When United fans look back at the derby from the weekend, one thing automatically springs to mind, Rooney’s wonder goal. Without a doubt the greatest goal ever scored in derby games. If we dissect United’s performance a little deeper and two things spring to mind; we changed our formation to 5 across the middle to counter how City play and for vast amounts of the game we were dominated in midfield. I may be using the derby as an example but really this is the story of many games this season, which leads me to think that there could be a big overhaul in the midfield department this summer.
Lets start with Owen Hargreaves. Remember him? Curly mop, outstanding talent, apparently his limbs made from sugar paper. I don’t think I’d be alone if I said I’d love it for Hargreaves to make a miraculous comeback from injury and go on to play 200 games for the Reds. The harsh reality is that for the past three seasons he’s played less than 45 minutes of football. His contract is up this summer and I’d guess that there is no chance, other than some extreme act of generosity, that he will be offered a new one.
Darron Gibson. The man who splits United fans opinions like no other player currently in the first team squad. On one side, you have the fans who say he is still young, un-developed due to lack of games and who has shown flashes of talent. On the other side you have the fan who says he can’t pass, he’s not athletic enough and he’s looked out of his depth this season. I’d tend to agree with both points to some extent. My only other point would be he is coming up to 24 in October. How much more is he going to develop and should we sacrifice a place for a talented youngster to give Gibbo another chance? Personally I’d say its time to let him go and get the regular football he needs, just not at United.
If you had told me two seasons ago that I’d be questioning Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick’s place in our starting eleven, I’d have probably slapped you for even mentioning it. But here I am, doing the very thing I thought was unquestionable, due mainly to the fact with how inconsistent they have been over the course of this season. Carrick hasn’t been the same since we won the Champions League in Moscow, he seems to be unable to function in a 4-4-2 and has only shown glimpses of the old Carrick when we have gone with 5 in midfield. Fletcher has not been at his best this season, hasn’t really influenced any games and seems to have lost his ability to get forward without cacking himself. Ideally, I wouldn’t want either of these two to leave Old Trafford, I’d just like to see them forced to work for their places by having better competition for places.
If there is one player at United who has consistently frustrated me during his tenure at the Theatre of Dreams, that is Anderson. Without a doubt a massive talent. He has shown this season that he is starting to mature into the role and has improved his consistency from performing every now and then to performing well almost every game. One massive concern I have is he is seemingly unable to finish the full 90 mins game in, game out. This is peculiar for a lad of his age and I’m sure its something Sir Alex and his staff have been working to resolve. Again, I wouldn’t want Anderson to move on, but higher competition for places wouldn’t hurt the youthful Brazilian.
Last, and by no means least, are Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs. With Edwin Van Der Sar and Gary Neville announcing their retirements, it leaves Scholes and Giggs as the remaining ‘old guard’ at Old Trafford. Both have continued to put in top class performances this season. Maybe not as consistently as in previous years, but what should we expect from players the wrong side of 35? The harsh reality is that these two players will need replacing sooner or later and our reliance on them his season only highlights the shortcomings of some of the other members of the squad. Giggs especially has been called to arms far more times than Sir Alex would have liked so far, with Valencia injured and Park on Asia Cup duty, its left us seriously short in the wider positions. How perfect would Giggs and Scholes be as the ‘impact’ substitute we have lacked in so many games so far this season. I wish these two absolute legends of football could go on forever, but its time we started to think about their successors.
We have been linked with a whole host of midfielders since the summer transfer window shut. Names such as Gareth Bale, Ashley Young, Lassana Diara, Steven Defour, Jordan Henderson, Cheik Tiote, Mahamadou Diarra, Alexis Sanchez and Bastian Schweinsteiger frequent the back pages of the tabloids and the internet rumour mongers. I’ve ever seen us linked with an £18m move for Javier Mascherano in recent weeks?!?! It would take a braver man than myself to speculate which of these players (if any) Fergie might bring in. But I’d bet my hat that he brings in at least one midfielder in the summer.
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