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Three months. In July, newly minted Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal announced it would take three months for his team to show true progress through his approach. Although were past the three-month stage, it seems more appropriate to have that conversation now that were three months into Premier League play. Its performance in actual competitive matches and subsequent results that are most indicative of progress. Yet, sitting here in November, 11 games into the Premier League season, we still have no idea what Manchester United is or what they can be. 16 points from 11 games and sitting seventh place after a £149 million summer spend has many eyes rolling. The cheap shot David Moyes could have done that commentary is tiresome. Moyes taking the job at Real Sociedad will grab the attention of many in the Northwest of England, who will unquestionably be casting judgment about what kind of job the former boss does in San Sebastian. The comparisons that will follow between Moyes and Van Gaal will be irrelevant and frankly a bore. Different men, a different approach with very different looking teams. So we move forward. Extenuating and trying circumstances have greatly hampered Van Gaal and his introduction to the Premier League. Injury isnt an excuse until it actually is a reason. Injury and suspension have made it impossible to gauge whether the foundation Van Gaal has put down is good enough. Through it all, United are only two points back of fourth place West Ham with Champions League football next season remaining a reasonable objective in a league full of flawed teams. It was another slow and sluggish performance in a makeshift 1-0 home victory over Crystal Palace Saturday. No cutting edge. Too slow. No cohesion. It was the kind of performance from a team thats a work in progress. Good players unsure of themselves and their positioning. The standard is so high at United that its a strange sight to see a team struggling as such with so many high-priced players. This is a time Van Gaals idea of progress will come through cultivating the minds and approach of his players. Success for the rest of us will come through results and quality of winning performance. But with this team, at this time, there is no accurate barometer. It is too early to tell if success is on the horizon. The fundamental difficulty in judging United is the players themselves. 31 players have played in 11 league games with 36 different players listed on the team sheet. The turnover has been astonishing. Goalkeeper David De Gea is the only player to play every match, and only he and Wayne started both the opening game of the season and Saturday against Crystal Palace. Nine players were out injured and one suspended on the weekend - a recurring issue with the team. Centre-back has been symbolic of change in system and personnel. With Paddy McNair and Daley Blind starting at the position Saturday, and the match ending with what looked like Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher as centre-halves, United have now used 12 different central defensive combinations. Thats 12 in 11 games. This is no longer a place where centre-back stability was a given, with the likes of Bruce-Pallister or Ferdinand-Vidic deputizing and being integral to team success. These are extraordinary measures for any manager to deal with, let alone a new one coming off a late arrival after World Cup duty and an inconvenient, yet necessary pre-season tour. Its also extremely difficult for players to find consistency with great change around them. Six key players brought to the team in the summer require time to gel, as do a number of call-ups from within the United ranks. Great change in personnel is one thing; change in system is another. Van Gaal freely admits the change in tactical approach is less than ideal. The pragmatic nature of his week-to-week team selection and formation is done out of necessity rather than training pitch design. United have played a 3-5-2, 4-4-2, 4-5-1 which has more or less dissolved into a 4-1-4-1. And the formations continually change within matches through adjustments by the manager or the players showing a lack of discipline in said position. The win against Palace exposed all of what has plagued Van Gaals set-up: players out of position, unbalanced in formation and lacking cohesion. The back four continues to take the brunt of criticism (inexperience and a revolving door of players will do that). The root of the teams problems lay in midfield. Im assuming Ander Herrera has only been on the team-sheet for the last three matches to fill a spot: emergency situations only. The Spaniard came back far too soon from a fractured rib and struggled wearing a corset against West Brom three weeks ago. He only lasted 45 minutes. The midfield without Herrera is quite frankly a mess. Even with Herrera, it can be argued there is a complete imbalance in personnel. Blind and Carrick are comfortable on the ball but far better operating from deeper positions. With this the case, it seems Van Gaal may resort to a double pivot once his back line returns to health (which is no given). From there, more issues arise. Angel Di Maria is a no-brainer down the left. The Argentine has struggled recently as the formation has changed, looking unsure of his role and even mores of his teammates. United still have too many number 10s - Rooney, Juan Mata, and to a lesser extent Marouane Fellaini. Fellainis positional sense is a mess, and cannot be trusted in a more defensive role. That leaves the right side, where Adnan Januzaj has taken up the position. The 19-year-old has experienced a hesitant start, failing to beat players on the dribble and looking awkward on the right flank. At this point it seems reasonable for Januzaj to be no more than a reserve on the left. The right side of the field has no proper fit unless a fit Ashley Young can find any kind of form or Antonio Valencia develop some real attacking prowess. Bottomline, the right side has a gaping hole. Van Gaal must decide what formation he wants to play and bring in requisite bodies to execute. Or else this patchwork midfield group will continue on with all their visible imperfections. Which brings us up front. A lack of team speed is an issue. Robin Van Persie is a technically sound player who lacks pace to break down the opposition at this stage of his career. A healthy Radamel Falcao would be ideal, but there is no guarantee when or if he will be back to his old tricks. James Wilson looks lively, but lacks the polish to be the lone target-man. The issue of team speed starts in the midfield, with no player other than Di Maria able to play the game with true pace. Luke Shaw is the one source of speed out of the back, but is not on the same page as Di Maria. So the current set-up is less than ideal and too predictable. The end result is a team with top players, not fast enough, healthy enough, or cohesive enough to break down opponents, particularly inferior ones intent on putting 11 behind the ball. This is not to say this group does not have the ability to get to that level. But right now, everything remains too direct, lacking creativity. Rooney as a centre-midfielder is by default. Januzaj on the right is desperation. As are midfield players playing in the back. Manchester United is like a house with a bunch of nice furniture with none of it going together. Everything seems out of place. A house without a solid foundation will crumble, no matter the bells and whistles. United have many impressive pieces. We are no nearer to finding whether they are a match. Thats Van Gaals challenge right now: do enough to pick up results while meticulously perfecting his design. When he says it will take three-years to achieve the results desired, its an honest assessment of the team he has and where it needs to go. Just because you spend a lot of money doesnt guarantee results. If it were only that simplistic. Top players only take you so far. After 11 games in a mediocre Premier League, makeshift may just be enough for this work-in-progress Manchester United team to achieve top-four. And even if they do, we still may need more time for a complete assessment of the new Manchester United. Gareth Wheeler @WheelerTSN gareth.wheeler@bellmedia.ca Diego Reyes Jersey . Erik Logan, president of the network, said Friday that the postponement was made after meetings with the St. Louis Rams. Jose De Jesus Corona Jersey . The time off didnt slow them down. Tyler Zeller scored a season-high 18 points and grabbed a career-best 15 rebounds, Kyrie Irving added 14 points and the Cavaliers pushed their winning streak to five games Tuesday night with a 114-85 victory over the skidding Philadelphia 76ers. http://www.soccermexicojerseysteamshop. ... co-jersey/. The Brewers finalized a US$36 million, three-year contract with free agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez on Wednesday, adding a much-needed bat to their lineup. Yasser Corona Jersey .com) - Sporting Kansas City announced Thursday that club has signed former on-loan midfielder Jimmy Medranda to a permanent contract from Colombian side Deportivo Pereira. Luis Montes Jersey . -- The Los Angeles Angels have agreed to a minor league contract with reliever Brandon Lyon that includes an invitation to their big league camp for spring training.TORONTO - For three incoming Raptors the last 72-hour period has felt like an eternity. "Im pretty beat right now," admitted John Salmons, one of four players coming to the Raptors from Sacramento in the deal, finalized Monday, that shipped Rudy Gay out of town. "Im tired right now. When we were up there watching film, I was nodding off in the film, especially with the three-hour difference, losing three hours." "If I had to play today, man, Id look so bad," Chuck Hayes joked. "Theyd probably ship me back." Salmons, Hayes and teammate Patrick Patterson arrived in Toronto Tuesday evening. After passing their physicals Wednesday morning, the trio met with Raptors coach Dwane Casey, sat through a brief film session and were introduced to the local media in the teams practice facility at the Air Canada Centre. The fourth newcomer, guard Greivis Vasquez, is a full day behind the others. Vasquez had to stop over in New York to get his visa before landing at Pearson Wednesday evening. Fresh off a weekend back-to-back, the Kings - back in Sacramento at the time - were given Sunday off. Each player found out they had been traded to Toronto as reports of the deal began to surface at around 4:00pm local time, each in a different way. "I was sitting on my couch watching TV," Salmons recounted. "I wasnt doing too much. I started getting these texts, people telling me what happened." "I got a phone call from my agent while I was watching football, and checking my fantasy football," said Hayes, he like Salmons was caught off guard. Patterson wasnt going to let the life-changing news spoil his Sunday out. "I had my family in town for a couple of days, spending quality time with my mother and decided to take her to the movies," he narrated. "We were going to see The Hunger Games, so literally as Im going into the movie, my phone was blowing up left and right friends, people on the team, my agent is calling me." Finally he answered the phone, receiving the news from his agent. The third-year forward was being traded for the second time in two seasons. "Im like, Yo, Ill call you back in about 2.5 hours, Im taking my mom into a movie, so I literally found out like five minutes before the movie." What would you have done? Call your friends and family? Gone home to pack? No way. Patterson withheld the news from his mom until the film let out so they could both enjoy the show, start to finish. "It didnt ruin the movie," he said. "It was a good movie. I couldnt let it ruin the movie." Midseason trades, even early-season ones are not easy on anyone. Both teams have to integrate new players. The players have to move their lives, in some cases their families, in this case getting accustomed to a new country, a new time zone and a new climate. "My son doesnt have [a passport], so I was busy working on him, getting his paperwork together," Hayes said. "Its a business," Patterson pointed out, not the first to do so this week, its become something of a slogan around the ACC. "Thankfully, this isnt my first [trade]." Patterson, 24, is the youngest of the quartet, while Salmons - who turns 34 Thursday - and Hayes (two days older than Steve Novak) instantly become the eldest on their new team. On Thursday the on-court adjuustment begins.dddddddddddd All four players, Vasquez included, will join their new teammates in a full practice and their experience in the league should help Coach Casey. "They understand," Casey said. "Theyve been around the block a few times so thatll help to mix them in with our guys. The hard part is getting the chemistry, the timing, guys understanding where guys like the ball, those types of things so that will take some time but the veteran play will help." Of the four, only Hayes has a fully guaranteed contract for next season, meaning the other three - namely Vasquez and Patterson - will be auditioning for their futures in Toronto or elsewhere in the NBA. Vasquez figures to get consistent playing time right off the bat, backing up Kyle Lowry at the point and occasionally joining him in the backcourt. Salmons will be used off the bench, giving Casey another option at a suddenly weak small forward position for the Raptors. Patterson and Hayes should both get a shot in Caseys frontcourt rotation, the latter seems to have already endeared himself to his new coach with his positive approach and high basketball IQ. What could have been For Salmons, theres some irony in being traded to Toronto after declining to become a Raptor seven years ago. In 2006, then a 26-year-old coming off a career year in Philadelphia, Salmons had agreed to a sign-and-trade deal that would have sent him to Toronto before eventually backing out and signing in Sacramento instead. "Upon reviewing the basketball situation in Toronto, John decided its not the best fit for him," Salmons agent, Joel Bell had commented. Salmons had a strange explanation at the time. "Originally, I felt like I had to make a decision but I didnt really feel [Toronto] was where God was leading me." The swingman elaborated on Wednesday when asked about nixing that deal. "It was a difficult decision for me," he told TSN.ca. "I had a couple options on the table. I just felt like it was a thing where I relied on my faith. I felt it wasnt the place for me to be at the time. I hope the fans dont hold it against me. I felt like it was something I had to do because of my faith." Salmons clarified, when asked, that hes happy to be in Toronto now. "Its a great opportunity, its a great situation," he insisted. Patterson very nearly became a Raptor as well, after an impressive pre-draft workout put him on then-general manager Bryan Colangelos radar in the summer of 2010. Instead, the Raptors selected Ed Davis with the 13th overall pick and Patterson fell to the Rockets at 14. "I remember that like it was yesterday," he said. "I had a good time, had a good feel, my agent was telling me that they were giving me praise and they were interested in me. When they called Ed Davis instead of me, I was like, "Okay, maybe they didnt really want me as much," but I definitely remember the work out. It was a good time." Injury update Originally scheduled as an off day, the Raptors watched tape and held individual workouts on Wednesday. Tyler Hansbrough is still resting his sprained left shoulder after sitting out the last two games. Landry Fields was hit in the neck during Tuesdays loss to the Spurs and was taken to the hospital after the game to get checked out. He was still sore the next day. Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale Throwback Jerseys Camo China NFL Jerseys White NFL Jerseys Cheap Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys Throwback Cheap Jerseys From China ' ' '


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