by Andrew Jones
As a United supporter from as far back as I can remember, I’ve often found excitement in watching the heroes go to work week in, week out, working together as a solid unit to gracefully pick apart the opposition. Workhorses such as Keane and Scholes running themselves into the ground for the cause and artists such as Cantona and Giggs bringing that flair that makes a young boy’s eyes glisten with admiration, complementing each other on their march towards victory.
That was then, this is now. Not to say I don’t love the club – that will always be a given – however I don’t see the strong squad that I used to; instead I see fragments, individuals who in their own right are all capable of brilliance but lack confidence in each other, or indeed in certain parts of the team.
Take Wayne Rooney as an example; the man is an absolute Trojan and runs himself ragged week in week out, his passes are clinical and his awareness is awe-inspiring. However stick him up front and he’s streaky at best. His calling is clearly in the ‘Scholesy’ role i.e. attacking mid, where he can boss the midfield, feed the defence-splitting passes through to the marksmen, but adversely give him opportunity to support the defence too which he is more than capable of doing (this was shown evidently in our recent drubbing my City; the result was cringeworthy but Rooney’s performance in my opinion at least was second to none, he was literally up front one minute, and down pressing at his own corner flag the next). If Rooney could be utilised properly, left in one position so that everyone else around him can grow in confidence and stature then our midfield will look a lot stronger. As it stands we appear to be a team that rely on our stars playing well; if they aren’t playing well we don’t look threatening.
Why, when you know you’re playing world class teams, would you ever dream of putting out anything less than your best 11?
Alex Ferguson has been crucial to United’s success over the years and I truly believe that even with the same players and money we’ve had over the years, throw a different manager in instead of Fergie and the results would be completely different. He really has been the heart of Man United for the entirety of his stay. With this in mind however I do not blindly agree with everything he does. Sure he knows what he’s doing, sure he has a knack for finding young talent and getting the very best from them (Giggs and Scholes to name but a few) but some of his decisions lately have been, shall we say, questionable. Take both the Liverpool and City games recently. Why, when you know you’re playing world class teams, would you ever dream of putting out anything less than your best 11? I know he sees something in Welbeck and who am I to disagree – the man is rarely wrong. However when you have the likes of Hernandez and Berbatov on the bench why in god’s name wouldn’t you utilise them? You have to field a strong squad to beat Liverpool and City and that didn’t happen. We could’ve and should’ve beat Liverpool given both of our current forms, and we made City a lot harder than it needed to be. Another example of these poor decisions is the selection of Johnny Evans over Jones, Jones is a young player in great form and to be perfectly honest he fits in well, looks at home and looks up for it (none of that can be said about Evans). He’s clearly a stronger player than Evans and I hear a lot of talk from within the North Stand during every game that the future of United’s defence lies with Smalling and Jones, and I cant agree more.
I firmly believe that Manchester United have the heart to be champions, however if they’re to achieve that they’ll also need a lot of luck.
Our midfield, that’s another grey area. Young may be the signing of the season for us (at least on a par with Jones) and Nani has really come into his own, but if either of those are injured we suddenly don’t look very strong and that bothers me. We have Carrick who is VERY shakey; he can either be the best player on the pitch, or horrible (lately more of the latter) and then there is Fletcher who is dependable but again not what I’d call world class. What happens when we don’t have strikers available so Rooney plays up front, and then Nani or Young aren’t on the field suddenly we are severely lacking the ability to scare even the most mediocre of teams.
As a squad we also need some new signings to bring depth, we need strong players to bring on and we need to look threatening when our big names are injured, not cower away and play badly until our stars are back to full health. Our struggle without Ferdinand and Vidic was an obvious sign of this.
In closing, I firmly believe that Manchester United have the heart to be champions, however if they’re to achieve that they’ll also need a lot of luck and a squad that’s up to full strength and up for it. Do they have that as of now? I don’t think so. Do I think United’s squad on the whole is as strong as Chelsea or City? No, pains me to say this but we don’t have the subs that they have.
This is a plea from a United fan; get it sorted and let’s get back to greatness or else the dynasty could be in danger of slipping!