By Tom Bell.
We all have our reserved opinions on Darron Gibson. Whether you think he’s a waste of space on the payroll, or whether you think he’s going to “do a Fletcher” and come good after years of criticism; we must accept that he’s in our squad – and I for one, am happy to have him there.
The Derry-born Northern Irish lad who now represents the Republic of Ireland on international level, joined Manchester United in 2004 after playing within the Northern Irish league. It took him around twelve months to make his first team debut at the tender age of eighteen, in a 4-1 win against Barnet in the League Cup. He entered the fray as a substitute coming on for Lee Martin (a now regular at Ipswich Town) in a line-up that consisted of Barcelona’s World Cup winning Gerard Pique (Oh Fergie!) and talented American-Italian Villarreal front man Giuseppe Rossi. We won the game 4-1. What is noticeable about the players that featured for the Reds in that game is only two currently still hold their place on the Man United squad list. Those two remaining players are United through-and-through Wes Brown and yes, you guessed it – Darron Gibson.
Now you may raise questions about why that statistic isn’t four players as oppose to two – i.e Mr Rossi and Mr Pique, but unfortunately only Mr Ferguson can answer that.
Several of our squad cost us in excess of £13m, including Anderson and Hargreaves, both similar players in terms of position of Gibson, who arguably sees just as much playing time or more than the two we signed for big money. Gibson also brings another thing to the squad. Gibson qualifies as a home-grown player in the Premier League Home-Grown player quota that clubs have to now abide by. He cost us nothing and benefits the squad as a home-grown player.
So on one hand, Gibson is there to help us meet our home-grown quota, but on the other, we forget his vicious a’la Scholes or Lampard shot. There aren’t many players in our squad who I’d prefer to be lurking at the edge of a box ahead of Gibbo. Think back to that peach he scored against Hull city to win us a vital three points in the title race, or the two he scored against Spurs in 09/10 to put us in the Carling Cup semi’s. Don’t forget, he scored against a Bayern Munich defence which consisted of Dan Van Buyten, Martin Demichelis, Holger Badstuber and Phillip Lahm and he put us back on track following a scare at Scunthorpe this season.
Yes he may look a little out of his league against some of the more technical teams, but Darron Gibson has the energy we need on a damp, dark Tuesday’s winter’s night away at the JJB stadium or Craven Cottage. He doesn’t mind getting stuck in a challenge, he doesn’t mind running with the ball, he doesn’t mind spray a long ball out to the wing, he doesn’t mind having a pop at goal and he doesn’t mind box to box play.
Granted, he may not be the most technically gifted player, but you can put your money on him playing his heart out when we need him to. He didn’t cost us the millions Anderson did, and has arguably done more for the club than our braided-Brazilian has in terms of winning us points and games. We often underestimate the goals scored from midfield that take the pressure off our strikers if Wayne, Javier or Dimitar are having an off day and like it or not, I can’t help feel we’ll see more of Darron yet, especially with the Hargreaves injury saga and the curious case of Anderson. He brings a physical, energetic presence to midfield that we sometimes lack. Scholes was never the quickest of midfielders, but as his legs are sadly ageing, Anderson yes, has the strength and pace, but doesn’t always put it to use, Carrick seems to thrive in the hit and miss role and Fletcher isn’t the most clinical in sight of goal. How many times do you see Scholes, Anderson or Carrick bust a gut running forty yards to chase down a ball?
My point is this, as aforementioned, he isn’t the big star name that sells shirts, and he isn’t the most technically gifted player but a squad is made up of different types of player. You have the skillfull, you have the consistent, you have the match-winners and you have the squad player. You need reliable, hardworking players such as Gibbo, John O’Shea and Park who will happily sit on the bench, who will happily step up to the plate when needed to and who will happily play for a fraction of the wages some players are reported to earn (A certain Toure brother in the blue half of the city earning an apparent £221,000 per week!)
Although yes, it may take more than the odd belter from the outside of the area to convince you otherwise, it must be remembered that Gibson hasn’t ever really had a decent run of games in the first team. I’m happy to have him in the squad for now, all he needs is a few sprinting lessons and perhaps a few one-to-ones with our Ginger magician Paul Scholes on creativity to help complete him a little more as a player but I can’t help feel he benefits the squad. Not to mention he’s always worth a couple of quid at the bookies if he is in the starting line up!
In retrospect, it does seem he’s been around forever but in reality, the man is only 23 years of age. He’s got many, many more seasons in him yet and you just don’t know how he’ll turn out. Give him a chance; there is plenty of time yet.
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