Time for Moyes to start answering the big questions.
What a time for a break. You’d certainly forgive David Moyes for taking some time out to enjoy some rest and recuperation following a suffocating opening few months to life as manager of Manchester United. The old adage that ‘everyone thinks they can be manager’ was traditionally aimed at the national team job but in today’s globalised world debate on who should make up the first eleven of Manchester United rages untamed. Southampton at home should represent the most routine of fixtures yet given the contrasting fortunes of the two sides thus far it has emerged as the pick of the weekend fixtures at betting sites like news.coral.co.uk.
Rather than engage in some downtime, it is far more likely that workaholic Moyes spent every waking hour wrestling with the challenges he faces over the next few weeks, months and even years. Whereas Ferguson became an expert at managing in the face of restriction from above, his successor has found himself roundly criticised for attempting to manage expectations of a manically demanding fanbase. The facebook and twitter mafia might be expected to hit the panic button more readily than the wise old match goer; but both sets of fan groups have legitimate concerns which need to be addressed over the coming series of fixtures.
So what are these challenges that Moyes needs to approach head on?
Where Does Chris Smalling Stand Next Season?
Despite having his season severely interrupted by a succession of injuries last season, Chris Smalling still managed to make 31 appearances for Manchester United and establish himself as a firm favourite of Sir Alex Ferguson, Fabio Capello and Roy Hodgson- who admitted he’d have been in the squad were it not for the unexpectedly severe injury he picked up against Swansea.
A tall, athletic defender, Chris Smalling is a 22 year old centre back with a bright future ahead of him. Originally catching the eye with his superb (but unlucky) debut against Chelsea for Fulham, Smalling secured a £10 million move to United, ahead of Arsenal, and has often been described by the lazy journalist as the next ‘Rio Ferdinand’ due to aesthetic similarities.
Rafael Now Needs to Make the Right Back Spot His Own
After recently signing a new four-year deal which will keep him at Old Trafford until the end of the 2015/16 season, the time has come for Rafael Da Silva to step up and make the right back spot his own during the 2012/13 season.
At 21 years of age, Rafael has made 90 appearances already for the Red Devils and will be looking to improve on his average of 22.5 games a season with a sustained run in the team, if he can stay fit and convince Sir Alex that he is a better option than both Phil Jones and Chris Smalling once he returns from the Olympics.
Spoilt For Choice But United Still Need to Sign a Specialist
Manchester United’s current right-back dilemma is a typical case of how you can have too much of a good thing. Blessed with at least five players who are all more than capable of lining up along side Ferdinand, Evans and Evra, Sir Alex currently lacks a stand out right back in the squad.
Since Gary Neville made the position his own, playing 400 games in that position, United have struggled to find a player capable of delivering the same levels of consistency both defensively and offensively, although Wes Brown certainly put in some of his finest performances for the club there.
This season, Sir Alex has chopped and changed his right-backs more often than the Coalition has changed its views on banks, pasty taxes and fighter jet orders. Inevitably, some of these changes have been forced on him through injury but despite this we are coming to the end of the season without any clear candidate for the right-back role next season.
Stat Attack: Welbeck Nets Winner at the Emirates
It wasn’t quite the performance between these two sides that saw Manchester United thrash Arsenal 8-2, earlier this season, but Danny Welbeck netted a vital late winner to keep the 19 times English champions within touching distance of the league leaders.
Luis Valencia made a telling contribution on the right wing, and later at right full back, against Thomas Vermaelen, who was making a rare appearance on the left for Arsenal.
How Many of United’s Young Crop Can Make it to Euro 2012?
Everyone is excited about Manchester United’s next generation of players and rightly so.
Much was made of the experience the team lacked on Monday – Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand were both out injured for example – but the Premier League Champions, with an average age of 23, secured a 3-0 win over Tottenham.
Let’s Not Risk 19/12/09 All Over Again
Following the recent departure of John O’Shea and Wes Brown, who should both be credited for their incredible contributions to the club, I must confess to a great deal of worry for next season, if we do not strengthen at the back this summer.
Desirable British Talent Leaves Clubs Taking Risky Gamble
The football transfer market is just like any other marketplace; supply and demand wrestle for superiority with price fluctuating accordingly.