The benefit of hindsight. Oh what a wonderful thing. If you could look back at the decisions you or your team have made, were they the correct ones? Would you change them?
Looking at the season so far and the events that have transpired, I think to myself, were United correct in the purchases they made? Did we miss out on the one big name that could have made the difference?
Anyone who knows anything about football and followed the last transfer window will know exactly which players I am referring to. But that is not the focus, I’d rather analyse what we do have and their contribution to the team thus far.
Starting with the biggest amounts paid for our footballers and working down, we commence with our speedy new winger, Ashley Young. Most people were not jumping up and down at the prospect of this Premier League proven quality player joining the ranks. However, since his arrival, he has managed to win over a number of doubters with some great goals, assists and general contribution to the team.
Although brought in for his set piece & crossing ability, he only seems to be able to deliver a top quality ball 1 of 4 which is not a good enough return. Young also tends to take that second too long to put the ball in which allows defenders to block the shot or cross. I’m sure Fergie will sort that out sooner rather than later. He has plenty room for improvement, and although his ability should not be doubted, he still has some way to go to satisfy the price tag. An injury hindered his progress in recent times and he looked slightly out of form just before, but looking forward I believe he will push on and play a crucial role for United this season.
Next on the list is the mercurial young talent that is Phil Jones. I cannot heap enough praise on a player who initially worried about whether he would get enough game time at United in his first season. It so turns out he has played the most out of everyone in the squad! This 19 year sensation has shown he is not only up for the challenge, but ready to embrace everything that is United. His performances thus far have been nothing short of exemplary, defending with courage and carrying the ball up from the back with a presence and determination.
Another positive characteristic about the guy is his versatility and ability to adapt into different roles. With United’s current injury problems, this is working to the team’s benefit. However, I believe Fergie needs to start playing him in one position more consistently; otherwise in the long run his versatility may become more of a hindrance than an asset. Once again I state that I’m sure Fergie knows this already and is merely seeing what options are available from this awesome talent. Personally I see him with Smalling in the middle of the defence for the next 10 years; however it's good knowing when injuries hit, we have options. And for the record, he is not a midfielder.
David De Gea. I have absolutely no doubt that he is the right choice for us and will make making many match winning saves for years to come. You can see how well he reads the game, distributes the ball and makes sharp shot-stopping saves. Yes, he may still be a tad careless and yes he did start he career with a few fumbles, but look how strong he has come back. Does that alone not show the character of the guy? What were you doing at 20 years old – it surely wasn’t recovering your form, settling into a foreign country where you can’t speak the language and playing for one of the biggest teams in the world in front of 75 000 fans?
De HEYA has a bright future ahead and hopefully the lure of going back to Spain doesn’t come around for the next 15 years (at least).
And I end off with the combined analysis of Danny Welbeck & Tom Cleverley. As I mentioned, these “new singings” have given United a breath of fresh air, with their youthful exuberance injected perfectly into the team. Mates on and off the field, they have both staked a claim for starting berths in the team.
Unfortunately, due to our lack of quality in the middle of midfield, there has been a huge amount of additional pressure placed on Cleverley. Admittedly, he did make a difference in the games he has played thus far, but he is still young and needs to be given time. He is a part solution to our midfield dilemma. We still need the “experienced x-factor match-winner” for him to learn from. Fletch & Carrick have the experience but no x-factor, Anderson (sadly) is not one to look up to and Giggs cannot keep going forever.
For Welbeck the reality of having 7 strikers available presents a different type of pressure. It’s the situation whereby you have to take your chance when the opportunity presents itself. I believe he has done just that and done so with a touch of class. Both these players will part of the English foundation of United, along with Smalling, Jones & Rooney, for the next decade.
So looking at the progress of our signings I think they have all contributed and shown that they have the quality to succeed. News just broke today regarding Anderson’s latest injury blow which rules him out until February next year. Cleverley is currently sidelined too. Once again, the concern is completely focussed on the centre of the park, an area which Fergie did not sufficiently address and we may pay the consequences for it.
Moving our best player out of position to compensate for the missing quality surely proves this? Rooney is class and can play anywhere, and hopefully when he reaches 30 he can drop back into midfield, but now is not the time. We have options everywhere except in the engine room of the team. Let’s trust in Fergie once more and try push through with what we have.
So in hindsight, if Fergie knew what he knew now, would he have pushed harder for Sniejder or Modric?