By Ben Davies
The 2010-11 season is perhaps the most important in the fledgling career of Darron Gibson. Next season could be make or break for Gibson (and perhaps one or two other players) in their Manchester United career. Failure to become a first team regular, himself and/or Sir Alex Ferguson may decide the future of the man from Northern Ireland (although he represents the Republic of Ireland at International level) may lie elsewhere.
Many have suggested Gibson can be the long term successor of Paul Scholes. I have yet to see the attributes in his game to suggest the similarity with the Ginger Magician. The only current similarity is their shooting ability. Perhaps a young Lampard is a fairer comparison? Gibson could be the goal scoring midfielder Sir Alex Ferguson desires. Last season, he scored five goals in twenty-three appearances. He certainly possesses a powerful shot from distance, though I dread hearing “shoooooot” around Old Trafford when he has possession close to an opponent’s penalty area. Rather than shoot continuously, Gibson can further develop his game by improving his creative passing in and around the penalty area. His range of passing is actually underrated.
In a two man midfield his deficiencies are highlighted – mainly his off the ball work. I believe Gibson has the potential to fulfill a role in a three man midfield in a 4-3-3/4-5-1 formation. Gibson’s two better performances of the 2009-10 season came whilst playing in this formation against Bayern Munich and Manchester City. Against Bayern he offered energy to a central midfield that had been lacking in recent weeks and chipped in with the opening goal. Against City, himself and Fletcher did the donkey work which allowed Scholes to dictate play.
Is next season make or break for Gibson in his Man United career? Is the man from Derry good enough? Are Gibson and Anderson fighting for the same spot in team?