D.O.B: 25/10/1987 (23)
First Team Squad #28
Rep. of Ireland International
History & Background
Darron Thomas Daniel Gibson, as you all know, is a much maligned United academy product hailing from Derry in Northern Ireland. The 6ft tall midfielder came through the United, and Ireland, youth ranks as a promising kid with a superb passing range and ability.
Gibson made his senior debut in October 2005 before winning the prestigious Jimmy Murphy Award – the award for the United young player of the year, which was won by Will Keane last season. A massive Manchester United fan, the midfielder had impressive loan spells at both Royal Antwerp & Wolverhampton Wanderers before being given a proper chance of fulfilling his childhood ambition of stepping onto the Old Trafford pitch. Although he represented Northern Ireland at youth level, the young Irishman was heavily criticised for changing allegiances and representing the Republic of Ireland on the senior international stage, who he has now made 14 appearances for.
The Boy Certainly Likes to Shoot
Performances So Far
The Football Manager wonder-kid has made half a century of appearances for the United first team and frustrated all United fans greatly with his polarized performances: the boy has shown so many glimpses of quality which have been sadly diluted by other poor performances. Upon his return from Wolves, where he performed very well, Darron made his Premier League debut against Stoke in November 2008 and had a FIFA Club World Cup Medal within a month of his debut.
In his first two full seasons, the Irishman made 36 appearances and scored 8 goals. Darron’s best attribute was his ability to pick a fifty yard pass and find his man consistently, as a midfield maestro. Coming back from a whole season in the Championship, the boy seemed to gain great confidence and improve his fitness, as his ‘lack’ of mobility has always been seen as his biggest downfall. Gibson produced some impressive displays when given the opportunity, scoring a few goals, but he started to annoy spectators with his over-enthusiasm to shoot. Nonetheless he was rewarded for his efforts with a start, alongside Paul Scholes, in the 08-09 Carling Cup Final against Tottenham, where he played the full 90 minutes before being replaced by Ryan Giggs in ET – leaving him with two medals in his first full season with the first team, and a new contract lasting him till the end of next season. Gibson got more opportunities in his second season, with Anderson’s long-term injury lay off, and was a useful squad player. Surprisingly, he began the Champions League 1/4 Final, 2nd Leg, against Bayern Munich and opened the scoring before United were ultimately knocked out.
With the return of Anderson, Gibson has found his involvement in the team reduced and he has only featured in 8 Premier League games so far this term for a grand total of 381 minutes, with his only goal coming against Scunthorpe in the Carling Cup – thanks to a shot accuracy south of 35%. During these performances, the central midfielder has come under increasing criticism for his persistent need to shoot rather than continuing to pass the ball about. It seems he has become more interested in slamming a ball into the back of the net now rather than pinging a 50 yard ball to the wing. His passing accuracy in the Premier League (Opta Stats) stands at 86% in between Carrick’s 88% and Fletcher’s 84%. More worryingly (considering that Roy Keane is his hero) is the fact that in the 27 duels on the ground (or in the air) that he has had this year, he has come out the worse on 18 of those occasions; this lack of competitiveness suggests that either his fitness or confidence has dwindled.
What the Future Holds
The next six months will be key to what the future holds for the 23 year-old midfielder, with his contract expiring in 18 months time. The Reds will be reluctant to let Gibson go for free in the future and so will need to decide whether to sell him or reward him with a new contract, if they deem he has developed further and warrants a place in the squad (balancing the 25 man and homegrown requirements). The Ireland manager, Giovanni Trappatoni, has repeatedly implored Gibson to leave Old Trafford in order to get more match time and further his development. This idea has been strongly rebuked by Man United fan, Gibson, who is quite content to remain a squad player at the best club in the world – a feeling shared by Sir Alex Ferguson who is a fan of the lad.
Darron Gibson is undoubtedly a talented footballer, shown with his international experience, but the question is whether or not he is not only Premier League quality but also Manchester United quality. At 23, the player cannot be considered a youngster anymore and must be treated like any other player. Players finding themselves in similar situations, where they cannot demand a regular starting place, have gone off to clubs elsewhere to guarantee first team football. Players such as Rossi, Pique & Shawcross have prospered upon leaving the club and so this may be something Gibson should consider, as I feel his game is deteriorating at the moment. I know Darren Fletcher overcame a lot of criticism initially when he entered the first team frame but that was at a younger age than Gibson is now. I consider Gibson to be in a similar position to Kieran Richardson, where a very talented player just cannot get more than the odd appearance despite their desperation to do so.
Is he destined to face Kaka & Co on the European Stage, or mid-table mediocrity?
5/10 Darren is a great footballer and is another successful product of United’s impressive academy which will profit (either financially or on the pitch) whichever route he goes down next season. Unlike other players, Gibson seems content to sit on the bench, due to an admiration of the club rather than any lack of ambition. Nevertheless, considering the talent United have coming through the ranks at the moment (Pogba, Morrison & possibly Petrucci) and our need for a ready-made Scholes replacement (Modric, Sneijder or Gotze), I realistically see his future away from Old Trafford. If United did decide to let Gibson go there would be a flurry of interest from mid table clubs such as Aston Villa, Sunderland and Bolton, but Darron’s future lies in his own hands, lets see what happens!