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Man Utd Season Review | Part III | The Attack and Team Play

Apologize for the lack of activity the last day and a half from the promised third part of the season review series. Was busy apartment shifting. Anyway, now that I am well settled in my new abode with a coffee by the side and a laptop in front let me quickly get this review series done with once and for all.

Today we will take a look at our vast array of attacking talent that made the big difference to our season. We will take a look at our wingers, both the good and the bad ones, and our strikers. We will also dwell a bit on our team play, formations and players we may have skipped earlier.

Ryan Giggs

This evergreen winger breathed new life on to the left wing with his trademark winding runs and proved how wrong many people were on his ability to contribute to United’s cause. He may have lost some pace, but he still showed plenty of instances where he did surprise defenders with those runs. He has grown more intelligent, mature and versatile in his game which has ensured his longevity. He cuts in more instead of hugging the touchline to make up for the loss in pace, relying more on his guile to beat opposing players. An excellent season, although contrary to Fergie’s opinion that he’ll last another couple of seasons, I think he has one more season left in him to be able to make a significant contribution. Anything more than that will be a bonus. Once again, great player, great play this season.
Rating: 8/10

Cristiano Ronaldo

Yet another player to have proved the doubters so terribly wrong. The boos that greeted him at away grounds following the World Cup ‘fiasco’ made him grow stronger. Once again credit to the boss and Carlos Queiroz for instilling self belief in the lad. He turned in one brilliant performance after another, winning one award after another. Critics quickly point out to his tendency to go AWOL in crunch games. I say to hell with them, he’s only 22. He’s carried a big chunk of the burden for most part of the season, and a stray bad performance is due; he’s only human. Given the way he’s played, when other ‘star’ players around the world chose to blame the fatigue of the world cup for poor form, he’s done very well for himself and the team in general. Lot’s of fans think he may not stay at United till the end of his career as admittedly his heart does pine occasionally for the warm climes of Spain, this season will be etched in the memory of a lot of fans that will not go away from memory in a hurry.
Rating: 9.5/10

Wayne Rooney

Had a sluggish start to the campaign by his standards and critics were quick to pounce on him for poor form. It is a wonder how many people still think he’s had a poor season. He’s got 23 goals for fuck’s sake! But we take it as a testament to the kid’s (should we still call him that?!) unquestionable talent. Even when he wasn’t getting his first touches right, or having his passes go astray, he worked his socks off all over the pitch. His heart was always in the game and he will run his way into form. His efforts paid off with a glut of goals coming towards the second half of the season, crucially too, because Larsson had gone back and Saha kept breaking some body part of his. More significantly, he’s shown willingness to rein in his temper, getting booked only ten times all season (all competitions) and with no red cards. In a nutshell, Rooney is not finished. His best is yet to come.
Rating: 8/10

Alan Smith

Dude showed great courage and character coming back from a horrendous injury. Turned down loan moves to Championship clubs in January to work his way back into the team. Once back to full fitness, he’s shown good movement and work rate scoring a Champions’ League goal and a few assists in the league. Given what he’s been through, he’s done well for himself to get a look-in for another season at least. The next season though wont be very easy for him, with the possible acquisition of another striker and the return of Rossi to contend with.
Rating: 7/10

Louis Saha

He started the season well. Scoring goals, defying scepticism that he wouldn’t be able to make up for the loss of goal scoring machine – Ruud van Nistelrooy. After January his old nemesis, injuries, returned to haunt him. Thankfully the presence of Larsson and later, the timely recovery of Smith allowed United to carry on in his absence. His movement and ability to hold up the ball brought the fluidity in the team’s play… one that was missing with RvN in the team. But his injury history and tendency to be wasteful in front of goal might have tested Sir Alex’s patience to the hilt and transfer rumours are already doing the rounds.
Rating: 6.5/10

Henrik Larsson

His loan capture was hailed as a brilliant piece of business. It sure was, in the sense that he settled down very quickly and his professionalism galvanized the team, lifted up players, breathed some fresh air in the training ground. He had a much more subtle influence in the team. That kind of a person always lifts the team, and this second wind was required by the team to get through the second half of the season. His goal return however wasn’t very spectacular.
Rating: 7.5/10

Kieran Richardson

I was disappointed with the kid. I expected more from him this season. It was a make or break season for him and frankly, he blew it. At times he seems selfish, as if he wants to prove his worth (which is good), but it doesn’t get backed up either by his crossing or his ability to get past a player or two and provide service to the forwards. Highly inconsistent. Needs to be offloaded asap.
Rating: 5/10

Park Ji-Sung

I like the player. Felt bad for his injury. He’s a great squad player. Can play right across the park in midfield, the wings or as a support striker. He did all this pretty well when he played. He is a bundle of energy and adds valuable depth to our wing play. Nothing else to write about a rather injury ravaged season for the South Korean.
Rating: 6.5/10

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

The man is a legend at United. We all love him. He gets his goals as a supersub. But dear Fergie, he shouldn’t be allowed to start games. He mustn’t play beyond next season. It has been reported that he might take up a backroom coaching role at the club which I believe is good, as his personality draws respect from people all around. Played to what was expected of him as a sub. But don’t expect more from him next season.
Rating: 6/10

Tomasz Kuszczak

(Added him because I had skipped him earlier) Haven’t seen him for prolonged periods to pass judgment on him, although he did his job as a backup keeper pretty well. His positioning on occasions seemed dodgy, but no high profile errors were made. I remember him saving Gilberto’s penalty (although it was a poor penalty in the first place). With Ben Foster’s eye catching performances for Watford, I believe he might be loaned out to another club (Sunderland?) for the next season.
Rating: 7/10

Team Play

The team’s attacking style pleased every one and for once, we were the neutrals’ choice for the title. In Europe and other crunch games we have been accused of holding back on that approach and going for a more conservative 4-3-3. The arrival of Hargreaves points to a more conservative approach (you can read up an earlier post where we discussed the effect his arrival might play on our tactics next season. We had another discussion too on formations). But I think a 4-2-3-1 would best suit our style, now that Hargreaves’ presence lends some steel to our midfield.

Phew, that should about end our series (it’s three parts after all!) reviewing the 2006/07 season. This post has taken for ever to write. My fingers need some rest now.

Hope you enjoyed this series. Keep coming back for more United news and updates.

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Sharath Ciddu

    28 May 2007 at 00:16

    Hi RedRanter,
    football fans have a very short memory. Dont they?
    Saha sat out the second half of the season, and yes he deserves criticism for that. He definitely does. But what about his contribution to the team with all those goals before he was injured? I dont argue with the rating you gave to him. But if he deserves a 6.5, Smith deserves nothing more..

  2. Ahmed Bilal

    28 May 2007 at 11:40

    Saha probably got a 6.5 because of his injury problems (and the ‘it’s all in his head’ comment by Fergie (i’m paraphrasing)).

    Saha would get a 8 for his first half of the season. Good by his standards.

    Rooney, 9 for me. He was exceptional throughout the season.

  3. Red Ranter

    28 May 2007 at 11:40

    Alright alright!
    They are ratings and they are debatable.

    But also don’t accuse me of short memory. I did acknowledge his contribution pre-January. Let me quote it for you:

    He started the season well. Scoring goals, defying scepticism that he wouldn’t be able to make up for the loss of goal scoring machine – Ruud van Nistelrooy.
    […]His movement and ability to hold up the ball brought the fluidity in the team’s play… one that was missing with RvN in the team

    The reason Sdger edged out Saha for me is the difference in attitude. I remember Sir Alex remark about Saha on his injury when he said something to the effect of “I think he is okay but it is all upto him thinking that he is okay to play”. Shows a lack of mental strength, hence the frustrated remark from Sir Alex.

    Once again, it is wrong to even try to be objective about player performances by giving ratings to them in the first place, and I am by no means stating my ratings are to be taken for granted. Disagreements are welcome though! That’s what the comment section is for 🙂

  4. man utd fan

    29 May 2007 at 06:04

    to be honest i was very very disappointed that ronaldo didn’t turn up to the 2 most important matches of the season: AC Milan and Chelsea. bit harsh to criticise him after 2 matches, but the great players show up to these types of games. But otherwise a great season, a part of me feels that because he had already won the copious amounts of domestic awards that made him play worse.

    as for rooney, fantastic attitude, what a player and will definitely keep improving.

  5. Mick

    29 May 2007 at 14:25

    Re Smudger vs Saha.

    Attitude is well and good but you should be judging players by the impression they have left where it matters, on the pitch.

    Saha was instrumental to our charge to the top of the table by Christmas, racked up THIRTEEN goals and numerous assists and generally played like the top-class striker that he is.

    Alan Smith, on the other hand, played just a handful of games – despite being technically available for selection ever since the game against Celtic – scored ONE goal, created a couple of assists and generally played like the journey-man striker that he is.

    But you rate Alan Smith as having a better season than Louis Saha? Pfffft….

    Still, the rest of your article is more or less spot on so I’ll put that down to a temporary madness!

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