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What Can We Expect From United - The Midfield

What Can We Expect From United - The Midfield

So here we go with the second part of our season preview. Whereas we have described United's defence as the most settled and stable area of the team, quite the opposite is true regarding the midfield: it lacks balance and stability and is bound to be our achilles heel.

At first glance, it appears everything's fine. There's certainly no problem with the amount of talent we have in this area, but the age and fitness of the players are major concerns.

Take Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs. Both are experienced players with phenomenal ability; however, both are clearly past their prime now and will be used less and less. Scholes was poor last season and Giggs, though winning the PFA Player of the Year award, was actually good in only a handful of games. They're getting older and now, particularly in the case of Scholes, they're becoming liabilities.

Then there is Owen Hargreaves. He'd be first choice but for his persistent injury problems. However, it looks unlikely that he'll ever be fully fit and injury-free again so we cannot rely on him.

We might be able to rely on Anderson this season but it cannot be known yet. He's a huge talent but faces a huge challenge: he's got to prove he has the brains, the temperament and the consistency to succeed. But using him as first-choice would be a considerable gamble.

I'm a huge fan of Darren Fletcher and he'll have a massive role to play this season but he's got his limitations, the most obvious is his lack of creativity and mediocre technique. His bite, his hassling will be invaluable but also places a huge burden on our best midfielder, Michael Carrick who's charged with the task of providing creativity from the centre of the park.

On the flanks, we have a lot of players. But quantity, once again, doesn't necessarily mean quality. Park Ji-Sung will have an important role to play but he's particularly useful when there's a lot of defending to be done, when industry is required. He won't provide inspiration, that's for sure.

Nani - he's been discussed to death already. Great talent, no brains, little end product. His Community Shield showing was encouraging though. Zoran Tosic is a dark horse, lightweight, pacey but has a lot to prove. Personally I don't think he's quite good enough for this level.

Our best bet on the flanks is surely Antonio Valencia who excelled in pre-season. He's quick, strong, focused, direct - he'll be brilliant, I'm sure.

As for the others: Darron Gibson won't get too many opportunities, he'll be a Carling Cup player even though he can do a job in the centre of the park. Not good as a wide man though. Cleverley? No, don't think so.

Rating: 6 of 10

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Friday August 14 2009
Time: 1:50PM


Agree about Scholes and Giggs - they should be 5th and 6th choice for our central mid but as you say Hargreaves probably won't be getting into the team this side of xmas, Anderson isn't consistent enough yet and Fletcher does not have the quality in possession that a Man Utd midfielder should have. Having said that this has been the situation in the middle of the park for three years and we've done alright, haven't we? Park should never be anything other than a back up player or a man-marker for messi. Valencia looks like he could be brilliant. Im backing Nani to have a strong season if he stays fit and gets games. Tosic keeps doing the business for his national team (scored a brace the other night) and if he gets games (at Nanis expense) his set pieces could be useful - but still unproven in the premier league. I think Obertan has promise but will only be an impact sub at best. It would be nice to see Petrucci get a chance in the carling cup this year. Gibson can fill in against the teams at the bottom of the league. Hopefully in January, we'll get to see our next number 7 in action - Adem Ljajic - got high hopes for this kid - but I know fergie won't pressure him until he's ready. Fully fit we probably are 6/10 but with a few injuries that could be much lower.
14/08/2009 17:29:00
I've said it before and I'll say it again tosic should be given a chance and only then we can be in a position to judge him and as far as the unproven tag goes,the only way we can take that tag off is by giving him a chance to prove himself at this level.
Antriksh (abmtd)
14/08/2009 18:55:00
Youre unusually weak in midfield these days, i think Fergies taken a huge gamble not investing some of that 80m in some quality in the middle. Dont get me wrong its a decent midfield, but one i can see being outplayed against footballing sides this year. I think youl come easy top2, but i cant see you getting near the Champs League again in the near future without some serious investment and properly replacing Scholes and Giggs. Just hope its not in our direction and Palacios who you turn to. Tbh i think its goals from midfield you need, you need to find youre new 13prem goals from midfield guy like Gerrard,Cahill, Ireland n Lampard.
15/08/2009 02:16:00
Pessimistic or what! Our midfield isn't as bad as you make out, like Tuscan said its been the same for 2-3 years now and we've done excellent. Nobody in 2008 thought we would win the Champions League and nobody last year thought we would make the final. Who exactly has made back to back finals in the last 10 years? Giggs and Scholes are getting on I agree but the rest of the midfield is pretty young and they're going to get better not worse. Harsh words about Tosic, Fergie said he wasn't going to play till this season coming when we signed him and look how long it took Vidic and Evra to settle. We were all calling for Evra's head after that Cit-eh game now look him one of the best left backs in the world by far. Nani will have a huge year this year and without a shadow of a doubt will be our top scorer from midfield, even Giggsy had a poor season for us in 94/95 when he scored something like 5 goals and didn't even start the cup final. So hold your horses on Nani he will prove the doubters wrong. As for Carrick and Fletcher they should start if Hargreaves isn't fit, because Carrick can't tackle, if he had stuck a foot in against Iniesta instead of letting him walk past him Etoo wouldn't have scored. I've said it before if Hargreaves isn't in the United squad by end of September then I'll be worried till then everyone calm down and not be so pessimistic about it. Gibson will be another who will prove the doubters wrong. No comment on Obertan or Valencia because haven't seen them play enough. Sundays cameo by Valencia wasn't long enough to judge. Anderson would rather have him in our squad than not have him.
15/08/2009 03:22:00
When the cannons have stopped firing, wait for your captain to give you the sign. Take it easy climbing out of the trench, it can be slippy. Then just walk slowly towards the opposing trenches. Look out for that nasty barbed wire, it can snag on your uniform. You don't want that. Just keep walking forwards and think of nice things. Happy times from your childhood. Don't worry about a thing -- look on the bright side of life. All the opposition were probably killed last bombardment... You haven't a hope in Hell but at least you know what a prawn sandwich tastes like.
15/08/2009 05:24:00
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