Static, slow motion zombie passing

Raees

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Completely wrong there. Any of them has quicker reactions and would beat Pogba over 5-10 m. In football, you don't need to sprint 60-70 m. Midifielders need to be quick over short distances. Pogba is a fantastic athlete but KDB, Iniesta etc. are quicker over short distances and much more agile. Matic would beat Kante over 100 m or even 50 m without problems. Kante, however, eats him alive over 10-15 m. The problem with Matic, Fellaini, Pogba, McTominay is not that they are slow over 50-60m, they are not. But they are not quick over 5-10 m and not nimble enough. There is a reason why the most dynamic teams in the league don't have giants in midfield and attack.
Agreed, but quick reactions can be coached to a large degree. Look at the way Liverpool press with inferior players, they've been taught to spot certain triggers and then also educated as to how to respond to certain triggers.

Someone like Busquets does not have quicker acceleration than Pogba, but what Barcelona's training regime especially under Pep encouraged was this training of the mind, being more alert, quicker to the ball, quicker with the ball and most importantly of all, perpetual movement on and off the ball, suffocating the other side with superior work-rate which manifests itself as being dominant in possession and pinning the other side in their own half.

With regards to nimbleness - totally agree and I have always championed having nimble players in midfield. You can max afford maybe one tall statue in midfield, but three is ridiculous in the modern game. You need players of a certain agility to cope with high press and weave in and out of difficult ball-playing situations like a Modric. English football has struggled to produce such players and United have turned into the English national team in this regard.

FWIW Fred does not fall under this category and is as nimble as it gets, so one would assume that if we replace Matic with a CDM with more agility, athleticism but has his technical ability and defensive awareness, we can surround Pogba with dynamic midfielders and with the right coaching, get away from this zombie-passing situation we have now.
 

Raees

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We're not setup to play in that way though, that's one style and one as a club we've barely adopted.

In a 433 you absolutely need pace in midfield otherwise the front line becomes isolated. Pogba and whoever the other midfiielder is on the day need to be sprinting to support the attack on counters and they need to be constantly moving so we can play out and break.

Instead we get statues and our front line can't move because they don't know when they're getting the ball. We see it all the time, Lukaku or whoever will start to make a run but Pogba takes 3 touches before releasing it and the moment passes or Lukaku ends up offside.
Spot on, but that tactical issue isn't just reliant on the sprinting ability of the individual but their willingness to put in those sprints and their stamina to keep on doing it. You mentioned constantly moving, which pretty much echoes my sentiments on 'perpetual movement'. Again that needs to come from the manager, who coaches his players into constantly moving on and off the ball.. never stopping, and this needs to be allied with tactical awareness in terms of moving into the right positions , winning the ball when the opportunity presents itself (by forcing the issue with certain ways of pressing) time and time again. The fitness regime of the players also needs to take this into account and give them the attributes necessary to pull it off.
 

Josep Dowling

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Crazy to think that this has been going for years, and the thread is right, it started in the last few seasons under SAF. There's been a few periods since then where we have played well (remember that stretch of games where the Blind, Fellaini and Young triangle were running the show?). But apart from a few isolated instances, good football hasn't been sustained.

I said it the other day, but our movement, attacking play and willingness to run in behind really is shocking compared to the majority of the Premier League, never mind the top 4. City, Liverpool, Spurs and Chelsea look like they're playing a different sport at times when you compare their creativity and effort to ours.

It all stems from the Manager as well, we've hired negative and in the process we have shackled any semblance of creativity with our set ups in the main.
It's true.

The two CB's never push up with the ball or pass forward. It doesn't matter which CB pairing we use none of them do this. Yesterday both Smalling and Bailly just stood where they received the ball then passed sideways.

It doesn't help when you also have Fellaini and Matic as defensive midfielders. Both can't run with the ball. Fellaini is particularly frustrating at choosing the easy option, normally an easy 5 yard back or side ways pass.

Compare that to Valencia (FC) last night. They have inferior players on paper. At one point their captain told the defence to push up and run forward with the ball. If we did this maybe Lukuku wouldn't be so isolated upfront. I'm not making an excuse for him as he makes very little effort to create space but when a ball is pinged over to him he's lucky to have a United player within 20 yards of him.

The defensive line is too deep when we attack, and that must be down to the manager's instruction. Combine this with a serious lack of movement by the forwards and the football is absolutely dire.
 

Sky1981

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It's true.

The two CB's never push up with the ball or pass forward. It doesn't matter which CB pairing we use none of them do this. Yesterday both Smalling and Bailly just stood where they received the ball then passed sideways.

It doesn't help when you also have Fellaini and Matic as defensive midfielders. Both can't run with the ball. Fellaini is particularly frustrating at choosing the easy option, normally an easy 5 yard back or side ways pass.

Compare that to Valencia (FC) last night. They have inferior players on paper. At one point their captain told the defence to push up and run forward with the ball. If we did this maybe Lukuku wouldn't be so isolated upfront. I'm not making an excuse for him as he makes very little effort to create space but when a ball is pinged over to him he's lucky to have a United player within 20 yards of him.

The defensive line is too deep when we attack, and that must be down to the manager's instruction. Combine this with a serious lack of movement by the forwards and the football is absolutely dire.
Yes probably it was down to manager instruction.

I mean, can you believe telling smailing to pass forward ? That'll be suicide.

Stop thinking that our players can be programmed with a few coaching instructions and suddenly become beckenabuer. Nor valencia can suddenly becomes cafu.
 

Josep Dowling

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You don't need pace in midfield. Look at Busquets, Xavi and Iniesta.. individually, they're snails and slower than Pogba in a sprint. Same goes for Kroos-Modric, or Silva/KDB.

It is about improving players reaction times, their intelligence in terms of taking up good positions constantly on and off the ball, fast one-touch passing and finding easy passes between the lines and constantly finding people in space.

If you don't encourage that style of play, and you don't improve players in this regard, they end up not knowing where their colleagues are, they end up dwindling on the ball and it just becomes a clusterfeck.. where each attack, the players themselves are having to formulate a way of getting the ball from a to b. It isn't automated enough.

Latter years of Fergie, our play become aimless in the midfield whenever Scholes wasn't in the side. Carrick in particular, was a big issue as he was a good passer from a to be but he was very limited in terms of movement off the ball.. which made us very easy to press. That in addition to not really having coaches in the set up who improved the players ability to pass in constant triangles and provide them with the tactical framework to keep possession under pressure and play at a higher tempo.
Those players you mention don't need pace as that is not their job in the team. That's down to the likes of Bale, Suarez, Aguero etc in their squad. What Modric, Silva, Iniesta etc are all good at is finding the players with pace or the pockets of space behind the defence. We just don't have that type of player in our midfield 3 or the off the ball movement.

Pogba should be that player for us but he needs two other midfielders who play a more defensive role. We often play with Matic who is a very slow defensive midfielder. Mourinho loves Fellaini who is also very slow and immobile (and frankly never ever good enough to player DM for Manchester United but that's a different thread). Plus our defensive line is so deep. So the minute we attack it usually 4 players across the half way line and we consistently get outnumbered on attacks.

I was hoping Fred would become our third midfielder in a 3. But I still can't work out what his function is, in the midfield. Is he box-to-box, defensive or attacking? So far it doesn't look as though he's been instructed what his midfield role is, and ends up running round after the ball.
 

Josep Dowling

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Yes probably it was down to manager instruction.

I mean, can you believe telling smailing to pass forward ? That'll be suicide.

Stop thinking that our players can be programmed with a few coaching instructions and suddenly become beckenabuer. Nor valencia can suddenly becomes cafu.
It has been known for a long time that Smalling can't pass or move forward with the ball but hasn't been replaced by 4 managers now (including Ferguson). Yet in this time he has been dropped by England. Why?

Mourinho has bought in two CB and still uses Smalling. Why?

Mourinho tried to buy a better CB and wasn't allowed to because of the board. Why?

A defensive line has a lot to do with a manager's instruction. Just like Arsenal this season are trying to play with a much higher line. Maybe we can't improve someone like Smalling but selecting him in a system that doesn't suit him is stupid.
 

VeevaVee

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I bet we look like a lightning peak Barca if we watch games from 2012 now.
 

Raees

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Those players you mention don't need pace as that is not their job in the team. That's down to the likes of Bale, Suarez, Aguero etc in their squad. What Modric, Silva, Iniesta etc are all good at is finding the players with pace or the pockets of space behind the defence. We just don't have that type of player in our midfield 3 or the off the ball movement.

Pogba should be that player for us but he needs two other midfielders who play a more defensive role. We often play with Matic who is a very slow defensive midfielder. Mourinho loves Fellaini who is also very slow and immobile (and frankly never ever good enough to player DM for Manchester United but that's a different thread). Plus our defensive line is so deep. So the minute we attack it usually 4 players across the half way line and we consistently get outnumbered on attacks.

I was hoping Fred would become our third midfielder in a 3. But I still can't work out what his function is, in the midfield. Is he box-to-box, defensive or attacking? So far it doesn't look as though he's been instructed what his midfield role is, and ends up running round after the ball.
Yeah I agree with all that but for me in wide areas, pace is a must, as is attack. Full backs too should be electric. If you have all those areas sorted, then the midfield can get away with being on the slow side as long as all the other things you lads have spoken about is present. Where a midfield can't be slow, is in terms of nimbleness, reaction speed and decision-making. Players should be super alert in midfield, as its one of the toughest positions to play from a positional awareness perspective. If you're constantly being 'reactive' and you're dawdling on the ball, it is just a recipe for midfield disaster.

For me Fred has the potential to be a good player but I wouldn't write him off just because he's had a shaky start under Jose. Current version of Jose, would make Xavi misplace a pass.
 

Minimalist

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Players have no confidence. They are clearly trying looking at last night but they look clueless and unfamiliar with any patterns of play they should be looking to execute. It's all 'make it up as you go along'. Zombie passing fits in pretty well to that.

They're not coached well. It's bloody obvious now.
 

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6 years later, this thread is still relevant while most of our rivals have moved with the times in terms of how they play. It's a fecking piss take really.
 

Dr. Dwayne

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Players have no confidence. They are clearly trying looking at last night but they look clueless and unfamiliar with any patterns of play they should be looking to execute. It's all 'make it up as you go along'. Zombie passing fits in pretty well to that.

They're not coached well. It's bloody obvious now.
They are afraid.

Afraid of making a mistake and being publicly vilified in the press by their own manager.

This is Mourinho's doing and the club needs to sack him immediately.
 

Treble

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Agreed, but quick reactions can be coached to a large degree. Look at the way Liverpool press with inferior players, they've been taught to spot certain triggers and then also educated as to how to respond to certain triggers.

Someone like Busquets does not have quicker acceleration than Pogba, but what Barcelona's training regime especially under Pep encouraged was this training of the mind, being more alert, quicker to the ball, quicker with the ball and most importantly of all, perpetual movement on and off the ball, suffocating the other side with superior work-rate which manifests itself as being dominant in possession and pinning the other side in their own half.

With regards to nimbleness - totally agree and I have always championed having nimble players in midfield. You can max afford maybe one tall statue in midfield, but three is ridiculous in the modern game. You need players of a certain agility to cope with high press and weave in and out of difficult ball-playing situations like a Modric. English football has struggled to produce such players and United have turned into the English national team in this regard.

FWIW Fred does not fall under this category and is as nimble as it gets, so one would assume that if we replace Matic with a CDM with more agility, athleticism but has his technical ability and defensive awareness, we can surround Pogba with dynamic midfielders and with the right coaching, get away from this zombie-passing situation we have now.
Think that Pogba, Herrera and Fred have the tools to make for a dynamic midfield. One of Herrera and Fred is almost obligatory. Coaching is needed though.
 

Raees

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Think that Pogba, Herrera and Fred have the tools to make for a dynamic midfield. One of Herrera and Fred is almost obligatory. Coaching is needed though.
I recall Herrera having a brilliant spell of form as a CDM for Mourinho and one of our stand out players in his first season, before Matic took his role and then he's been on the periphery and devoid of purpose ever since.

Herrera
Fred Pogba
On paper like you said, very dynamic midfield that is.. all three of those guys are good in tight spaces, and theoretically should be able to press high and get back.
 

Pogue Mahone

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6 years later, this thread is still relevant while most of our rivals have moved with the times in terms of how they play. It's a fecking piss take really.
Funny that the blame originally mainly went on Scholes and Carrick for being in decline. People were hoping that signing a young, dynamic athletic CM to replace them would solve our problems. Someone like Paul Pogba, perhaps?
 

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Every move we try to complete takes 3-4 touches. Too slow and easy for the defense to get organized. Many times we have won the ball in the middle of the pitch and we always go backward. Another issue is when our center backs win the ball they instantly hoof it towards Lukaku. Instead of panicking they should look for an outlet.
 

IAmAWinner

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The static slow-motion zombie passing was often here even in the last SAF seasons. 2012-2013 we often played dull football, but of course, we had RVP. Even in 11-12, after that City loss, we resorted back to safe and get results by any means necessary. 10-11 we played at times truly shocking football. Can't believe we still have that problem.
 

Red00012

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Matic /fellaini must be the worst midfield pairing since whoever Rafael played alongside v Blackburn all those years ago.
 

Red_Ramirez

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Funny that the blame originally mainly went on Scholes and Carrick for being in decline. People were hoping that signing a young, dynamic athletic CM to replace them would solve our problems. Someone like Paul Pogba, perhaps?
Scholes and Carrick were doing perfectly dominating most midfields yet for a time it was "we need pace in midfield"," too slow". EVERY feckING WEEK :yawn:

Summer 2015 fans who were critics of the midfield went batshit with excitement after "finally" getting a midfield when we signed a finished Schweinsteger and Schneiderlin...:rolleyes:
 

Red_Ramirez

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How ungrateful you lot were!! spoilt cnuts

I wouldn't mind slow zombie walking to another couple of titles tbh

Its 6 years encounting :(
 

TheRedDevil'sAdvocate

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The latter Ferguson years have nothing to do with what we're going through right now under Mourinho. Ferguson always had his way to incorporate his basic principles into the squad he had at his disposal, thus the quarter of a century of us fans complaining about this thing or the other on one hand but also having a feeling of security that the situation was always under control on the other. His post-Ronnie team might have been lacklustre compared to his previous ones but it still was a SAF side: Wing-play dominant, two-forward tactics, a team not afraid to play football when the opposition raised the tempo and, finally, a philosophy which dictated that we would try to win the vast majority of our games by attacking as much as we can. Sure, the midfield wasn't what we were used to watching on the pitch but Carrick was excellent at reading the game defensively and Scholes' (post-30 yo) vision allowed us to field two very attacking minded FBs and always have 6-7 players near the opponent's box when we attacked.

Mourinho is a "safety first" manager, always has been and always will be. His best sides were always reactive (a huge difference with SAF despite some tactical similarities they share) but the never lacked courage and grit. This, combined with Jose's brilliant reading of the opponent (another of his lost virtues at United), created football sides that were always set to react on the opposition's game-plan but this reaction was usually merciless. Firstly, they would suffocate you and then they would destroy you on the counter. Now, the courage and the grit seem to be absent and Mourinho doesn't seem able to produce title-challenging sides like SAF did in his last seasons at the helm.

Why's that? Why can't we at least counter like a Mourinho side? I hate the word outdated especially because i think that Jose is a very intelligent manager and i certainly don't think that our current squad is anywhere near world-class. The key-word here is control in the midfield: We can't establish it and even when you're a counter-attacking team this is essential. All great Jose sides possessed the ability to take good care of the ball in their half of the pitch and this resulted to positive runs from the forwards/wingers/#10 (the two combined=quick movement of the ball).

The truth is that the game has changed in the last decade: The teams that want to have the ball at their feet have become more and they know how to attack purposefully with more than just three or four players. Ferguson's decision to "neglect" the midfield battle in favour of the wings hurt our possession plays but it never limited our hopes to challenge for the big prizes because this type of football, where both teams try to win, was SAF's bread and butter. Mourinho, on the ther hand, will try to adjust to the opponent. That's his thing and this separates him from Sir Alex who rarely gave a feck about what the other team did.

But against better teams on the ball Mou's defensive wall is forced deeper and against high pressing and/or a congested midfield in his half of the pitch (even midtable sides not being afraid to throw bodies forward) control in the midfield is missing. That's where Jose's plan to defend and hit on the counter goes out the window. And that's when the fear creeps in, a fear that follows Jose's planning against lesser sides too. And that's when he resorts to big bodies in the midfield in order to turn the midfield battle into a strictly physical one. But that's just no way to play football because even Derby will make you look like a fool. You can't start with six heavy-set players against WHU because you'll get only 59 sprints from them (in SB 'pool and Chelsea had 119 and 154 respectively) and because even WHU have players to serve a goal-scoring plan nowadays.

Fear, something that SAF never had and that's why football's evolution might have made his United look very shaky and boring every now and then but the goals were always there. That's the cause of Jose's zombie passing and that's what Pogba has been screaming about lately.
 

noodlehair

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It's amazing this thread started 6 years ago and we still have the same problem now.
Worryingly you can say this about a lot of aspects of our performances. Such as the straight up refusal to learn how to take corners properly.
 

gerdm07

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Just watched Tot vs Barca and both teams moved the ball quickly with one and two touch passing. We move the ball with 2,3, and 4 touch passing. It's a small difference but it's huge when trying to create time and space on attack.
 

noodlehair

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I don't really understand how a manager cna think having Matic and Fellaini in the same midfield is a good idea.

Chelsea got rid of Matic presumably because he was too slow to enable their midfield to play the way they wanted it to. The thing is, I can see how Matic can be used in an effective midfield. He breaks up play, he is quite clever with when he presses the ball. He is composed on the ball and can pick out a pass. You can have him doing a job in a very good midfield, although he wouldn't be the one running it...but if he's doing what he does well it frees up others to be quicker and more adventorous with the ball and their positioning.

But in order to do that, the rest of your midfield really has to be on point and have a purpose...so what is the purpose of Fellaini? On Wednesday it was to lumber around the pitch fouling everyone. In other games it's to stand in bits of the pitch so the ball can be hoofed to usually nowhere near him anyway, or when it does go near him, just bounces off his head in whatever direction in happens to go in. Occasionally he will have an effective game in midfield, however this will be when he's doing the SAME job that Matic is doing. You do not need two people doing this. It's barely ok to have one person doing this and not offering anything in terms of mobility or speed or moving/passing the ball up the pitch.

Then you have Pogba who himself likes to do things in his own time, in his own universe. Annother who you can barely get away with playing in an effective midfield IF the rest of the midfield was completely on point.

We have Fred, Herrera, Pereira...all mobile players, all capable of playing in an effective midfield without the need to compensate for their lack of speed/mobility, or insistence on taking 500 touches and spinning round in a circle 3 times before playing a pass. If you don't want to use them, why are they here? The oonly reason not to use them is if the system you have works fine without them.

Even if you removed the sulking, weird Mourinho behaviour, lack of confidence, whatever it is in Fellaini's contract that dictates he is never alllowed to play in an actual position on the pitch, a trio of Matic, Fellaini and Pogba is never going to be effective. It is too slow, it isn't mobile.

Also, more allarmingly, this post form 2012:

It was the same for most of last season. I'm saying more it's a worry that it's STILL not been addressed rather than it's something that's cropped up in pre-season. Although our form in pre-season does seem to carry over into the season itself more often than not too.

I find it a chore watching us play these days to be honest. No one moves and we pass the ball much slower and less purposefully than any other side at a similar level to us. It only seems to change when we get two or three of the younger players in the side and linking up in the middle third of the pitch....or when we start panicking.

Otherwise the game is a complete deadzone whenever we have the ball. We pass it with literally zero purpose other than for passing's sake, then just lump it out wide and let Valencia, Nani or Young try and beat their men on their own. It's nearly always Scholes that lumps it out wide too. Pretty much all you have to do is mark him (which is pretty easy when none of our players are moving anywhere), or just stand someone near our wingers to cut out the passes, and we just seem to fall apart.

I've been impressed by Kagawa, but he shouldn't be able to look like a fecking god just by moving into useful positions to receive the ball. All of our players should be doing this. It's a fecking basic requirement for any team that doesn't want to play like Stoke or England.
It still sounds exactly like how we play. There are only two real differences. 1) Instead of Scholes passing the ball accurately out wide, we just hoof it to nowhere instead, and b) Even Stoke and England have realised they don't want to play like Stoke or England anymore.
 

NinjaFletch

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I don't really understand how a manager cna think having Matic and Fellaini in the same midfield is a good idea.

Chelsea got rid of Matic presumably because he was too slow to enable their midfield to play the way they wanted it to. The thing is, I can see how Matic can be used in an effective midfield. He breaks up play, he is quite clever with when he presses the ball. He is composed on the ball and can pick out a pass. You can have him doing a job in a very good midfield, although he wouldn't be the one running it...but if he's doing what he does well it frees up others to be quicker and more adventorous with the ball and their positioning.

But in order to do that, the rest of your midfield really has to be on point and have a purpose...so what is the purpose of Fellaini? On Wednesday it was to lumber around the pitch fouling everyone. In other games it's to stand in bits of the pitch so the ball can be hoofed to usually nowhere near him anyway, or when it does go near him, just bounces off his head in whatever direction in happens to go in. Occasionally he will have an effective game in midfield, however this will be when he's doing the SAME job that Matic is doing. You do not need two people doing this. It's barely ok to have one person doing this and not offering anything in terms of mobility or speed or moving/passing the ball up the pitch.

Then you have Pogba who himself likes to do things in his own time, in his own universe. Annother who you can barely get away with playing in an effective midfield IF the rest of the midfield was completely on point.

We have Fred, Herrera, Pereira...all mobile players, all capable of playing in an effective midfield without the need to compensate for their lack of speed/mobility, or insistence on taking 500 touches and spinning round in a circle 3 times before playing a pass. If you don't want to use them, why are they here? The oonly reason not to use them is if the system you have works fine without them.

Even if you removed the sulking, weird Mourinho behaviour, lack of confidence, whatever it is in Fellaini's contract that dictates he is never alllowed to play in an actual position on the pitch, a trio of Matic, Fellaini and Pogba is never going to be effective. It is too slow, it isn't mobile.

Also, more allarmingly, this post form 2012:



It still sounds exactly like how we play. There are only two real differences. 1) Instead of Scholes passing the ball accurately out wide, we just hoof it to nowhere instead, and b) Even Stoke and England have realised they don't want to play like Stoke or England anymore.
What I don't understand is you started this post when Ferguson was manager, and you were right, we've since seen Moyes, Van Gaal and almost every single player originally responsible for the original slow motion football gone, and it's still as much of a problem now.

Personally I'm inclined to think the club has been cursed.
 

UNITED ACADEMY

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That's what we get when we play both Matic & Fellaini. Both aren't deeper playmaker or maestro who can control the tempo like Carrick, Pirlo, Scholes and etc. Lack of brain in midfield, lack someone who can play quick passing and find players and play early pass in both short and long distances. I can't believe that we have spent so much money in our midfield area and we still don't have the right players to replace Carrick.
 

Josep Dowling

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In terms of building up from the back Smalling is a major factor in why it takes so long for us to move the ball forward.

He takes so long to pass the ball and it’s alway a side ways pass.
 

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For all the millions spent, all we could produce attacking wise is crosses from left and right flanks, and even they are of such poor quality.
This club has lost its soul ever since fergie left and completely lost track.
 

Eriku

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I hate this thread. Stupid catch-all bullshit bumped whenever someone’s displeased with our passing play.
 

Big Ben Foster

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Zombie passing
Shit set pieces
Predictable attack patterns

It's incredible how many of our issues haven't changed one bit in the past 5+ years.
 

Infordin

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Completely wrong there. Any of them has quicker reactions and would beat Pogba over 5-10 m. In football, you don't need to sprint 60-70 m. Midifielders need to be quick over short distances. Pogba is a fantastic athlete but KDB, Iniesta etc. are quicker over short distances and much more agile. Matic would beat Kante over 100 m or even 50 m without problems. Kante, however, eats him alive over 10-15 m. The problem with Matic, Fellaini, Pogba, McTominay is not that they are slow over 50-60m, they are not. But they are not quick over 5-10 m and not nimble enough. There is a reason why the most dynamic teams in the league don't have giants in midfield and attack.
This, this and this again.

This is why Pogba’s “size and athleticism” doesn’t necessarily make him a more complete midfielder than KDB or prime Modric.
 
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