Rather than a microcosm of our season, I believe that the home draw to Arsenal displayed exactly where we are at this moment in our rebuild. Cast an eye back to our rather embarrassing win at the Emirates earlier in the season; this was much better despite the result being worse. For 60 minutes Manchester United absolutely dominated the best Arsenal team in a decade, resulting in them not even having a shot attempt in an hour of football. However for reasons unknown the following 25 minutes resulted in the team sitting back in defence and abandoning what we know they can do. Regardless, the progress made over the course of the season has been tremendous considering the unwatchable nature of our football a mere 12 months ago. It might be wishful thinking but had we started the season at the stage of development in which we find ourselves now the season could have been a whole lot different. Manchester United will take this summer to make the necessary (and somewhat obvious) alterations to the squad and I am in no doubt that under the tutelage of Louis van Gaal we will be back at the summit of English football and challenging in Europe very soon. So without further ado, here are my three heroes and three villains in our last outing at Old Trafford of the season.
We all know how dynamic the boy is, but what has impressed me lately is his continued ability to put top quality midfielders on their arse or left looking like fools. I’m talking specifically of course about the event that occurred in the 43rd minute where he left Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey for dust following a jinky shimmy kind of thing. It was wonderful. Speaking of leaving midfielders in the dust, the English (London) media love to tell us about how much of a great hope for the future Jack Wilshere is, yet they don’t say a single word about the guy who has already eclipsed his CAREER goals total of 7, by bagging 8 IN HIS FIRST SEASON. And what a finish that was, a beautifully caressed pass into the net following more great work from this man…
He is now doing what I love seeing him do with regularity, he is taking people on down the wing rather than just cutting back and crossing it time and time again. He has taken on the challenge put in front of him by Louis van Gaal, and now with Memphis Depay coming in I have no doubt that Young will take him on too. The confidence is back in his game and he is willing to take risks going forward and we saw this again against Arsenal. He had a decent attempt at goal which only went slightly over, attempted 7 crosses with a good degree of accuracy, with one ending in an assist for Ander Herrera’s goal, took on an opponent with the ball on 4 occasions, and still provided great protection to whoever was playing at left back. You can say what you want about Young’s ability but his willingness to work and his desire to play for our football club can never be questioned. The man quite simply never gives up and I am delighted that he has had the season he has.
Well it has been quite a turnaround since Christmas, and now seeing Chris Smalling’s name in the heroes column is becoming a regular occurrence. It has become apparent that the three stooges are now two. Signs are that Phil Jones may also be finally shaking the Moyes cobwebs off but his injury record has always been his main issue. Two attempts on goal, 80% passing, 3 tackles, 6 out of 8 headers won, 4 interceptions, 6 clearances, and a block. Fantastic performance and very worthy of the armband he wore. He is finally beginning to fulfil his potential both in terms of ability but also as a leader, and at the age of 25 the next few years should see him stake his claim as one of our first choice central defenders.
I don’t get it. He was so good in the first half but then just decided not to appear at all in the second. With at least one more winger coming in next season in Memphis Depay, Juan might be very worried about keeping hold of that spot on the right hand side next season. He would rather be playing centrally anyway, so perhaps the departure of at least one of our strikers this summer will work in his favour. Regardless he will have to play more like he did in the first half than he did in the second, and a lot more consistently. On paper he should be everything that Louis van Gaal would want in a footballer, very similar to one of the Dutchman’s favourites Jari Litmanen, his passing is of the highest quality and contrary to what Jose Mourinho has duped the world into thinking; he does work hard in winning back possession of the ball. Still, something just doesn’t sit right with me and I am just hoping he and we don’t get a huge shock this summer.
It might be harsh to place him here, but such is life at Manchester United. He looked a bit shaky when he came on towards the end of the game following Marcos Rojo’s exit due to a lack of fitness, and ultimately having to mark the speedy Theo Walcott was a little bit too much for him. From his height and stature I still believe he is more suited to playing at centre back but with the expected summer strengthening in that area it might be best for young Tyler to go out on loan next season. He should be very proud of his season, and his performances in the early stages were one of the reasons why it wasn’t as painful as it could have been. The boy has got a bright future, but it might just be time for him to be tested at this level a lot more regularly.
Robin van Persie:
I won’t overreact about his performance at the weekend like many will. Despite his poor outing he still got in a great position at the end of the game to steal it, but for a poor finish. For all his criticisms this season his finishing hasn’t been a problem, ending the season in double figures is not evidence of a decline on that front. He may be less mobile and offer less than he used to in building up play, but the emphasis of our strikers in this regard is minimal anyway with the midfield contributing more in this aspect. Overall it is right to say that van Persie’s time as first choice could be over but he could still be a vital member of the squad going forward; what other team could boast a former top scorer as their second choice striker? Regardless, he will have to find ways to contribute more, it cannot be a coincidence that Arsenal began to take over proceedings when he entered proceedings.
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