All Time Best XI Series: Central Midfield

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The Midfield – The Engine Room of MUFC Success – Written by Rob B.

It’s without doubt the most common game MUFC fans get to play over their lifetime.

It’s your typical ‘Who Is Your Favourite Player’ debate. Who would you play where? At a team like United it’s an utter minefield. We all have our own recommendations for such debates.

I’ve been asked by RedRants.com to choose my own two favourite central midfielders for their run of articles about each position. The midfield was always the one area I naturally gravitated to as a kid. Technically and tactically it was what I was about as a schoolboy footballer. I wasn’t tall, so 1980s British defending was out of the question. I also wasn’t that fast. So even though I scored goals I never really played at centre forward. But the thing I could do was pass a ball accurately. And that made me a midfielder. I played behind the attack, so the midfielders of the day that did a similar thing…scurrying around, slipping in passes…drifting wide to slide a ball across the area…these were the players I gravitated toward.

The two players that initially grabbed my interest were Gordon Strachan and Jesper Olsen. I loved their industry, whilst still displaying their skill. Strachan could dictate from the centre “covering every blade of grass” as I remember commentators often saying about him. Olsen was more of a wide player. A prodigious Danish talent rated highly on the international stage. These were the sort of players that made me fall in love with Manchester United. I also witnessed players like Muhren, Moses, and Wilkins. But it’s fair to say there was only one MUFC midfielder that rose above it all with a God like stature during this period…

…and without doubt my first choice in a two man midfield.

Bryan Robson was, and still is, the greatest Man Utd player I ever witnessed. Only Cantona can stand closely to his equal.

He played for us at a time when frankly we were very average, and he was a colossus. For a decade he dragged United onwards on his own, while his body fell apart by the sheer crazy physical demand he would put on it. If he wasn’t breaking a bone, he was dislocating another part of him. And through this he scored the important goals…defended like the best centreback in the world. Ran games like he owned them. He feared nothing…showed contempt for every opponent, without ever losing any class or discipline. He was simply the perfect footballer. A lion.

Robbo’s goal against Liverpool (5m.20s) in the 1985 FA Cup Semi Final replay will always typify him to me. They were one the best teams in the world at the time. We were the paupers from across the North West who were more famous for not winning much. Robson killed them that day. And we went on to beat an Everton team in the final, who no doubt would have won a European Cup had it not been for the English club ban in Europe. They had beaten us 5-0 in the league 6 months before…yes I remember it well! It was a rare trophy win for United.

Robson strode above all of them…and consistently.

My second central spot could go to a multitude of midfielders Fergie has cultivated over the years. Of course, I could go back and include all those great lads that Busby had, but it’s difficult for me to talk about players that I only ever saw on a video. Legend dictates that Duncan Edwards was the greatest of them all…and any MUFC fans I speak to who actually saw him always back this up. But I’m not choosing players that I simply can’t constructively critique…I’ve seen way too many excellent players with my own eyes, so I have a great selection of choice.

The last twenty years have been the greatest in United history. Yes the 50s and 60s will always hold resonance in the history of our great club but the sheer volume of success from the Ferguson years dictates its place..so it is only right to pick a player from this era. The trailblazer was Paul Ince. His signing was controversial at the time, but was only a tremor on the Richter Scale in the grand scheme of things in world football. Yet he went on to be the modern engine in the Man Utd middle. He worked hard and he played hard. The endearing image will always remain of him standing in front of a seething Selhurst Park…stand in front of Palace fans seconds after the Cantona Kung Fu kick. They were baying for blood, and Incey ran over to them as Cantona was dragged away, and loudly asked them “Who wants some then? Come on!” It was the epitome of the ‘everyone hates us’ attitude that Fergie bred into his teams…the elixir that made us winners.

But as we know Ince tainted his United legend with future transfer moves and comments. There can only be two players truly considered to partner Robson in midfield:

And that is the dual axis of Keane and Scholes.

When Bobby Charlton says you’re the best there’s ever been, you listen. Paul Scholes – The Ginger Prince. The best midfielder of his generation…according to the best midfielders of this generation,  plying their trade for Barcelona’s modern classic team. Scholes is the epitome of the hometown lad ‘done good’…With his mates from the youth team, they entered a Man Utd side who suddenly were successful again. It would’ve been a nightmare for any other homegrown players, having to follow the act of MUFC finally winning the title after a million years or whatnot.

“You cant win anything with kids”…well you can if one of them is Paul Scholes…

… and the most talented bunch of young players in one side this country has seen since the 1950s.

One day they will build a statue of Scholes outside of Old Trafford, along with Giggs and Red Nev. And he will be rightfully immortalised in granite and stone. ‘He scores goals’ will be sung forever more at Old Trafford, and we will tell our children about a quiet lad born in Salford who simply was a footballing wizard.

Keane was a defensive lynch pin in later years, but he was the original explosive box to boxer when we signed him for a club record fee. The heir to Robson and Ince apparent, Keane was fearless. He would tackle any man or beast on a football pitch. He was mean and nasty. He had total apathy to the opposition, and it was his one track mind that spawned title success after title success. He was a man’s man. Whereas Robson led by example and the regular drinking jollies with his team mates, Keane led in a more business like manner…direct and succinct. He took no bull, and if you weren’t pulling your weight, you were dead meat. His performance against Juve in the 1999 Champions League semi is the stuff of legends. Without him there would have been no Treble that year.

When they made Roy Keane they broke the mould.

So which one do I choose to partner Robbo?

Well….the winner is!!!………….Both of them! Paul Scholes and Roy Keane.

How can you choose? It’s impossible. My initial inkling was Keane. But then you could say that Scholes would compliment Robson more..? Here we have the best three central midfielders of the last quarter of a century for our club. Each has their own value. Each has their own USPs. But the fact is it’s almost an insult to try and separate them. If I was the manager of this team it would totally have to be a rotation system! I wouldn’t pick two and leave the other one begging.

So there you have it: Robson with either Keane or Scholes. I feel privileged to have seen all three hundreds of times in the flesh with my own eyes, through my childhood years to the present day. The thing that links all three is that they never courted fanfare. They knew they were great…so just got on with it. They worked hard, and through that effort became legends…and they made Manchester United a winning club once again. We will forever be indebted to them.

A time will come when Sir Alex has gone, and United are no longer the top club. It’s the natural cycle in football…and life. But we will always have the joy of looking back at these players with pride and passion. History is cemented.

The men who wore the Red like their lives depended on it. The engine room of MUFC success.

You can follow me on Twitter @badgerwolf and read my regular articles for TheFaithfulMUFC.com

Rob

 

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109 Comments

  1. Great article mate. Loved the look back and couldn’t agree with you more about Robbo. A legend if there ever was one. Although I have to admit I am not the huge Scholes fan like most on here, he is a legend but would not make my top two. Keano is my personal heart’s favorite as he just was my kind of player but truthfully, it’s kind of impossible to ignore the great Sir Bobby Charlton. Perhaps he was before our time but his pedigree and legacy for club and country is second to nobody. He did it all and with such class, flair and grace. And continues along with Robbo to be vital ambassadors to the game and to United. As fans we were all blessed to have such a selection of great players play for us.

  2. When Bobby Charlton says you’re the best there’s ever been, you listen. Paul Scholes – The Ginger Prince.

    Priceless.

  3. One day they will build a statue of Scholes outside of Old Trafford, along with Giggs and Red Nev. And he will be rightfully immortalised in granite and stone. ‘He scores goals’ will be sung forever more at Old Trafford, and we will tell our children about a quiet lad born in Salford who simply was a footballing wizard.

    Not able to stop my tears.

  4. Evans is our new number 6, and Cleverley our new number 23… That makes me happy, I really love that number and can see it on young Tom. Hope he is given a lot of chances this season, he deserves it.

    Fergie also hints that Pogba will be given many opportunities to show his worth this season, really hope that is true! 😀 Can’t wait to see a Cleverley-Pogba midfield, which surely will rule the World for years to come.

  5. Robason was a terrific player, a true box to box midfeild player. He could score goals, tackle and win games on his own.

  6. Ryan you are absolutely right.

    Ferguson pays lip service to his youth policy but he has very little faith in young players. There only chance is if they do a Hernandez and play amazingly every game. Any inconsistency and like Nani and Anderson they get dropped for long stretches.

    We need to make a huge change of policy and place a huge bet on Anderson, Cleverley and Pogba coming good. Even if the results turn bad. Even if we get dumped out of Europe.

    Last years team was good but it wasn’t good enough and has little upside potential.

    So we need to revamp our team, give it a youth emphasis. Phase out players like Park, Carrick, Giggs, Fletcher and Evra who have been loyal servants but ultimately shown to be lacking at the highest level. Phase in players like Jones, Pogba, Anderson, Cleverley, Fabio

    If I see Carrick Fletcher and Giggs predominating our midfield like the last few years I am just going to sigh, bang my head against the wall and pray for Ferguson’s retirement.

    • Pray for his retirement really?!
      What other manager could have won the league last season, simple no one. The twins, Jones, Smalling and Hernandez are all investments in youth. Anderson was and has been very inconsistent hence he has not had a run in the side.
      Some fans have very short memories, we produce and buy more young players than any side in the Country then faze them in with the more experienced players, hence why we win trophies unlike Arsenal. We also consistently compete every year due the the conveyer belt of talent coming through the system and with our transfer policies.

  7. NERD ALERT!

    7am, waking up in the morning
    Gotta be fresh, gotta go downstairs
    Gotta have my fix, gotta have EPL
    Seein’ everything, the time is goin’
    Tickin’ on and on, everybody’s rushin’
    Gotta turn to the soccer channel
    Gotta catch my game, I see my team!

    Kickin’ in the couch seat
    Sittin’ with the TV
    Gotta make my mind up
    Which game should I watch now?

    It’s Saturday, Saturday
    Gotta get down on Saturday
    Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend
    It’s Saturday, Saturday
    Gotta get down on Saturday
    Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend

    Watch footy, Watch footy (Yeah)
    Watch footy, Watch footy (Yeah)
    Fun, fun, fun, fun
    Lookin’ forward to the weekend

    Yesterday was Friday, Friday
    Today is Saturday, Saturday (Partyin’)
    We-we-we so excited
    We so excited
    We gonna watch football today

    Tomorrow is Sunday
    And Monday comes after…wards
    I don’t want this weekend to end…..

  8. With all the renewed optimism of a new season and embalming myself with euphoria of a superb come back against Citeh I am still really worried about the keeper. Everyone like myself feels the summers business is very good, Young looks a very sensible signing and Jones certainly is one for the future who will be fazed in over time. De Gea is also a young player, taking over from probably the second best keeper the club has ever had. He speaks little English and simply looks like a young boy between the sticks. I have watched numerous videos of him and he certainly has ability, but has the signing come two seasons early? I really hope he makes it as he could be a keeper for seasons to come, but he looks nervous and not very commanding but it is still early days. Fingers crossed.

  9. Inter have agreed to let him leave for £33mil. Sneijder officials, United officials, and Nike representatives are meeting on Monday and if no deal is done then that is it.

    Nike want one of their top assets at their top club. Sneijder wants to not be worse off for leaving Inter, understandably. If Nike express their wish to use Sneijder for more advertising due to his move, coupled with United’s contract, he will be better off and we should be able to get a deal done.

    Fergie saying we’re not interested has two benefits. One, it’ll calm the fans down so if it doesn’t happen, Fergie can say it was never ever happening anyway and give some of the kids a boost. Two, it might make Sneijder take what we’re offering to get the deal done, because he does want the move.

    I think Fergies talk on Pogba was a little rich considering he didn’t take him to America on pre season, which if he is going to be involved with the first team would have been a really useful exercise for him.

    Either way, we’re 18 days away from the window closing and we play West Brom, Spurs and Arsenal before then.

    • I simply cannot see the deal happening now for teo reasons. Firstly the Glazers simply will not pay the fee and the wages, also with Cleverley now showing the manager the potential he has Fergie now believes he is the future.

    • I couldn’t agree with you any more than I do about Pogba Chris. I believe he IS highly rated by SAF but he’s still got a long way to go before he’s thrust into anything more than a Reserves game (or in other words a game where there’s TOO big a crowd) purely (in my opinion) on his temperament.

      I’ve said it before, he drives the coaches potty with his inconsistency and his positioning. I think SAFs comment was aimed at boosting the lads desire.

      • Ive always thought his positioning was one of his major plus points. Certainly in the cameo he got in the marseilles/united 11 game (funny they called it that considering we only had 7 bloody utd players) and the scholesy testimonial, i thought his positioning was top class, as was his movement on and indeed off the ball.
        I havent watched him as often as you have however, so im sure you know better than me mate, but thats the impression i had from watching his albeit, brief, cameos in recent weeks.

        Just one question though regarding the emerging young players, i have asked you before of your opinion of one mr tunnicliffe and i know you gave him a glowing reference (i fucking the love the kid myself). My question though is, if you feel pogba is not yet ready, do you feel tunni is further advanced than pogba was, and more ready to step up to the first team than pogba. I know its a moot point now, as tunni is away on loan anyway, but i just felt the lad was ready tbh. That physically, mentally and positionally, his game was there. That he had or indeed has, a good head on those shoulders, and his game was such that i felt the kid was ready. Indeed i made a prediction some months ago that out of himself, pogba and ravel, young ryan would make the step up first.
        That may not be the case, if we are to believe fergies recent statement regarding pogba and his plans for him, but i suppose when i made my prediction, i meant in terms of getting regular game time, so i suppose that could still be a predicition that proves to come true.
        Anyway mate im going on, but i just wanted to know out of the 3, which do or did, you think were going to make the step up first. You watch more of the reserves than me, so im just eager to know.
        Theyre all quality though, along with young will keane and the young RM whose name escapes me, so hopefully they’ll all make the step up at sometime or another, just curious as to who you think will make it first (if indeed you think any of them actually will).

        • IF (and it’s a huge huge IF) Ravel Morrison behaves himself he would/will be the first to command a start. He’s without any doubt the better/more talented/nearest to being ready of the three you mention.

          My opinion [which doesn’t count for a lot outside my own mind!] is that out of the three of them this is the order of readiness:

          1. Morrison
          2. Tunnicliffe
          3. Pogba

          1. Rav dominates games. He controls the pace and the direction of all the play at Academy level. He influences every aspect of what the team do. He does this in every game and in every game HE stands out above anyone else on the pitch including the opposition. When he plays he also influences the style of play and tempo of the opposition because they’re too concerned with worrying about him to think clearly about how to beat us. I couldn’t really make it any clearer than that. He’s immense ON THE PITCH.

          Off the pitch is, as we know, is a different story and not one to surmise or discuss here because the majority of it is conjuncture anyway. But it is fair to say that his attitude towards people and life isn’t a nice one. He shows a lack of respect for coaches, team mates, opposition players and even his own club in equal measure.

          My the midway point of this last season Rav was finding the games far too easy, he was strolling through games but still having the exact same impact on them as described above…..he was ready for a step up.

          The problem with that is……step up where? The Reserves isn’t THAT much of a step up but with his attitude problems and off field issues it’s difficult (I guess) to judge what impact a step up to the full team would have. I’d personally say he’d slot into any team in the premier league right now on talent and ability, but attitude, commitment, reliability and temperamentally it’s a gamble, hence why people are seemingly unwilling to take it. This is highlighted and made more cemented by the lack of talk you hear about him. SAF talks about Cleverley now, he talks about Pogba and Tunners but he very rarely talks about Rav, yet he’s WITHOUT DOUBT the most capable of the three.

          2. Tunners can do a lot of what Rav can do regards influencing the play and the tempo, he also stands out head and shoulders above most other players and he’s also a match winner like Morrison. The difference is, he doesn’t do it in EVERY game and he does have to work at it whereas Morrisons talent is definitely natural.

          3. Pogba can turn it on and create moments of absolute brilliance and genius, but he doesn’t dominate like the other two. Yes when he creates the brilliance it stands out and gets him the praise and maybe a MOTM award but he won’t control a game…….yet. That’s what the coaches will be working on, he’s got everything needed (it’s pretty clear for all to see that) to do it he just needs time to put it all together. Remember, these boys are young yet and only a huge minority breakthrough into ANY first team at 18 or 19, let alone break into United’s first team. I can think of McEachran and Wilshere off the top of my head to do it in recent years. Jordan Slew at Sheff Utd is giving it a good go right now too, scored again for the first team today but that’s at League 1 level now. While I’m here, I’ll tip Raheem Sterling to be the next one to come through at Liverpool, think he’ll be playing first team within 2 years. He turns 17 in December.

          I tend to think players are ‘ready’ for a step up when they’re consistently outshining their peers. Morrison does that and will do that in the reserves too. Tunners was occassionally doing it at Academy level last season and Pogba was rarely doing it despite displaying the obvious ability he does have.

          Will Keane’s a funny one, he never looks especially talented to me but boy does he just get himself in the right places at the right time and that’s so hard to teach so it’s a talent that has to be respected.

          Is the RM you can’t think of Larnell Cole or Jesse Lingard?

        • I suppose it is easy in all this to forget about young ravel, seen as though it seems a given in most peoples minds, the lad will have pissed his life away messing with good for nothing gangs or will end up in the clink.
          I really do hope he wakes the fuck up and sorts out his off field distractions, because as you say, the lad is bloody immense and an awesome talent.
          From what ive heard the last few weeks/months he has indeed been turning his life around. Cutting himself off from the distractions in his life, and making a bloody good go of turning his life around. I hope thats the case anyway, as it would be a crying shame if such a talent was lost from the game forever.
          At the end of the day, everything rests on him, the club has already done enough for him, but i would say, in my opinion anyway, it might be a good idea for the club to give him a game or 2 with the first team.
          Yes it probably sends out the wrong message that were rewarding him despite behaving like a scumbag, but maybe he needs a shot at the big time. A chance or 2 to show the lad, this is what you risk missing out on if you dont buck up.
          I dont know, thats my opinion anyway, as i agree the reserves are no level of competition for him anymore. Hes outgrown it, so for me its now a case of getting him in with the first team, or loaning him out somewhere whilst he sorts his life out.
          As keeping him somewhere he no longer feels challenged isnt going to do him right as he tries to sort out his off field distractions.
          Just my opinion though, but i dont think it would hurt giving him a game here and there if im honest.

          As for what your saying about tunni and pogba, i suppose its easy to forget sometimes that these are just 18/19 year old kids. Theyre still young but i definitely think they deserve a bit of game time here and here (well tunni i suppose not as hes on loan). Im not expecting an immediate step up to the first team, but certainly a few minutes here and there against sub standard opposition and in the carling cup, champions league group games, i think it would do him no harm.
          Still i say all this as an admirer looking on, who hasnt seen him week in week out. You know more than me mate, but i know personally id like to see pogba and ravel, get some game time.

          Will keane i agree with. Nothing special to look at, but theres no denying he has an unbelievable scoring record. I suppose at the end of the day thats what counts.
          As for the RM im thinking of, i think it was young larnell cole. Really liked the look of him, always very fast, hardworking, lovely quick feet. Very impressed by him, and id never seen him before either, but certainly impressed.

          Anyway thanks for the write up mate, its interesting to hear from someone who knows what hes going on about, and who watches the so called “next generation” most weeks. Cheers.

        • I’d like to see it too, a bit of game time here and there definitely helps the player and the manager in different ways. You mention Europe, depending on our draw and our first 3 games it’s possible he could play one or both of them at some point. I think it was Marseilles away last year Tunners travelled with the squad. Didn’t make the 18 but travelled if I remember rightly.

          “from what I’ve heard the last few weeks/months he has indeed improved”…….erm, NO! lol Unfortunately not. Before the last few weeks yes, but 3 weeks ago he decided he didn’t want to join in with something in training that everyone else was doing, weights I think. He disappeared for the best part of 3 weeks! That’s what you’re up against. Puts the club in a very difficult position, one that I think will eventually end in Morrison moving on by his own choice. I’ve no firm reason to believe that but it’s just a hunch I get. I think he’ll leave the club with no choice and spitefully manufacture a transfer. What a shame that would be. My guess would be a move to Arsenal.

          There is a but there though. I get the impression that he doesn’t have too many friends left within the club. Obviously there’s professional admiration for his talent and ability but, as is human nature, when someone see’s someone else at work getting away with things they will generally only put up with it for so long before it becomes an issue or at the least a reason to dislike the guy. Therefore maybe it’s best for everyone. Who knows?

          Anyway, if you haven’t read last seasons Academy review it’s here. I made Larnell Cole my Player of the Year last season and from the reports I’m hearing from the lads who watch everything to do with the Reserves, he’s had a very impressive start to life there. It’s a long article because it’s a full season review in one, personally I think it’s worth a read (I would say that though, I wrote it!) and I’d also like to hear what you think of it.

          Cheers

        • I heard young ravel was missing from a few games pre season, with no reason being given, but never realised he’d gone walk about. Christ.
          Really disappointed tbh, seems like theres no helping the lad.
          I suppose then my suggestion to give him a taste of some first team football isnt going to solve much then, not if hes never going to change his ways.
          The type of character he seems, wouldnt surprise me if he did what your saying, asked to leave, and then signed up with the elite development squad aka man shitty’s reserve squad.

          And yeah mate, i read that when it was first posted here, very good read. I didnt watch much at all of the season, but larnell cole was the lad i was trying to think of. Saw him against liverpool and chelski i think it was, and he was excellent.
          Good to hear hes impressed you too.

        • I disagree I would say

          1) Tunners
          2) Pogba
          3) Morrison

          in order of readniness..premier league players would wind up ravel and he would be a disaster at this point…he is just not mentally ready even though he is technically and tactically ready..I also suspect he might struggle a little bit on the physical side…Tunners is ready physically and technically but i think tactically he needs more games to make better decisions..Pogba for me is a great talent but is still getting used to his body a la Welbeck of 2-3 years ago…his fitness is also not quite to premiership levels..physically and technically he is ready though and to a great extent tactically

    • Great point about not taking Pogba on tour…I think some of the younger player’s have definitely given us more leverage, but we are still after Sneijder

  10. “Sneijder wants to not be worse off for leaving Inter, understandably.”
    — Not understanding how getting 150K+ per week is “worse off”?
    — It’s just greed and excess (no wonder you have riots in the streets).

    • I dont see the problem in the man not wanting to take a pay cut. You would gladly take a pay decrease and lose 50k a week? I also fail to see how that makes him greedy? For every pound he doesnt take from a football club does that money get donated to the poor? You make it sound like he is Scrooge.

  11. If Sneijder signs for United, I’m gonna leave this site and not return the close end of the season.

    I’m THAT sure he won’t come 🙂

    • I simply cannot see him signing, but that is going to put a lot of pressure on Anderson and Cleverley and it is up to them to take their chance. If the don’t we will struggle to win the league this year, so it is a gamble.

      • Oh, who cares?! We’ll never win anything with kids anyway! 😛

        Besides, our two last title triumphs must have been the most boring I’ve ever seen us win. Our 18th title was built on a solid defence, and even with talent like Ronaldo, Rooney, Tevez and Berbatov on show, our best players that season were Vidic, Evans, Van Der Sar and Park! I wasn’t satisfied with what was performed that season, and I much more preferred the trophy-less 2009/10 season! 🙄 Heck! Even last season wasn’t great up until Rooney’s overhead kick, which really kick-started our season and from then on we played amazingly! Up until then people were wondering whether thet wanted us to win the title or not, because we were so fucking shite! Only one away win until January 1st speaks for itself if you ask me…

        Truth is, since our double winning season in 2007/08 United haven’t looked as “United”. I still think we have been the best team in the Premier League, and for me the never-say-die attitude has been admireful, but up until the last months of last season I didn’t really enjoy our play. But from what I’ve seen from March, and in this pre-season, I love every single bit of it! It’s not about the players we have, or how the goals fly in, it’s our attitude, tactice, roles and fierce, relentless brutality going forward! I fucking love it, and that is why I am really looking forward to this season! :mrgreen: I don’t want no Sneijder, the bravery and passion of our youngesters, and now more “experienced players” (ala Rooney, Nani, Young and Carrick) are displaying the type of free-flowing, attacking football I’ve missed for 3 fucking seasons! Please Fergie, don’t sign no-one or make a change, because even if we don’t win the title, playing this way all through the season, letting the youngesters grow and express themselves, is a risk worthy of taking. Even if we don’t win anything this season, I would fucking love to see United play “United-football” again! 🙂 Give these talented youngesters time, and in 2013 every single man, in every single team, in every single country, in every single continent, will be our motherfucking bitch. 😈 UNITED!

        • I am sort of in agreement with that in a less enthusiastic way bro! 😀
          I have been banging the Wesley drum all Summer and have been somewhat down on our midfield, but if they are going to make it they need their chance, including Anderson. Cleverley and Anderson need a chance in the first team and given a run to prove either way if they can be the players a United side requires. With Carrick, Giggs and Fletch they have experience around them, so lets hope both of them can save us s few quid…

        • Hope so! 😀 But don’t get me wrong bro, I’m not saying I don’t have faith in the lads quality! Quite the opposite, I am sure that all of Anderson, Cleverley, Jones, Smalling, De Gea and especially Welbeck, who looks like the ULTIMATE STRIKER physically, have more than enough talent and temperament to win us not only the title, but get us a few cups as well. There will never be another class of 92, but there may never be another class of ’11 either! Who knows mate, we may be witnessing history in the making, boys growing to become men, and some of the world’s finest footballers be shaped. 🙂 I am confident Cleverley will do well this season, but as the City game actually was his debut for us(!!!) I can see him improving with each year. He doesn’t seem to rely on pace either, which makes him a very unique midfielder in the way that he is a “running-midfielder”, without being strong or exeptionally quick. He will only improve I am sure, and don’t let me start about Ando! 😆 I’ll just say I’m sure he’ll make us all, and especially me, proud 🙂

        • The key for Anderson and Cleverley is getting the chance and taking it. I am sure the two of them will get plenty of game time next season, Anderson has already played 130 games for us. He has a chance to cement his place in the side, if he does great, if not at least he will be given the opportunity and then it is up to him.

  12. Liverpool-Sunderland with a pizza, then Newcastle-Arsenal with a salad! :mrgreen: Can’t wait to see O’shea tuck in a debut goal at The Kop end, and Wes stopping Carroll for all his worth. Come on lads!

      • Well come on Wes, Phil, Anton, Kieran and United-fan Gyan! 😀 Oh, and good luck Brucey! I really hope Sunderland do well this season, with so much relation to Manchester United I really will have a close look on them this season.

        • Sunderland is the only team for whom i wish to do well infact.From Keano to my fav Brown,the bond is really strong.

  13. As everyone is saying the key is for Anderson and Cleverley to get games. Otherwise all this talk about putting faith in youth is just lip service.

    The difference in the mid 90s was that Ferguson burnt his bridges by releasing players like Ince, Kanchelskis and so on. He had no choice but to play the youngsters.

    This time we still have Fletcher, Carrick and Giggs on our roster and you can bet Ferguson is going to give them their fair share of games to the detriment of Cleverley and Anderson.

    The reason I was so keen for Sneijder to join is because he is proven quality and a definite upgrade on Carrick, Fletcher and Giggs. Also he would be ahead of them in the pecking order and rightly so.

    Anderson and Cleverley may have the potential to supersede Carrick, Fletcher and Giggs but unless they play so well they are impossible to drop you can bet that they will lose out on game time to Carrick, Fletcher and Giggs.

    That is the problem with youngsters. They ARE inconsistent. They DO have bad games. So the safe bet is to go with the experienced players.

    Why did we never get to see what Gibson could do? Same reason.

    Why has Anderson been at the club for four years now and is still not an automatic starter? Same reason.

    Sad to say I still think the most likely scenario is that our midfield will mostly be Fletcher, Carrick and Giggs and we will win the league unspectacularly, get dumped out of Europe, and then at the end of the season Ferguson will talk up our youngsters and say we do not need to sign anyone.

    • Agree 100% mate. At the end of the day, these are young lads, and what they need the most is obviously first team football most weeks. If the likes of macehda and welbeck are to find themselves 4th/5th even 6th choice when the likes of hernandez, owen and berba return, then whats the point. Get them out on loan and let them get the football time they need (maybe not so much welbeck, as i think he’ll get game time, but definitely macheda).
      Likewise with the midfield players. Cleverley has looked quality and been like a breath of fresh air, but if in a few weeks, he is to find himself behind carrick and fletcher again, then whats the point. It will only seek to halt his development, and will mean the lad will never advance, or will but will do so very very slowly.
      I agree with what you said in your post similar to this, above. The likes of giggsy, carrick, park and fletcher, have been great servants for the club, and can offer undoubted experience in certain games. But for the good of the young lads development (they are the future afterall), they can not be allowed to get regular game time ahead of the likes of cleverley, pogba (surprised fergie mentioned him tbh) and even anderson, who despite his major inconsistencies, has to be given time to step up and prove once for all whether hes got the talent or not
      We cant keep relying on a near 38 year old giggs, wait for him to retire, before saying ok now you replace him, to someone. Those changes need to be made now, so im not calling for players to be massively cut out, and us to do an arsenal and go full hog in creating a team made up solely of young lads. But i am calling for changes, and the likes of cleverley, pogba and yes even anderson, to be introduced and given a good amount of game time this coming season.
      This has to be the year we start with a out with the old and in with the new mantra. Even if that means a transitional season or 2.

  14. Brown is a legend. Definitely a mistake of Fergie’s. Yeah Rafael and Fabio look promising. But we’d have been a lot more defensively solid if Ferguson had not started his vendetta on Brown and dropped him all the time.

    • Brown was good. He looks great at Sunderland, but among Rio and Vidic (and Smalling) he becomes the weakest link.

  15. Song should get a 2 game ban for that, if Rooney was punished for swearing into a camera then that bastard should definately be out of the United-Arsenal game in 2 weeks time.

    • I saw that and couldn’t believe it. 😯

      Surely no action will be taken because Arsenal are playing United in 2 weeks. Gervinho will also have his red card removed due to blah-blah-blah and be ready…. United against the World (FA+UEFA)

    • isn’t it better if we beat them with all Players AW wants.. Otherwise he will put the blame on Joe barton for losing against us. 😉

  16. Regarding the article, nice write up mate. It is times like this though, that makes me sad, when i think of a player whose name could have been right up there, alongside or even surpassing that of keano, robbo and scholesy, had he not had his life so cruelly taken away from him at such a tragic young age, and that man is duncan edwards.
    The only man who ever made me feel inferior, said by a mr bobby charlton, tells you how good this man was.
    Still only 21 at the time of his death, and already a united and england regular from the age of 16/17. Frightening stuff.
    Ive often spoken about him with my grandfather and asked him just how good he was. Think a combination of keane, gerrard, scholes and robson rolled into one, times 10 he would tell me.
    Now i know sometimes fans have a habit of over rating their favourite players who those have given them such fabulous memories over the years, but my grandfather is usually fairly level headed and not one to get giddy over an overpaid footballer (well modern ones anyway).
    I suppose though when you listen to quotes from men in the know, men like sir bobby, sir matt, nobby stiles, alex ferguson even i think i remember saying he went to watch as a kid, then it all tells you what a bloody great talent this guy was.
    Sadly though this is all we have to go by, as very little footage of him is available online, youtube etc, which i find absolutely criminal tbh.
    Nonetheless, i take the word of such men as sir bobby, fergie etc very very highly, and if they go to back up my grandfather and the hundreds of other fans who go to say the same, then thats good enough for me.
    Just sad that we never got to see the lad go on to show his undoubted quality to the world. It would afterall have been him leading us to domestic and european glory for united, and most likely leading the england team up the wembley steps to collect the world cup of 66 (maybe even more in future years).
    Just so sad it will always be a case of what if, now. RIP Mr Edwards.

    As for my personal preferences, well i can only go with what ive seen, so it would have to be keano (quite possibly my favourite player bar none) and scholesy to complete the dream duo that did so much in winning us the treble. The likes of robson, whiteside, strachan, sir bobby, stiles, crerand, incey etc were all fabulous players though, just a shame i never had the priviledge to watch them in the flesh, or even tv, as a result of being born in the wrong bloody decade 🙁
    Ah well, atleast i got to see the genius that is djemba djemba 😉

  17. Wenger complaining about Arsenal getting a man sent off when they actually should have ended with 8 men, I was shocked nobody noticed Vermaelens headbutt on Barton…

    Has he lost it yet? Or is it too early in the season?

    • He lost it long ago. He is still in some other world.. I love reading his excuses..

  18. Are we gonna have the match preview?

    EDIT: Why my comment is not appearing at the bottom as it’s the latest comment?

    • No idea, comments and replies sometimes going haywire recently. Will be overhauled soon.

    • The two last comments on this page were replies by Owen and me to a comment that was deleted, so I guess they are on the bottom since they’ve got nowhere else to be really?

      • That was the same ISSUE in older post also.. if someone deletes or some how there entry gets deleted, all responses Keep stuck there..

        Admin.. Fix the bug.. 😛

  19. Full marks to Ferguson. An impressive team selection full of new blood. Carrick is useless in the first half of the season and Fletcher is ill. So it makes a lot of sense to give Cleverley and Anderson a run of games and see what they can do.

    It is harsh to Berbatov that Welbeck is starting. But Welbeck excites me a lot. He reminds me a lot of Saha in that he has good pace, good strength, good movement and he could be a great foil for Rooney.

    • Agreed.. Atleast young guys will feel needed and will give their heart..

      fabio, smalling and young impressed as of now..

  20. Rooney is a legend. I love that guy! First of what I am sure will be many goals this season!

  21. Good first half so far. Really impressed by some of the passing and linkup between Rooney, Young, Cleverly and Anderson. Though Nani had two good chances to put us 2 up.

    Midfield combo of Ando and Clevs is going well. I don’t think we have been over-run like we were last year.

    DDG -> well, he really should have done better with that shot from Long. He has been pretty hesitant to come out for the highballs.

    We need to keep up the pace and intensity in the second half.

  22. I think we are going to have to accept that De Gea will take some time to settle in. The Spanish League and English League are very different. It is not an EVDS situation where we are buying someone supremely experienced and used to the Premiership. Lets accept we will concede a few goals and concentrate on outscoring the opposition.

    One thing we DO have to improve on this season is our away form. So lets dig deep and start with an away win

    • We were good for first 30 min or so.
      One more mistake from De Gea, but his distribution is good and he is comfortable on ball and with back passes.

      Nani was poor. Missed two sitters! Thank god he didn’t cost 30 mil or he would have got slaughtered here.

      Welbeck did not impress at all. Didn’t link up with Rooney as well as last week. Zero shots/attempts on goal… sounds familiar 😉

      Young was good/alright not great! His crosses couldn’t clear 1st man most of the times.

      EDIT: this wasn’t meant to be a reply to your comment!

    • Just finished watching the game now, had my own football match to play and think I did my knee… Great to watch Young get two assists, and OG being back! :mrgreen: Very impressed by him, and Cleverley who in my opinion barely played a pass wrong and read the game well. Looking forward to the rest of the season! 😀

  23. Ashley Young looks like a great signing. Really good to have a real goal threat on the wings. We are going to need that a lot as teams are difficult to break down as the defensive quality of the league has improved so much.

    • Well said…Young was a real threat all day today…delivery from set pieces was good in the first half too!

  24. Well difficult to read too much into the first game of the season as we always start slow. But I think defensively we lack organization and I mean that as a team. Also while we look very dangerous on the flanks I still think we lack some creativity in the middle of the pitch. Neither Anderson or Cleverley seemed to have many ideas about how to break WBA down.

  25. I’m very encouraged by today’s performance..other than the keeper of course..I say if he costs us a game he should be dropped..so long as we keep winning give him his chance to make his odd gaff until he develops his confidence and communication with his defense..it was interesting to see oPhil Jones reaction when he wanted De Gea to switch play and he opted instead to punt it up the field..i don’t think i’ve ever seen that from a United back 4 player…i almost wonder what the vibe in the camp is with the new keeper…

    I love the Cleverly-Ando combo..both very mobile and get up and down..it is like having 2 box to box midfielders…both attack and both cover..much better than the static system we use when playing the likes of Giggs and Carrick which is much more predicatable with having one sit and one attack all teh time…also berbatov should be very worried about how much time he gets..can be a brilliant player but doesn’t help himself by berating players even when he is playing some shite balls and not making runs…Welbeck is clearly currently ahead of him…ashley young..great signing..would be interesting to see who will be sitting of Valencia, Nani and Young because they are all 3 very high quality wingers…I like Fabio on the left instead of Evra…hope he can stay fit..Smalling solid as usual with few to no mistakes…the futre is red, the future is bright..excited about the season..keeper just needs to sort himself out!

    • FIrst half was a joy to watch — fast, fluid, quick passing, great movement.
      Second half was repeat of United’s away performances from last season — boring, sloppy, and slow.

  26. This was a game of two halves and two Manchester Uniteds — new vs. old. New United was fast fluid and with a lot movement from off-ball players. Old United was slow, sloppy, and playing toss-to-wingers football. At least we won our first game, unlike Arsenal, Liverpool, and Chelsea, and it was an early away victory, unlike United of 10/11 🙂

    Quick Ratings:
    De Gea: 5 – obviously needs time to settle with our defenders and team. One mistake per game is expected by me now… however, his distribution seems really good with accurate kicks and throws. Had one good save, too.

    Vidic: 7 – too bad he got injured. He did OK. Pass to Young was mint!

    Rio: 7 – too bad he got injured. He did OK.

    Fabio: 5 – was at fault for first goal after giving up possession. Wasn’t better than out-of-form Evra and Tschioy was toying with him.

    Smalling: 6 – nice try, but today was not his best game (offensively, for sure!). Could be the reason our right wing sucked today.

    Young: 8 – frustrating to see so many predictably crosses wasted, but his quick fake cross turns were dangerous and led to freekick and goals. Well played with Rooney for the first goal too.

    Nani: 4 – disappointing coming off such a great Manchester Derby. He was selfish, wasteful, and anonymous for 90 minutes… maybe being secured a starting spot last week took away motivation?

    Cleverly: 6.5 – great first half (8), below-average second half (5). Not sure if he ran out of gas or ideas.

    Anderson: 6 – good first half, below-average second half. Gas or ideas? Highlight was running around an opposition player in first half.

    Rooney: 7 – good first half, decent second half. Well-taken goal, but passed too often wide to wingers. Defensive highlight when he threw himself in-front of ball to block shot.

    Welbeck: 5 – pretty poor. Has great ball-control and passing, but needs to finish better. He had a missed header and the ball in the box but did not muster an attempt on goal.

    —Subs—
    Evans: 6 – Average but good enough against WB. Some problems passing

    Jones and Berba: N/A – too little time.

  27. BAD NEWS:
    Rio Ferdinand (hamstring) will be out for six weeks.
    Nemanja Vidic (back) a couple of weeks
    Rafael da Silva 10 weeks.
    Patrice Evra will return next week, though.

    Can we blame USA for tough preseason? Or fitness coaches for poor training?
    😥 😥 😥 😥 😥 😥

    • If you noticed Rio missed a couple of games in the preseason..my opnion is his body is just wearing down and he just can’t play games back to back without getting injured…that is the first time i have ever seen vida injured and ask to be taken off..don’t even know what happened..Da Silva squared are always injured…evra i don’t know what happened to him…i give credit to the fitness coaches..of all thet eams i have seen in preseason and during the season we definitely look a step quicker and sharper than many other teams…how long we can sustain that is to be dtermined but looking good so far! we have an abundance of quality at the back so i think we should be fine defensively while rio and vida are out…

        • It will be Jones+Evans with Fabio and Smalling at full back.

          WIth Rafael out for 10 weeks, one has to ponder who is back-up to Smalling?

        • Recall de Laet and loan him back to Norwich in the January window 🙂

          Joke aside, Valencia can play right back if needed

  28. Welbeck has a shitty first touch.
    Macheda or Frazier Campbell are better.

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