Man Utd and the fixed free kick disaster

06 Jan 2022 | 07:47 | Football

After 21 Premier League rounds this season, Man Utd is the only team that has not yet scored a goal in fixed free kick situations (excluding penalties).
Eric Ramsay, former coach of Chelsea U21 and U23 teams, was recruited by MU in the summer transfer window of 2021. According to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and assistant Kieran McKenna, Ramsay is a leading expert in the aspect of arranging lessons to attack and attack. Defensive in fixed situations.

The 27-year-old coach received a UEFA Pro License (the highest level for a coach) from 2019. Right in Ramsay’s debut as a new player, beating Everton 4-0 in a friendly match, MU scored twice from a set position. It was the moment Harry Maguire headed in from the corner and Bruno Fernandes successfully shot the free-kick.

But after 21 rounds of the Premier League 2021/22, MU’s achievement in a fixed attack under Ramsay’s kneading hand is zero.

Man Utd and the disaster of the fixed free kick - Football

Ramsay (left) is the youngest British coach ever to receive a UEFA Pro License.

A series of lousy statistics

WhoScored statistics show Liverpool have scored 10 goals from set pieces. Man City and Chelsea have 9 goals together. Following are Arsenal (8 goals), West Ham, Aston Villa (7 goals) and Leicester, Brentford, Southampton (6 goals). MU is at the bottom of the table in the Premier League on this index. The team above them Burnley scored 2 goals.

In the 2020/21 season, the “Red Devils” scored 7 goals from fixed phases, equivalent to a rate of 0.18 goals/match, ranking 12th in the Premier League. In the 2019/20 season, MU scored 8 goals. In the 2018/19 season, the Old Trafford team had 12 goals.

MU of the season 2021/22 has 5 players over 1.9m tall: Harry Maguire, Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba and Raphael Varane. Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani are two strikers with superior air combat ability. Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly are also approximately 1.9 m tall.

Man Utd and the disaster of the fixed free kick - Football
They have Luke Shaw and Bruno Fernandes as the two main corner kicks in England and Portugal. The human factor in the ideal MU squad compared to the common ground of the Premier League this season. And when the “Red Devils” struggled to find the first goal from a corner or a fixed free kick, the role of coach Ramsay was questioned.

Statistics from the Manchester Evening News show that until round 19, the “Red Devils” enjoyed more than 84 corners. Luke Shaw, Fernandes, Telles and Greenwood are 4 players who receive the corner kick task.

Statistics from The Times show Shaw’s conversion rate of corner kicks into danger is nearly 32%. Fernandes made 26 shots, creating a chance rate of only 15.4%. Followed by Alex Telles and Mason Greenwood with 10. Telles has a 40% chance creation rate while Greenwood is only 10%.

Telles’ 40% figure is quite impressive, thereby confirming that he is the best crosser in the current MU squad. But Telles was mostly on the bench.

The stats from Shaw aren’t too bad. Meanwhile, Fernandes shows disappointing performance when taking corners and taking direct free kicks, which are his forte.

The ineffective crosses from MU’s corner are partly due to the fact that the layout of the lessons in the forbidden area has not changed enough. At the beginning of this season, MU still arranged the corner kick with a group of players lined up in a vertical line, then they would disperse the position suddenly when the cross hung in the penalty area but was ineffective.

In MU’s first match under coach Rangnick against Crystal Palace, they changed their coordination. Marcus Rashford will pretend to participate in the air battle, then suddenly run out to receive a pass from Fernandes and return it to his teammates. Fernandes received the ball and then made a cross when the opponent’s defensive distance was disordered.

But in the last match lost to Wolves 0-1, MU returned to the familiar corner arrangement and did not show clear lessons. Shaw twice stepped up to the corner, the other was taken by Fernandes. All were easily neutralized by Wolves.

Man Utd and the disaster of the fixed free kick - Football

Ronaldo and Cavani are always scary when pumping the ball often in the penalty area. Photo: Reuters.

Waste of Ronaldo’s qualities, Cavani

The Portuguese superstar has scored 110 goals with his head in the colors of Sporting Lisbon, MU, Real Madrid and Juventus clubs. Last season, Ronaldo scored 7 goals with his head for Juventus. This season, CR7 only had one successful air battle. That was the goal of MU’s 3-2 victory over Atalanta in the Champions League group stage.

Cavani has scored 57 headers in his entire career. Last season, 7 of 17 goals of the Uruguayan striker were achieved by air combat. And this season, after 11 matches, the former PSG star did not have the opportunity to promote his strengths in air combat, especially in situations of ice cutting and heading like “electricity”.

On the Reddit forum, MU fans demanded that coach Ramsay be fired as soon as possible. Many people think that the MU collective when having Ronaldo, Cavani, even Maguire, Varane after 21 rounds in the Premier League has not scored from a fixed situation is a bad thing.

MU is not only bad in the set-pieces, but the quality of the situations of setting up attacks on the side and making the cross is also at a very low level of successful performance. Statistics of the Premier League homepage show that MU only scored one goal with his head, thereby joining Leeds, Leicester and Wolves at the bottom of the table in this index.

MU’s only header was when Donny van de Beek scored against Watford.

The two full-backs of MU are doing too badly at crosses. Shaw’s cross success rate after 14 Premier League appearances this season is only 24%, down 6% from last season. Wan-Bissaka is a disaster in terms of crosses with a success rate of only 20%.

Wan-Bissaka only hits 2 crosses per game, a performance that is too low compared to top Premier League defenders such as Trent Alexander-Arnold, who makes 8.7 crosses / game, achieving an accuracy rate of 31% .

The wings in the MU defense showed disappointment. The wingers in the upper line of the “Red Devils” are not better. In the 4-2-2-2 diagram, coach Rangnick is applying for MU, Jadon Sancho, Fernandes and Greenwood are 3 players who often kick the side.

Sancho hit 16 crosses in 16 games, only one of which became an opening pass (for Van de Beek to score). Fernandes made 75 crosses in 18 games, most from corners and fixed free kicks, only 24% successful.

Even when coach Rangnick puts Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford or Jesse Lingard on the side, the tendency of these players is to always hold the ball from the side and turn into the center. MU is missing a high-class crosser and also lacks the exercises to attack the edge to promote the quality of the striker pair.

After the 0-1 loss to Wolves, former defender Gary Neville criticized coach Rangnick for not knowing how to use Ronaldo and Cavani. Neville thinks that CR7 and Cavani are both very strong in running and finishing in the penalty area. As long as MU players pour the ball regularly into the penalty area, the situation will be different. But the reality is the opposite is happening.

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