Time to take a chance

In the past few weeks, despite Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson’s assertions to the contrary, it has become obvious that the club simply does not posses a central midfield pairing worth talking about. Despite the early pace set by youngsters Tom Cleverley and Anderson, United has few central midfield options that can challenge domestic rivals, let alone those of Barcelona. This is especially true since the pair’s lengthy injury absence took hold.

In contrast to Cleverley’s performances during the late summer, the growing dissatisfaction with Michael Carrick continues around Old Trafford. Although the Geordie’s performance against Swansea City 10 days ago was an improvement, it was a ‘needle in a hay-stack’ full of dismal showings. Carrick’s lack of pace and dynamism, and his predictability, remains a source of frustration for many followers of the club.

Indeed, even the once revered ‘Scottish player’, Darren Fletcher, has begun to bear the brunt of some criticism for his lack of guile and, at times, poor passing. Despite the Scot’s enduring endeavour, Fletcher has never been the most proficient player technically. Too often this has been apparent over the last two years. One can attribute Fletcher’s muted displays to a prolonged period on the sidelines, but what is now clear is that there is little more to come from the player that fans have not already seen. Fletcher’s game is no longer improving rapidly, and worse, his form has begun to stagnate.

Anderson and Cleverley started brightly this season; the pair was simply magnificent during August and early September. Cleverley was a breath of fresh air, while Anderson had seemingly found a partner who could bring out the best in the Brazilian. Since then both players have picked up long-term injuries. To many, Cleverley’s absence until Christmas could be the downfall of United’s trophy ambitions this season.

It is rare that a player is missed so much at United. Rarer still that this is true of Cleverley while he remains a rookie. After all, when Cristiano Ronaldo left the club, United survived. Ditto Cantona and a host of other stars. Yet, without the young Englishman’s presence, the Reds have seemingly very few options of quality.

Some say that Ryan Giggs return from injury could be the team’s saviour, but for many that sentiment is a sad reality for a club of United’s stature. Reliance on a 37-year-old veteran, who can barely manage two games in a week, to be the creative driving force says much.

Then there is youth, perhaps the only stone left unturned by Ferguson in the search for the right midfield balance. The Scot has forever championed the use of youngsters, yet Paul Pogba and Ravel Morrison remain reserve team players at best. To many supporters the situation is increasingly frustrating, with Morrison displaying more creativity against Aldershot Town in the Carling Cup last month than many of United’s regular central midfielders have done in years.

The much-troubled midfielder has been hailed by pundits as the best in a generation, yet is still waiting in the wings for an opportunity. Granted it is still early for Morrison to be thrust into action against the very best, but it is less obvious why the 18-year-old has not yet been utilised in games against ‘lesser’ sides this season.

Likewise, the highly rated Frenchman Pogba is under-used. Indeed, the teenager is reportedly considering his options due to a lack of first-team football after three years at the club. And where the French under-19 international might see the stadium lights at Arsenal once in a while, his chances remain few and far between at Old Trafford.

What chance, then, that the pair might start against Crystal Palace in the Carling Cup this week? While Ferguson name-checked both midfielders on Monday, the Scot has tended to use the tournament to offer fringe players some game time. After all, many predicted that Morrison and Pogba would start against both Leeds United and Aldershot in earlier rounds. They did not.

“Ravel Morrison was in the squad for Wednesday’s game [against Benfica]. He’s a very, very talented boy, of course, and he’ll possibly be on the bench, at least, in midweek,” said Ferguson.

“But I’ve got other players needing a game like Mame Biram Diouf and Federico Macheda. Chris Smalling has come back and I may be able to play him on Wednesday. He’s still young and it’ll be a young squad against Palace. The only area where I’ve got problems is centre midfield. It’s possible I could play Pogba in there but we’ll wait and see. I’ve got enough players to choose from, that’s for sure.”

“I think the League Cup has turned into quite a good tournament. Clubs like United are able to introduce young players and ones who have not been playing regularly in the first team and it’s been good to us over the years. We’ve won two finals at Wembley with young players, which is good going, and I think it’s become an important tournament for us in terms of getting the youngsters an introduction into winning and having an understanding of the progress they’re making.”

The issue is hot topic for many critics. The failure to sign Wesley Sneijder, or another leading midfield name, was always going to be Ferguson’s shortcoming this season. And while this may be true, if there are no players available at a price the club is willing to spend, then somebody else must be offered the chance. Yet, for many fans the sight, for example, of Ji-sung Park chasing shadows in the centre of midfield, or Wayne Rooney’s immense talent wasted as a defensive midfielder, is beyond frustrating.

It is clear that Cleverley has the potential to be one of the world’s best players in the years to come. The player’s handful of games for the club has already demonstrated all the qualities that Ferguson needs, even if the youngster has too often been injured in his short career. But as Cleverley’s rise illustrates, sometimes Ferguson simply must take a chance on the players at his disposal. Certain youngsters will hope the Scot heeds the advice this week.

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Comments

  1. RedDevilInArizona says

    It is long passed tiime that some of the young player get a run-out if for no ther reason than to determine if they have what it takes to play for United in the Premiership. Cup games provide the perfect platform for them to show off their skills and if they can play within the United framework. If they do not have what it takes to play for United then let find out now and make adjustment for upcomming seasons.

  2. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Commenter said:
    It is long passed tiime that some of the young player get a run-out if for no ther reason than to determine if they have what it takes to play for United in the Premiership. Cup games provide the perfect platform for them to show off their skills and if they can play within the United framework. If they do not have what it takes to play for United then let find out now and make adjustment for upcomming seasons.

    How’s the weather?

    Sunny?

    • TheCANTONA says

      Yeah, its nothing new here. We won title seasons after seasons yet some so-called fans still questioned him. Really NOTHING new here…

  3. Sidsidney says

    There should be no ‘now or never’ ultimatum hanging over young players. Parachuting them into the big time too soon could ruin them – especially if they’re hyped to fuck

    Thing is Fergie is guilty of adding to the hype and the pressure when he insisted we don’t need to sign a top midfielder because we have Pogba

    That makes him out to be the solution to all our midfield problems, and that’s a shitload of pressure for a young kid to deal with

    Things are so bad in that part of our game that if/when Pogba finally appears in the first team and doesn’t deliver consistently, he’s gonna feel the wrath of the fans and the press

    • Damian Garside says

      i read your posting and I thought: maybe that’s what Sir A is doing all of the time, maybe it’s his primary motivation: to deflect criticism away from himself. So if Pogba is selected and lined up to be the new midfiled general and fails: we tink that he isn’t delivering what we know he has because Sir Alex told us so. Talk about devious.

      But what about if Pogba succeeds dramatically: wouldn’t it be just like Sir Alex to choose Carrick ahead of him for the next game?

      • Andrew says

        Absolute rubbish……Fergie pumps up their tyres to keep their spirits up so they don’t get their heads turned by cunto teams like Real Madrid etc when they’re not playing first team football…there’s an element of protecting the strategy and his decisions granted but he will take far more stick if Pogba doesn’t work out than Pogba will. I’m sure SAF is aware of that and probably couldn’t give two fucks either

        • says

          Hi Andrew. It’s nice to see words used in a way that passes for intelligence.

          Why might their heads get turned: did you ask yourself that, Oh clueless one? Maybe because things are no longer so great for young players at this club.Or maybe the Glazers get tempted as soon as they see Spaniards flashing cash.

          Now in all your reading and in all your whatever you did to attain this great wisdom — did you never come across a sticky old proverbial saying about hiding light under a bushel?

  4. squigs says

    danniitronix said:
    its what the fans have been telling taggart for years. nothing new here.

    And he is right to tell those who question his wisdom to shut up.

  5. says

    sidney said:
    There should be no ‘now or never’ ultimatum hanging over young players. Parachuting them into the big time too soon could ruin them – especially if they’re hyped to fuck

    Thing is Fergie is guilty of adding to the hype and the pressure when he insisted we don’t need to sign a top midfielder because we have Pogba

    That makes him out to be the solution to all our midfield problems, and that’s a shitload of pressure for a young kid to deal with

    Things are so bad in that part of our game that if/when Pogba finally appears in the first team and doesn’t deliver consistently, he’s gonna feel the wrath of the fans and the press

    i’m completely of the other view. i wld rather pogba, morrison et al fall falt on their arse trying with a 10 week run and we loose points and every trophy than perserve with the current dross.

    look at what you are saying Anderson – 4 fucking years of shit, Carrick since Moscow has been a traveller, Fletcher is burn’t out and Park’s legs are going too. Giggs can just about play 30 mins per two weeks – yet that is better than giving Poggy and Morrison a run out. that is insane.

    how come fabregas, wilshere, ramsey, song – and to a lesser extent walcott can come into a squad and perform as good as – and if not better than estb. first team players.

    the reason is that Wenger fucks them out – viera, hleb, silva, etc all fucked out – Wenger gives his youth a chance – he trusts them. and if they don’t perform he fucks them out – gibbs, muamba etc.

    rooney was given a chance at what 17 by Moyes?

    taggart is not lacking in bollocks but he is deluded – he thinks that the current midfield is acceptable. it is not – it is not fwd thinking or progressive and is just about effective and more often than not ineffective.

    if you are going to perpetuate a gill-fergal campaign of not enough decent targets who want to come to United fine, I believe that with what happened with Ozil but for then not to take a chance on our youth, is criminal. It’s just plain bollocks.

    my last example is Lucas. Did you see how Mr. Mongo, Lucas, DESTROYED Silva and the rest of the Citeh midfield. This is Anderson’s best friend, maligned by Scouse supporters for 2 years and now loved. 6 fucking million quid for a proper ball winner and enforcer – and he is becoming very good.

    nine times out of 10, youth will take the chance – if you are good enough you are old enough and the fact that Poggy is saying play me now or I will fuck off, shows that he is hungry. Morrison is a fruit cake but at least put him on the bench – give him 10 mins, see how he reacts?

    fergal’s delusion is matched by his complete lack of business sense. if his targets are not available what fucking chance does he have of getting them next year. the facts is barca and real with Citeh get first dibs – cash, rep, allure – like it or lump it, that is what it is. so given then marquee investment will be secondary in the next few years why not actively invest and promote the youth.

    why not send poggy and morrison out on loan to sunderland – Brucey cld use them – get them battle hardened like Clev so they are ready to hit the ground running. he has done fuck all on that front.

    perserving for another season with caz, park, fletch continues to be a backward step.

    • vlad says

      Well yeah prolly Cleverley sustained an injury on loan because he was not used as a long-term player.

      I fully agree about giving the run to the youth though.
      In the past SAF used to show the door to old players a lot too, that’s how ’92 class appeared.

      Give chance but not loan.

    • RedKamer says

      Wow! Now that’s a rant!But…six years without winning anything just to give “Poggy” et al a run?! I am not sure some of the “fans” will cope.

    • TheCANTONA says

      What have Arsenal won with those kids? Oh yes The Emirates Cup right? No need to rush the youngsters, even the Class of ’92 made their grade in 95/96, when they’re 20 or 21 years old.

  6. rolo says

    What have arsenal won with those kids you retard? What have utd won with those carthorses in the past few years??
    fergie knows what he`s doing you stupid gooner prick…

  7. Pikey McScumPikey McScum says

    Commenter said:
    What have arsenal won with those kids you retard? What have utd won with those carthorses in the past few years??
    fergie knows what he`s doing you stupid gooner prick…

    Ooh, I like this one! Has some fire in his loins

    x @ rolo

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