Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Future Planning: Looking to "Summer":Possible Outs & Positions to Strengthen

Possible Outs:

Ritchie de Laet   Ritchie faces the unenviable task of trying to surpass Patrice Evra & Fabio at Left back or Rafael & John O'Shea at Right back. Although he is getting game time on loan in the lower leagues, playing for Portmouth is no indicator of potential to play at the very top level. His ability to play anywhere across the back 4 could be deemed sufficient to warrant a place in the squad next season, and his selection in the 25 man squad for both the title run-in and the Champions' League knock-out stages shows he may yet have a future. 

Micheal Carrick  Described by many a football journo as a mundane, ineffective passer of the ball, Carrick was seen as a luxury buy at the time of his acquisition, but true to form, he was the final piece required for Sir Alex's 3rd title winning squad.His accurate short and long range passing was exactly what was needed to feed the attacking skills of Rooney, Ronaldo and Tevez, as he acted as the conduit between defense and attack. His decision making skills, vision and accuracy of passing were of special use to the counterattacking style United favoured in the Champions League, and alongside Hargreaves and Scholes, formed the basis for the 07/08 Champions League victory. He played an instrumental midfield role in United's hat-trick of domestic titles, even chipping in with some vital goals that secured narrow wins.

Darron Gibson
The last lad from the academy to successfully break into the first team squad, Gibson is without doubt a talented footballer. As most fans remember, he possess a power packed right boot, and is not afraid of shooting from upwards of 20 yards. His passing game is seen by many as a weakness, but is constantly improving. When deployed alongside two other central midfielders, Gibson has shown flashes of inspiration, vision and technical brilliance, a role that he has grown into as he gained  experience. Although he is only 23, (central midfielders really only mature and reach the peak of their powers at 25/26) the extent of his potential may not be deemed high enough to warrant a place in next seasons squad.

Patrice Evra
Having completed 5 trophy laden years at United, rumours surround the world's number 1 left back's future at the club, with stories appearing in both the broadsheets and the tabloids that he may yet seek pastures new in search of a fresh start and a different challenge. Having won a hat-trick of Premier League titles, two Carling Cups, and a Champions League medal, he may have already decided upon moving to Spain, where Real Madrid are looking to strengthen their defense. Getting anything upwards of 10million, in my opinion, would represent good business for the club.

Wayne Rooney
The talismanic striker of last season was seemingly replaced by a troubled twenty something lad over the summer, and although he has broken an 8 month barren streak with a brace against Aston Villa, he has been well below his world beating best for most of that time. Given his transfer tantrum back in October, which resulted in a new contract with greatly improved terms, questions can seriously be raised as to his long term  commitment to the sides fortunes. Being deployed on the left side of midfield so as to make space for Berbatov cannot be good for his confidence, nor his rediscovery of form.  Given the need for squad rebuilding, it may even be deemed prudent to do as Liverpool have done and sell off the highest value asset to use the funds to re build the squad. In my opinion, any offer of over 60mil is well worth considering seriously.

Positions to Strengthen 
GK- at least two required, esp if TK leaves, because having Lindegaard and Amos isn't enough back-up. and we don't know when/if Anders is first choice material. Neuer, Adler, Lloris, Rui Patricio, Stekelenburg, Akinfeev, De Gea, & Reina are all possible targets.  
Left back - Fábio Coentrão is widely tipped to join Fabio da Silva at Carrington, while  Sir Alex has even watched Emilio Izaguirre in the flesh.
Centre back-If Brown is sold/released, it may be time to buyback Shawcross &/or look for another continental based underpriced diamond in the rough ala Vidic. Subotic & Hummels look good, but Dortmund may only be willing to sell for top ( read inflated) dollar.
Central Midfield- given United needed at least 1 more player at the start of the season, Carrick, Hargreaves, Gibson and Scholes would leave a massive whole in the squad, which would require significant financial outlay. The only name even remotely linked, has been Steven Defour who would would still represent a gamble.  Players of the ilk of Pastore, Hamsik ( who's recently gone off the boil) Hernanes, Paulo Henrique- Ganso, would be great to see, but it would be interesting to see how they adapt to the rigours of the English game. YoungstersTunnicliffe, Norwood and Pogba may get some game time if deemed up to scratch, though that eventuality is slightly worrying.

Left Wing- Ferguson may be willing to persist with the combination of Obertan/Bebe/Nani/Park and Giggs,but if it were possible, a player like Edin Hazard or Alexis Sanchez may tempt the manager into unlocking the bank vault. He may also, however, simply promote Ravel Morrison, move Fabio further up field, or use Cleverley on/from the left.  

Striker - undoubtedly the hardest position to buy for, Rooney leaving would be massive news around the world ( not just in footballing circles), and would require the acquisition of both a creative force, and a goal scoring finisher. Having Hernandez on the books and developing magnificently is a great consolation, but we'd require at least two strikers to replace Owen, Macheda, Welbeck and Diouf regardless of Wayne's future.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Future Planning: Looking to "Summer":Probable Outs:

With the January Transfer window closing on Monday, with seemingly very little business done on United's part, fans have been forced to speculate about the possible comings and goings in the next transfer window. Anders Lindegaard was bought with almost no fanfare, and we've hardly noticed the players leaving Carrington on loan to the lower leagues. With Gary Neville having announced his retirement with immediate effect, Edwin van der Sar announcing he's finishing his own 20 year career at the end of the season and Scholes and Giggs entering the final phase of their respective careers, (with Scholes still undecided on his future past June) Sir Alex might have a lot of squad rebuilding to do. 

Probable Outs: 
Tomasz Kuszscak; all indicators point to United looking elsewhere for edwin's long term replacement, and with Tomasz expressing his desire for either a crack at the position or a move away for more playing time, I fear United will allow Kuszscak to leave for  about 5million.

Wes' goal Vs Liverpool
Wes Brown; having supposedly fallen out with the manager, Wes hasn't played a game this year and hasn't played many games this season. Having suffered through some bad luck with injuries and positional changes, he's fallen down the pecking order, now behind Rio, Vidic, Smalling and Evans for the centre back positions and is also behind Rafael O'Shea and even Fabio at Right back. Although Sir Alex has come out and said he wouldn't be sold in January and that he's still the best natural English defender, it could be that as Ritchie de Laet, Jonny& Corry Evans progress Wes may be squeezed out for 5/7millionto a club that can guarantee him a starting place.

Owen's cool Shootout penalty in Moscow
Owen Hargreaves; has had a torrid time with injuries since his 17million move to United from Bayern in May 2007. Out of contract in the summer, he is expected to be offered a play as you play deal, but if he does make a comeback in the final stages of the season, could be offered a better deal by a smaller club, or could go overseas to a slower/gentler league. This would present a great loss for the squad, as he was instrumental in United's 07/08 Champions League victory, having scored in the penalty shootout in the teeming Moscow rain.

Carrick, Valencia and Owen celebrate the winner vs City.
Micheal Owen; Having scored, that memorable goal vs City, a Champions' league hatrick vs Wolfsburg and many others in his first season at United, Owen's playing time and significance has been remarkably reduced as a consequence of the aquisition and success of Javier Hernandez. With his contract coming to an end at the end of the season, and clubs in the lower the United looking for a proven goalscorer, it was surprising to see Sir Alex hold on to Micheal throughout the January transfer window. Any number of clubs would be willing to increase Micheal's wages next season if they can sign him on a Bosman, however, Fergie may look to sign him on to a longer deal if  the younger talents are deemed not good enough, or not ready for United, or if the Glazers are unwilling to fund any big fee aquisitions.
The goal that helped win the 08/09 Barclays Premier League  
Federico Macheda Kiko exploded onto the scene with this goal against Aston Villa,  but has since stagnated, through lack opf matches, injuries and according to Sir Alex, an attitude of "I've made it". Fergie asked Kiko to go on loan to a Premier League club ( ala Cleverley, Welbeck, Diouf) but instead of listening to the wise one, accepted his agents advice and is playing for Sampdoria in Serie A, with an option to purchase, negotiated into the deal. My sources in Italy say he's almost certain to be purchased outright, as he's showing good touch and skill for a young lad in Serie A. In my opinion, United should be able to get around 10mil for him, and even then it may become a situation United live to regret, as he could be Giuseppe Rossi Mk 2. 

Mame Diouf has scored 1 goal in 6 appearances for the United first team, and scored 6 in 23 on loan at Blackburn. While there, Diouf has shown enough quality to be a useful player in the Barclays' Premier League, and contributes with both goals, assists and in approach play. However, he is yet to show the game changing potential that United strikers must possess to make a difference. Whether this is something that will emerge after more games is unknown, but i think Mame's career will flourish if he continues to get games in the Premier League, which may require him to either continue to be loaned, or be sold.