Every team needs that sort of player that make the opposition quake in their boots. The type of player that will force his opponent to commit, gamble and eventually crumble. The type of player that, when the other team’s manager reads out the opposing eleven, you hear a unified sigh throughout the dressing room: you know it’s going to be a long afternoon as soon as you spot his name on the team sheet.
It doesn’t really come down to technical ability or passing range, it comes down to your willingness to combat your opposition to the ground. Roy Keane, even though underrated, was never the most technical player. However, when teams saw his name on the team sheet, they knew what was coming. That alone won games. The fear and the anticipation, knowing that across the pitch stands a man who doesn’t think twice before sacrificing his body for his team. Manchester United have lacked that. A man that can dominate a game just by being who he is. That man can be Marouane Fellaini.
If there’s something fans have complained about for the past years, it’s United’s lack of presence in midfield. Despite catching a lot of grief, Sir Alex Ferguson did try to address the issue several times in his last few seasons at Old Trafford. Owen Hargreaves was unlucky, so was Darren Fletcher and Anderson never fit the role to begin with. The emergence of Tom Cleverley gave United a new perspective to how the midfield was to be run, while Phil Jones, who really is a centre back, was the only pure physical specimen when called upon in midfield. This has left Michael Carrick with the herculean task of controlling a midfield by positioning himself excellently, balancing the midfield and defence and acting as a deep-lying playmaker. A test which he has passed with flying colours, but that perhaps needs a bit revamping under David Moyes.
Although Carrick controls a game from the deep, even he has seem himself being combatted to the ground by the likes Yaya Touré. When faced with intense pressure from teams such as Man City, Liverpool and Everton, that task becomes too great even for Carrick. This is where Marouane Fellaini comes in. At 6’4” and with the frame of a barn door, there’s only one adjective that could describe him at the heart of Manchester United’s midfield: Brobdingnagian. Despite not being credited for it, Fellaini levels out his lack of pace with a high footballing IQ. He’ll position himself where he thinks things will happen. This may also be the reason why David Moyes used him as an offensive midfielder for a great part of the 2012/2013-season. As midfields would be running at Carrick and Fellaini, they’d face a battering ram of gigantic proportions in Fellaini before Michael Carrick elegantly sweeps away what Fellaini misses, somewhat in a similar manner to how Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand made their partnership in the heart of defence function.
But this is midfield, right? And Fellaini adds plenty of things to a Manchester United midfield that severely lacks presence. He’s not a midfield maestro and nor does he need to be. Looking at how Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney interchange in terms of dropping deep and establishing play from the back, Fellaini won’t need to part take in that. He will be called upon to carry the ball between the opposing lines. Again, something which he often did do at Everton, knowing that someone would secure the space left behind.
The undervalued factor, however, is the intimidation he’ll scare out of opposing teams. In his first interview with MUTV after having signed Fellaini, Moyes mentioned how teams absolutely hate playing against Fellaini. United fans will know this all too well having seen United struggle to keep up with the behemoth in the league opener against Everton last season. This is also where the comparison to Roy Keane comes in. Fellaini is no Roy Keane, let’s put that to bed already, but he’s the player you’re looking over your shoulder for. Because you know he’s coming. And you know it’s going to hurt when he gets there.
As the summer transfer window rolls into July, Manchester United continues to be linked with a number of high profile names. Robert Lewandowski, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, and even Edinson Cavani have all been rumored to be on their way to Old Trafford. Most Red Devils supporters would be thrilled to see any of these players in a Manchester United shirt next year, but it would be the arrival of Thiago Alcantara, from FC Barcelona, that would best serve the club. Read more…
Anderson’s exit from Manchester United has long been on the cards, but the midfielder’s recent admission that he could return to his ‘roots’ could see the Premier League leaders step up their interest in Porto midfielder James Rodriguez.
A possible loan deal back to Porto has been mooted, but both player and club will be keen for any move to be permanent.
Anderson has suffered a succession of injuries during his time at Old Trafford, but a collection of poor form, lack of goals and inability to keep the ball has seen the early appreciation of the Brazilian midfielder’s energy and drive quickly dry up.
The player himself has publicly admitted that he has “tried to leave [the club] several times but never managed it”, whilst rumours of a move to Brazil are also steadily increasing.
Anderson has been quoted in Portuguese paper A Bola, as saying that “Porto are the only club I would consider moving back to Portugal for… my past is there” and a return to the Estadio do Dragao could provide the hard-working midfielder with an outside chance of making the Brazil squad for the 2014 World Cup, should he be able to stay clear of injuries.
Manchester United are likely to recoup less than half of the £20 million fee that the Red Devils paid for the Brazilian midfielder back in 2007, but Anderson’s impending departure could help improve Sir Alex Ferguson’s long term pursuit of Colombian midfielder James Rodriguez who has once again excelled in the Liga Sagres.
Rodriguez followed up his title-winning performance of 13 goals in 20 games last season, with eight goals in 17 appearances this time around, as the Dragons once again battle Benfica for the Primeira Liga championship.
Nicknamed ‘El Nuevo Pibe’ by former Colombian great Carlos Valderrama, Rodriguez has been likened to former Manchester United player Cristiano Ronaldo with the player’s dribbling ability, ball control, shot power, creativity and overall speed drawing comparisons.
Rodriguez won the Primeira Liga Breakthrough Player of the Year award last year and the 21-year old is thought to be open to a move to the Premier League leaders.
Sir Alex Ferguson is keen to reengineer his attacking line for next season following the January acquisition of Crystal Palace prodigy Wilfried Zaha and Portuguese winger Nani is another who could leave Manchester United in the summer.
After being priced out of a move for Gareth Bale last season, Sir Alex Ferguson may use the extra Premier League television money to secure a deal for long-term target James Rodriguez, whether Anderson can facilitate a move back to Porto or not.
Centre back, defensive centre midfielder, centre midfielder, attacking centre midfielder. Centre something. That seems to be the priority at Manchester United. A few weeks ago, we needed a centre midfielder; today, according to various reports, we are in need of a centre back.
Whilst both Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic have enjoyed a rather successful season, it is fair to assume that their time at the club is limited. Add to this the fact that Phil Jones seems to be in the process of being moulded as a defensive midfielder, used primarily to shadow and hassle key men in the opposition’s team, it is understandable that a certain doubt has been cast over the strength of Manchester United’s defensive core.
Once the two experienced centre backs decide to call it a day, Manchester United will be left with only two out and out possible starting central defenders: Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans. If you are a regular visitor to this website, you will know that I am yet to be entirely convinced by Chris Smalling and believe that he will only ever be a squad player at Manchester United. Again, as I have also previously stated, I hope he proves me wrong and establishes himself as a great centre-back for the club, but until that day comes, I believe that yes, another centre-back will need to be purchased to replace the two departing veterans; perhaps not this summer, but most definitely the next if they want to remain Premier League favourites. At the moment, United are odds on favourites to reclaim their title with Ladbrokes at whopping 1/200.
The only question is who? Who out there is cheap enough not to break the bank, but good enough to directly fill the big boots of his predecessors? The answer is: there aren’t many.
Kurt Zouma (Saint-Etienne)
If you follow me on Twitter, you will know that I am a huge fan of the imposing youngster. I (fairly) recently wrote an article on him for this website, which you can read here. As stated in said article, I do not believe Kurt Zouma to be entirely ready to make the jump to a starting position in the Premier League. On the other hand, if purchased early and perhaps sent out on loan to gain some experience at another British club for a season or so (coincidentally just around the time a new centre back will be needed), Kurt has the potential to establish himself as one of the great centre backs of his generation.
Nicolas N’Koulou (Olympique de Marseille)
As a defender, Nicolas N’Koulou nearly has it all. He has the pace, the strength, the concentration and the positioning. His only weakness (and even then, he’s not half bad) is his aerial ability. Extremely capable with the ball at his feet, Nicolas isn’t one to shy away from running out of defence and picking out a good pass to one of his teammates further up the pitch. With teams nowadays relying more and more on versatility and ball ability, Nicolas N’Koulou would be an asset to the majority of big teams around Europe and with a reported price tag of £8 million, it is understandable why many teams have already expressed their interest in a player who, were he not playing for a Ligue 1 club, would be valued at around £20 million.
Dedé (Vasco de Gama)
When it comes to the Brazilian league, my knowledge is fairly limited. I know of players, yet I wouldn’t feel entirely comfortable describing their strengths and weaknesses as I only catch one or two games a term. I know Dedé to be a talented centre back but I would much rather let @CheGiaevara, someone who has seen a lot of the big Brazilian, describe him for this article:
“Dedé is a freak of nature. At six feet three inches, with the body of a supreme athlete and the ability to dominate his opponent, he strikes fear in the hearts of attacks everywhere. The general tradition of fullbacks attacking has moulded Dedé into covering the space they leave as well as covering his own. He outmuscles, outruns and often outsmarts his opponent, including one fellow by the name of Neymar. Dedé’s tempo and pace often covers up his lack of positional skills, which could become a problem in the Premier League (see David Luiz). However, he posses the power to move the ball out of the defense, in which he has earned the original nickname “Dedéckenbauer” by the Vasco da Gama faithful.”
Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund)
As you can see, options are running a bit low, yet Hummels isn’t exactly an impossible target. Admittedly, he has recently signed a new contract until 2017 with Borussia Dortmund but Thiago Silva did so with AC Milan a few weeks before signing for Paris Saint-Germain. Manchester United were linked with the German defender around November last year and since then, Barcelona have been the latest club to be linked with the German rock. Still only aged 24 and with 24 caps under his belt for Germany already, Hummels has the ability to be one of the first names on any team sheet around the world. A price tag of over £30 million may be required to acquire his services but as Manchester United saw with Rio Ferdinand, great quality generally comes at a high price.
I recently read an old article on TalkSport, similar to this one, linking Manchester United with the likes of Sergio Ramos and Giorgio Chiellini. Whilst I, along with a vast majority of Manchester United fans, would love to see players of their ability at the club, their price tag would be exorbitant. Even Hummels is more of a wish than a realistic target.
Are there any other defenders I may have missed whom you believe would be an adequate fit to replace Rio and Vidic, all the while consolidating our back line? If so, feel free to leave you suggestions in the comment box below.
Whenever I mention Kurt Zouma on Twitter, I get a few questions regarding who he is and where he plays so here is a short and sweet explanation from an article I wrote for Sport Witness a few months back: “Kurt Zouma, born October 27th 1994, is the perfect example of a meteoric rise in the world of football. Getting his first start at the age of 16 for Saint-Etienne, the French club have never really looked back since. Very quickly finding a place in the hearts of fans due to lively and mature performances, the bulky defender (1.85m/87kg) started 16 games for ASSE, making a grand total of 24 appearances in his first season for the first team.”
Now, as some of you may know, the subject of the ins and outs of football is something that I take a great interest in and the Zouma saga is one I have been following in particular. Why? Simply because I believe that Kurt Zouma is a player destined to achieve great things in the world of football. As the description above shows, Kurt Zouma is a player who started his first team career before most. Now aged 18, Kurt has had a rather unfortunate season with a few niggling injuries. Despite this, he has managed to start 10 games for Saint-Etienne, impressing each and every time.
Now onto the main part and the question most Manchester United fans have on their mind.
Do we need him?
My answer is rather straightforward and simple: Yes. Manchester United cannot afford to pass up yet another cheap and extremely talented player in the summer. The list has grown too long and depressing.
Whilst many view Chris Smalling as the natural replacement for Rio Ferdinand, I do not. Despite impressing lately, I firmly believe that Chris Smalling will remain a squad player at Manchester United, filling in for the likes of Rafael at right-back and for the centre-back pair. For me, there is one perfect player to replace Rio and that person is Kurt Zouma. Before you all get your pitchforks out and start making effigies out of Anderson’s body with my name on it, let Chris Atkins from The Elastico explain to you why Zouma has what it takes to be successful wherever he goes:
“When it comes to describing Zouma’s style of play, it would be easy to over-emphasise the physical attributes that he brings to the team. After all, he is a man-mountain, as well as being blessed with acceleration that belies his sizeable frame. However, it should not be ignored that the centre-back’s game shows great maturity for a player of his age. Indeed, a quick look at the statistics (whoscored.com) will tell you that whilst he makes considerably fewer tackles than his defensive colleagues, Zouma makes an astonishing number of clearances, blocked shots and interceptions each game - testament to his acute ability to read the game.
Indeed, given his physique and maturity of play, it would be difficult to work out quite how incredibly young the defender still is without being informed. There are, of course, areas that the defender must improve upon. Perhaps, despite how obvious his strength is, he could make more of this natural advantage and attempt to rob the ball from the player’s feet more often. Zouma did score twice early on in his debut campaign, but he can also look to be more forceful in the air and attempt to contribute more in an attacking sense from set pieces. However, the fact remains that Zouma plays with an authority that is rare in one so young, he displays intelligence in his positioning and, when in possession, is comfortable bringing the ball out of defence and receiving the ball in tight situations. A fine, all-round prospect.”
Now comes the inevitable question: Where would he fit?
As I have previously stated, I do not believe that Chris Smalling possesses the potential to become a regular first team player for Manchester United (If I’m wrong, come back to this article in 3 years time and rub it in my face. I’ll have deserved it) and I believe that (recent selections point to this) Phil Jones will be remoulded into a defensive midfielder over the next season. This leaves only Jonny Evans as the sole quality centre-back at the club once Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic call it a day, leaving the club with no other choice but to delve once more into the transfer market for a centre-back.
I agree that, at the moment, Zouma isn’t particularly needed, nor do I believe that he is ready for the Premier League (yet); however, a deal similar to Wilfried Zaha’s in the summer could be an option. Zouma needs first team experience to fully develop as a player and loaning him back to Saint-Etienne for another season would be beneficial for both parties. In fact, buying him and loaning him out to any club, even a Premier League one (look at Welbeck and Cleverley) would be useful.
To conclude what was originally set out to be a short article: Do I believe that Manchester United are interested in the player? Yes. Do I believe that this transfer will come to fruition? We are talking about a team managed by Sir Alex Ferguson here. Anything can happen.
You are all legs, and strong. But you move well, Wilfried. Like Nani if Nani knew Lance. You are fast. You are as close as we have ever been to Usain Bolt in a Manchester United jersey.
Your team- the one in London- calls you a ‘striker’. Are you? What does Wilfried have to say about that? How much striking do you actually do? I saw your clips on YouTube… I would not call you a striker. Clip after clip of game after game there you are, caving in the opposition’s defense by collapsing in from the right, or the left, and stepping-over with those windmills we call legs; Don Quixote would accept the challenge.
You are clever with the ball, and you love to dance. It can be difficult to truly understand that what you do can be so difficult- the balance to stay upright, the strength to stand firm, the speed of thought necessary to respond to outstretched legs, and pointy elbows, all in an attempt to keep the ball under your control. Yes, you are clever. You are Oscar Wilde with a football.
You are young, Wilfried Zaha. You are two decades young… Messi had two La Liga titles and a Champion’s League medal at that age. Not that I am comparing you to Messi, nor that I would ever compare you to Messi, just that ‘youth’ can be relative. You are young, but you are strong.
What do you want, Wilfired Zaha?
Do you want to leave Crystal Palace? Are you ready? I hear so much about you and Manchester United, that I wake each morning, hoping to finally see that picture; you, and Sir Alex, his arm about your shoulder, beaming and smiling, hopeful, ever so ready to begin working together. I want to read stories where United players and staff praise your “awareness” and go on and on about how much “skill” you have. I want to read about Nemanja marveling at your strength. I want to see you don the red of Manchester and kiss the badge. I want to see you score against City after fighting off one or both Toure’s and side-stepping Hart.
I want to see you and Robin, and Wayne, and Chicha, and the rest of your front-line brothers-in-arms celebrating another win, another week at the top.
I want you to beat Liverpool and Chelsea and Norwich and Spurs.
But I digress…
What do you want. Wilfried Zaha?
Do you really want to play for Sir Alex? Do you really want the world analyzing your every step, your every move, your every decision? Even Ronaldo could not handle it. That was why he engineered a move to Spain, to get away from the lights, and the questions at United. Oh, the questions, Wilfried! Do you want to answer the questions? Can you? Come to think of it, Ronaldo was not as strong as you are, and he was older.
Do you want a Premier League trophy? A Champions League medal? No disrespect to Palace, of course, but your chances at both greatly expand at United. You will have to work, Wilfried. Scholes works, and Giggs. They are old, and do not have your strength. Ronaldo was legendary for working harder than anyone, and even he did not possess your power. You are all legs, and strength. But you will have to work, Wilfried. Harder, perhaps, than anyone else.
You will be watched. Not just in England, but in the Ivory Coast, and in California. They will write about you, and take your picture, and they will want answers- remember all those questions?
I am going to be direct here; trying to bring Gareth Bale to Old Trafford would mean a tedious transfer saga, an inflated fee and could well prove impossible to achieve. Despite all this, I think an attempt should be made, and summer 2013 is the time to strike.
Being married to a Spurs fan, I have watched more Tottenham games than any of our other rivals. It has been an entertaining sideshow for me to focus on Bale’s quest to perfect his Cristiano Ronaldo impression. All the elements are there of 2006 version Ronaldo; increasing goal return, diving reputations, more ostentatious attempts from distance, open disapproval of teammates’ shortcomings, growing awareness of how to roam from the wing effectively and even the trademark infuriatingly selfish away performances.
The decision for Bale then is how he moves to the next level. For all Villas-Boas’ impressive endeavours, the feeling remains that qualification for the Champions League represents the summit of Tottenham’s ambitions. It won’t be lost on Bale that his breakthrough moment came over two seasons ago now. He will take some comfort from improving as a player in this time, but the bottom line is in terms of achievement he has made no progress. The sale of Modric reinforced the view that Spurs are destined to remain a second tier club. If Bale is to become one of the Europe’s premier players then logic would suggest a move to one of the Europe’s premier clubs. Only by being surrounded by superior players and competing for trophies can Bale truly fulfil his potential.
But why United?
Daniel Levy attempted to soften the blow of finally losing Modric by announcing a new partnership with Real Madrid. Speculative assumptions were immediately made that this paved the way for Tottenham’s other prize asset to make the same move in the near future. Madrid would certainly fit the profile of the challenge Bale needs as he turns 24 in the summer. Where better to establish yourself as a successor to Ronaldo than at the club where he has become the undisputed second best player of the planet? Herein lies the problem, a move to Madrid at this stage would see Bale directly competing with Ronaldo in order to play in his preferred role. As the feted Modric has found, there are no guarantees at Madrid and a bit part role is a real (forgive the pun) possibility. Is operating as Ronaldo’s understudy an effective way of auditioning to be leading man? Ask Luis Nani. In my view a move to Madrid would see his minutes limited, his role ever-changing and his development stalled.
Which brings me to Manchester United. If Bale were to move to Old Trafford he would be the marquee signing and clear first choice in his preferred position. A debut season at the club with an experienced, Welsh legend for company would allow him to make the transition to the top tier in a comfortable environment. From United’s point of view, he would bring qualities we clearly lack. It is a strange scenario we find ourselves in where our success this season is in spite of an underlying collection of wingers. Young has been tactically useful if limited, Nani has been absent sometimes in body – always in mind, and the less said about Valencia’s regression the better. It is a damning indictment of our options that our most impressive wide players this season have either been fullbacks or 38 years of age. Bale would bring direct running, consistency of supply and an added goal threat. It isn’t hard to think of him linking up spectacularly with the players we have both emerging and established.
Making sense is one thing – actually happening is another. In a dream scenario for many we would be saving our summer budget to bring in that central midfield colossus Reds have been demanding for years. The likelihood of that is a subject for a whole other article but recent seasons would suggest ‘no chance.’ Defensively we have been porous this term – yet with Smalling, Jones and Evans already at the club is a major move for a defender likely? I’d suggest not. At the time of writing, an interest in Zaha has been confirmed yet this would be an acquisition for the future rather than a purchase to solve our immediate wide issues. James Rodriguez is another name frequently linked; but I confess to being in the dark about his likely price tag and/or adaptability to our culture. Bale would carry no such concerns as a proven Premier League player who has excelled in his fleeting opportunities on the European stage. The biggest stumbling block therefore would be cost – the sale of a couple of well-paid squad members (Nani? Anderson?) and likely departure/retirement from at least one from our veterans corps would free up space on the wage bill.
The transfer fee is a trickier issue. The hostility between the respective boardrooms is well known; and Levy would revel in his reputation for driving a hard bargain. A fee in excess of £35m would not be unexpected. A bridge too far in the era of Glazernomics? Perhaps not. The signing of van Persie (minimal resale value, high wages, significant fee) showed a willingness to splash out when a player becomes available of a) sufficient quality to significantly improve fortunes on the field, and b) has the status or potential to be a marketable name throughout the globe. Bale ticks both boxes. In addition we were allegedly willing to pay major sums for Hazard and Moura – players with a similar (or in Lucas’ case arguably lesser) status and record to Bale. Hope springs that the board would be willing to spend big to secure Bale’s capture. Much talk since the Champions League draw has been of ‘bringing Ronaldo home’ – that is beyond our financial capability but Bale is the next best thing.
Do I think it will happen? Probably not. By this stage I would have expected a greater public charm offensive and calculated leaking to prompt Fleet Street ‘exclusives’ that the deal was on. However as today’s opponents love to remind us, I can ‘dare to dream’.
Manchester United officially announced the signing of 18 year old Chilean forward, Angelo Henriquez, this afternoon following his transfer during the summer window.
Since impressing during a trial at United’s Carrington training ground a few years ago, Angelo rapidly progressed to Universidad de Chile’s first team last season and scored 11 goals in 17 appearances.
With other clubs circling, Sir Alex moved quickly to sign the striker and bring him into the first team squad where he is expected to acclimatise to English football with some opportunities in the Capital One Cup this season.
French poet and historian Voltaire once wrote; “Opinion has caused more trouble on this little earth than plagues or earthquakes”. He didn’t know it at the time, but when it comes to football, he may have had a point. United’s opening round defeat to Everton has prompted discussion in all quarters, with every critic, journalist and punter clamouring to offer their own opinion on the state of affairs at Old Trafford. Views range from the somewhat overconfident declaration that we have a team capable of immediate domestic and European dominance, to the cynical belief that we may as well pack up and go home now; such are our slim chances of success this year. The truth is perhaps somewhere between these extremes. The signing of Robin Van Persie and Shinji Kagawa will undoubtedly strengthen a team that missed out on the league title last season by goal difference alone, but a period of adjustment is inevitable as the team discovers how best to utilize these player’s talents. Add to this the fact the injury crisis ravaging our defence and the fragmented nature of our preseason and it’s easier to see why the Reds didn’t have the best of games against Everton. This is a team that will undoubtedly improve as the season goes on and players return to full fitness. Most detractors predictably aim the bulk of their criticisms towards our midfield. Another summer is almost gone and Sir Alex has yet to sign the midfield enforcer craved by so many. It has also become clear he has no intention of doing so.
“We’ve never had a holding player…I’ve not had it for 25 years. Why should I think about it now?” (May 2012).
This sentiment will no doubt frustrate many Reds supporters but such is the gaffer’s unwavering loyalty to Michael Carrick it is unlikely we will see a defensive midfielder added anytime soon. Add to this the re-emergence of Tom Cleverley and the signing of Kagawa and it becomes clear that Sir Alex has his own ideas of how best to move the team forward. Whether it will ultimately pay off remains to be seen, but as the Scot moves into his 26th season at the club, he is probably entitled to a little faith. It is, however, shaping up to be a career defining season for many of our players. Tom Cleverley will be looking to rediscover the form that saw Sir Alex prepared to build the team around him last year before injury curtailed his season. Impressing both in the Olympics and in pre-season the Basingstoke born midfielder will hope to build upon the promising relationship developing with Kagawa, and firmly stamp his name on the Gaffer’s team sheet. Alongside him in the centre, Anderson will be attempting to finally realize some of the form and potential that he has been on the brink of realizing for some years now. Now entering into his sixth season at the club, the charismatic Brazilian may be quickly running out of opportunities to show that he is capable of being a player for this club; a reality that is not lost on him.
“I need to prove what I can do. I know the boss and my team mates believe in me. I have just had bad luck. I need to improve…” (July 2012).
The form of Wayne Rooney was often scrutinized last season. Remarkable when you consider the sheer number of goals he scored. It is a testament to the lofty expectations placed on the former Evertonian that despite racking up a career best 35 goals in all competitions neither the fans nor indeed the player himself were pleased with his form. Over the last three or four seasons Sir Alex has successfully converted the striker into a highly functional goal scorer, capable of hitting the net even on bad days. The arrival of Robin Van Persie will hopefully breathe new life into Rooney, both lifting the burden of being United’s main man and introducing a bit of healthy competition. It would do the forward no harm to realize he is no longer immune to being dropped. The striker looked abject at time’s last season and a few games short of match fitness against Everton. Improvement is inevitable as the player embarks upon what should be his peak years. If the thought of playing up front along side Van Persie and Kagawa doesn’t whet his appetite, nothing will. In truth the Everton game may have come too soon for the Reds. International commitments saw a great number of senior players miss the opening games of pre-season. When coupled with the copious injuries wreaking havoc on our defence it is little wonder Sir Alex’s men were shy of form in the opening fixture. As players return and new signings settle in the team is certain to improve. Midfield frailties considered, it would be foolish to expect anything other than a competitive Manchester United when Sir Alex Ferguson is in charge. Though as always, he will do things in his own indomitable way with a clear idea of how he wants the team to form and progress. American Philosopher Elbert Hubbard once said “To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing”. This is one thing the unconquerable Scot will never be guilty of.
Kevin Levingston is a freelance writer and blogger. You can follow him on twitter here: @KevinLevingston
Check out what our Manchester United Transfer Scout has to say about all the latest player rumours.
Robin van Persie has been confirmed as United’s first superstar arrival since Dimitar Berbatov. Our editorial team give their reaction to the signing:
Until this deal was confirmed I was never fully convince it would happen. Now it has it raises more questions than answers, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Adding a world class player to your side is always a reason to celebrate.
There are a number of potential positives. Firstly the burden on Rooney to be our main source of goals is reduced. This increases our opportunities to rest or drop Rooney when his all around game falls short. I’m always concerned when a player is deemed irreplaceable despite form and the arrival of RvP will hopefully galvanise Rooney to put the effort in to improve and maintain his performance levels (this was certainly the case in the Ronaldo/Tevez era). In addition the fact that on the pod we couldn’t reach a consensus on how he would be used means that, in the light of Kagawa’s arrival – we are genuinely unpredictable in terms of personnel and tactical shape. This was rarely the case last season. Finally, the timing of this addition is vital for re-energising a jaded, divided fan base. Arguably for the first time since last season’s denouement it feels like we’ve regained our swagger.
There are potential risks with the transfer. The age and injury record of the Dutchman have been covered at length. In addition the injection of an established superstar into a dressing room packed with egos is always a risk – although there is no finer manager than Ferguson at ensuring unity amongst big names. A further concern going forward is the impact on our young strikers – Hernandez would hope to push on after a difficult second season and Welbeck will aim to build on the momentum of his own breakthrough season. A look at our fixture list (particularly after European fixtures) indicate there should be enough games to go around but it would be a real shame if their development was stalled in pursuit of short term glory. Perhaps the biggest concern about this transfer is that the money could have been more wisely invested on a quality midfielder (such as van Persie’s wantaway now former team-mate) given our shortcomings in that area last season. Only time will tell if this is a Ferguson master-stroke or one luxury too far.
I am in my mid 30’s and I have to admit that I have been very giddy today. It has been a long, long time since I have been this excited about a Manchester United signing. What a statement of intent from Ferguson. The fires still burn deep inside him and last year’s last minute failure hurt him and this is his response to the league.
I have always admired Van Persie as a player. With a wand for a left foot and an intelligent mind, he has impressed ever since he signed for Arsenal. But I hated him as a man as he appeared arrogant and aloof and being one of our rivals best players always made me fear his presence on the team sheet. The main thing now is that he becomes “our” arrogant superstar and has the added bonus of having a touch of nastiness about him too which we can lack at times.
Off the pitch, van Persie is coolness personified. He came across wonderfully well in today’s press conference. The main thing I liked was that he just “gets” what it means to be a United player. He was beaming from the minute he learned the deal was done and could barely hide his deep admiration of the club and its principles.
On the pitch, he gives United a new dimension. For the first time since the departure of Ronaldo, opponents will take to the pitch fearing our firepower. In the mid to late 1990’s, teams took to the field often simply happy to keep the scoreline vaguely respectable. To return to this level of intimidation is beyond exciting. How Ferguson fits everyone in is another question altogether and one I do not envy the great man. On paper, Rooney, RvP, Welbeck, Hernandez, Valencia, Nani, Cleverley, Scholes etc look a formidable force but how do you mould them into a cohesive unit? One thing is for sure, we will not be short on goals or excitement! The return of Vidic will be key as if we can keep it tight at the back then with that mouth watering attacking lineup, we are almost assured goals.
In a preview of the season, I longed for a return to exciting football played with verve and exuberance that has been the hallmark of United down the years. I have a feeling that I will not be disappointed. Strap yourself in, it promises to be one hell of a ride.
Have yourself a good look at this picture. Look at it. Grasp it. Feel it. Remember when your art teacher used to ask you; “when you look at this picture, what do you see?”, obviously wanting you to pinpoint your emotions and feelings when watching it. I do. When I look at this photo I see shock. I see an element of surreality. I see the unexpected. I also see promise and progression. I see hopes and dreams, I see a man of goals and his smile that gleams. I see something I never thought I’d ever see, I see Manchester United’s RvP.
“Manchester United have announced the signing of Robin van Persie.” I think none of us really expected it. Amid the rumours and the expectations we all made. Juventus would come in, City would manhandle us financially. “Van Persie prefers United to the rest”. Just like Samir Nasri did, just like Lucas Moura did, just like Eden Hazard did. You can read all the stats and numbers in the world and you would still know nothing about what Robin van Persie brings to a worldwide fanbase who have been begging for someone like him. To say that this is not the marquee signing people have been waiting for would be nothing short of asinine. If there ever was a question of intent, I think those who raised that question, among them a certain English striker, received their answer just by quickly glancing at this photo.
What I believe Robin van Persie brings to Manchester United is his hunger. His time at Arsenal have not been as fruitful as one may have hoped, thus leaving him more wanting of success than perhaps anyone out there. For a Manchester United who last year was caught out due to lack of maturity and experience during the run-in, this was the perfect signing. I’m not saying that “RvP” is a specialist in terms of calming the ship. I’m saying that when the going gets rough, he’s used to people looking at him for the advice. When Wayne Rooney crumbles under the pressure, and he needs someone to step up to the plate, he’ll have van Persie. A football team needs leaders who shine through even on the darkest of days. A talisman. Someone who can carry their team on the back. These are qualities that embody Robin van Persie.
So here’s to you who went sleepless last summer waiting for Wesley, here’s to you who saw Samir lift a trophy with skyblue ribbons, here’s to you who thought this was our time to walk in the garden of Eden. Here’s to you who said Shinji Kagawa wasn’t a big name signing. Here’s to the hopeful, here’s to the doubtful. Here’s to you all. Here is Robin van Persie – Manchester United player.
Van Persie’s arrival has lifted the air of resignation thats been slowly drifting around the outskirts of Old Trafford and put the defending Premier League champions, Manchester City, on the back foot.
It was widely expected that Glazernomics would see City pull away and consolidate their position at the summit of English football this summer but this signing is the first time we’ve acted in anger to their recent rise.
The arrival of the Van Persie will reinvigorate the squad and transform a potent team into a deadly one. The Dutchman is a world class striker and will bring back a fear factor unseen since the Ronaldo days.
Inevitably, it will be difficult for SAF to balance playing time between the strikers but it is a position that the likes of Di Matteo & Vilas Boas could only dream of. Tactically, the arrival will also give offer Sir Alex a more flexible front line with the overdue arrival of not one, but two, left footed attackers to the first team and see us revert back to the more fluid formations seen back in 2007/08.
Financially, I’m pleasantly surprised that we’ve made such a financial investment. £25m on RVP this year is not a waste of money, £100m on interest payments is.
For videos of van Persie’s press conference, check the CanTheyScore homepage for recent posts.