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2019-20 Performances


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marktan

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I'm a big fan of his but I think it'd be a mistake to bring him back. He's an immense defender, at defending, and that'll show wherever he goes. But I think top teams need to have two defenders good with the ball at their feet too, and Smalling just lacks a bit at that.

Which hinders us more because our midfield is usually a bit rubbish, so we need the CBs to push up. At Roma from what I've watched they pack the midfield, so he doesn't really need to play many passes. Selling him would be mutually benefical I think if we can get around £25-£30m for him.
 

Adnan

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I highly doubt my mindset has anything to do with the team’s performance. Facts are:

Out of 20 PL teams only 4 have better defensive records.

Out of 48 Europa League teams only United have zero conceded goals.
Shouldn't we expect our backline to be performing better than just being the 4th best?

AWB at RB cost us £50m
Maguire at CB cost us £80m
Lindelof at CB cost us £30m
Shaw at LB cost us £27m

Now compare that to the three teams who have a better defensive record and tell me why we shouldn't be expecting a better overall performance in defence?
 

A-man

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Smalling has more goals and assists this season in 9 league matches than all but 4 of our players in our squad :

Rashford
Martial
James
McTominay

Everyone else needs to score and create more than they are
Zlatan scores 31 goals in MLS. That is 50% more than the best scorer in PL last season.
Shouldn't we expect our backline to be performing better than just being the 4th best?

AWB at RB cost us £50m
Maguire at CB cost us £80m
Lindelof at CB cost us £30m
Shaw at LB cost us £27m

Now compare that to the three teams who have a better defensive record and tell me why we shouldn't be expecting a better overall performance in defence?
Yes, it was expensive with Maguire and AWB but I would say that there has been an improvement. If it was worth it is another question, but there is no linear relationship between price and performance.

4 teams better out of 20 in the PL and best out of 48 in EL is good defensive record. They are absolutely not perfect but the best functioning part of the team if you look over the season so far.
 

11101

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Shouldn't we expect our backline to be performing better than just being the 4th best?

AWB at RB cost us £50m
Maguire at CB cost us £80m
Lindelof at CB cost us £30m
Shaw at LB cost us £27m

Now compare that to the three teams who have a better defensive record and tell me why we shouldn't be expecting a better overall performance in defence?
Considering we just put out a team with only one recognised central midfielder, one who has spent the last 2 years pretty much in the wilderness, and it's not the first time we've been forced to do that, i'd say the defence is doing pretty well.
 

roonster09

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He is having very good season and it's great to see him enjoying life in Serie A and also at the club where he is loved.

After his performance if we sell him for shit price like 12-15 million, then the guy who sanctions the deal should be sacked. Given the choice, I won't sell him but if Smalling wants out to play in different leagues then we should try to get the best possible deal.
 

Adnan

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Zlatan scores 31 goals in MLS. That is 50% more than the best scorer in PL last season.

Yes, it was expensive with Maguire and AWB but I would say that there has been an improvement. If it was worth it is another question, but there is no linear relationship between price and performance.

4 teams better out of 20 in the PL and best out of 48 in EL is good defensive record. They are absolutely not perfect but the best functioning part of the team if you look over the season so far.
Defensively we have been average and the price paid for the likes of Maguire and AWB to improve on our defence has thus far not shown a significant improvement. We have the most expensively assembled defence in the league with possibly City being the only exception. We also have by far the most expensive back line in comparison to any Europa League team and have still looked shaky on numerous occasions this season. We're actually fortunate that we haven't conceded more goals.

The defense was prioritised over our midfield and attack which should tell you why other areas look even weaker.
 

Litch

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Maybe at some point we will realise that the issue is more with us as a club and not simple about the players we sign or sell cause we think they are not good enough. Amazing how Harry looked better in a Leicester shirt than a Utd one. I know the league styles of play are different but put Harry in a Roma shirt, and he'd look good too.
 

Adnan

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Considering we just put out a team with only one recognised central midfielder, one who has spent the last 2 years pretty much in the wilderness, and it's not the first time we've been forced to do that, i'd say the defence is doing pretty well.
The midfield was neglected and fingers can be pointed to different people. But if you analyse our expensively assembled first choice backline then it's clear IMO at least, that we have players who are mediocre in the air, lack pace/mobility and have fullbacks who aren't good going forward. A competent midfield can only do so much to cover up the cracks.
 

A-man

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Defensively we have been average and the price paid for the likes of Maguire and AWB to improve on our defence has thus far not shown a significant improvement. We have the most expensively assembled defence in the league with possibly City being the only exception. We also have by far the most expensive back line in comparison to any Europa League team and have still looked shaky on numerous occasions this season. We're actually fortunate that we haven't conceded more goals.

The defense was prioritised over our midfield and attack which should tell you why other areas look even weaker.
But the attack is still the most or at least one the most expensive in the PL with Rashford on 200 k and Martial 250 k per week. So it is not like the attack wasn’t prioritised at all from an economic POV.
I think Ole wanted to stabilise from the back. To have a calm back line which know how to pass the ball, and wanted an improvement from last year in terms of goals conceded. But It it was naive to not strengthen the midfield.
 

Adnan

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But the attack is still the most or at least one the most expensive in the PL with Rashford on 200 k and Martial 250 k per week. So it is not like the attack wasn’t prioritised at all from an economic POV.
I think Ole wanted to stabilise from the back. To have a calm back line which know how to pass the ball, and wanted an improvement from last year in terms of goals conceded. But It it was naive to not strengthen the midfield.
Martial and Rashford getting improved contracts (which they were gonna get regardless) didn't improve a attack that has been blunt for many years now. We also lost Lukaku who wasn't replaced and made our midfield even worse.
 

Annihilate Now!

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I still think its absolutely bizarre that you let (at the very least) the 3rd best CB at the club go because he's the only one you can let go..... it's harming yourself for no feckin' reason.
 

A-man

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Martial and Rashford getting improved contracts (which they were gonna get regardless) didn't improve a attack that has been blunt for many years now. We also lost Lukaku who wasn't replaced and made our midfield even worse.
I’m just saying that their salaries kind of tell that the attack wasn’t fully neglected from an economic POV. I believe they are both in top5 list of highest salaries for forwards and top 10 overall.
 

Adnan

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I’m just saying that their salaries kind of tell that the attack wasn’t fully neglected from an economic POV. I believe they are both in top5 list of highest salaries for forwards and top 10 overall.
Our midfield and attack needed significant upgrades IMO. You just have to see the lack of goals post SAF to realise how bad we have been. Our defence in the same period has been better especially under the likes of LVG and Mourinho.
 

A-man

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Our midfield and attack needed significant upgrades IMO. You just have to see the lack of goals post SAF to realise how bad we have been. Our defence in the same period has been better especially under the likes of LVG and Mourinho.
Tbh almost everybody was screaming for a new fullback and centreback. But it is clear that the midfield was neglected and United are now paying the price of that. But regardless of that, I think the defence have worked well in most matches. What worries me is that Maguire has totally got his pants pull down a few times the last matches, and it looks like he is targeted. He has been caught on his wrong foot a few times and has no weapon when they run in behind him.
 

Alfie092

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How have Jones and Rojo lasted beyond Smalling? :lol:
 

Adnan

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Tbh almost everybody was screaming for a new fullback and centreback. But it is clear that the midfield was neglected and United are now paying the price of that. But regardless of that, I think the defence have worked well in most matches. What worries me is that Maguire has totally got his pants pull down a few times the last matches, and it looks like he is targeted. He has been caught on his wrong foot a few times and has no weapon when they run in behind him.
The player we should've gone for, and I mentioned him multiple times, was Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig.
 

A-man

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The player we should've gone for, and I mentioned him multiple times, was Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig.
I don’t think they wanted another young talent. They want to ease in Tuanzebe and wanted to pay big bucks but get something they know would be good. Don’t say it works like that (Sanchez is an example it doesn’t work like that’d) but I believe that was the idea.
 

Adnan

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I don’t think they wanted another young talent. They want to ease in Tuanzebe and wanted to pay big bucks but get something they know would be good. Don’t say it works like that (Sanchez is an example it doesn’t work like that’d) but I believe that was the idea.
I agree that was the idea. But Konate at 20 would've been better for the longterm and the present. He's already considered among the best CBs in the German Bundesliga and is very adept at playing the high press.
 

roonster09

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Tbh almost everybody was screaming for a new fullback and centreback. But it is clear that the midfield was neglected and United are now paying the price of that. But regardless of that, I think the defence have worked well in most matches. What worries me is that Maguire has totally got his pants pull down a few times the last matches, and it looks like he is targeted. He has been caught on his wrong foot a few times and has no weapon when they run in behind him.
Yeah, almost everyone's priority was RB and CB, we needed them as defensively we were bad last season and we didn't even have a RB who had decent experience. Also it's not as if signing CB or FB stopped us from signing CM/Attacker. Ole said he was happy with midfield options, with McTominay and Pereira playing many games. We should have signed one more attacker, considering we spent around 80 million net, these deals didn't stop us at all. Its just the incompetence by the recruitment team that stopped us.
 

arthurka

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He was the only defender we could actually get rid of, no one wanted Rojo or Jones.
But he is certainly better than most of our current defenders, but we will need to move on from this.
 

padzilla

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Smalling was the best of a bad bunch of defenders but he wasn't let go to rebuild the squad, let's be honest our squad was stripped bare because we are not as profitable as used to be and they wanted the wage budget reduced.
 

MadDogg

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Smalling was the best of a bad bunch of defenders but he wasn't let go to rebuild the squad, let's be honest our squad was stripped bare because we are not as profitable as used to be and they wanted the wage budget reduced.
Pretty sure the club was happy for him to stay on the books, albeit he would've been (at least at the start of the season) last choice behind all the other options. He likely would have eventually ended up ahead of all the others again just like he did every season under Mourinho, but he decided to push for a move himself. That's why we didn't really hear anything until late in the window after the preseason games where it became obvious to Smalling that he was way down the pecking order.
 

Craig Ward

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How have Jones and Rojo lasted beyond Smalling? :lol:
Because no interested clubs made an acceptable offer for them perhaps?

We had (arguably still do) have too many CB's at the club. With little interest, it was always a choice between Smalling/Rojo/Jones to be sold/loaned.

Jones = No Bids
Rojo = Transfer bid we did not accept
Smalling = Loan offer accepted.

Smalling has no future here, he's been around for a long time and despite his good form (in a much weaker league), he is surplus to requirements.

Smalling is one of many players on our books that simply do not feature long term
 

Alfie092

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Because no interested clubs made an acceptable offer for them perhaps?

We had (arguably still do) have too many CB's at the club. With little interest, it was always a choice between Smalling/Rojo/Jones to be sold/loaned.

Jones = No Bids
Rojo = Transfer bid we did not accept
Smalling = Loan offer accepted.

Smalling has no future here, he's been around for a long time and despite his good form (in a much weaker league), he is surplus to requirements.

Smalling is one of many players on our books that simply do not feature long term
I agree, all 3 of Smalling, Jones and Rojo shouldn't feature in our long-term plans and should be sold. We should stick with Maguire, Tuanzebe, Lindelof and Bailly.

Since Bailly is injured majority of the time, question marks still over Lindelof and with Tuanzebe (my ideal partner for Maguire) still very inexperienced and yet to be truly tested at the top level, we should potentially in the coming windows look to sign another CB in my opinion. However, there are more urgent areas of the field that should be addressed first...
 

Bepi

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Serie A regulars on twitter saying he's been the best defender this year in the league. Any truth to it?
Competing for fun, without any real pressure to bring trophies home, means he is neither tested nor scrutinised week in, week out... which is the best situation a mature, level-headed player can ask for in order to enjoy the game.
 

Shimo

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So what you’re basically saying if I understand you correctly, is that the good defensive record is in spite the four at the back but thanks to everybody else being so well drilled and set up. I don’t agree at all, especially since I have hardly seen a more dysfunctional midfield at this level.
We have a different way of looking at our defensive strength. You seem to keep putting goals against as the primary indicator of how good we are defensively. I think that's a bit too black and white. I am saying we have a better setup as a team, including the defenders is why we are not giving up chances and our goals conceded number is more to do with that than because of that our CBs have been very good.

No one that plays us feels like we have this impenetrable defense, they know we can't keep a clean sheet. They know they can target the likes of Lindelof or run at either of the CBs and get them turned every which way. Thats the way i feel going into any game, doesn't matter who the opposition is, I think we'll concede, either on a set piece or because if the backline gets put under any kind of pressure, they seem to have a mistake in them.

Our midfied may be dysfunctional going forward but, one thing they are not dysfunctional about is their defensive duties, they harry, they tackle and they track their runners and our forwards press better defensively than we ever did last season.

At some point you have to see you can't compare last season to this one because just about everything was wrong with us as a team defensively. A constant change of backline, a keeper in poor form, a team that didn't defend properly from the front, a team that invited teams to easily stroll all the way to our 18. It's a vastly different situation.

We will never know but, I strongly believe as a unit, we'd have been better with Smalling partnered with Maguire. As a defender, there have been few better in the last few years. The approach Ole took was wrong with straight away thinking he could go to a team that could prioritize ball playing over defending first, at the very least he should have hedged his bets.
 

A-man

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Yeah, almost everyone's priority was RB and CB, we needed them as defensively we were bad last season and we didn't even have a RB who had decent experience. Also it's not as if signing CB or FB stopped us from signing CM/Attacker. Ole said he was happy with midfield options, with McTominay and Pereira playing many games. We should have signed one more attacker, considering we spent around 80 million net, these deals didn't stop us at all. Its just the incompetence by the recruitment team that stopped us.
Imo every team needs at least one forward who is big, strong, bad, and can win headers. Last match, all three CBs were moved up for corners and freekicks because there was none in the midfield nor attack who can head the ball. And then Lindelof and Jones are not famous for being fantastic in the air.
 

A-man

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We have a different way of looking at our defensive strength. You seem to keep putting goals against as the primary indicator of how good we are defensively. I think that's a bit too black and white. I am saying we have a better setup as a team, including the defenders is why we are not giving up chances and our goals conceded number is more to do with that than because of that our CBs have been very good.

No one that plays us feels like we have this impenetrable defense, they know we can't keep a clean sheet. They know they can target the likes of Lindelof or run at either of the CBs and get them turned every which way. Thats the way i feel going into any game, doesn't matter who the opposition is, I think we'll concede, either on a set piece or because if the backline gets put under any kind of pressure, they seem to have a mistake in them.

Our midfied may be dysfunctional going forward but, one thing they are not dysfunctional about is their defensive duties, they harry, they tackle and they track their runners and our forwards press better defensively than we ever did last season.

At some point you have to see you can't compare last season to this one because just about everything was wrong with us as a team defensively. A constant change of backline, a keeper in poor form, a team that didn't defend properly from the front, a team that invited teams to easily stroll all the way to our 18. It's a vastly different situation.

We will never know but, I strongly believe as a unit, we'd have been better with Smalling partnered with Maguire. As a defender, there have been few better in the last few years. The approach Ole took was wrong with straight away thinking he could go to a team that could prioritize ball playing over defending first, at the very least he should have hedged his bets.
I use conceded goals as a major indicator how good a team is defensively. Not the only indicator, but in general it is a good and simple metric.

The main contributor for the good defensive result is, and this is of course my opinion and debatable, the calmness at the back. They do not hoof or clear randomly as much as before, but play their way out. This gives less opportunities for the opponents. They dont pass DDG in panic who just cleared it. They act much better under pressure this season.
 

Irwin99

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He was by far our best natural defender for awhile but I can kind of see why he was moved on. I think it was mistake to get rid when we still had players like Rojo and Jones who should have been shipped out years ago and are far less reliable.
 

A-man

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Pretty sure the club was happy for him to stay on the books, albeit he would've been (at least at the start of the season) last choice behind all the other options. He likely would have eventually ended up ahead of all the others again just like he did every season under Mourinho, but he decided to push for a move himself. That's why we didn't really hear anything until late in the window after the preseason games where it became obvious to Smalling that he was way down the pecking order.
There was an interview a few weeks ago where he confirmed this. If everything had been like last season it would have been Smalling and Lindelof as number one pair. Then they got Maguire and it was clear that Ole preferred Lindelof. Fine according to Smalling. Then they brought back Tuanzebe, and when he also was placed ahead of Smalling even before he had played any matches, he made the decision to move. My personal opinion is that he is a way too good player to spend his best years on the bench. If he felt he wouldn't be first, second or third choice, it was smart to move. I doubt he wants to come back as long as he will be fourth choice.

In some ways I think Smalling was treated a little unfair, but I see no bitterness at all from him which credits him.
 

MikeKing

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Considering we just put out a team with only one recognised central midfielder, one who has spent the last 2 years pretty much in the wilderness, and it's not the first time we've been forced to do that, i'd say the defence is doing pretty well.
So we're considering context in this thread now? Not sure now if having a good season as a defender with Schneiderlin, Bastian or Fellaini playing in front of you is still a negative then? If it is, I guess playing Fred, Pereira and McTominay is papering over the cracks of our ever leaking defence. Our CB's have had the help of the emergence of McTominay and at least one good fullback in AWB. Not everyone has had the privilege to be awarded those circumstances, and yet has been labeled out of less than our current state of defensive troubles. Hard thing to dispute.
 

11101

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So we're considering context in this thread now? Not sure now if having a good season as a defender with Schneiderlin, Bastian or Fellaini playing in front of you is still a negative then? If it is, I guess playing Fred, Pereira and McTominay is papering over the cracks of our ever leaking defence. Our CB's have had the help of the emergence of McTominay and at least one good fullback in AWB. Not everyone has had the privilege to be awarded those circumstances, and yet has been labeled out of less than our current state of defensive troubles. Hard thing to dispute.
Two well established PL midfielders and one of the all time greats (even if getting old), not to mention Michael Carrick and Ander Herrera in front of you, is a fair bit different to having a struggling CM signed from the Ukrainian league and an attacking midfielder barely out of the reserves.

Our CBs are generally fine when they have actual midfielders in front of them, they don't even need to be particularly good ones, but against Sheffield United our midfield had one true central midfielder in it. Of course the whole team will struggle.
 

jackal&hyde

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He was by far our best natural defender for awhile but I can kind of see why he was moved on. I think it was mistake to get rid when we still had players like Rojo and Jones who should have been shipped out years ago and are far less reliable.
He was offered about 20 or more games a season and that was not enough for him so decided to leave. We did not want to get rid. He would have shared game time with Lindelof and Tuanzebe but apparently thinks he is better then that and probably hopes to get back in to the England squad if he plays more.
 

Irwin99

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He was offered about 20 or more games a season and that was not enough for him so decided to leave. We did not want to get rid. He would have shared game time with Lindelof and Tuanzebe but apparently thinks he is better then that and probably hopes to get back in to the England squad if he plays more.
That's fair enough. We kept Rojo apparently against his wishes which is puzzling if that's the case.

Again, i've always thought Smalling was at best a very decent defender or at the very least, the best of a bad bunch we've had here. I just don't see Phil Jones or Rojo putting in a performance like the one he did against PSG or staying fit and playing well for virtually an entire season (LVG's second year). You might argue the bar is low but at least he's achieved that.
 

arnie_ni

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He was offered about 20 or more games a season and that was not enough for him so decided to leave. We did not want to get rid. He would have shared game time with Lindelof and Tuanzebe but apparently thinks he is better then that and probably hopes to get back in to the England squad if he plays more.
No apparently about it, he is.
 

jackal&hyde

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That's fair enough. We kept Rojo apparently against his wishes which is puzzling if that's the case.

Again, i've always thought Smalling was at best a very decent defender or at the very least, the best of a bad bunch we've had here. I just don't see Phil Jones or Rojo putting in a performance like the one he did against PSG or staying fit and playing well for virtually an entire season (LVG's second year). You might argue the bar is low but at least he's achieved that.
Apparently Rojo is very happy now having had more game time then he expected, or any of us really. He has done ok too imo. Jones is as good as gone imo, just need to see if we get offers for a sale or if it's a loan deal. Maybe next year Smalling decides to come back and be a squad player though i think it's unlikely. Glad for him he's doing good in Italy.