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last night proves: keep Xabi...we threw this year's league...


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ok, first and foremost last night proved that we need to keep Alonso. We MUST keep Alonso. The reason why Chelsea and Liverpool have both played well against Barca in the past two years is because of the ability of both sides to dominate the middle - for Alonso, Masch, Gerrard read Ballack, Essien, Lampard (yeah we can all debate who is the best yadayada...). United have consistently struggled this year against quality sides who can actually out play them in the middle. Yes they have such potent attacking ability that they are able to destroy most weaker teams, but when they get out-played tactically by teams that have also got better quality players to match up to their attacking qualities they routinely come up short...


I'll never forget in France 98 before the tournament Wenger said he thought France would win as they had the best midfield - it is why it must be so glaring for Arsenal fans to see how weak they are in the middle now... but in that game last night Iniesta and Xavi, with Messi in front of them just completely ran the show... I honestly do not think they would have done so against us. I'm not saying that they would not have beaten us, simply that they would not have been able to execute their own game plan as well as they did when faced with Carrick, Anderson and Giggs... With the 3 that Barca had in there they could have played Heskey up front and still have won (this is not said tongue in cheek - this is said as an acknowledgement to what Capello has also demonstrated with England - win the middle and you do not need the world's greatest striker to win the game...)


at this level we need Alonso and Masch and Gerrard - and probably for strength in depth Barry as well. Last night above all else proved that to lose Alonso would be a travesty unless he is replaced with a player of similar quality...


anyway - on to the tired argument about this years league. I for one subscribe to the theory that the league table never lies. Domestically the team best equipped to win the Premier league won the premier league. United were the team best equipped to win the premier league this season because their strength and quality is in their ability to name 4-6 matchwinners in most games they play (starting or on the subs bench). I have said in another thread that this league will always reward the team that wins the most games. Forget the match-ups between the big teams, forget the goal difference etc... to repeat from another discussion - if we went through a season like this


28 wins at 1-0

4 defeates at 5-0 (to United and Chelsea both times)

6 draws at 5-5 !!! (good games eh!)


we would have 90 points, a goal difference of +8 and a terrible record against the big clubs... but we would be champions...


that is why United were the team best equipped to win this league, this year... even though I actually do not think they were the best team. The balance of our team and of Chelsea's team is better and stronger in the middle. In fact, given that Chelsea shanged manager, are in the FA cup final and were one dodgy referee away from the Champions league final I think they have a strong case to argue they have had an exceptional season...


for all that however, I think this league was ours to win and we blew it. In the end United deserved to win it as they won the most games, but either a little more quality in terms of personnel or in terms of tactics and attitude in the middle part of this season would have seen us romp home. My hope is that our attitude and swagger in the latter half of this season will carry through to next and that we will go all out to add serious attacking quality to the 4 players who play in front of the axis of Masch and Alonso....


end of year analysis over... now - who are we signing :popcorn:



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