07 Aug An Imbalanced Squad?
Here we are, it’s the week leading up to a new Premier League season with new hope and sky high expectations. After a couple of tight summers we are in a position where our manager has had a proper pre-season after a full year at the club trying to implement his ideas and methods (or Philosophy if you like it that way). It seems like funny that it’s a massive relief for us cause we, more than anyone else enjoyed the benefits of stable management under the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson.
We are also on the threshold of what promises to be a staggeringly important season in the history of Manchester United. Like most modern clubs we too have found chucking money at a problem is the solution or at least the road to redemption. It is my hope that in the long run we don’t fall off the top like how Liverpool have since 80’s or like we did during the 70’s and 80’s and its vitally important to always be there and thereabouts near the league championship race like Real Madrid , Barcelona or Bayern Munich have . They may not always win but they are there year on year challenging for the biggest gongs in football.
If it was told (due to some strange rule ) United could sign only 1 player during the summer window we all would sure have wanted to buy a proper CB and ensure we didn’t have to rely on our goalkeeper as much during most times of games.
The truth is we looked shocking at the back most times last season and its fair enough to say LVG underestimated the task at hand. Jones and Rojo always seem to have at least 1 mistake in them , the less said of Evans the better ( Just how Fergie felt he would be better than Pique is what I can never understand) , Smalling though has shown signs of improvement and he could be a major player this year.
From pre-season its quite clear that the idea has been to play Blind as LCB and probably been in discussion and planned for some time now and also maybe explains the logic behind going after Right sided CBs in Ramos/Hummells as opposed to a more Left sided CB as the requirement seemed .
The truth though is we have hit a brick wall and the manager is happy to play around the issue rather than solve it. The speed and decisiveness of the Depay, Basti and Morgan signings and the deftness of the Darmian signing has not been on show since and smacks of LVG feeling he can do without a CB or that he feels Smalling is good enough to lead the line at the back and be our commander but let’s face it Smalling/Blind is hardly going to send a shiver down Costa’s or Aguero’s spine let alone the nightmare situation of that pairing vs. Messi/Neymar/Suarez or Ronaldo/Bale/Benzema.
Darmian seems a top notch acquisition and we can fully expect a terrific season from Shaw as the flying fullback taking us back to the days of the tireless Dennis Irwin. For me, I’m very much expecting huge things from the Nair in the United team Patrick McNair. He seems to be so elegant on the ball and his display at the Bridge was so good I mean imagine a 19yr old striding out from the back like that at a venue like The Bridge. The boy has guts.
From an era of severe drought to the cusp of a flood. That’s the best way to describe our current health with regards to our midfield with LVG having from Basti/Carrick/Herrera/Fellaini/Morgan to choose from for 3 possible positions ( assuming we play 4-3-3 as hinted by the manager) and add to that the presence of Young/Mata/Depay for the 2 positions by the side of the central striker along with the coming through talents such as Januzaj and Perreira and we are full of options ( at the time of writing we haven’t yet signed Pedro , assuming it’s a formality) and LVG has a midfield strong enough to see through 4 competitions we will be in this year. Basti and Carrick are likely to fight it out for the No.6 position in front of the defense though owing to their age we may need to re-invest again next summer in that position. Morgan Schneiderlein will be the box to box midfielder who competes with Fellaini leaving the hugely talented Herrera to get the goals from midfield for the team.
The Centre forward position or safe to say the Wayne Rooney position is an area we are once again short of quality in. Gone are the Fergie days of 4 center forwards , LVG seems to be happy to trust Mata/Young/Depay and possibly Pedro to get him the goals alongside what will arguably be The Season of Rooney’s career . With loads of talent and energy the way he burst through at Everton we all expected him to be up there with Ronaldo and Messi and its safe to say he hasn’t hit those heights, maybe the fact that he’s been ready to sacrifice for the squad has held him back to a certain extent, now though there is no excuse. Ably supported by what looks a beautiful midfield and trusted by the manager Rooney should deliver and deliver big this season.
The questions though still exist. What is he picks an injury and is out for long? What if like 2010-2011 he gets injured in the business end of the season and it costs us badly? Who else can get us 25-30 goals we need? Chica? Wilson ? Safe to say we have to put all our eggs in a Rooney shaped basket and that’s where the need for a CF to take the pressure of him exists. LVG could have kept RVP on for a season or two but there is the looming presence of one particular Swede that might prop up , true that he and LVG don’t see eye to eye but Ibra could be the backup guy to Rooney and help get us some crucial goals ( like the Henrik Larrson cameo in 2006-07).
All said and done though we must never forget that in the summer of 2006 when we sold our leading goal getter in Van Nistelrooy and signed an overpriced Carrick from Spurs most people questioned the squad’s balance and from where we would get the goals . We had a nascent partnership of Vida-Rio in CB and Evra (who was subbed at Half Time on his debut and asked to observe English football) at LB we had Carra-Scholes in midfield and Ronaldo on the back of the shenanigans at the World Cup with him and Rooney but we all know how that year went and it was one of the most thrilling league challenges in PL history.
So lets keep those hopes high and the red flag flying even higher. Hopefully we have a champagne drenched season ahead of us. Trust in Louis Van Gaal and his Red Army
Author Vivek Surendran is working at L&T Constructions in Bangalore and hails from Chennai. Watching United since 2002 and just 25 years old 😉 #TakeHimHomeUnitedRoad