Rafael – Manchester United’s most improved player

by Sam Peoples

Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa stole the headlines in Manchester United’s 3-2 victory over Fulham on Saturday but Rafael put in a fantastic performance. He scored United’s third goal but could of had two or three in all honesty and his partnership with Valencia was one of the most impressive on the pitch.

I hope to score more goals. I enjoy my game, I’m just getting mature now and I love football, so it’s all good“. Rafael

Speaking with MUTV, Rafael was keen to point out that he hopes to net a few more goals this season.

He said: “Everyone knows everyone has these skills and everyone scores. We will score a lot of goals this season, I hope.

“I know I’ve not scored many goals, but I’m very happy.”

Rafael is one of the most improved players at United in the past 12 months. His discipline has vastly improved and he isn’t as hot headed in the tackle as he has been previously. He is our first choice right back and now that he has his hands on the #2 shirt, he seems ready to take on the challenge of following in the footsteps of Gary Neville.

As well as his own progression, Fabio going out on loan will do nothing but help Rafael. As much as I hope that the twins are United’s full backs in the future, Fabio is not at the same level as his brother and him being at United held Rafael back. Now that he has his chance at regular first team football, Rafael will have a guilty weight taken off his shoulders and put all his efforts into concentrating on his own football career.

It goes without saying that he is still far from the complete defender but his natural attacking game is blossoming. If he can now knuckle down and avoid injuries, this could be his breakthrough season as an indispensable player in the United squad.

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ray 08/27/2012 - 11:16

To a level you are correct and to a level you are not.
First goal was a training ground free kick where the ball was not crossed into the far post as anticipated but rolled across the area and then thumped in.
Agreed a midfielder(Young) should have tracked back but as you said he was fouled.
The next line of defence was a defender(Rafael) who having seen the plan start should have charged at Duff in an attempt to block the shot at best and hurry him at worst.
Rafael did neither.
Look at his position as the shot goes off.He is in no mans land and marking nobody.

Second goal
i agree the goalkeeper should organise the defence.
But the goalkeeper in this case does not have much of a defence.
Carrick is not a centre half.He is a makeshift doing his best to help out.
We know what we are capable of defending with him at centre half.
We saw it last season with Carrick and Fletcher,after the injuries to Rio and Vidic, and we saw it against Everton.
It is just not reasonable to ask one of the best passers in the Premier league to keep “doing a job”
We have Wooton on the bench and he should have gotten a chance or why even have him in the squad

Anyway i digress.
I agree that Rafael was behind Valencia but why?
Rafael should have been on the winger himself.
That is a fullbacks job ie mark the winger near your own penalty area and not hope to get back from another run forward and hope to be second tackle.
If Rafael is back and stops the ball to the wing or puts a good tackle in then the cross that causes havoc with only one centre half doesn’t come in does it.
Second tackle by the way should be either defensive midfielder or the centre half now going across to do the blocking.
I know as i was a centre half.

I am all for Valencia being first tackle and Rafael being second tackle if the ball is on the halfway line or just inside your own half.
Totally different rules apply for near your own corner flag or the edge of your own penalty area

NorwegianDevila 08/27/2012 - 09:59

Sorry Ray, but you are wrong on both accounts. Neither of the goals on Saturday came as a result of an error from Rafael.

First goal is from a free kick and if anyone is at fault, it is Ashley Young who fails to track his player (Duff).
Granted Young is fouled by Duff and Dembele (Not sure, think it was him.) in the seconds before the goal so he should have had a free kick and the goal should not have been given.

Second goal is scored from a cross from Rafael side, but if you look at the footage it is Valencia who fails to stop the cross. Not Rafael.
You may ask where Rafael is since it is Valencia that are trying to close down the opponent. The answer is exactly where he is supposed to be. He’s providing cover for Valencia so that he can close down the opponent if he gets past Valencia.

That is textbook defending. If the winger closes down the opponent then the full back needs to provide cover and if the full back closes down the opponent then the winger needs to go inside en provide cover for the full back. (Either that or the center half needs to cover the area where the left full back/Winger was supposed to be and the entire back line needs to push over. (Exposing the other flank in the process, but the other flank is no threat in this situation so to do so is considered the right thing to do)

The second goal is caused by Vidic and De Gea failing to communicate, and that is not Rafaels fault!

And before anyone ask. I am a goalkeeper and as a Gk I spend most of the game telling defenders where they need to be. I would say that organizing the defence is one of my strong points! So I do know what I am talking about.

malaysiandevil 08/28/2012 - 07:31

i agree with norwegiandveila..right now the real liability is vidic..he was poor in both everton and fulham match..i hope when he gets more game under his belt..he would be the old vidic we all come to love

ray 08/27/2012 - 08:17

You are correct that i have never professionally played football but i have played for fun and watched it and supported United for 50 years so i am entitled to my opinion.
Presumably,Mo,you tell everybody that has a negative opinion on United to go and watch City.
I enjoy attacking fullbacks.
I have seen plenty over the years that i have admired.
Tony Dunne,John Gidman,Dennis Irwin and there are those i have seen that started as wingers and were converted to full backs.
The great Roger Byrne,Shay Brennan and Paddy Evra.
They all have one thing in common though.
They were fullbacks first and foremost.
Usually when they joined in attacks it was to get down the flanks and give the winger the option of crossing or to pass the ball to them when their job was to put a quality cross in.
When United played Giggs as a left winger before we gave the position to Rooney(and now Welbeck) how many times did you see the opposition fullback in trouble by not knowing whether the cross was coming from Giggs or Evra or an Evra overlap.
It makes the opposition drag their winger back to help out helps keep the pressure on.
With Rafael he doesn’t know when to stay home nor how to get back.
Knowing he is going to join in every attack whether it is down the left or right pushes the opposition winger forward.
That in turn drags your own defence over and also leaves them shirt handed.
On Saturday Carrick often ended up right back with Vidic dragged right and Paddy Evera covering two positions.This he did very well as nothing dangerous came from the left back flank.
Rafael doesn’t know how to close a game down as a “professional” footballer should do.
You could almost say it’s like he has never played the game

timbo 08/27/2012 - 00:30

@Mo. Yeah, weren’t you the guy playing in midfield for United last season? What a dope – I always love the morons who come out with the standardized line that you can’t render an opinion unless ‘you’ve been there’ or are an expert, yet fail to appreciate that they invalidate their own argument by making a comment. By the same token, I guess you never make your views known on movies, music and literature because you’re not a director, musician, or writer, right?

Austin 08/27/2012 - 00:24

Ray and Gareth should stop hating on Rafael, evra has cost man utd on more occasions than any other, not even Phil Jones, no wonder buttner was acquired. Rafael’s presence always boosts united’s attack! He might have a little to learn about positional play but its not as big deal as your comments suggest. GIVE CREDIT WHERE IT’S DUE

mo 08/26/2012 - 23:46

I’m guessing “Ray” you have never in your life played football? And think you are fit and right in ‘slating’ footballers like as if you know what your talking about haha bet you Have never kicked a ball in your life …. star acting like a proper united fan and get behind your team if not possible go support the blue ****** down the road!!!

Peader 08/26/2012 - 23:08

Wouldn’t be quite as critical as ray, as rafael was busy and eager about the park, but certainly the headline is way over the top. turned the wrong direction when in possession at one stage and got us in a lot of trouble. His performance was encouraging.

ray 08/26/2012 - 22:57

Not sure why you think Rafael had a good game.
He scored one and had one disallowed but was missing for the two attacks down his side from which Fulham scored twice.
For me it was plus one and minus two.
He spent most of the first half further forward on the wing than Tony Valencia but after getting a few glares from Valencia he started to bend his runs to end up in the inside right position.
Overall he restricts Valencia who spends a lot of time covering back for him and he also exposes a weakened defence missing one natural centre half.
I have heard the “still learning thing”for a long time and over the years he has cost a lot of games by going missing .
Defence first please

Gareth 08/26/2012 - 23:05

Completely agree. He was a liability at the back, definitely not good enough at defender.


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