspiring and bad. I said that Jones was young and was played out-of-position a lot of times. Even then, its tough to defend Jones. He is a great player for sure but this season wasn’t exactly a great season for him. His positioning was a bit suspect in certain matches and he is a bit sloppy with his passing.

Even then, for me his energy and physicality are superb to have in the midfield and the defense. More in the midfield since we lack a player like him there.

My rating: 7

Rdzzl Rating: 6.5

Tom Cleverley

The Look

The Look

This guy just works. He just plays and I like that about him. But stitching that with his inconsistencies makes him bad. The problem with Cleverley is that he doesn’t have flair. He isn’t exciting or extraordinary. He is a player who is technically brilliant with a decent head on him.

Adding to that is his lack of ability in defense. He does not have a defensive brain. He is best at playing on the attack with shorter and quicker balls. For the better part of the season, we’ve played a slower but direct type of football which really doesn’t suit him. But his positives were very easy to see when he played with Kagawa and Welbz.

My Rating: 6.75

Rdzzl Rating: 7

Danny Welbeck

welbz

Another hard-working, physically strong player who is also technically good. Then again, I absolutely hate his finishing which should be the most important thing on a striker. He cannot play in the wings forever. If I had to rate him as a player, it would be high but I would have to look past his ability to finish. Alas, his whole role is defined by his ability to finish. That brings him done. But, this season, he was wonderful. His best was for sure his great game against Real Madrid.

My Rating: 7

Rdzzl Rating: 7

Johnny Evans

johnnevan

Couple of seasons back, Evans was playing very badly. The last two seasons have been really excellent from him. He has stepped up to take the void left out by Vidic due to his injury. He has grown so much as a player. His positioning over the season has been tremendous and he just dives into blocks and tackles. He has been a top-notch player for us. Playing a good amount of games this season, he has been strong and consistent in his performances. The most brilliant thing is that he has played 29 matches for us and scored a goal too. Next season might end up being his season of starting for us and slowly stepping up to Ferdi’s position.

That makes me give him: 7.5

Rdzzl Rating: 8

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Questions

1) Any player ratings you disagree with?

2) What do you feel about some players not playing upto their mark?

3) Is this a better layout to the previous one?

PS: We posted these in quick succession and split the work since we thought it had lots of info. That is why. Don’t feel bad about reading another one in quick succession.

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Stoke City 0 – 2 Manchester United – PMA

Lineup: David De Gea, Phil Jones, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, Michael Carrick, Wayne Rooney, Shinji Kagawa, Antonio Valencia, Robin van Persie, Javier Hernandez

Setup

The setup was a clear 4-4-2 with surprisingly different roles. The major changes were the introduction of Phil Jones giving Rafael a much needed rest. While Wayne Rooney filled in, surprisingly, in the role usually played by Cleverley. Kagawa was on the left while Valencia was on the right. Robin van Persie and Hernandez were the forwards.

How it worked

The main difference between the usual 4-4-2 and the one played by United was in the movement of Kagawa. On the attack, he always drifted to the center giving space for Evra to run into. During this, Rooney and Carrick stayed deep to provide cover with Carrick being the deeper of the two. Another interesting point of note was the movement or the lack thereof from van Persie and Hernandez. Here the movement can be taken as the way they could drop deeper inbetween the defense the midfield to hold the ball and play others inside. Instead, they played a more normal approach of taking channels and running on the shoulder of the last defense. This type of play was less dominant after the 50th minute from when RvP started to drop deeper; more on that later.

Another important point was the brilliantly employed defense and midfield from Sir SAF. Rio and Vidic provided the steel required from the defense to stop the physical nature of Stoke’s play. On the right, Jones’s physicality provided additional help to stop Stoke’s forward play and provide additional strength going forward. In the midfield, the three players: Rooney, Kagawa and Carrick were employed for controlling the ball. The strong ball control and passing with the 3 enabled the control of midfield.

The final third had Robin Van Persie and Hernandez taking the channels on the attack. Their role was mainly off-the-shoulder movement from the last defender.

—————

Looking back at the match, we had a lot of the ball and a lot of space to exploit. But, we never kicked into rampage mode when we could’ve easily overpowered the opposition. Sadly, we didn’t. Looking back, there were different reasons to why we didn’t have the overpowering effect.

Subtleties

One of the first reasons was the new position of Rooney. He was there for a reason to control the midfield by his passing and ball handling. This positional setup didn’t allow him to freely go forward. The difference between Kagawa and Rooney, already discussed in the CF post was clearly seen. Rooney taking the center right behind RvP and Hernandez would’ve provided more number of chances and more goals. Additionally, his long shots would’ve provided strong decent chances with Hernandez in poaching instinct.

Kagawa. This guy has extremely strong passing but on the shorter side with great movement. Playing on the left and dropping into the centre pulled players towards him allowing Evra to get forward. Also, sharp and short passes enable quick bypassing of players and getting into promising positions. His strong passing and ball control really allowed us to keep the midfield with Rooney and Carrick. Even then, playing him on the wings is not a strong option but the channel movement of RvP and Hernandez with Evra bursting forward provided enough potential.

RvP and Hernandez. The duo had a different set of roles which was slowly changed into something more manageable as the game wore on. I kept noticing that RvP and Hernandez didn’t drop down and receive the ball with their backs to the goal early on in the game. Instead, they focussed on strong forward intent by off-the-shoulder runs. In the second half, they started shuttling backwards to drop down and hold the ball to let the attack flow forward. This gave two strong chances from which one was a goal. The first one was Hernandez’s cross ball to RvP who blasted the ball into the side netting. The second one again was a ball to RvP from the bottom right to the left giving him free space to go forward and get a penalty. This movement was exactly the type required to score goals with 2 strong forwards.

Notables

The 2nd goal with the cross ball to RvP was greatly worked. In addition, the darting run from the left to the center from Kagawa pulled 2 players towards the center leaving RvP free to collect the ball and run the channel. That led to the foul and consequently the penalty. This is another example of how Kagawa can be employed even on the wings.

The whole defense with Carrick sitting in front of them were awesome. They put in a great shift to cut plays off, physically strong enough to put players off of the ball and regain possession. A special kudos is much needed for Jones for a strong performance.

De Gea was solid. He had a very strong game and saved a really tricky one from a Charlie Adam freekick in the second half by palming it away. His clean sheet was a combined effort from the defense and the midfield.

Conclusions

3 points. That matters but it had certain instances when a different type of play from the kickoff could’ve given us more goals. In truth, that setup would’ve sacrificed Kagawa’s cross run into the center for a more conventional winger’s role. Experimentation like this is extremely great to see as we’re starting to get different tactics with the strong options we have in our bench.

For the MoTM; It is very hard to pick the right guy. But I go for Michael Carrick for his exceptional role in today’s match. With Rooney beside him, he didn’t have to enforce creativity but just sit in front of the defense and pick the right passes and stop opposition plays. He did that wonderfully and without many errors. Other player who really caught my eye was Phil Jones who was solid.

Question: What did you think?