By Barry McEvoy.
So far it has been a great season for supporters of Manchester United. Top of the Premier League, Quarter-Final stage of the Champions League and a mouth watering Semi-Final clash against Manchester City in the FA Cup. Sounds good doesn’t it? Despite that, there is a large rebuilding job to be done at this moment in time. Relying on players the age of Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs isn’t good enough for a club like United. Both are utter class, but no one can dispute that they’re in the twilight of their glittering careers. Sadly, it seems to be United’s best players that are coming to the end.
The midfield continues to be a hindrance for Man United. With Darren Fletcher grossly out of form the lack of an enforcer in the midfield has really come to light. Even at top form does Fletcher have enough natural ability to start regularly in midfield for United? Maybe, but you can’t deny his passion and habit of getting up opponents noses. He’s great to have in the squad to bolster the midfield against the likes of Chelsea or City, but he certainly lacks the creative edge to be a dynamic centre midfielder. One man comes to mind while I write this – Owen Hargreaves. Oh Owen Hargreaves how you are needed. Top class set-piece taker, versatile, energetic and dangerous around the box – perfect centre midfielder. I continue to hold out hope in my heart for him, but my head says he’s not coming back. Even if he does come back, I can’t imagine he’ll be as good as he was. There is some hope in the immediate future, though. If Anderson can stay injury free for more than six games I think he’ll be a cracking player. He was excellent when given a run of games before Christmas this season, he even played well in the 4-0 Carling Cup defeat at Upton Park. He’s great to have against strong midfields and even at a young age he had Fabregas and Gerrard in his pocket. A couple of goals this season has helped his standing too, because let’s be honest, they’ve been a long time coming! I feel that there is at least one signing needed to strengthen the midfield. Teams aren’t going to be pressured by Carrick, Scholes or Gibson. Scholes and to a lesser extent Carrick do offer the team something, but Gibson is infuriating. Maybe if he closed the opposition down once in a while he’d have some merit, but he doesn’t even do that. Bastian Schweinsteiger is my dream signing. Decent shot on him, creative, strong and he stops opposition attacks in an instant. But I’m only dreaming, unfortunately. More realistically I’d like to see Daniele De Rossi in a United shirt. Maybe he’s not as ‘in your face’ as the German, but he’s still a great player. Rocket of a shot on him too – just as good as Gibson’s, but he has much more to offer than just a shot. Either of those players could also fulfill the need for a creative midfielder once Scholes hangs up his boots.
The midfield is clearly the weakest part of the squad. There are still some other positions that need back-up, though. With Edwin Van Der Sar set on retiring at the end of the season there should be a goalkeeper signed in the summer transfer window. Anders Lindegaard arrived in January and has been impressive in his two games against Southampton and Crawley Twon in the FA Cup. His main rival for the goalie spot on the subs bench is Tomasz Kuszczak. The Polish may be somewhat confused about the signing of Lindegaard, wondering if it spells the end of his days at Old Trafford. For me, he’s too inconsistent and not confident enough at collecting crosses. He’s prone to dropping crosses and making the odd blunder. No doubting his shot-stopping abilities, though, he’s one of the best shot-stoppers in the Premier League. Van Der Sar is up with the best of them when it comes to stopping a shot, but he also has full confidence in himself when coming for a cross. Replacing him will be one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s toughest jobs in quite a while, I just hope it doesn’t go the same way as replacing Peter Schmeichel. Manuel Neuer would be the best option, in my opinion. He’s top class and still young enough to be United’s goalkeeper for the next ten years. However, it looks like his wish is to stay in Germany and go to Bayern Munich, which is almost expected with German players at this stage. David De Gea is another option if Fergie wants to put faith in youth. Whilst I think the young Spaniard has great potential I don’t think he has enoguh experience to step in as the top goalkeeper at a club like United.
Despite typing this with a smug face that even Gary Lineker would be proud of after watching United come from 2-0 down to win at West Ham I’m slightly worried about what’s to come. I hope Fergie takes on the job of rebuilding the squad because there’s no one better than him at doing it. The future does look promising, though with the two da Silvas doing well in the full-back positions, Chris Smalling looking very assured at centre-back, Nani finally showing us what he’s capable of and of course the Mexican. What a gem he is and for only £7million, an inspired purchase. Can’t forget Danny Welbeck on loan at Sunderland, either, Steve Bruce has got the best out of him this season. Hopefully he can continue to play like that when he come back to United at the end of the summer.
Whatever happens I think this will be one of the busiest transfer windows at United in a long time, whether that be shifting the deadwood or bringing in some fresh faces. I for one can’t wait.
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