Previous
Aston Villa
Arsenal
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
West Ham United
Liverpool
4:30 PM GMT
Game Details
AC Milan
Juventus
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Deportivo La Coruña
Real Madrid
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Atletico Madrid
Celta Vigo
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
America
Pachuca
10:00 PM GMT
Game Details
New York Red Bulls
Seattle Sounders FC
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Los Angeles Galaxy
FC Dallas
2:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Hamburg SV
Bayern Munich
1:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Mainz
Borussia Dortmund
4:30 PM GMT
Game Details
New York Red Bulls
Seattle Sounders FC
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Los Angeles Galaxy
FC Dallas
2:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Queens Park Rangers
Stoke City
1
1
LIVE 50'
Game Details
Aston Villa
Arsenal
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Burnley
Sunderland
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Newcastle United
Hull City
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Swansea City
Southampton
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
West Ham United
Liverpool
4:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Deportivo La Coruña
Real Madrid
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Athletic Bilbao
Granada
4:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Atletico Madrid
Celta Vigo
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Espanyol
Malaga
8:00 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Augsburg
Werder Bremen
1:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Hamburg SV
Bayern Munich
1:30 PM GMT
Game Details
SC Paderborn 07
Hannover 96
1:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Schalke 04
Eintracht Frankfurt
1:30 PM GMT
Game Details
VfB Stuttgart
TSG Hoffenheim
1:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Mainz
Borussia Dortmund
4:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Cesena
Empoli
4:00 PM GMT
Game Details
AC Milan
Juventus
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Marseille
Stade Rennes
3:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Lorient
Stade de Reims
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Metz
Bastia
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Nantes
Nice
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Toulouse
Caen
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Watford
AFC Bournemouth
0
1
LIVE 74'
Game Details
Brighton & Hove Albion
Blackpool
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Derby County
Cardiff City
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Fulham
Blackburn Rovers
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Leeds United
Huddersfield Town
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Middlesbrough
Brentford
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Millwall
Nottingham Forest
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Norwich City
Birmingham City
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Rotherham United
Charlton Athletic
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Sheffield Wednesday
Reading
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Wolverhampton Wanderers
Bolton Wanderers
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Colchester United
Bradford City
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Doncaster Rovers
Chesterfield
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Fleetwood Town
Bristol City
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Gillingham
Walsall
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Milton Keynes Dons
Crewe Alexandra
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Notts County
Oldham Athletic
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Port Vale
Barnsley
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Preston North End
Crawley Town
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Rochdale
Coventry City
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Scunthorpe United
Leyton Orient
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Swindon Town
Sheffield United
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Yeovil Town
Peterborough United
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
AFC Wimbledon
Morecambe
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Bury
Burton Albion
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Cambridge United
Luton Town
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Cheltenham Town
Dagenham & Redbridge
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Mansfield Town
Carlisle United
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Northampton Town
Accrington Stanley
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Oxford United
Stevenage
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Plymouth Argyle
Hartlepool United
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Portsmouth
Wycombe Wanderers
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Shrewsbury Town
Newport County
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Tranmere Rovers
Exeter City
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
York City
Southend United
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Aldershot Town
Lincoln City
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Alfreton Town
Nuneaton Town
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Barnet
Altrincham
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Bristol Rovers
Woking
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Dartford
Forest Green Rovers
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Eastleigh
Braintree Town
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Halifax
AFC Telford United
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Kidderminster Harriers
Grimsby Town
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Macclesfield Town
Southport
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Torquay United
Dover
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Welling
Gateshead
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Aberdeen
Ross County
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Hamilton Academical
Kilmarnock
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Inverness Caledonian Thistle
St Johnstone
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Recreativo Huelva
Lugo
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Barcelona B
Llagostera
4:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Mirandes
Sporting Gijon
4:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Real Zaragoza
Alavés
4:15 PM GMT
Game Details
CD Sabadell
Ponferradina
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Las Palmas
AD Alcorcon
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Bari
Livorno
1:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Bologna
Crotone
1:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Brescia
Ternana
1:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Catania
Modena
1:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Cittadella
US Pescara
1:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Lanciano
Frosinone
1:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Latina
US Avellino
1:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Perugia
Vicenza
1:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Pro Vercelli
Varese
1:00 PM GMT
Game Details
FSV Frankfurt
VfL Bochum
1
5
FT
Game Details
SpVgg Greuther Furth
Kaiserslautern
2
1
FT
Game Details
TSV 1860 Munich
FC Ingolstadt 04
1
1
FT
Game Details
Le Havre AC
Troyes
1
1
LIVE HT
Game Details
Excelsior
Dordrecht '90
4:30 PM GMT
Game Details
ADO Den Haag
Go Ahead Eagles
5:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Vitesse Arnhem
Heerenveen
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Roda JC Kerkrade
Jong Ajax
2:30 PM GMT
Game Details
NEC Nijmegen
FC Emmen VV
5:45 PM GMT
Game Details
RKC Waalwijk
FC Volendam
5:45 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Penafiel
Vitoria Setubal
3:00 PM GMT
Game Details
CD Nacional de Madeira
Braga
7:15 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Ufa
Ural Sverdlovsk Oblast
0
1
FT
Game Details
Rostov
Zenit St Petersburg
0
5
FT
Game Details
Kuban Krasnodar
FK Rubin Kazan
1:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Spartak Moscow
Terek Grozny
4:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Erciyesspor
Akhisar Belediye
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Balikesirspor
Galatasaray
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Mersin Idmanyurdu
Caykur Rizespor
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Rapid Vienna
Wolfsberger AC
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
SV Josko Ried
SK Sturm Graz
4:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Brommapojkarna
BK Hacken
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Falkenbergs FF
Orebro SK
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Bodo/Glimt
Stromsgodset
1:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Valerenga
Molde
4:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Sligo
Drogheda Utd
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Portland Timbers
Vancouver Whitecaps
9:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Philadelphia Union
Houston Dynamo
11:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Columbus Crew
New England Revolution
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Montreal Impact
San Jose Earthquakes
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
New York Red Bulls
Seattle Sounders FC
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Chicago Fire
DC United
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Los Angeles Galaxy
FC Dallas
2:30 AM GMT
Game Details
America
Pachuca
10:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Puebla
Chiapas
ESPNDeportes 10:00 PM GMT
Game Details
U.A.N.L
U. de G.
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
León
Veracruz
1:06 AM GMT
Game Details
Atlas
Cruz Azul
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Atlanta Silverbacks
Ottawa Fury FC
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Carolina RailHawks
New York Cosmos
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Fort Lauderdale Strikers
Indy Eleven
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
San Antonio Scorpions
Minnesota United FC
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Estudiantes La Plata
Gimnasia La Plata
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Olimpo de Bahía Blanca
Belgrano de Córdoba
7:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Vélez Sarsfield
Atletico Rafaela
11:10 PM GMT
Game Details
Altamira
Lobos BUAP
11:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Mérida
Zacatepec
11:00 PM GMT
Game Details
At. San Luis
Celaya
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Irapuato
Correcaminos
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Oaxaca
Necaxa
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Atletico Paranaense
Internacional
9:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Criciúma
Botafogo
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
AA Ponte Preta
Oeste
7:10 PM GMT
Game Details
CR Vasco da Gama
Náutico
7:10 PM GMT
Game Details
Joinville
Goianiense
7:10 PM GMT
Game Details
Sampaio Correa-MA
ABC
7:10 PM GMT
Game Details
Santa Cruz FC
Icasa
7:10 PM GMT
Game Details
Vila Nova-GO
América Mineiro
7:10 PM GMT
Game Details
Boa MG
Paraná Clube
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Bragantino
Luverdense
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Sud América
Cerro
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
El Tanque Sisley
Peñarol
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Boyacá Chicó FC
Deportivo Pasto
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Deportes Tolima
Atlético Huila
9:00 PM GMT
Game Details
La Equidad
Once Caldas
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Millonarios
Atlético Junior
11:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Independiente Medellín
Patriotas F.C.
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Sport Huancayo
Real Garcilaso
3:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Unión Comercio
UTC
5:45 PM GMT
Game Details
León de Huánuco
Juan Aurich
8:00 PM GMT
Game Details
César Vallejo
San Simón
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Deportivo Capiatá
3 de Febrero
7:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Cerro Porteño
Sportivo Luqueño
9:10 PM GMT
Game Details
Manta F.C.
Deportivo Quito
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Independiente del Valle
U. Católica
Postp
Game Details
Dep. Metropolitano
Deportivo Lara
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
The Strongest
Blooming
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Universitario de Sucre
Club Petrolero de Yacuiba
9:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Gamba Osaka
Cerezo Osaka
7:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Kashima Antlers
Yokohama F. Marinos
10:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Kawasaki Frontale
FC Tokyo
10:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Sagan Tosu
Vegalta Sendai
10:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Albirex Niigata
10:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Tokushima Vortis
Omiya Ardija
10:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Urawa Red Diamonds
Kashiwa Reysol
10:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Vissel Kobe
Shimizu S-Pulse
10:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Next

Blanc: PSG not in best shape

PSG 2 days ago
Read
Jul 26, 2012

Athletes give way to aesthetes at United

Sir Alex Ferguson seems to like pinning his colours to the corner of the unappreciated. The Manchester United manager's contrary streak has come to the fore on the club's pre-season tour. Not for the first time, he has defended the Glazers, despite the evidence United would have rather more spending power but for the debts they lumped on the club. Less controversially and more instructively, he has also described Michael Carrick as "the key player" in his midfield.

The fanfare can be rare where Carrick is concerned. Go back 18 months and Ferguson's decision to award him a new contract bemused many. After a season where his standards had slipped, his admirers at Old Trafford were a diminishing band. Even last year, after a campaign where he rivalled Antonio Valencia for the title of United's outstanding player, Carrick remained an acquired taste. He is too unflashy, too unassuming, too sedate for many people's taste. He rarely catches the eye or makes the headlines.

Yet Carrick is significant for not just who he is, but what he is: a passer rather than a tackler, a man who has come to represent the new look of the United midfield. Speaking in South Africa, Ferguson suggested the age of the ball-winner is over. "In the modern day game, you don't need tacklers the same way you used to," he said. "There's no call for it. It's about anticipation and reading the game."

It certainly is in the United midfield. Their three classiest operators in the centre are noted for their footballing intelligence: Carrick, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs. While the Welshman's pace was long the dominant feature of his game and he remains remarkably agile for a 38 year old, each is now a technical talent, not a physical power. United look to out-pass, not out-run, opponents.

And it marks a shift in the job description. For the first half of Ferguson's reign, athleticism was essential in the centre of midfield. So, it seemed, was an overbearing personality. This was the era of Bryan Robson, Paul Ince and Roy Keane, the time of the midfield warrior. While, as he aged, the Irishman abandoned some of his driving runs and used his footballing brain more in a switch from box-to-box to holding midfielder, he remained a forceful presence.

To put it another way, he was a defensive midfielder. Carrick and, in his dotage, Scholes are deep-lying, but defensive? No. They are essentially constructive, not destructive players. Carrick is not the new Keane, and not just because he lacks the caustic wit or the volcanic temper. Since the former captain's typically dramatic exit in 2005, it has become a regular complaint that Ferguson has not replaced him.

The more surprising element, perhaps, is that he has not sought to. The recent recruit Shinji Kagawa and the target Lucas Moura are altogether more progressive. When the Japan international was bought from Dortmund last month, he became the first central midfielder to cost United a fee since 2007. The previous one they signed was Scholes, when he returned from retirement. Because he and Giggs cannot play every game, a mix-and-match policy has become entrenched, rotation at its swiftest in the centre of the pitch.

But along the way, the more defensive-minded players have fallen by the wayside, the athletes giving way to the aesthetes. Owen Hargreaves went from all-action midfielder to no action, Darren Fletcher from an energetic minder to the old-timers to a man who may retire before any of them. Anderson flatters to deceive, his absences ever longer and his career approaching a crossroads. Paul Pogba decamped to Juventus without testing the theory he could have become a first choice.

The focus on retaining, rather than regaining, possession is ever more acute. United cannot press at pace with Carrick and Scholes. And yet, while every Spanish success or instance of Barcelona brilliance reiterates that passing has become the game's premier philosophy, they appear out of step with their rivals. They have no equivalent of Lucas Leiva, Scott Parker, Nigel de Jong or John Obi Mikel; their holding players have a greater passing range but a lesser capacity to hassle and harry.

And they have no Yaya Toure. Ferguson cited Carrick alongside Toure as the Premier League's finest in their position, also mentioning Luka Modric and Steven Gerrard. To some, that is wishful thinking. Carrick is among the best of a certain type, Toure a player with the widest range of attributes.

If goal difference - and Sergio Aguero's injury-time intervention in the season's final moments - made Manchester City champions last season, the fundamental difference between the rivals was Toure. Ji-Sung Park's desperate, yet ineffectual, attempts to nullify the Ivorian in April's derby was proof United had no answer to him and, lacking a fully-fit Fletcher, Ferguson has no one capable of stopping Toure, let alone emulating him. Both enforcer and enabler, a sprinter, long-distance runner and a footballer, he was the division's best all-round midfielder. That he was also the best paid is a reminder that the Glazers' impact on United ought to be impossible to ignore.

In no position has a reluctance to spend been as apparent as in the middle of midfield. Even such offers as have been made, as last summer's interest in Wesley Sneijder shows, have been for attack-minded players. Ferguson argued that current refereeing renders tackling almost impossible. Yet halting opposition by legal methods is not and, as both Toure and Barcelona have displayed in their meetings with United, that involves more than anticipating, intercepting and reading the game.

To the surprise of some and the frustration of many, the defensive midfielder seems a dying breed at Old Trafford. The difficulties of unearthing a new Keane are obvious, Ferguson's seeming lack of interest more inexplicable. Because key as Carrick is and great as Giggs and Scholes remain, there are times when United require a reminder of the veterans' old team-mates; if not a new Keane, then at least another Nicky Butt.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.