Category Archives: The Boot Room

The Dual Citizenship Bafana Bafana, In An Alternative Universe

The results have been less than impressive, losing 4 competitive fixtures out of 7, at international level, is tantamount to regression, especially when one looks closely at the team selection and tactics deployed. The 7 Lessons From 7 Games We Can't Build For 2022 With 27+ Year Old New Internationals We Can't Play A High Line With Slow Defenders We Can't Counter Press Without A Natural No: 10 We Can't Keep Playing Without Recognized Elite Strikers We Can't Call-Up Foreign Based Players To Warm The Bench We Can't Keep Shunning Foreign Born Players We Can't Keep Overestimating The PSL Standard Click To Tweet

The dust has barely settled, on yet another failed major international tournament qualification attempt, while Stuart Baxter remains adamant that he will see his tenure through, and only resign if the team fails to qualify for the 2019 African Cup Of Nations, the entire football fraternity remains in doubt, regarding the direction our senior men’s national team has been heading. Another major tournament, where we are forced to adopt nations to support, due to our own failure to manage our vast resources adequately, it’s become a bad habit, that needs to be addressed.

Baxter raised many eyebrows, when he confessed to having no written mandate from SAFA, when he took over, a far cry from the Vision 2022 ideal, that we have all been grading the system upon; the lack of a mandate, should’ve been evident in Baxter’s team selections, for some of the most pivotal clashes in his spell thus far. Only once has Baxter started a game, with an XI that was average aged 26, the “max” age for us to be blooding player in, as we build for the next International cycle, while being competitive today, like our adopted World Cup nation Nigeria did successfully.

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Stuart Baxter | May 4th, 2017 –

Played: 7
Won: 2
Lost: 5
Scored: 9
Conceded: 12

Game 1 | Away | June 10th | 2019 AFCON Qualifier
NGR 0 – 2 RSA | Rantie & Tau Goals, Mphahlele & Dolly Assists
RSA Starting Lineup Average Age | 28
Opp Starting Lineup Average Age | 24
Key Outliers | Langerman (31) & Furman (29) In Starting XI
Verdict | Off Vision 2022, On Mission 2019

Game 2 | @Home | June 13th | Friendly International
RSA 1 – 2 ZAM | Manyama Goal, Erasmus Assist
RSA Starting Lineup Average Age | 26
Opp Starting Lineup Average Age | 24
Key Outliers | Mabunda (29) Ngoma (29) & Hlanti (27) In Starting XI
Verdict | On Vision 2022, Off Mission Job Security

Game 3 | Away | September 1st | 2018 World Cup Qualifier
CDV 2 – 1 RSA | Rantie Goal, Langerman Assist
RSA Starting Lineup Average Age | 27
Opp Starting Lineup Average Age | 28
Key Outliers | Langerman (31) & Furman (29) In Starting XI
Verdict | On Vision 2022, Off Mission 2018

Game 4 | @Home | September 5th | 2018 World Cup Qualifier
RSA 1 – 2 CDV | Jali Goal
RSA Starting Lineup Average Age | 29
Opp Starting Lineup Average Age | 28
Key Outliers | Sandilands (34), Gould (34), Kekana (32), Furman (29) & Grobler (29) In Starting XI
Verdict | Off Vision 2022, Off Mission 2018

Game 5 | @Home | October 7th | 2018 World Cup Qualifier
RSA 3 – 1 BFA | Tau, Zwane & Vilakazi Goals, Daniels, Jali & Tau Assists
RSA Starting Lineup Average Age | 28
Opp Starting Lineup Average Age | 25
Key Outliers | Daniels (33), Gould (34), Mkhize (29), Hlanti (27) & Vilakazi (28) In Starting XI
Verdict | Off Vision 2022, On Mission 2018

Game 6 | @Home | November 10th | 2018 World Cup Qualifier
RSA 0 – 2 SEN
RSA Starting Lineup Average Age | 29
Opp Starting Lineup Average Age | 27
Key Outliers | Hlanti (27), Gould (34), Daniels (33), Mkhize (29), Furman (29) & Vilakazi (28) In Starting XI
Verdict | Off Vision 2022, Off Mission 2018

Game 7 | Away | November 14th | 2018 World Cup Qualifier
SEN 2 – 1 RSA | Tau Goal, Dolly Assist
RSA Starting Lineup Average Age | 28
Opp Starting Lineup Average Age | 26
Key Outliers | Hlanti (27), Daniels (33), Gould (34), Mkhize (29), Furman (29) & Vilakazi (28) In Starting XI
Verdict | Off Vision 2022, Off Mission Job Security

The results have been less than impressive, losing 4 competitive fixtures out of 7, at international level, is tantamount to regression, especially when one looks closely at the team selection and tactics deployed.

The 7 Lessons From 7 Games

We Can’t Build For 2022 With 27+ Year Old New Internationals
We Can’t Play A High Line With Slow Defenders
We Can’t Counter Press Without A Natural No: 10
We Can’t Keep Playing Without Recognized Elite Strikers
We Can’t Call-Up Foreign Based Players To Warm The Bench
We Can’t Keep Shunning Foreign Born Players
We Can’t Keep Overestimating The PSL Standard

There are a few things I can understand, injuries and suspensions occur at any level, but a footballing nation such as ours, should have more in reserve than 30 year olds that barely dominate in our local league on a consistent basis. The tactical aspect has never been an Achilles Heel for Baxter, his Kaizer Chiefs team won playing a European influenced counter-pressing style, underpinned by experienced players in their primes, and pace provided by the youth in amply supply. His recent selections, have been head scratching to say the least, with elite talents in their prime often being overlooked, for “more experienced” peers, who have had ample opportunity at the highest level, and largely failed to help take the nation forward.

© Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Which brings me to now, the biggest draw Stuart Baxter had as Bafana coach, in today’s climate, for me personally, was his potential draw, in recruiting the plethora of South African passport holding footballers plying their trade abroad. None of which has occurred, on the contrary, Lars Veldwijk has been consistently overlooked under Baxter, when we badly needed a focal point upfront, while we saw Bradley Globler & Thamsanqa Gabuza selected instead; the same can be said at left fullback, where Kgosi Ntlhe should’ve been given a chance when Tsepo Masilela begun to age, yet he’s been constantly overlooked, to the detriment of his game, confidence and profile as a footballer. If Baxter seeks to truly help our national team, he needs to start improving the quality of our national depth chart in every single position, from now, until he leaves the hotseat. The legacy of Stuart Baxter as Bafana coach was never set to be one of accolades and silverware, he inherited an aged nucleus, with an exhausted fan base, that had all but given up hope; the time has come for him to pay it forward, and leave the next coach with a solid base of players to pick from and build with.

The Dual Citizenship Bafana | A Juxtaposed Reality | 3-3-2-1-1 “Expats United”

Key

# Player

DoB

Position/s

Nationalities

Pedigree

Current Club

National Team

 

1 Maarten van der Want 

Jan 15th, ‘95 | 22

GK
1, 91 m
Right Foot

Dutch
South African

ADO Den Haag Youth Team

Virtus Entella Olbia Calcio 1905 | Italy 🇮🇹

N/A

3 Nikola Tavares

Jan 17th, ‘99 | 18

CB
1, 76 m
Right Foot

Croatian
South African

Brentford Youth Team | Crystal Palace Youth Team

Crystal Palace | England 🇬🇧

Croatian U/18 & U/19 International

4 Keith Groeneveld

Jun 24th, ‘99 | 18

CB/ DM
1, 90 m
Right Foot

Belgian
South African

Royal Antwerp Youth Team | KV Mechelen Youth Team

Standard Lièrge | Belgium 🇧🇪

Belgian U/18 International

5 Loïc Ombala

Mar 31st, ’97 | 20

CB/ RB
1, 78 m
Right Foot

Cameroonian
South African

Team Vaud Yverdon Youth Team

FC Bavois FC Azzurri LS 90 | Switzerland 🇨🇭

N/A

2 Sylian Mokono

Mar 22nd, ’99 | 18

RB
1, 83 m
Right Foot

Dutch
South African

FC Utrecht Youth Team

FC Utrecht | The Netherlands 🇳🇱

N/A

6 Joel Untersee

Feb 11th, ’94 | 23

RB/ LB
1, 81 m
Right Foot

Swiss
South African

FC Zürich Youth Team | Juventus Youth Team | FC Vaduz

Brescia FC Empoli (On Loan From Juventus) | Italy 🇮🇹

Swiss U/15, U/16, U/17, U/18, U/19, U/20 & U/21 International

8 Phondo Wälläri

May 2nd, ’99 | 18

DLP, B2BM
Left Foot

Finnish
South African

FC Loppi | Riihimäen Palloseura | PK Keski – Uusimaa Youth Team

Pallokerho Keski – Uusimaa | Finland 🇫🇮

Finnish U/17 International

7 Siph Mdlalose

Jan 28th, ’99 | 18

RWM
1, 78 m
Right Foot

English
South African

Southampton Youth Team

Southampton | England 🇬🇧

N/A

11 Ambousoirya Mahadi

Mar 5th, ’99 | 18

LWM/ AM/ AF
Right Foot

French
South African

Olympique de Marseille Youth Team

Aubagne FC | France 🇫🇷

N/A

10 Tyrique Bartlett

Apr 14th, ’99 | 18

AF/ CF
1, 76 m
Right Foot

English
South African

University of Pretoria Youth Team

Newcastle United | England 🇬🇧

N/A

9 Marvin Graf

Aug 17th, ’95 | 22 CF
1, 88 m
Right Foot

Swiss
South African

FC Adliswil | FC Zürich Youth Team

FC Wohlen FC Zürich | Switzerland 🇨🇭

Swiss U/16, U/17, U/18 & U/19 International

12 Dani Amos

Feb 2nd, ’87 | 30

GK
1, 85 m
Right Foot

Israeli
English
South African

Kiyat Shmona | Hapoel Tel Aviv | Hapoel Acre

Maccabi Petah Tikva Maccabi Netanya | Israel 🇮🇱

Israeli U/21 International

13 Alessandro
Petrone

Oct 8th, ’96 | 21

RB/ LB
1, 87 m
Right Foot

Italian
South African

Benevento Youth Team | Torrecuso | Arzachena

Free Agent

N/A

14 Daniel Collins

Jun 15th, ’95 | 22

Utility Defender
Right Foot

Welsh
South African

Marconi | Bala Town | Wrexham | Rhyl | Colwyn Bay

Wrexham | Wales & England 🇬🇧

N/A

15 Dani Ladeira

May 28th, ’96 | 21

DLP, B2BM
1, 75 m
Right Foot

Portuguese
South African

Nacional Yout Team | Camacha | Carev Dvor

Enfield FC | England 🇬🇧

N/A

16 Max Falldorf

Mar 7th, ’98 | 19

DLP, AM, AP
1, 82 m
Left Foot

German
South African

Werder Bremen Youth Team | FC Verden Youth Team | SC Weyhe Youth Team | JFV Nordwest Youth Team

TP Uphusen | Germany 🇩🇪

N/A

17 B.J. Banda

Jun 1st, ’98 | 19

AP, AF, CF
1, 76 m
Left Foot

Irish
South African

Letterkenny Rovers | Finn Harps Youth Team

Finn Harps | Ireland 🇮🇪

N/A

18 Tom Barkhuizen

Jul 4th, ’93 | 24

AP, AF, CF
1, 75 m
Right Foot

English
South African

Blackpool | Hereford United | Fleetwood Town | Morecambe

Preston North End | England 🇬🇧

N/A

19 Marcel Lück

Jan 18th, ’96 | 21

CF
1, 86 m
Either Foot

German
South African

SuperSport United Youth Team | Stuttgarter Kickers II

VfB Oldenburg | Germany 🇩🇪

N/A

 

Written By Mallele Chidi PeTje III (@MCPeTjeIII) 

Half-Time Orange For Thought; Redemption Song, Bradley Wright-Philips Comes Full Circle

Bradley Wright-Phillips is now the leading goalscorer in the history of the New York Red Bulls franchise, beating the long-held record of 62 goals, set by Juan Pablo Ángel, and confirming his place as one of the greatest players in the club’s history. All thing’s said, BWP has far surpassed the accomplishments of your average Manchester City youth graduate, which is less of a slight and more of a compliment to both he and the club; having waited for his turn to fully display his genuine level of ability, Bradley is now proof of what happens when you trust the process and enjoy the journey along the way, which is a Millennial teaching moment in its own.Click To Tweet

#TheBootRoom

Dissected with the attention to detail of a legendary Masterchef 2nd season casting outcast , your good mate Uncle Bob serves up his weekly Half-Time Orange For Thought; a mental morsel for the sports fanatic with a healthy appetite for wholesome consumables. We at GSV have reluctantly declared ourselves accountable for any digestion difficulties that may or may not occur. Enjoy!

bwp-swp-ian-wright

As Millennial’s, we’ve been programmed to subscribe to the culture of instant gratification and the pursuit of instant success, much to our peril;  Bradley Wright-Phillips is a name many older football loving Millennial’s will be familiar with, a footballer who’s kin have blessed at least two generations of football viewers with impressive offensive displays. There was a school of thought early on in his career, which believed that Bradley could go on to become as prolific as his father, Crystal Palace & Arsenal legend Ian Wright; Bradley, the younger of the Wright-Philips brothers, showed early signs of his potential when he top scored for the Manchester City reserve side in the 2003-04 season, the teenager begun to get more looks in at 1st team level, yet he ultimately failed to break into the setup and was moved on at the age of 21.

bwp-city

The £500, 000 transfer to Southampton in the Championship on July 5th, 2006, with half of the transfer fee funded by a supporter who won a Coca-Cola competition prize, was seen as a way for the lad to fight his way back to the level many felt his potential dictated he should be playing; Wright-Philips wasted no time repaying some of that good faith from the club, netting on his debut away to Derby County and ending his debut season with 11 goals in all competitions. 14 goals over his next two seasons with The Saints wasn’t enough to save the club from relegation into League One, and Bradley saw himself released, as the club looked to rebuild in the third tier with financial constraints.

bwp-plymouth

A second shot at the Championship with Plymouth Argyle came on July 15th, 2009, when he penned a two year deal with the ambitious club, a knee injury affected spell saw him limited in effectiveness during his 37 games in 2 seasons, scoring 17 goals and briefly regaining fitness and form to be elected into the PFA League One Team of the Year for the 2010 – 11 season. A move back home to London with Charlton Athletic, saw him form part of a side that won the Football League One title in swashbuckling fashion in the 2011 – 12 season under Charlton legend Chris Powell. As the club begun to decline due to in-house instability, Wright-Philips would spend a 15 game loan stopover at Brentford in early 2013, prior to being released yet again, as Charlton continued to try rebuild their roster with limited stability in management; Wright-Phillips would finish with 22 goals to show for his 42 games in 2 years with the club.

bwp-charlton

When most 28 year old footballers would’ve settled for the security of playing in the lower divisions and hopefully tasting promotion or a cup run or two before they retire having amassed a decent reputation as a professional, Bradley Wright-Phillips gambled on his ability to score goals and joined a highly ambitious New York Red Bulls outfit that was looking to become a major role-player in the ever expanding MLS. Signing for the club on July 24th, 2013, BWP provided the late season push New York needed to claim the 2013 Supporters’ Shield trophy, their 1st major piece of silverware. Wright-Philips would go on to form an impressive partnership with Arsenal legend Thierry Henry, who brought the best out of BWP as a finisher and helped coax the brilliance out of him; Bradley netted an MLS league record equalling 27 regular season goals, as he stormed to the Golden Boot Award in 2014, his 1st full season in the league.

bwp-titi

Doubters begun to emerge, as goals dried up after Thierry retired from playing, yet BWP gradually reacclimatised to the change in system and personnel at the club, to continue leading the line and scoring goals at an impressive rate; 17 regular season goals in 2015, and a handy 4 in the Playoff’s, saw him firmly establish himself as a genuine MLS star, and one of the most lethal finishers the league has ever had. Wright-Philips would further cement his legacy, and silence all doubters, when he narrowly beat David Villa to the MLS Golden Boot Award in 2016, scoring an impressive 24 regular season goals for the Red side of New York, becoming the 4th player in MLS history to win 2 scoring titles, joining Taylor Twellman, Jeff Cunningham & Chris Wandolowski in that elite bracket; notching up a number of records on the way, BWP’s 44 goals between 2014 & 2015 equalled Stern John’s record for most goals over a two year span, the Trinidad & Tobago legend amassed his 44 over the 1997 – 98 seasons.

bwp-legend

Bradley Wright-Phillips

Bio

Full Name: Bradley Edward Wright-Phillips

DoB: March 12th, 1985 (31)

PoB: Lewisham, London; England

Nationalities: English, Grenadine, Jamaican, Trinidadian & Toboggan

Caps & Goals: England u/20 | 5 Caps

Position/s: Inside Forward, Advanced Forward, Poacher (Left, Right, Centre)

Preferred Foot: Right

Height: 1,73m

Club: New York Red Bulls Football Club

Jersey Number: #99

Contact Expiry: December 31st, 2017

Market Value: R 254m

Previous Clubs: Manchester City Football Club (2004 – 06) | Southampton Football Club (2006 – 09) | Plymouth Argyle Football Club (2009 – 11) | Charlton Athletic Football Club (2011 – 13) | Brentford Football Club, Loan (2013)

Development Academy: Manchester City Youth Academy (2001-2004)

Honours

PFA League One Team of the Year: 2010 – 11| Plymouth Argyle Football Club

Football League One Champion: 2011 – 12 |Charlton Athletic

MLS Supporters’ Shield: 2013 & 2015

MLS All-Star: 2014

MLS Best XI: 2014

MLS Golden Boot: 2014 & 2016

New York Red Bulls Player of the Year: 2014

Castrol Index Top MLS Player: 2014

Fastest MLS Hattrick: 27 Minuets

The Numbers

Career Record Club Games Goals Assists
  League All Comps League All Comps  
Man City 32 40 2 2 0
Southampton 111 121 22 25 8
Plymouth Argyle 32 37 17 17 1
Charlton Athletic 82 87 31 31 11
Brentford 15 17 5 5 1
Totals   272 302 77 80 21

 

MLS Record Season Games Goals
  Regular Season Playoff Regular Season Playoff
2013 7 2 1 1
2014 32 4 27 4
2015 34 4 17 1
2016 34 2 24 1
Totals   107 12 69 7

 

The Grand Stand View

Bradley Wright-Phillips arrived in the MLS as Ian Wright’s son and the younger brother of Shaun Wright-Phillips, yet he has gradually established himself as his own man and a genuine MLS legend in the making; his scoring exploits may go unmatched for a few seasons to come, BWP broke the MLS record for the most goals scored in a three year period, with his 62 strikes eclipsing Chris Wondolowski’s 2010 – 12 run. Wright-Phillips is now also the 1st MLS player to have two 20+ goal seasons in the history of the league, while his 1st full season with New York saw him equal the league record for most goals in a single regular season, equalling the 27 co-held by Chris Wondolowski & Roy Lassiter, and at 31, he has time to set a few more records and elevate the benchmark even further.

The legend of BWP may still have a few more pages waiting to be writ, yet the Manchester City youth protégé has risen to fulfil his potential as a genuine star and one of the best English imports to Major League Soccer, which is saying a lot, when one considers the David Beckham’s, Steven Gerrard’s, Frank Lampard’s and Jermain Defoe’s that gone across the pond to try their luck in the expanding league with increasing pull and marketability. Bradley Wright-Phillips is now the leading goalscorer in the history of the New York Red Bulls franchise, beating the long-held record of 62 goals, set by Juan Pablo Ángel, and confirming his place as one of the greatest players in the club’s history. All thing’s said, BWP has far surpassed the accomplishments of your average Manchester City youth graduate, which is less of a slight and more of a compliment to both he and the club; having waited for his turn to fully display his genuine level of ability, Bradley is now proof of what happens when you trust the process and enjoy the journey along the way, which is a Millennial teaching moment in its own.

 Written by Mallele Chidi PeTje III (@MCPeTjeIII) for The Grand Stand View (@GSVDaily)

Half-Time Orange For Thought; A Pog-matic Take On Manchester United’s Midfield Conundrum

With all the positives going for them, United have been largely unimpressive this season; the improvements we expected to see have actually been a drastic regression from the miniscule progress David Moyes and Louis van Gaal made towards rebuilding the team as a whole, Mourinho has thus far succeeded in stifling the offensive potential United had tapped into, in previous seasons, and created with the arrival of their Summer signings...Click To Tweet

manchester-united-logo-vector

#TheBootRoom

Dissected with the attention to detail of a legendary Masterchef 2nd season casting outcast , your good mate Uncle Bob serves up his weekly Half-Time Orange For Thought; a mental morsel for the sports fanatic with a healthy appetite for wholesome consumables. We at GSV have reluctantly declared ourselves accountable for any digestion difficulties that may or may not occur. Enjoy!

The arrival of José Mourinho at Old Trafford was heralded as the return to the foreground for Manchester United, a great football club whose on-field performances have fallen short of their own lofty standards in recent seasons, a decline that became far more evident after the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson from the dugout at the culmination of the 2012/13 season. Fergie brought an allure to the club, one which allowed them to bulldoze or bully their rivals on & off the field during lrge parts of his tenure; those intangible characteristics, which gave his teams an air of invulnerability even when they were weak or wounded, has sorely been missed at the club in recent seasons. The current Manchester United side seemed loaded with all the tools to reclaim that lost lustre and dominance; an elite level coach, the arrival of 3 quality players to add to the current roster, and a renewed sense of optimism amongst their support base, one that hasn’t been seen since Fergie moved up to the stands permanently.

With all the positives going for them, United have been largely unimpressive this season; the improvements we expected to see have actually been a drastic regression from the miniscule progress David Moyes and Louis van Gaal made towards rebuilding the team as a whole, Mourinho has thus far succeeded in stifling the offensive potential United had tapped into, in previous seasons, and created with the arrival of their Summer signings. The gaffers recent rant about how more expansive his teams have been in the past two seasons is wasted on me personally, Jose has had access to some of the best players and two of the largest war-chests in the EPL during those two seasons, and he has been exposed by his inability to adapt his defensive minded approach to fully suit the modern game. Jose Mourinho prefers a style of football and overall club culture that is essentially anti-Man United; where United would like to play on the front foot at all times, Jose prefers to absorb pressure and hit in the break. The same can be said for how Mourinho likes his teams to be perceived, the gaffer thrives in a highly combative and militant dressing room, where his players feel as if nobody wants to see them succeed; Manchester United have largely survived an even more catastrophic fall, after the departure of Fergie, due to their massive brand appeal and ability to generate revenue off being liked worldwide. There are far too many degrees of separation in this matrimony for it to truly end well, the writing was on the wall when Jose publically made his desire for the post known, even while LvG was fighting for his survival; the attention now moves fully onto Jose Mourinho and how he rescues himself from a predicament he talked himself into.

The Manchester United midfield has always looked a tad bit undercooked in comparison to their rivals, under the latter stages of Fergie’s career, yet even with the quality of midfield players that have come into the squad of late; we have failed to see any signs of a return to that level of consistency or overall effort. Two key arrivals that have been either underused or misused by José thus far, are Paul Pogba & Henrikh Mkhitaryan; two outstanding midfielders that would be gladly welcomed at most leading football clubs, yet they are currently looked at as part of the reason why United have yet to live up to the lofty expectations they had in mind when they made changes in the Summer window.

pogba-meme

Both players are almost victims of their current manager’s inability to get the best out of them, and allow them to provide the team with the solidity and spark that they are sorely missing; Mou has been fighting an internal battle to get his team playing more offensively, while the results have dried up over the past two seasons. Paul Pogba is a brilliant modern age box-to-box midfielder, built with the frame, technical gifts and mental aptitude to excel on both sides of the ball and prove to be a difference maker when deployed in his natural role. José Mourinho has thus far failed to get the best out of Pogba as the more advanced central midfielder in the double pivot; Paul Pogba needs to be played alongside a ball-winning midfielder, who makes more of the defensive interceptions and gets him the ball in a position where he can initiate the offense with a pass or a run. It may have taken a while for the large majority to realise it, but Marouane Fellaini is nowhere near being a holding midfield player at the elite level, and United do not have another out and out holding midfielder who can currently compliment Pogba in that double-pivot; Morgan Schneiderlin, Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick are all quality players who add different dimensions to the team, yet they all excel as the more advanced of the two in the double pivot, much like Paul Pogba. Playing as a number: 10 is something Pogba is unfamiliar with, and one can see how the lack of time and space in “The Hole” has limited his ability to be effective on the offensive end for The Red Devils thus far this season; the fact that Mourinho and his technical team continue with this practice is beyond peculiar, when one realises that Juan Mata, the best creative player in the squad, has been deployed out wide on the right when he’s available, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan would add more creative balance on the right of the more advanced midfielders.

As modern football evolves, the deployment of systems that favour having more players in midfield, has necessitated the need for more well rounded players that provide differing threats in the central midfield trio; Man United are one of the few teams that have a duplication of skills or roles in the three central midfielders that they play regularly, which has combined to make them very uninspiring to watch, due to their lack of balance and creativity. The most expensive footballer in the world, Paul Pogba, has looked like a shadow of the player that was dabbing his way back to Old Trafford with a point to prove; the stark reality is bare for all to see, United currently lack the level of supporting cast to compliment a solid spine consisting of David De Gea, Eric Bertrand Bailly, Paul Pogba, Juan Mata & Zlatan Ibrahimović. That spine rivals, and arguably betters, the one their noisy neighbours are watching Pep Guardiola dismantle, after bringing them the sustained spell of Premier League dominance that they were initially after. Which begs the question, why does this United side still look so bland and unimpressive, after having made a concerted effort to improve upon their recent lows and improve their fortunes?

Written By Mallele Chidi Petje III (@MCPeTjeIII)