United look in need of attacking reinforcements

If the United attack fails to fire against Villa, it'll be time to shop for new firepower

LOST: Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney, deployed as the main striker against Tottenham last Saturday, often cut an isolated figure up front without much support from his teammates.

ASTON VILLA v MAN UNITED

(Tomorrow, 2.45am, Singtel TV Ch 102 & 
StarHub TV Ch 227)



One shot on target in 90 minutes summed up Manchester United's opening-day performance.

An unfortunate own goal by Tottenham Hotspur's Kyle Walker gave the hosts a 1-0 home win last Saturday and the verdict on United's attack can be summarised in one word - toothless.

Memphis Depay, who arrived in England amid much fanfare, showed fleeting moments of genius but could not hide his discomfort in a supporting striker's role.

Cast outside of his most effective position on the left, he struggled to get involved, even though he looked bright on the occasions he managed to get on the ball.

It was a tactical move which perplexed legendary Holland midfielder Ruud Gullit, who insisted that manager Louis van Gaal must play him in his best position.

Deployed on the flanks were Juan Mata and Ashley Young, both of whom had average outings.

Young couldn't provide the width regularly enough to offer much of a threat.

Mata's preferred diagonal path through the centre was often blocked by the spirited Spurs players.

As a result, Wayne Rooney, deployed as the main striker, often cut an isolated figure.

Rooney as a targetman has always been a double-edged sword.

As he became increasingly frustrated, so did the frequency of his runs back to the midfield area, where he stood a higher chance of getting into the thick of action.

Unfortunately, that also diminished his presence in the Spurs penalty box.

The link-up play, or the lack of it, between Rooney and Depay was particularly worrying.

United's toils in the final third of the field will not be lost on Aston Villa, who entertain the Red Devils tomorrow morning (Singapore time) on the back of a 1-0 win over Bournemouth.

Tim Sherwood's side may lack the depth and quality of their more illustrious opponents, but the youth and energy of the Villans are amply equipped to hold the fort.

If United repeat their Spurs performance against Sherwood's cohesive unit, the chances of van Gaal walking away from Villa Park with a smile are remote.

Things could change, of course.

The quartet of Rooney, Depay, Mata and Young possess so much individual quality that you wouldn't put it beyond them to click as one, if given the time.

Van Gaal also has the option of introducing Ander Herrera into the fray to liven things up, as he did last Saturday.

However, if the attacking mojo still doesn't flow eight games into the season, then what?

Can they afford to wait until the January transfer window to bring in the reinforcements that they currently look in need of?

Van Gaal is a tinkerer with a penchant for introducing the new and sometimes unexpected.

United and their fans, though, may not have the stomach for another season of tactical tests and experiments.

At the moment, the club are heavily linked with Barcelona's Pedro Rodriguez, who is equally adept on either side of the wings or as a second striker.

If he comes, it means van Gaal can then draw the best out of a Depay on the left flank, and also coax more out of Rooney who will have a capable man supporting him from behind.

If the Dutchman sticks with the same attacking line-up tomorrow morning, and still doesn't see a marked improvement, then Villa Park has to be where the toying ends.

It will signal that the time has come for them to get down to the serious business of bringing in who they really need.

Sablon wants a 
S'pore style of play

POSITIVE VISION: FAS technical director Michel Sablon wants Singapore teams to play an offensive style.

At a briefing session yesterday on the FAS Cubs Programme that will be launched tomorrow, FAS technical director Michel Sablon conceded that there is no distinct style of play here.

He also felt that local players still had to improve on coordination and technical ability.

Bearing that in mind, he unveiled the 187-page FAS grassroots manual, which contains the Belgian's philosophy and vision of the kind of football coaching for children from six years old.

The manual is intended to help youngsters enjoy learning to play football, and pick up the basic technical skills, while also highlighting running, climbing and general basic coordination, along with social values.

Key to the success is the launch of the People Association (PA) Children's Football Programme, which aims to add 28 venues in Community Sports Clubs and five grassroots centres islandwide by this year to get more youngsters to play the game.

Read the full report in our print edition on Aug 14.

Subscribe to The New Paper, now available in print and digital, at http://bit.ly/tnpeshop.

FAS technical director Sablon wants major reforms in youth development

Syllabus ready, fields secured, FAS technical director Sablon eyes major changes to youth development

BASIC: 
Only three S.League clubs, including the Warriors (above), run Centres of Excellence, with six youth squads. FAS technical director Michel Sablon wants all clubs to have youth teams.
"(School teams) are playing long balls, with no build up — they (young players) are not learning football." — FAS technical director Michel Sablon (above) on school teams’ playing style

He has spent his first four months on the job immersing himself in the local football ecosystem, studying its intricacies and mulling critical changes at the base to help lift the sport. 

The Football Association of Singapore’s (FAS) grassroots programme is the first move of Michel Sablon, the man credited with sowing the seeds that revolutionised Belgian football.

And there is more to come from the FAS technical director, who was appointed in April. 

While he is not pleased with some facets of the system here, he wants to tackle the long-standing issues surrounding schools football and the National Football Academy (NFA) next, along with the critical factor of quality coaching.

“It is a big thing for us, this agreement with the People’s Association (PA), one problem (with training facilities) is no more. 

“The next step is schools and national (youth) teams and we have to find a solution,” he said, on the sidelines of the launch of his grassroots coaching manual and the Cubs programme at the Jalan Besar Stadium yesterday.

Read the full report in our print edition on Aug 14. 

Subscribe to The New Paper, now available in print and digital, at http://bit.ly/tnpeshop.

Tianjin inferno

Explosions at port facility in China equivalent to a magnitude of between 2 and 3 on Richter scale and could be seen from space

HUGE BLASTS: The fire from the explosions damaged rows and rows of vehicles and other objects standing in its way.
HUGE BLASTS: The fire from the explosions damaged rows and rows of vehicles and other objects standing in its way.
AFTERMATH: An injured man walking away from a residential area near the site of the explosions, and shattered windows of an apartment block (above).
AFTERMATH: (Above) An injured man walking away from a residential area near the site of the explosions, and shattered windows of an apartment block.
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Singaporeans working near the site safe

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Election more important than resignation

Transport Minister says his quitting should not distract from GE

"It’s almost like obituaries and eulogies without the flowers." - Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew on comments and media reports about his resignation
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Jealous spouse cuts off rival's genitals

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