By Faiza Ladan
The last week has been quite a frustrating one for Manchester United fans. Fresh off losing to our bitter rivals Liverpool, the club ended the transfer window with the signing of only one player in Marouane Fellaini. This was something of an anti-climax after being linked with marquee signings such as Cesc Fabregas, Thiago Alcantara, Mesut Ozil, Ander Herrera and even Cristiano Ronaldo. Not to mention the bizarre way in which the club conducted themselves in the transfer window, resulting in embarrassing situations such as being turned down publicly by players and the ‘impostors’ that claimed to represent the club in the transfer of Herrera. Understandably, most fans have been left disillusioned and with ill feeling. Chelsea has Mourinho, Manchester City has spent wisely, Tottenham have added talented players to their squad after the sale of Bale and even Arsenal have bought Mesut Ozil. What about us?
Well, here are seven reasons why we should be optimistic:
1. Our new signing
The signing of Marouane Fellaini is a great addition to the squad. He brings bite and strength to our midfield that had been missing in the past few years. His signing could also bring out the best in Michael Carrick who can now focus on spreading the ball around the pitch and have more of a playmaking role. The addition of Fellaini also means that our midfield is less likely to be bullied by the likes of Yaya Toure which has been a worrying occurrence in recent years. He will also provide more goals from midfield, being adept at finishing with either foot or his head. There is now depth in the weakest area of our squad which is important given the number of competitions we participate in. Moyes also has more options with Cleverley, Anderson and even Phil Jones.
2. Shinji Kagawa
Ozil, Mata, Silva…we have Kagawa! As he has proven in the Bundesliga he is a hugely talented playmaker. With his incisive through balls and ability to make space for himself and other players, he has yet to achieve his full potential at Old Trafford. If he is played in his preferred position behind the striker and used wisely we will get to see the Kagawa who was twice named in the Bundesliga team of the year. The playmaker we have been crying out for is in our ranks. What would the signing of Ozil have meant for him?
3. Wayne Rooney
With all the talk of incoming players we seem to have forgotten the player that we succeeded in keeping-Wayne Rooney. This was something of a transfer coup in itself by denying Jose Mourinho his number one target. No United fan would have liked to see Rooney sold to a rival club. He is one of our stars and selling him to Chelsea or even Arsenal would have made this transfer window an even bigger disaster. As Moyes pointed out, Rooney is nearing legendary status at Manchester United being 53 goals away from breaking Sir Bobby Charlton’s record as the highest goal-scorer. As long as Wayne Rooney is fit and motivated he will be an asset to the team as seen in the game against Chelsea. He is a team player who works his socks off every game and his work-rate is top-notch.
4. Our wingers
In Nani and Valencia we have potentially two of the best wingers in the league…in Wilfried Zaha, we have one of the most exciting talents in England. Last year our wingers did not particularly pitch in with the assists and goals that we have come to expect from them. Yet, we still won the league comfortably. What can we achieve then with our wingers back in form? In my opinion, Nani is the most talented of the bunch and at 26 he may yet reach his peak. The manager seems to thinks so too as he provided him with a new five-year contract recently. Hopefully we will see him fulfil his potential and play a bigger role this season. He has been an important player for us in the past with his assists and goals as shown in the 2010/2011 season where he finished the season being highest in assists and led us to our 19th title. There is no reason why he can’t reclaim that form and at his best, he is a match-winner. The same goes for Antonio Valencia who was phenomenal for us in the 2011/2012 season but his form declined dramatically last season. You may argue that last season was a one-off because of the added pressure of the #7 shirt. If that is so, we may yet see the old Valencia return to yet again terrorize the left-backs of the league. Ashley Young’s career at Old Trafford has been hampered by injuries but he may still come good while Zaha is a raw talent that will have his chances to impress. With our wingers performing, our attack will look terrifying and the strikers will surely benefit from this.
5. Our strikers
In Robin van Persie we have the best striker of the league as proven by his winning of the Golden Boot in two consecutive seasons. He made a big impact on our team last season and with his goals, led us to our 20th title. He can only get better though and will be looking to add to last year’s goals. When he arrived last year, there was a lot of talk about his prospective partnership with Rooney and many fans were salivating at the thought of the goals their combination could produce. Although they did not truly hit it off last season due to Rooney’s injuries and lack of form they did show in a couple of games what they are capable of such as the away game to CFR Cluj where the Dutchman finished off a beautiful ball over the top by Rooney. If their partnership blossoms like that of Yorke and Cole in our treble-winning season, then we could see an avalanche of goals capable of bringing trophies to Old Trafford. With Hernandez and Welbeck in our ranks, we have four capable goal-scorers with which we can use throughout the season given the number of competitions we are in. Welbeck has started the season in fine form for club and country and has already scored twice the number he did last year after his brace against Swansea City. Hernandez is a goalscorer renowned for his poacher instinct in the penalty area and established himself as a match-winner last season. With these four strikers in the squad there should be an abundance of goals.
6. Our defence
Forgive me for the cliché, but the return of Nemanja Vidic to the squad is like a new signing. He is our best defender and has been an absolute rock at partner him at the back and this comes as no surprise with the experience both of them have and how well they complement each other. However, with age they have both slowed down and will not play every game together. Moyes has more options with Evans and Jones or Smalling. Evans has stepped up and delivered in the past two seasons while Jones has been praised numerous times by Sir Alex Ferguson who once claimed he could be a Manchester United great. Chris Smalling is also capable of filling in when required. Our two wing-backs, Rafael and Evra, improved noticeably last year as they pitched in with goals and improved defensively. In David de Gea we have one of the best goalkeepers in the league, if not the world, and Spain’s future #1. He has gone from strength to strength and his performances against Real Madrid and Chelsea last year proved he is world-class. With the amount of depth and quality we have in our defence, we should be able to keep more clean sheets and concede less goals.
7. Our youth players
Our future looks bright with the quality of young players we have. Players such as Adnan Januzaj and Jesse Lingard impressed in pre-season. Powell, Cole, Will & Michael Keane and Wilfried Zaha, just to name a few, are exciting prospects for the future. There is a sense of pride in seeing players come through the ranks and make it at the Theatre of Dreams. Manchester United is a club that gives a chance to young players and Moyes has stated that he is willing to carry on with that tradition. We will get the chance to see some of our young players in the Capital One Cup and be a part of the first team in the future.
Because of the reasons above I strongly believe Manchester United are capable of retaining their title under David Moyes and being competitive in the cup competitions including the Champions League. Currently, there is a good mix of experience and youth in the squad. Last year, a couple of players did not perform at their highest level yet we still won the league at a canter pace, despite being far from our best. The team will only improve this season and bring more titles to Old Trafford.
Let’s be more positive and support our team in this exciting new era!