This is in continuation of our series (not yet decided on the number of parts in it) where we review the 2006-07 season and players’ performance. Good to see your responses for the first part. I do admit, Wes Brown somehow slipped my fingers although it was in my mind. Anyway I added my view on his performance in Part I. Do read it and get back to this.
Today we will be taking a look at the midfield. The center of the park, also dubbed the ‘Engine room’. While we will be taking a look at our central midfielders, we’ll review our wingers along with the strikers in the next part, so hang on.
Now where do we start with this man. He was out for a big part of last season due to blurred vision. People laughed it off when Ferguson said at the start that getting Scholes was like a new signing. How right he was! He turned in performances that England fans could now only wish they had a midfielder as penetrative as him. Due respect to Gerrard and Lampard (when he plays for Chelsea, that is) there aren’t many midfielders at the moment who have the vision, the penetrativeness (if that’s even a word) and the ability to ghost past defenders to score goals (remember the Liverpool game?). He also had that Scholes specialty of old with those long range unstoppable shots at goal. We can’t say much about his tackling, those are one of those annoying habits that will remain so. The Ginga Ninja’s season has been a thing of dreams and it feels bad that with his age he won’t be around for that long.
A player who’s Â£14M price tag was highly criticized at the start of the season. His slow start didn’t help much either. But it was his very presence, his laid back assurance that played a big part in our fluid play this season. Last season having a make shift central midfield pair, too often we were guilty of not being able to make our passes count. Too often we gave the ball away. Carrick’s presence significantly changed all that: our ball retention improved significantly, giving more service to our attackers to work on. This isn’t something that can be eye catchingly noticeable as such, but it adds up to a much better midfield display. With the imminent arrival of Hargreaves, Sir Alex intends to push Carrick further forward in the role of Scholes when he retires, but for that role he needs to show a little more urgency with the ball at his feet, as United’s attacking play is built on the attribute of speed – a quality we hope he will develop over the next season.
His very presence in the United squad had been a thing of ridicule. Even United fans loved sharing a joke or two about him. This season was a different story for the Scot. His holding role in the midfield against Roma in the absence of Scholes (with Carrick pushed to an advanced role) was the more prominent display, although he has been quite significant in the midfield on many more occasions. Even in the home game against Milan he got stuck into players and did a reasonably good job. His place in the first team is still under doubt with the arrival of Hargreaves, but his versatility will assure his stay as a good squad player.
Another player, along with Fletcher, who’s attracted lot of criticism. I personally thought people have been too hard on him than necessary. How else could you explain a 2005/06 campaign that had Ryan Giggs and O’Shea in midfield for a good half of the season and yet manage to finish 2nd ahead of the ‘superior midfield’ of Liverpool?! This season he’s also had a hand at goals in crucial moments apart from playing at every possible position, including the ‘keeper’s role! The ideal back up player.
Well that ends our review on central midfielders. Do let us know if we may have skipped someone, like last time. I did check it once, anyway.
Join us tomorrow when we take a look at our attackers, till then your comments should keep us busy.
Related items from Red Rants: