Five things we learnt in Seattle
By Nathan Thomas.
Seattle Sounders 0
Manchester United 7
Owen (15), Diouf (49), Rooney (51, 69, 72,) Park (71), Obertan (88)
Centurylink Field, Seattle, 20/7/2011, 7pm KO (US Time)
1. The number one spot is still very much up for grabs.
Despite twenty year old Spanish stopper David De Gea taking the number one shirt it is far from clear who will take the position. Despite possessing obvious potential De Gea’s young years surely put him into the risk category and it is a lot to ask for a boy of twenty to replace on the of the best goalkeepers ever and at one of the biggest clubs in the world. Sir Alex Ferguson and goalkeeping coach Eric Steele have put immense faith in him and subsequently I believe the boy can fulfil his potential. However comments this week from Ferguson saying that De Gea will eventually take his position as United’s first choice stopper suggest that in the short term the place is very much there for the taking, bear in mind that as well as taking up one of the most important positions in the Reds XI De Gea also needs to learn the language, get to know his team mates and adapt to English culture, not an easy combination of things to achieve. Anders Lindegaard and Ben Amos have been the goalkeepers who have been playing in United’s US Tour so far and despite signs of promise from Amos it is Lindegaard whom I believe will start the season as United’s number one. The Dane, a self-confessed Schmeichel fanatic, clearly models himself on the big blonde giant. His command of his box and his defenders is dominant; he seems very cool and is capable of pulling out the odd great save or two. Ok, Lindegaard has not really been tested to a high standard yet but in watching his performances in training and on the field the Danish stopper looks in no mood to sit on the bench, watch this space.
2. Ashley Young is looking more and more like another shrewd Ferguson purchase
Ok, so it’s pretty safe to say that Ashley Young wasn’t at the top of many Man United’s supporters transfer wish lists this summer. I have to admit that I was slightly surprised to read of his impending arrival, it wasn’t as though I didn’t rate him, far from it more that I felt United were fully stocked in the wing department. Never the less Ferguson seems to have pulled a rabbit out of the hat yet again, you couldn’t really call him a bargain as if you believe what you read he cost United in the region of sixteen-eighteen million pounds but he is the first winger we have had since Ronaldo who looks thoroughly accomplished on the left side. Nani seems to suffer on that side, Valencia has no concept of ‘left’ and Park can do a job there but I believe he is more effective centrally (more on that later). In signing Young Sir Alex has shown a renewed desire to mould this current United side in the ilk of many that have gone before with two out and out attacking wingers. Young provides pace, potency and above all versatility, he can play across the middle and will provide United with goals from midfield, something that United really need to push on with this season.
3. Park the new centre mid?
Centre mid has been the buzz word amongst all Reds so far this summer with a number of big names linked with a move to fill the ginger coloured gap left by our former midfield maestro. However judged on recent viewings we may be adding another player to the engine room ranks along with any potential new signing. In both his appearances so far on the tour Ji-Sung Park has operated in a central role, with Ashley Young’s arrival having four wingers prompted speculation that one of Park and Nani could be on their way out of Old Trafford, not so. Nani has continued where he left off and has shown some good form so far on the US tour and Park seems to thrive in the middle. I’ve always preferred him there in truth, I feel that United get the most out of Park’s creativity and energy in the middle of the park, no pun intended. I think back to when he successfully shackled Andréa Pirlo in United’s last sixteen UCL clash with AC Milan in 2010. Of course Park could always do a job on the wing but on recent showings I have a feeling we could be seeing a more central Park (and yes pun intended).
4. Do United need another full back?
Along with a new CM that everybody is praying for could it be possible that United need to strengthen elsewhere? This isn’t necessarily something we learnt during last night’s game with Rafael, Fabio and Evra all putting good shift’s in the full back berths more something I was thinking about during the game. With Gary Neville, John O’Shea and Wes Brown all gone does this leave United a little short of full backs? We only have three natural full backs at this moment in time in Evra and the two Da Silvas, ok it is likely that Jones, Smalling and Evans will play in those positions during the season with the latter two impressing for United as full backs at the latter end of last season. However what if Ferdinand and Vidic were to fall foul of injuries, this will mean one of two of the aforementioned three will have to deputise leaving us a little short in the wide positions. It is possible that Valencia may be used as right back as he did so successfully against Chelsea in the Champions League at Stamford Bridge however surely only in emergencies and United don’t want to be ‘making do’. Possibly Ferguson will bring through another youngster in that role and have him on the periphery or perhaps I am looking too deeply into things, you decide.
5. Striker situation could cause a major headache for Sir Alex?
In Seattle four of United’s six strikers got some much needed minutes on the pitch, Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen, Mame Biram Diouf and Kiko Macheda all featured and Owen, Rooney and Diouf scored five goals between them with Rooney notching a hat trick. Although Macheda failed to find the net he looked sharp and his movement was good, we mustn’t forget the Italian already has two goals to his name in this seasons US tour after notching a brace in the Reds first game against New England. So, with Welbeck and Chicharito still to come back can Sir Alex perceivably go into the campaign with six strikers? I’m tempted to think not, surely there is no way he can give them all sufficient game time in order for them to progress so I can see at least one, probably two going out on loan. Mame Biram Diouf was rumoured to be close to a permanent switch to Blackpool this week, but he has since denied speculation, meanwhile Danny Welbeck has been linked with a loan move to Bolton. I think that it is pretty safe to say that Rooney, Berbatov, Owen and Chicharito will be the main four strikers and I think that the US Tour will be used to see which player out of Welbeck, Macheda and Diouf deserve the final striking place. All three seem very keen to make their mark so I would fasten your seat belt and get ready for plenty of goals in the remaining games of the tour.
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