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UNITEDRANT

It’s the midfield, stupid

October 4, 2010 Tags: Opinion 75 comments

Watching Manchester United’s midfield completely swamped by Sunderland on Saturday one couldn’t help but think of the long season ahead. Patently past it’s best and with no effort made to improve the quality this summer, Sir Alex Ferguson stands accused of being negligent in his strategy to improve United’s midfield.

This observation is true whatever restrictions the Old Trafford money men have put in place recently. Certainly, Ferguson is either not willing or not allowed to spend heavily, with the club laying out a net £10 million this summer. So overused has it become that the ‘V-word’ cannot be mentioned without it becoming yet another cliché of the Glazer regime.

Not that the resolution to United’s problems necessarily lies in spending vast sums but Ferguson’s midfield – comprising mostly of players years past their peak, perennially injured, out-of-form or simply not good enough – now cannot compete at the highest level unless the Scot places faith in weight of numbers.

Even then it is almost impossible to make an argument that any United midfielder falls into the – for want of a less hackneyed phrase – ‘world class’ bracket.

Little has changed since the end of the window of course. United began the season with question marks hanging over each member of the midfield other than Nani. Even then fans were right to ask whether the Portuguese winger could replicate his form over the second part of last season in the coming year.

Elsewhere Ferguson possesses plenty of options but little stardust.

Even Paul Scholes, who has been fabulous against mediocre opposition this season, found it impossible to impose himself on the game against Sunderland. It is little wonder, with the 35-year-old’s legs failing him when United’s opponents press fast and hard as the Black Cats did on Saturday.

Scholes’ erstwhile creative successor, Michael Carrick, still appears slumped in the stupor that he has inhabited for more than a year now. The former Spurs player’s ability to screen United’s defence and rotate play at speed was essential to the club winning three Premier League trophies in a row from 2007-9.

Few regard the Geordie in that bracket now; perhaps even the manager, who almost certainly sanctioned a move away from Old Trafford in the summer had any suitable bids been lodged.

Anderson too has much to prove now he is recovered from serious injury. The Brazilian was unlucky to find himself occupying a loose left-sided position against Sunderland after his role at the head of United’s midfield quintet in Valencia last week. But he was again wasteful in possession on Wearside, gifting the ball away one third of the time. Worst still, only one incomplete pass was what might be deemed an attempt to create a goalscoring opportunity.

The Brazilian promises much but has so rarely delivered in his three season’s at Old Trafford to make supporters’ hopes that the 22-year-old will ride to United’s rescue seem fanciful at best.

Even Darren Fletcher is suffering this season, with the Scot’s performance well below the level United fans have come to expect over the past two years. It says much for the improvement in the Dalkeith-born player that fans are disappointed rather than merely resigned to expectation when the Scot fails to lift United from its midfield slumber.

It leaves Ferguson with the rest, which offers little hope of a short term fix, except to those of a perennial optimistic bent. Giggs, a true United legend, will pass 37 this season and can no longer operate frequently on the left wing. Darron Gibson continues to shoot at every opportunity unless a safe five yard pass offers itself instead, although the Irishman frequently traps the ball just as far in any case.

On the left of the Derry Dynamo, Park Ji-Sung can be seen running up any blind alley offered. So poor are the South Korean’s performances since the World Cup that even the clichéd energy seems to have drained from the lifeless corpse that is the 29-year-old’s form. Workrate is his raison d’etre.

Gabriel Obertan’s chances of a first team match in the coming months are minimal, while Owen Hargreaves could make his return in this month’s Carling Cup third round tie with Wolverhampton Wanders. If his leg remains attached at the knee, Ferguson will surely be pleased.

Meanwhile, in the midst the barrage of incompetency United served up on Saturday, £8 million Rafael van der Vaart continues to star for Tottenham Hotspur, £12.4 million Mesut Özil takes La Liga by storm and £12.4 million Wesley Sneijder continues to do what the Dutchman has done for the past year. It’s that V-word again.

Despite the gloom that comes with more dropped points, Bébé made his Premier League début at the Stadium of Light, coming on for Anderson with 10 minutes to go. It’s about as much as Zoran Tošić achieved in two years with the club, so therein lies an improvement at least.

The £7.4 million winger, bought sight-unseen by Ferguson this summer, still has some way to go before the exorbitant fee is recouped by the club. Never has United needed the homeless more than today.

75 comments

sprite - October 4, 2010 Reply

only the blind can not see that the midfield is lacking..

Stephen - October 4, 2010 Reply

Meanwhile Tosic flourishes in Moscow, Ljajic does the same at Fiorentina.

Remember though, “this is the season for youth”. Wasn’t that what he said.. We should have kept Cleverley as well.

Give Eikrem a go… at least he might look like he cared…

Not good…

pjch - October 4, 2010 Reply

Its amazing that people contributing to this and other sites have been saying the same thing about our midfield over the year or so. What is wrong with SAF is he blind to the fact that we are just not good enough and is no value in the market is laughable. Buying for the future is all well and good but don’t forget the boss is getting on and will retire soon. What will happen then if the next manager doesn’t like what has been bought and wants in the type of players that fit his system. SAF should be buying now to replace the mediocre midfield he has. How many would get in the Chelsea side? – none I fear. Its years since our midfield frightened team. I feel its going to be a long season.

Triggs - October 4, 2010 Reply

The Ljajic signing – or lack of – is odd. By all accounts he’s been very impressive for the Viola. We’re led to believe that Cleverley was the reason for not going through with it, but then he’s carted off to Wigan. For whatever reason, Fergie didnt fancy Tosic and Obertan is now getting the same treatment.

We can argue about the quality/form, but what is undeniable is a serious lack of energy in the centre. Fletch looks over stretched and generally knackered.

Javi Martinez and Rodwell are obvious signings which fit the current philosophy, but I won’t hold my breath.

Hargo is apparently training well, but again I ain’t holding my breath. I think a lot depends on Ando “doing a Nani”, but at the moment I can’t see it. There are little glimpses of talent – he shields the ball well – but he just gives the ball away all the time – a serious lack of confidence.

I notice you put “If his leg remains attacked at the knee”. I’m sure you meant attached but if Karl Henry plays there’s every chande you will be right.

humblepie - October 4, 2010 Reply

why critize the midfield. its the midfield all of us would suggest. its got the best combination we have. anderson-fletch-scholes. what went wrong?

likely its the tactics. fergie didn’t bring out the best of that combie.

triggs - October 4, 2010 Reply

humblepie said:
why critize the midfield. its the midfield all of us would suggest. its got the best combination we have. anderson-fletch-scholes. what went wrong?

likely its the tactics. fergie didn’t bring out the best of that combie.

I think if Berba and Hernandez had started we would have beaten Sunderland. There were no outlets until they came on.

But that dosent change the fact that the midfield has (and has for a while) suffered from a lack of quality, form and energy. Fergie spunked a load of money on Ando and Hargo in the summer of 2007. That’s the last central midfield purchases we’ve had. Both, for differing reasons, haven’t worked out.

uncleknobheadforfucksake - October 4, 2010 Reply

hargreaves hasn’t orked out because he wasn’t good enough regardless of injuries

anderson hasn’t worked out because he clearly isn’t a midfielder in a 442 and we don’t have a clue what he is after three years

carrick hasn’t worked out because he’s not good enough

fletcher hasn’t worked out because he’s not good enough

scholes is no longer good enough

giggs is no longer good enough

gibson isn’t good enough

valencia isn’t good enough

obertran isn’t good enough

oshea…

triggs - October 4, 2010 Reply

uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
hargreaves hasn’t orked out because he wasn’t good enough regardless of injuries

anderson hasn’t worked out because he clearly isn’t a midfielder in a 442 and we don’t have a clue what he is after three years

carrick hasn’t worked out because he’s not good enough

fletcher hasn’t worked out because he’s not good enough

scholes is no longer good enough

giggs is no longer good enough

gibson isn’t good enough

valencia isn’t good enough

obertran isn’t good enough

oshea…

Who is good enough to you? Who would you have United sign (who is actually gettable, i.e. not Xavi etc.)?

fido - October 5, 2010 Reply

Here are example I would have signed and was gettable. Kevin Prince Boeteng. I have always thought he has potential and last season for pompey he showed it. He was conviencing at the world cup for Ghana too. I thought Fergie would consider him. Too bad he went to Milan and he is one of their best players this season so far. He fit the bill in my book. He was cheap, young, adoptable to many different midfield positions and technical on the ball. He would gel in immediately since he has got the experience of premiership under his belt. Oh well.

Our midfield is not good enough. Carrick is has never been Manchester United material. Fletcher is a better passer for godness sakes. The dude just passes the ball to the opposition way to often. It’s pathetic really. He should just be sold. It pisses me off. He used to hide and let Scholes do all the work when he was on so called form. He figured him out. He has never had a good game in Europe except for that Roma game. He is one of the main reasons we didn’t win games last season. He is the reason we lost to Barcelona in the final. Couldn’t pass one single long ball to Ronaldo. Yeah Carrick, I remember! He is our worst midfielder. I thought you are supposed to be hitting your peak at 29? At least Anderson can say he is still learning his trade. Can’t wait for Pogba!

sukhy5 - October 4, 2010 Reply

Gettable? That’s the problem. No £$!

But if we had the £$…

Rodwell – Defence or Midfield

Javier Pastore – The next classic playmaker from Palermo.

uncleknobheadforfucksake - October 4, 2010 Reply

its not unreasonable for a team with three of the worlds best defenders in our abck four and one of the worlds best players upfront to have world class midfielders in midfield also

redevil_83 - October 4, 2010 Reply

yup, pretty beat up point but doesn’t hurt to highlight the ordinary united mid fld once again. if only it could be brought the attention of the ppl that matter – at the club. if united does well this season, it will be another case of overachieving. i don’t give a merdaa about cups and trophies this season cus frankly – i don’t think we’ve a good enough squad to win it. but while being realistic, i do expect united to continue playing good football. with this lack of connection and build up play from mid fld, even that is proving elusive

Ben Hulston - October 4, 2010 Reply

I am very concerned about the state of the midfield, but the fact is we have a number of midfielders who I feel are actually good enough, but have run out of form. I think, quite clearly, we are struggling as a side to get going. It is unfortunate, with Berbatov in the form of his life, that the team around him is struggling so much.

I think what United need to get going is to really go to town on a side – any side – to get the season fired up. Form comes from confidence, confidence comes from performance, performance comes from form…. >,< …. So what is needed is someone to come to OT looking extremely poor. I was hoping that would be Liverpool – and it should have been, we should have won 5 or 6 nil – but the defence let United down with an extremely patchy performance that cost us that thumping with two silly errors.

Carrick and Fletcher are currently in a severe slump. What they need is a stirring performance to get them going again. I believe Anderson needs time in central midfield – not out on the wing “doing a job” – to get his game back. I think 4 – 5 – 1 could be the answer. Whack all three in midfield, Carrick sitting, Fletch + Ando box to box, with Berbatov up top, stick Rooney out on the wing (controversial I know…) with Nani on t’other one, and play 4 – 5 – 1 in defence, 4 – 3 – 3 going forward.

My suggestion would be in the Carling Cup, play a strong midfield – Bébé / Fletch / Carrick / Ando / Nani, with Hernandez up front, and go with the intention of absolutely tonking Wolves. No respite, no stopping, just aggressive, attacking football. Really go out with one intention – to fucking hammer them 4 or 5 nil and really give them a shoeing.

Rooney is quite simply stressed out to fook, and probably needs time out to spend with his missus and his kid. He shouldn’t be playing for England, he should be getting his heead right. For me, that leaves a great opportunity for Obertain and Bébé to really prove they are up to the job at United. Give them the opportunity to play 3 – 6 games in a row in the Premier League. Full starts, not 10 mins here and there. And if one of them sparkles, good.

I feel like we need to accept this season is not going to be a trophy filled one unfortunately and build for the next. Chelsea will smash through the average dross that occupies the Premier League all season like they already have. That leaves the domestic cups. I’d prefer the FA Cup if possible though I think Arsenal will go all out to win that – all on the provision that next year we’re ready and able to properly challenge.

Ashish - October 4, 2010 Reply

While it’s true that a lot of our midfielders are in a rut I still firmly believe Anderson has what it takes to succeed here.

He’s struggling,just like Carrick is right now but I see a spark in him which makes me believe that he has the balls to establish himself in our midfield.

Bill - October 4, 2010 Reply

At the end of the day, in order to mask the lack of quality central midfielders we will be playing 4-5-1 in many of the more difficult games.

The definition of “difficult” is growing by the day, due to our lack of quality, but also the opposition improving.

For the record I’m not that discouraged with our 6 wingers, Nani, Valencia, Giggs, Park, Obertan & Bebe aren’t that bad a group.

However its the central midfielders is the group that provides the real worry. Unfortunately centre mid is probably the key battleground when deciding the outcome of any game.

In all honesty Cleverley and Eikrem are quickly looking like better prospects than the likes of Hargreaves, Carrick & Anderson. They are undoubtedly fitter & more dynamic on the ball.

Alfonso Bedoya - October 4, 2010 Reply

Two signings…

If Fergie splashed the neccessary, and signed two of, Rodwell, De Rossi, Sneijder… we’d be fine… end of.

Two of those would cost a quite a few quid… but so what? We’re SUPPOSED to be one of the wealthiest clubs in the game, with a great wad of cash in the bank, just waiting to be spent.

What’s the problem?

Triggs - October 4, 2010 Reply

I think there’s no chance of de Rossi moving. Mourinho couldnt convince him to go to Real in the summer. But I agree he’s exactly what we need.

Obviously in hindsight Fergie should have included Sneijder in the Ronaldo deal. Now his wage demands are beyond United.

Rodwell, Martinez and Defour are/were all targets. Why Fergie didnt bring at least one in – I’d love to know.

If Carrick and Ando’s poor form and Hargo’s injuries continue surely someone will arrive in January.

Alfonso Bedoya - October 4, 2010 Reply

Unregistered User said:
While it’s true that a lot of our midfielders are in a rut I still firmly believe Anderson has what it takes to succeed here.

He’s struggling,just like Carrick is right now but I see a spark in him which makes me believe that he has the balls to establish himself in our midfield.

I don’t know what “spark” you’re on about mate… perhaps it’s the “spark” that lights the big, fat joint in his gob, cause he plays like he’s fuckin stoned.

Ashish - October 4, 2010 Reply

The fact that he was able to dominate the midfield against the likes of Gerrard and Fabregas in his 1st season showed us all that he definitely has something in him.

It’s a pity that he hasn’t been able to build on his performances in his debut season but I still believe there is a chance that he can impress again.

Atleast that’s what I’m hoping for !

Cheers.

RobDiablo - October 4, 2010 Reply

Unregistered User said:
For the record I’m not that discouraged with our 6 wingers, Nani, Valencia, Giggs, Park, Obertan & Bebe aren’t that bad a group.

Let’s see… Nani is improving but often infuriatingly inconsistent, Valencia’s injured, Giggs (Legend) no longer has the pace to breeze past right backs and put in a killer cross, Park is useless as a winger, while Obertan and Bebe have yet to do anything. What encouragement is there to found in this group?

Alfonso Bedoya - October 4, 2010 Reply

RobDiablo said:
Let’s see… Nani is improving but often infuriatingly inconsistent, Valencia’s injured, Giggs (Legend) no longer has the pace to breeze past right backs and put in a killer cross, Park is useless as a winger, while Obertan and Bebe have yet to do anything. What encouragement is there to found in this group?

I must correct you Rob Lad.

“Park is useless as a winger”

Park is useless…

Period!

Alfonso Bedoya - October 4, 2010 Reply

Park was usefull once, when he was “three lung”… he was like a moving obstacle, that opposing players had to dodge and pass around… very tricky for teams that couldn’t pass the ball, and frustrating as fuck for teams that could.

Now he’s just a fuckin bollard!

RobDiablo - October 4, 2010 Reply

Alfonso Bedoya said:
Park was usefull once…

Now he’s just a fuckin bollard!

One of those that goes up and down, right? He spends as much time on the floor as Drogba, but doesn’t contribute offensively when up.

fido - October 5, 2010 Reply

Park has never been a left winger. Fergie messed him up. He is an attacking midfielder. At worst, he could play at right midfield. His best games last season came through the middle and in previous seasons when he played on the right. Same with Nani. There is no question where he’s best position is. The right side and I have always know known that from two seasons ago. Finally he is playing there and we are seeing what he can do. Sometimes Fergie fidgets with player positions and I can understand why. He is trying to get balance or compensate. Too bad with Park, he pushed it too far. He has already played Macheda on the left and Hernandez on the right wing this season! They are not wingers. At least Macheda is a bit versatile but Hernandez is an out and out center forward. I hope it doesn’t become a habit.

uncleknobheadforfucksake - October 4, 2010 Reply

anderson has never ‘dominated’ gerrard, our wins at anfield in the last few years have been flukey smash and grabs after being battered, struggling to keep the ball, rio and vidic playing out their skin and us nicking a goal on a setpiece,

any domination he had of fabregas was that cup game at ot when we0beat an arsenal team that were barely interested

Phil Johnson - October 4, 2010 Reply

Lads,

Just face it – M.U. are past it!

S.A.F.C. are the future!!

uncleknobheadforfucksake - October 4, 2010 Reply

anderson will never be a great player at utd

but might become one if he leaves

but we might as well sell him cause it’ll never happen for us

you couldn’t even list one thing he does well for us

bman - October 4, 2010 Reply

This post could have been written at any time over the past 5 years, and probably was. Our midfield has problems and lots of room for improvement, but it’s also perennially underappreciated. Fletcher and Scholes are still two of the best midfielders in England. Hargo was before he was crocked. You talk about “relying on numbers” as if that’s a sign of weakness. FFS, United is the only top team in Europe to consistently play with only two central midfielders, sign of weakness my arse, that’s a sign of confidence.

The main problem was Owen offering nothing for Fletch, Scholes, and Anderson to work with. Actually no, the main problem is on the left of midfield, we need a genuine left-sided player to give us balance. Not only are Scholes and Fletch usually playing 2 against 3 in the middle, they’re doing it without proper outlets on the left side of the pitch to compensate. Too much reliance on the right side for attacking makes them look limited, when really they are just lacking options.

Carrick’s form has dropped, and Anderson and Hargreaves haven’t worked out well so far. The problem is not that Fergie hasn’t invested in midfield, because he’s invested big money in all three of those players, the problem was that the money was spent poorly.

We are always shite at the start of the season, I don’t know why, it’s infuriating.

fido - October 5, 2010 Reply

If Fergie doesn’t do something about the midfield, I guarantee we will not win the league this season. Over the years even with poor starts, I have been confident that we would improve and come up on top. This season I am not too optimistic. I just pray Hargreaves is jumping over goal posts in training because he would make a HUGE difference. For some reason we have gotten used to being so sloppy in the midfield. Manchester United has never rested on their laurels. Why do a lot people say Carrick is off form. Carrick has never been world class at anything to be honest. He just never used to hurt the team. The only difference is, NOW he does. He was kind of like Allan Smith in New Castle now. Keeping it safe and passing the ball to Scholes, back passing, a couple of side passes etc.

hjshaifful - October 4, 2010 Reply

should have got a Sneijder or Robben (Van der Vaart?!) when we can….yes we have problems in midfield, stupid!?
BUT REALLY Vidic &Co are also a concern when Rio isn’t playing (he rarely does nowadays..& WE LET pique go!)
– & dont forget WE HAD Rooney firing on all cylinders last season & we had Ronaldo (World Player of the Year) the season before…WHO IS THERE TO SAVE US now? Berba? Nani? they aint consistent enough to be the REAL DEAL FOR UNITED…should hv won the 19th title and/or 3rd CL last season (ALL COZ ROONEY hurt his ankle…)

Chrisw - October 4, 2010 Reply

Give Anderson a run in the team in central midfield. We have to make a decision on him. Either he can be the answer to our problems or we sell him and buy someone who is.

And now with Valencia injured play Obertan. I’d prefer to see him on the left wing than Park or Giggs.

mark s - October 4, 2010 Reply

@ rip bri and gary coleman – I agree on Ando. Not been a fan of him since he signed, preferred Nani and saw more potential in him.

@ bman – Problem was Kiko and Owen were rubbish and need to be slated. Owen needs to show he IS still more than a carling cup player. Kiko needs to show he has what it takes cos he won’t get many more opportunities.. Petrucci, King, Diouf, Hernandez, maybe even Bebe on his coattails. Bebe has more pace than Hernadez!! He will be class down our left. I would play him there and say, “Sink or Swim.” Gibson isn’t getting games nor Ando. I am not Ando’s fan but he should play ahead of Carrick. Gibson ahead of Fletch. Say to both of them, ya better improve to play.

Valencia is a massive loss too.

positive note – Defour and De Gea bids are due in june (£12m + £18m?). Both are available and we have 30 mill to spend. We’d get £6m + back by selling one of Park, Carrick, Gibbo, Ando.

Josh - October 4, 2010 Reply

Oh dear, Gibson ahead of Fletcher? Have you ever watched the lad play?

And Defour & De Gea bids are due are they? Save us the inside info routine.

mongoletsi - October 5, 2010 Reply

You want to play Gibson ahead of Fletcher?

Nothing you ever say again will be worthy of any respect.

mark s - October 4, 2010 Reply

Also, let’s admit two things, it’s a long season AHEAD of us.

2 – As there are 31 games left in the league, ‘Pool (of Merseyside not Blackpool…) will be top 10 if not top 6 at the end of it. And we have 31 games to gain four points on a fit and playing well Chelsea. Form will dip for them too.

herbie simms - October 4, 2010 Reply

Anderson is not fully fit and not confident yet coming off a serious injury. It will be the same scenario when Hardgraves plays his first few games, timid, not 100% and got bad knees. How long will he last? Ferdinand with serious back problems, Rooney with an ankle injury that has not healed properly and he still wants to play!
Fergie and everyone else knew of these prblems before the season started, but no world class midfielders came in.
But to United’s credit, they are still an undefeated team and still on the heels of Chelsea.

sheesh - October 4, 2010 Reply

Excellent article. I have nothing else to add as there are some good points that have already been raised on here.

TONY QUIRKE - October 4, 2010 Reply

Absolutel right – the midfield stinks!
Scholes is knackered, Fletcher out of his depth and Gibson will never make it. Give Anderson a few full games and see if he can come good otherwise Fergie, BUY SOME QUALITY PLAYERS!!!
O’Shea, Park and Evans will never have the quality needed for the Premier League so why the young players being given a chance?

Bill - October 4, 2010 Reply

Back to the winger issue. You name a better 6 at any Premier League club. 2 very good starters, 2 experienced heads & 2 promising youngsters

With Nani & Valencia you have 2 players who will mean we won’t have to buy in that position for 5 years at least.

sidney - October 4, 2010 Reply

Unregistered User said:
Back to the winger issue. You name a better 6 at any Premier League club. 2 very good starters, 2 experienced heads & 2 promising youngsters

With Nani & Valencia you have 2 players who will mean we won’t have to buy in that position for 5 years at least.

What about when Valencia comes back and has lost half a yard

captainhormone - October 4, 2010 Reply

at this rate i expect an emotional return to old trafford for Beckham……

Bill - October 4, 2010 Reply

We will see on Valencia, however he is very good at getting his cross in without having to beat the man unlike many wingers.

He also is prepared to change the point of attack when required by passing the ball.

Park is a squad player at best, but is of use away from home. I would have liked to see him play more in the middle of the park. When we beat Milan 4-0 Fletcher, Scholes & Park were really effective as a trio.

herbie simms - October 4, 2010 Reply

I also believe, youngsters Obertan, Macheda and maybe even Hernandez will go out on loan, as they are not quite ready yet. But the most promising is BEBE, he is a star in the making and should get a chance to start.
Fergie should have never let DOUGLAS COSTA get away. Now he is an exceptional young talent, can make it big at United at such a young age. We will have to see how this is all going to play out. Definately should be a few new signings come January.

BenUtd - October 4, 2010 Reply

Instead repeating what has already been said, I’ll put my opinion on each of our midfielders.

Nani/Valencia: Probably the best of the bunch (though Nani is still a little inconsistent), I don’t see any serious problems. Hopefully Valencia’s injury won’t effect his game on his return.

Fletcher: His dip in form looks to be from fatigue. Unfortunately, we can’t afford to rest him at the moment.

Scholes/Giggs: Don’t have the legs to play as many games as they are. They should play more against mediocre opposition and in home games.

Anderson: I feel he should stick around and play. We have nothing to lose on hoping he’ll ‘Do a Nani’. His confidence is still low and only playing will bring out what we expect from him.

Carrick/Park: I really like the two, but it’s more often I feel that they’re not good enough any more. The only way I see Carrick resurrecting his career is elsewhere and Park just doesn’t have the attacking ability, as well as his famous stamina.

Hargreaves: If he can stay fit, he is probably United’s best midfielder in my opinion. We can only pray and watch him play between our fingers.

Gibson: Has an eye for goal and can win games for a team, but he is not the type of player who is good enough to play as regularly as he is. He’ll only ever be a reserve or cup player.

Bebe/Obertan/Eikrem: All three need to play a lot more. The glimpses I’ve seen from the three have been promising and by playing them we might see one or more permanently break through to the first team.

Regarding transfers, I don’t think United have the financial power to buy Sneijder or De Rossi, but players like Javi Martinez, Rodwell and Defour are realistic targets. Other than a goalkeeper for next season and maybe a sneaky bid for another striker, the midfield is the only place that needs building at the moment and should be the number one priority starting in January.

jo sheehama - October 4, 2010 Reply

Good point
s raised on the midfield, believe me or not SAF will not agree with your observation on Flecther. If SAf believe that you are good player even if you are sick he will come and beg you to go and play at a expense of those not given chances to show their talents.

RobDiablo - October 4, 2010 Reply

Unregistered User said:
…and we have 30 mill to spend. We’d get £6m + back by selling one of Park, Carrick, Gibbo, Ando.

Let’s sell all of them and make £24+.

Bill - October 4, 2010 Reply

Selling Park & Carrick would raise about 10-15 mill. I seriously doubt you’d get much for Ando or Gibson.

herbie simms - October 5, 2010 Reply

Park and Carrick making no impact whatsoever.
As for Owen, he does not get the service from the midfield so that makes him look bad. I read an article from Douglas Costa last week and he is saying he is hoping United are still interested in him. He is making a name for himself at the moment. Always in the news for his new club and scoring goals!
Yes, United have a lot of players with question marks hanging over their head. Players with injuries and players not good enough. I wonder how long Fergie will keep Owen? And if ROONEY cannot perform this season, I wonder what will happen to him?

fido - October 5, 2010 Reply

The only reason we are in contention this season is because we have a super manager. I don’t think Mourinhno would handle some of these ordinary players. You have to give it up to Fergie. We have too many basic players and yet we push on. My hat is off.

Danny Salford Red - October 5, 2010 Reply

Up until now i had been sick of all the negativity doing the rounds on all the blogs and had believed in Fergie 110% but I have to say the Van Der Vaart deal for Spurs is making me sick to my stomach. The guy is world class and was available for peanuts. Big Big mistake not getting him just like not getting Sneijder for peanuts. Still Trust fergie 100% however as he always knows best and more often than not is proven right eventually. If only we could turf those ginger parasites out!!!!!!!

Bill - October 5, 2010 Reply

VDV is apparently on 40k a week at Spurs – that & 8 mill transfer fee is surely value in the market!!

Rob - October 5, 2010 Reply

The problem against Sunderland is that we tried to play 4 in midfield with 1 winger (nani). no-one stuck to the left and macheda and owen never got a touch. If we had chosen this formation instead we’d have done much better:

Van der Sar
Rafael Ferdinand Vidic Evra
Fletcher Scholes Anderson
Nani Berbatov Park

Julian - October 5, 2010 Reply

Fergie could have bought in the summer but for some reason didn’t. The cash was there but I think the days of 100k plus a week stars, other than the one’s we have of course, are gone. The budget constraints just don’t allow for it.

There is one possible saving grace on the horizon. If Hargeaves is able to return to action and stays fit it just might go along way to solving the midfield issue. If he can anchor the midfield and at the same time protect the back four – which is what he was bought for in the first place – it might just turn our season into a reasonably successful one.

It’s a big if, though.

S.A.F - October 5, 2010 Reply

You so called Manchester United Supporter are really bloody negative. It is juat seven games and early in the season (FFS!)
pls bare with the team as they find their form.
Comes May we’ll be on top…im sure of it.!

Cheer up!

Mourad - October 5, 2010 Reply

Fantastic article about our current situation, everyday I scratch my head at why we haven’t strenghtened the midfield. Sit Alex says there is no value in the market, but I don’t consider Smalling and Bébé value for money. The money spent on tose two would have bought us Ozil or Van Der Vaart with some change to spare. Why take these gambles on unknown (and somtimes homeless) players who make little or no impact on the team.

herbie simms - October 5, 2010 Reply

Fergie seems to be following the ideas of Arsene Wenger, bring in youngsters and groom them for the future. But the youngsters he is bringing in are not of the same class as the youngsters that Wenger finds and brings to Arsenal.

rewind21999 - October 5, 2010 Reply

Some of the comments made on this site are absolutely ridiculous, the fact of the matter is Sir Alex has too many central midfielders who have failed to live upto expectations such as;

Carrick – over the last two seasons he plays like a passenger who lets the game pass him by for fear of making mistakes, which he still continues to do far too often making him a big liability!!

Verdict – Sell, sell sell

Anderson – Has not lived upto expectations, especially considering his excellent performances in 07-08 season. perhaps he has been hampered by his injury last season and the fact that since he joined us as an attacking midfielder capable of scoring goals and we have used him as a defensive midfielder which i believe has hindered his development.

Verdict – play him in the position which won him so many admirers and plaudits before he came and he will come good.

Hargo – An excellent box to box player with real quality and someone who will make a real difference to our midfield, just a shame he has been plagued with injuries over the last 2 and a half seasons.

Verdict – Fingers crossed he will be back soon injury free to take us to the title…

Gibson – Is not and has never been United quality.

Verdict – Great shot but no Fat Frank!

Guys who should be getting a look in this season…..

Cleverly – should have been given his chance this season in the first team, as his performances in pre- season showed he had the quality to unlock defences and get goals, which is exactly what we need right now.

Magnus Wolff Eikrem – another one who needs first team action as his performances have been top class for a while.

we are cry

rewind21999 - October 5, 2010 Reply

*we are crying out for creativity and youth in midfield, sir Alex seems very reluctant to give these kids a chance and tends to opt for experience, over anything else. Sir Alex needs to wake up and smell the coffee because we cant rely on scholes 35, Giggs 37, Carrick 29 ( going backwards ), Gibson – Never Utd quality, Hargo – Mr. Crock*

Sir Alex needs to remember how our great club began its era of dominance in the 90’s by investing in youth.

Choi - October 8, 2010 Reply

I agree!

sukhy5 - October 5, 2010 Reply

Sir Alex…is that really you?

I’ll never forgive you for letting Paul McGrath go.

Danny Salford Red - October 5, 2010 Reply

Herbie Simms, Please enlighten us as to the players you are talking about at Arsenal that ‘magical’ Wenger has managed to unearth that are so much better than our youngsters?

sidney - October 5, 2010 Reply

Unregistered User said:
You so called Manchester United Supporter are really bloody negative. It is juat seven games and early in the season (FFS!)
pls bare with the team as they find their form.
Comes May we’ll be on top…im sure of it.!

Cheer up!

Ah, blind optimism, how I miss thee

SOCALLED United fan… FFS if you’re anything other than totally elated & content with the club and the success over the last 20 odd years, you’re not a ‘real’ fan

If you go even further and actually criticise the team and the manager, well… quite frankly you’re nothing more than a disgusting plastic that will have to endure hours of boring bollocks about the 80s when we were shit and Liverpool were winning everything. All top reds back then.

Triggs - October 5, 2010 Reply

Equally, if you give the manager and players (based on previous consistent success) the benefit of the doubt you’re “blind” or “deluded”.

sidney - October 5, 2010 Reply

Not blind or deluded, but daft

Moha - October 5, 2010 Reply

United’s midfielders and over all quality of players is degrading slowly. Players are not progressing. Worse, they are backtracking. Darron Gibson is still shooting every ball, Park still keeps running and delivering very little, Anderson is not the same player who filled Schole’s shoes 2 or 3 seasons ago. Maybe United need a better coach other than Mile Phelan.

herbie simms - October 5, 2010 Reply

Most of ARSENAL’S first team are made up of youngsters and they good quality players, despite their age. Arsenal plays very entertaining football but are also very inconsistant because he has too many youngsters in his first team, but they are class players. Fergie is picking up young players also, but after the fact, he finds out they are not good enough, so they go out on loan and maybe the clubs that have loaned them eventually buy them.
Wenger has a good eye for young talent. Fergie used to be good at finding world class young talent, now you see Diouf, Cleverly, Ajose, Wellbeck etc on loan, so that means money has been wasted. Should have bought experienced, world class players to keep the standard at United. I hear now Macheda is going out on loan.

Fred - October 6, 2010 Reply

There’s some great lines in there:

“Even Paul Scholes, who has been fabulous against mediocre opposition this season, found it impossible to impose himself on the game against Sunderland.” 😀

“Darron Gibson continues to shoot at every opportunity unless a safe five yard pass offers itself instead, although the Irishman frequently traps the ball just as far in any case.” 😀

Agree 100% too. Good article. We shouldn’t be playing any less than three central midfielders from now on, it’s too risky. I’d happily see us grind out some 1-goal wins a la the Valencia game, at least until January when super Tom Cleverley returns and inevitably fires us to the title…

danniitronix - October 7, 2010 Reply

Anderson is a truly shit player.

He is worse though his lack of running, skill, passing, enthusiasm and bollocks means that Fletcher and Scholes has to do the work of the side shuffling, ganga smoking, fat cunt of a man, call Anderson.

Watch the games slowly every time Gibson and Anderson play Fletcher and Scholes have to sweep and play the extra man because these two sorry cunts are SHIT.

FootballFarrago - October 7, 2010 Reply

Anderson… He’s the forgotten man, looked really good on his return against Valencia. Stronger,faster and simply better. Now is his time.

@Mandeep Lotay- mark my words, he’ll be good, you’ll feel stupid when he’s winning the World Cup with Brazil in 4 years’ time.

Bill - October 7, 2010 Reply

He might win the world cup, but if he does it will be as often unused squad man. I hope he comes good but he needs to get back to full fitness & show the fire of 2007-8.

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