Reviewing United's Season: MIDFIELD
Regarded as one of the strongest in the world for years, the once mighty United midfield fell apart in 2003 and became the team's Achilles heel for years to come.
Roy Keane's ageing limbs more and more frequently failed to fulfill the requests of his mind, Fletcher's lack of experience was telling in key battles while Scholes and Giggs just could not find their form.
However, things changed dramatically this season. Signs of improvement were there to see in 2006 when we pushed Chelsea with a central midfield pairing of Giggs and O'Shea. With the arrival of Carrick and the rejuvenation of Scholes, United's midfield started to ooze class again and even took the burden of goalscoring off the strikers and chipped in with tons of important goals.
Michael Carrick Labelled as overpriced, slow, everyone told us he can't tackle and by and large he's useless. And what's the truth? He's been solid, reliable, showed fantastic awareness and composure in his passing, brought a much-needed stability into our midfield. Scholes' rejuvenation is partly due to his presence, just as the form of Ronaldo and Giggs - and I mean it. Without him, none of the aforementioned players could have been as brilliant as they were.
His best displays were against Chelsea at Old Trafford and the unforgettable night against Roma when he opened a scoring with a sublime effort. Still, critics might say that sometimes he's gone missing and needs to be more authoritative. But it's been a very good first season nevertheless, with some good goals. 7
Chris Eagles Played in only two Premiership games but shown more promise than Richardson. A good goal at Everton, that's all. 6
Darren Fletcher He's finally come of age. One of the most hated players of the previous season became a very good squad player who can be relied upon any time. Magnificent against Roma and Milan at Old Trafford, tireless performances all season, full of running and tackling. He's still a bit wasteful in possesion and need to learn to cope with the pace of United's one-touch football better but a very useful backup and he's still only 23 so I'm still expecting him to improve. 7
Ryan Giggs The Welsh Wizard is back on the scene of the very best. Not bursting with space anymore but using his intelligence, showing wonderful awareness in passing and in movement off the ball. Clearly relished the central role he was often asked to occupy but was also effective in his traditional left-wing position. His pace is on the wane now but he's been marvellous. He shone the brightest on the night when Roma were totally dismantled at Old Trafford, his four assists earned him a rating of 10 at Sky. 8
Ji-Sung Park A frustrating season for the Korean. He seemed to lack sharpness early in the season then he was sidelined until Christmas with a serious injury. After his recovery he regained his place in the side and delivered some fine performances and four goals in four games at Old Trafford. He looked in very good shape so it's doubly devastating that he picked up an injury against Blackburn that consequently ruled him out of the rest of the season though for first it had looked minor. 6
Kieran Richardson Scored three goals this season but the campaing was ultimately a personal failure for him as he could not prove that he has any future at all at Old Trafford. Lacks the footballing intelligent and I daresay that sheer talent, too. Should be sold. 4
Cristiano Ronaldo What can we write that hadn't been written before? Against all the adversity, the Portuguese had a magnificent season, working magnificently with Rooney with whom they were supposed to hate each other, scored 23 goals and dazzled everyone with his trickery, pace and even added the end product as statistics confirm. Third on the list of Prem's top scorers but first in terms of assist, Ronaldo is regarded as one of the, if not the best player in the world right now. Why isn't it a ten mark for him? He's gone missing in big games sometimes - it's telling that his best performance came against Fulham when he saved us with a magnificent run right at the end. 9
Paul Scholes The Ginger Ninja missed half of the season - and boy he clearly came back better! Always efficient in passing, he seems to have a lot of time on the ball and some of his passes are just marvels of the beautiful game. Trademark cracking goals were there, too - Copenhagen and Villa, the latter was a real contender for goal of the season - and scored against Liverpool in his 500th United game - can it get any better? He still can't tackle but I think we might forgive that deficiency for him - but he let the team down and endagered it's cause by stupidly getting himself sent off at Anfield and at the Stadio Olimpico. However, the memory of Scholes grabbing the game by the scruff of its neck when United were trailing at home against Blackburn is the fondest memory of the ginger maestro's season. 8
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