Markus Neumayr Column : Shape

Markus Neumayr Column : Shape

Former United youth star Markus Neumayr joined Yolkie to discuss United’s recent form, the difficulty of taking late penalties, and how the Reds are struggling to adapt to the new formation.

Last time we talked we spoke a lot about the new formation. However it’s not all been plain sailing; United look like we’re struggling with it now, with some unconvincing displays but also the players looking uncomfortable in the system. Do you share that opinion?

Yeah it seems like it. United have been playing the classical 4-4-2 for over a decade. Now the change into a more “modern” system seems to be a very big task. But United have to stick with it because they have the right players for the 4-2-3-1 system. They need to practice it day in and day out in training.

One of the major problems in the system seems to be what we do with the deep midfield two. Against Tottenham there were two sides of it on show; in the second half, Scholes and Carrick looked excellent, but that was against a side who could afford to let them play… in the first half, they were nowhere to be seen as Spurs ran riot. When we spoke about the system before we talked about Cleverley as another option in there but all three are tidy, clever players… for the system to succeed now, do you think it’s been proven that we perhaps need a ball winner to play there, such as maybe Phil Jones when he gets fit?

You definetely need a ball winning midfielder on one of these two deep midfield positions. That will give players like Scholes/Carrick/Cleverly more space and power in going forward. The problem at the moment is that United does not have a typical number 6,who does win the tackles in midfield. A Roy Keane would be essential in these days. If Phil Jones can fill that gap? I am not sure about it, because for me he is more a defender (right back) than a midfielder who organises and reads the game.

From the United squad, if you think Phil Jones couldn’t fill that defensive midfield role, is there anyone in the squad you think could?

To be honest with you, at the monent I do not see that player,who gives you that balance. For me that is the key position in this 4-2-3-1!I f Scholes and Carrick have to play that role together, the game of United will suffer unfortunately…

Results have been mixed in the last month; two wins in Europe, a great result at Anfield but that poor performance against Tottenham. Our results in Europe haven’t been particularly convincing but came through some quality goals; Carrick against Galatasaray and van Persie against Cluj. Is it all about qualification, or do you think United have an obligation to supporters to perform better after last year?

The main subject for United has to be the qualification. Moreover they have to work on the tactical side of the game. Because that is main key for being consistent regarding performances. United seem to struggle with this at that part of the season. The quality of the players is there as you can see, if you watch the goals. These are just products of the class that each one of them brings. But United has to create more chances as a team.

We had a terrible run of penalty misses before Robin van Persie scored his at Anfield; it was a kick under a fair amount of pressure, a late penalty at our most hated rivals after we hadn’t won there for a few years… having been in a similar position, with a last minute penalty in your last game that could win the game for your side, explain the kind of pressure that a player goes through that makes it much more complex than just a kick from 12 yards…

It is a lot of pressure because you carry the responsibility for your team. Each one of them worked for 90 minutes and just that one penalty kick can make it pay or not. This is just the small line that football is all about. Only a few seconds of distraction can cost you at this level. That makes it very special. Every player who steps up for that last kick of the game, knows that he is carrying that responsibility for the whole team/club. Of course you cannot practice these things in training, so you just have to keep your coolness, stay focused and have only one target in mind. To score for your team and win the three points.

Wayne Rooney has returned from injury and looks to be on fairly good form; how would your first choice front four look?

As I said before… Up front it can only be van Persie and Rooney. To see them two playing together is just magnificent. On the sides I would give Nani and Hernandez the opportunity. We all know what Nani is about. He just needs to pick up his confidence and then there should not be many opponents who can stop him. On the other wing I would like to see Hernandez. His movement on and off the ball is great to watch. His agility and sharpness will cause any back four in Europe problems.

I’m not sure I agree that Hernandez can play wide! Plus, he’s not really playing great… Another player who’s not been playing so well is Patrice Evra; it’s not just form, but the fact that a number of goals are coming from his area of the pitch, or coming as a consequence of the fact he is out of position. Is now the time to start thinking of giving Alex Buttner a run in the side?

I would still put my money on Patrice Evra. He proved over years what he is capable of. It is true that his recent form has not been outstanding. But these days managers seem to change the players so quick and taking his confidence. This Alex Buttner is an interesting player who can make that step into Evra`s position.

For Bellinzona, your results have picked up – a good win in the cup, and three games unbeaten – and personally, as hinted at above, you scored twice, with your first goal being a bit special. How are you finding the change in management – do you think it’s had an impact on your own form, as you’re now top scorer for the club this season?

It is true that we picked up points. Our performances itself were football wise not the best. We still need to improve a lot and work hard in terms of the technical side of the game. As every manager, he changed a little bit the formation when he first arrived. I fought my back into the team, which was quite surprising for me in being dropped by him from the first day. But sometimes this happens in football. You just have to fight your way back and show him that there is no way without you. I waited for suspensions and last Sunday I took my opportunity in scoring two goals and making one assist. Regarding my form, I am quite happy so far. Of course there is still much space for improvements though. But I proved to be essential for the team as I am the leading goal and top scorer, with 4 goals and 5 assists.

Thanks to Markus for his time.

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