Manchester United’s Search For Mr. Right

Many club football fans typically abhor international breaks. They spend the intermittent time between their club’s fixtures to deplore the lack of “proper football” and complain about their national teams. I certainly am no exception and my distaste for the US national side is well-documented. But unlike others, I have come to enjoy the international breaks, mainly because it allows a brief respite from the cacophony of the regular season and provides perspective.

Given the opportunity to take a break from the day-to-day minutia involved in covering a club like Man United even in the minor capacity of being a blogger has been pleasant. I decided to sit down and go over the current United squad and pick areas in which there is room for improvement. United’s inefficiencies in midfield have been discussed ad nauseam and while the need for a bit of thunder to the lightning of players like Nani and Ashley Young sticks out like the ugliness of Joleon Lescott, another area of the pitch remains overlooked by the entire fan base: right back.

United were blessed with the stability and talents of Gary Neville for many of the golden years at the club, but his inability to return to form after a few injuries and loss of pace led to his becoming a peripheral figure and eventual retirement. The reds have skated by with playing centre backs, centre midfielders and even wingers as right backs over the past few years to obvious success. This is as much a testament to the genius of Sir Alex Ferguson as it is to any of those players’ talents.

But now is the time when United are in definite need of a proper right back. I have recently become of the opinion that stability is crucial in the maturation process of any young player and thus continuing to play centre backs Chris Smalling and Phil Jones in such a role is ultimately damaging to their development as centre halves. Rio Ferdinand is not getting any younger and his performances of late have left something to be desired. Either Smalling or Jones ought to be taking over that position, and one should own it completely by year’s end. Both of them have played well when deployed on the right, but I would argue that it would be unfair to expect that to continue. It has become common knowledge that Smalling prefers a central role and at only 19 years of age Jones is still at the point of his career in which he can be molded into any position. Jones is ultimately bound to play as a centre half and his meteoric rise over the past few months to the most consistent performer for United has hastened the conversation concerning Nemanja Vidic’s future with the club.

Before we get too much further, I do not think United should sell Vidic this summer. He has been the best centre back at the club for some time and may go down as one of the best to ever put on our shirt. But if Sir Alex is presented with a good offer for the Serb in a few years, the partnership of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling will offer the same stability that the Ferdinand Vidic one of a few years ago did.

The international break has also given me an opportunity to watch some footballers that my obsession with United usually precludes. One player that has particularly caught my eye is Tottenham Hotspur’s Kyle Walker. Some do not see him as “United-quality,” a phrase I think should be permanently banned on twitter, but I think he has excellent potential to be the answer at right back. His ability to get forward is unquestioned and his defending has improved immensely over the past year.

Even if one is not convinced by Kyle Walker, there are a few candidates for the position internally and externally that deserve a look. Obviously United’s Brazilian twins Fabio and Rafael merit an opportunity and I would hope that one of them is able to nail down a regular role in the first team by season’s end. As a friend of mine remarked to me on twitter, Zeki Fryers is also a decent option for the future on United’s right flank. Regarding Zeki there still remains much work to be done but his natural talents have been clear to see in his play for United in the Carling Cup this term. Outside of Walker, United’s external options for right backs ought to include Gregory Van Der Wiel of Ajax and Phillip Lahm of Bayern Munich. Obviously the latter would be very tough to get and is essentially more pipe dream than a plausibility.

United’s search for Mr. Right will continue throughout the season, not only at right back but also in the midfield. Whether Anderson will ever prove himself still remains to be seen, as well as if United currently have a player in the midfield that can combine well with Tom Cleverley. But as Martin Tyler said earlier in the week the perfect team has not been invented and many people in the early going were too quick to say that this year’s United was that team. As we collectively take a deep breath before we take the emotional plunge back into the world of club football, it is important to maintain a sense of perspective. Team sport is all about the continued pursuit of perfection in spite of the impossibility of realising such a pursuit. United will keep on keeping on and we will learn much about this year’s team with each passing week. But for a club like United FC, it is as Jay-Z puts it in “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” “Difficult takes a day, impossible takes a week.”

About Steve Ferguson 886 Articles
Steve Ferguson had taken over & re-branded The Faithful MUFC website back in the summer of 2014 and is now the owner and editor of the site. Steve, from Ashton-Under-Lyne in Greater Manchester, is a 35-year-old life long Manchester United fan, travelling over the globe to see the Reds play. Steve has been lucky enough to be at both the 1999 and 2008 Champions League finals, seeing Manchester United lift the biggest trophy in the World, none more exciting than that faithful night in Barcelona in 99. The website is a blog, but also hopes to deliver the latest Manchester United news from around the internet too, linked up with our growing twitter account which is @TheFaithfulMUFC, give it a follow as we will follow you back as soon as we can.


  1. we dont need a rb we got rafael, hes kept bale quiet when he was on killer form and dont forget what happened to ribery. kyle walker is good but the twins are potentially the best fullbacks in the world. as for fabio it must be a real task taking evra the worlds best lb’s spot. your forgetting evans hes going to be ferdinands replacement.
    also fryers a left bk.

  2. While this is a very well written piece I disagree with the premise. At the ages Smalling and Jones are at now all first team experience with Manchester United will be beneficial to them irrespective of where Ferguson chooses to play them. Both have excelled in the position because both have plenty of pace and skill and like to get forward. There’s no reason this can’t continue. That’s of course without even mentioning the twins who are both right footed. Both have been inconsistent but both have shown that they have more than enough to succeed. If we should be worrying about any of the full back spots it’s left back that should be of concern. Evra is getting on now and his form has noticeably dipped in the last 12-18 months or so. We have Fabio and Evans who can play there but neither would count left back as their natural position. I noticed you mentioned Fryers, if anyone from the youth system is going to make the left back spot his own it will be him. He’s a left back not a right back. In summation I think we’re good for the moment at both full back spots and good at rich back far into the future with all our options there. Left back is much more uncertain once Evra has packed it in.

  3. I just want to say that Man Utd do look like there struggling without some players like vidic, John O’shea, Rafael, Fabio, Gary, scholes and any other players i have forgot to mension beacuse there defence and midfiald has’nt been at there best last few matches and i can know from watching and the results havent been at uniteds best but now that gary and a few other players have gone or not playing that they now need a better defence. even though i have never played for academy but gone to trails and not got in because they concentrate on their strikers and goalkeepers more they didnt give me enough chance to get use to the team and told me no but i have played for my schools sometimes and im now at college playing for the team and i think that now i have the avility to progress to a professional standard when i leave college which is sometime in the middle of 2012 i think that i could play for a goodish pro team and maybe later play for a team as good as man utd beacuse i am a brilliant defence player but i think im better midfield where i am currently playing for the college becuse im always finding space recieving the ball and making good passes which progress onto goals most times and ehn defending i am always back and i ahve good stamina becuse i hardly ever stop running and im always involved but given the cahnce when i leave college i will try out for this but i will ask for at least a 2 week trail to show thwm my true talent in football and that i am gifted i think anyway and even in high school sports teachers and other students were saying to me that i am a brilliant player and one day when i was raining i proved that at the best of my ability by stopping 8 players arund me from scoring because as soon as they got the ball i tackled them and got it out and that was the day i realised i had something special because we were playing on a flooded pitch were the other team had a massive advantage but we still won and im not trying to be big headed or anything here becuase im actually a quiet lad but arent we all suppose to follow are dreams and i think im am good enough to play for a pro team in the next few years and people will hopefully start to notice more becuase i have good agility, fitness levels, movement and i am aware of what happens around me and most times i can read most passes being made in a football match and no i dont win every match but i belive no team in the world could do that and even if they can then that doesnt mean there the best it just means they can’t accepth defeat when it happens to them. and im sorry if my spelling isnt perfect or my writing skills but this was rushed because i have assignments to do and i hope that the united defence take this one thing on that i am about to say for them them to tackle the players instead of following them and watching the ball because tackling them straight away works a lot better and makes it harder for there opponents to score or attack them and this is not me trying to be smart this is just from personal experience and the last thing i have to say is good luck to all the man utd players, coaches and managers on winning the FA cup, UEFA, barclays and anyother championship or cup ive not mensioned and i hope that i see you later on in the future. Thanks for reading and taking an interest in what i have to say

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.