A New Look Manchester United - Position by Position
After a shambolic performance against Tottenham last night, I thought it would be more than fitting to express my opinions on the current squad, and where it needs to be strengthened. Evidently, last season saw Van Persie single handedly win us the league – carrying a somewhat ‘average’ United team on his shoulders. He was the nucleus to our success, this season Rooney has occupied that role and fulfilled it. However, the managerial excellence of Sir Alex Ferguson has gone. United’s faults are no longer masked by the Scott’s ability to make a mediocre team look brilliant, our problems are finally coming to the surface. I thought I’d devise a team that with some realistic additions, would be considered as a word class Manchester United team.
GK – [David De Gea] Ever since those calamitous errors at the start of his United career, the Spaniard has blossomed into a strong and imposing goalkeeper – One of, if not the best in the league. His shot stoping ability is magnificent, reminiscent of his predecessor, Edwin Van Der Saar. Although at times he makes himself incredibly small in a 1v1 opportunity, signing another goalkeeper would be considered unnecessary and idiotic. With De Gea, we are in safe hands – Dave saves.
RB – [Rafael] The Brazilian has been consistently brilliant for a few years now, the favoured twin. Last season I saw a real improvement in Rafael’s game, maturity. It may not seem like much, but the rash tackles are no longer a part of his game, he is now defensively sound. Going forward he is no short of flawless. He provides the right midfielder with great support, renowned for his overlapping runs and getting in behind the defence, then putting in a deadly cross. On the ball he has improved, when he’s in possession he seems far more composed, always looking to play the ball forward. This doesn’t mean to say we shouldn’t be looking to sign a sufficient replacement, What happens if he gets injured? We have to painfully watch Chris Smalling take up the role vacated by him – signing a RB isn’t one of our main priorities, but we should look at getting some stern competition.
CB – [Jones & Evans] In Jones and Evans, I think we have a centre back pairing for the long future. Johnny Evans is one of the most underrated players in the Premier League, a very reliable and consistent performer – he puts his heart and soul into every performance. Although he has the attendancy to hoof the ball up the pitch instead of looking for options, his defensive capabilities make up for it. Now onto Phil Jones, he may make some ridiculous faces when he’s playing, but he undoubtedly is one of the best prospects in English football – a future United captain. Unfortunately, injuries have stagnated his promising career, but this season he’s shown his importance to the side. Comfortable on the ball, he feeds the midfielders with intricate passes to help them on their way. A very combative defender, you can rely on him to make a last ditch tackle and perfect it.
LB – [Coentrao] There’s no doubt Patrice Evra has been a loyal servant for Manchester United, a leader and a prominent figure in the dressing room. Nonetheless, I think it’s about time the Frenchman was replaced – he’s turned into a complete and utter liability. On numerous occasions this season he’s been guilty of ball watching and not tracking back, simply not good enough. Moyes was evidently looking to strengthen the left-back position in the summer, a singular bid of £15 million for Leighton Baines, then a loan offer for Fabio Coentrao, both were rejected. With Patrice Evra being 32-years-old, Fabio needing time to develop and Alexander Büttner not seeming defensively adequate, deciding to sign Coentrao would be one of wisdom and brilliance. Acquiring a versatile player, capable of playing in defence or accross the midfield. Technically gifted and defensively sound, a beautifully balanced footballer, a joy to watch. With hope, we will return for him in January and sign him on a permanent deal.
CM – [Wayne Rooney & Gundogan] – Now this is extremely controversial, but I’m entitled to my own opinion. An opinion that most United fans would disagree with, and Rooney himself – I’d love to see him drop back and command the midfield. If you look at a player with the exact qualities as Paul Scholes, Rooney fits the bill on so many levels. An unbelievable range of passing, composed on the ball, hard in the tackle, fearsome shot and lastly, passionate. Regardless of all this, his attitude towards being played out of position is atrocious, but it’s understandable. To pair him, I’ve gone with Borussia Dortmund’s Ilkay Gundogan. The silky box to box midfielder wouldn’t come cheap [£30-35m] but he’d be worth every penny. The German international is brilliant at turning defensive transitions into attack, clinical when going forward. Also, orchestrating the midfield from a deeper role is a skill that few players posses, his ability to control the tempo and fluidity of the game is self-evident. If these two were paired alongside each other, you’d have to go along way to find a better midfield duo. Our current midfield is worrying, Cleverley is more of a squad player, Anderson’s stealing a living, not to mention Carrick and Fletcher are ageing. Of course I’m being very optimistic, but Rooney and Gundogan would be a formidable partnership for years to come, finally solving our midfield crisis.
Wingers – [Januzaj & Nani] Firstly, I’ll talk about Adnan. Praising the 18-year-old after every performance is the normality these days. There’s no doubt that the Belgian-born youngster has already aroused the minds of every United fan with his exquisite talent [and hair.] This season Januzaj has been placed on the wing and to patrol behind the striker, doing something beneficial in almost every performance – 3 goals and 3 assists in 10 games in fact. Assistant manager Steve Round has said ” We see him as a number 7, 10 or 11. He can play any of those 3.” This season has not only showcased his abilities, but also the level of confidence and faith David Moyes has in him. Giving him the opportunity to play in numerous positions, exposing him to new ideas and ways on how to play in what position. He’s a real prodigy, thankfully one that we’re keeping. However, the baby faced assassin has a dark side – diving. This season he’s already been booked 4 times because of it, it’s completely unnecessary and only overshadows his brilliance on the field. If he takes that out of his game, we’ll have a near perfect winger. Now on to Nani, well what can I say really? Inconsistency would probably be an understatement, one day he’s untouchable and the next he’s utterly useless. Then again, he still offers more than Valencia and Young. I think for now we can settle with what we’ve got, but Moyes should be looking to bring in a top class winger – Griezmann for example.
CAM – [Koke / Kagawa] Now this is another reason why I’ve dropped Rooney back, he may be one of the best CF’s in the world but you can argue that he lacks the creativity of say an Özil, Mata etc. I think it’d be better for the team as a whole in playing Rooney further back, allowing a more natural playmaker to take over. A cheap alternative would be the well-known Spanish prodigy, Koke. He’s been a revelation for Atletico Madrid, and is blossoming into a world class player. He’s scored 3 goals, provided 7 assists and created 35 chances this campaign, Rooney betters him in all 3 but you’d expect that from a player hitting his prime, he’s not getting any younger. Capturing Koke’s signature would be one for the present and the future, and a beneficial one at that. Then there’s Kagawa, whenever he’s played behind Van Persie in his favoured role, he’s impressed me. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to recreate his sensational form that we saw at Dortmund. It’s hard to believe that in the 2011/12 season he scored 17 times and provided 13 assists, if only he could do that for United. If he doesn’t adjust to the Premier League soon, he’ll be sold within a year.
ST – [Van Persie] Well, who else? I think when I say ‘Van Persie’ it’s rather self explanatory – world class, and he’ll score you goals. With Danny Welbeck and Hernandez as back up and of course Rooney, picking up a striker isn’t a priority at this moment in time.
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