By Andy Jones
- United’s style of play has been criticised lately
- Are the players there to play free-flowing attacking football?
Watching David Beckham’s UNICEF fundraiser at Old Trafford on Saturday night, some fantastic memories came flooding back from this great United team of the late 90’s to late 2000’s.
There was a moment when Phil Neville played the ball back to Becks, without taking a touch, he whipped in a trademark cross, and there to meet it was a certain Paul Scholes, heading the ball down low into the goal. It was like they had never been away, the movement on the pitch, the telepathy, knowing where to play the ball, anticipating each others movement.
There has been much criticism of this current United team, too slow, too methodical, too safe in their play. But have we been spoilt by the teams of the past, I’d say yes. Never again we will we see a team with the likes of Beckham, Butt, Scholes, Giggs, Keane, the Nevilles.
British players brought up the United way. If their talent didn’t win the game, their workrate sure did. This current crop are a solid unit, every player knows their role to play, but where are the risk takers? the players that get you out of your seats? This is not just a Manchester United problem.
Look at European football at the moment, who are the players that are truly world-class? Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar, players that you’d pay good money just to be able to say you’d seen them play live, other than those 3, who could you name.
Go back 10 to 15 years and you could reel off players with ease – Zidane, Henry, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Hagi, Zola, Cantona, all players who could win a match with a moment of individual brilliance. Todays players seem too robotic, yes they are fantastic athletes, and technically good, but there is little flair.
Maybe the stakes are too high, money and greed has taken over football. Clubs are seen as a business, multi club ownership is the new model, everything is described as a “project”, the financial penalty for not achieving the top 4 means its results over performance.
The facts are that football has evolved, maybe not for the better, but at least those of us who followed the United team under Sir Alex can say we were lucky to see possibly the greatest collection of home grown players ever to be assembled.
I might be looking back through rose tinted glasses, I remember the first time at Old Trafford that the names of Gary and Phil Neville were announced in the starting line up, I’m sure I heard a collective groan from under the concourse; but little did we know what was about to unravel, being able to follow a group of lads who were my age. Playing for the club we love, having the time of their lives and winning every trophy imaginable