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Manchester United 08/09 Season Review – Part II: The Midfield

Part II of this odyssey takes you to the realms of middle-earth, also known in modern times as the middle-field, or simply, midfield. The concept of the midfield here has been tweaked ever so slightly to consider only the positions in the centre of the park. The wings were covered in chapter one of this epic trilogy, so kindly proceed here to read it in case you haven’t.

Central midfield for United has been in a state of constant flux. And that can be reflected in the almost impossible task of trying to predict the players that will play there for us for any given game. Fitness, and Ferguson’s inner voice alone, decides who gets to start on a given day. To some extent Michael Carrick has been a relatively permanent fixture.

Ryan Giggs:

It’s amazing to see the man still strut his stuff in United colours, yet it’s also sad to see his player of the year award dismissed as nothing more than a sentimental lifetime achievement award. It’s not his fault that the voting was held at the time when he was stringing in great performances while re-inventing himself in the centre of midfield. It is a clearly obvious shift in his role this season to a purely central one (whilst he did it in bits and pieces in the 07/08 season) that he has been included amongst central midfielders in the end of season review. But despite the hyperbole that came his way when he had a few very good performances in end December, January and mid-Feb this has been a season which has shown it glaringly to the manager that Giggs cannot do it anymore on a consistent basis. I love the player to bits, but I can see that he cannot be considered a starter for us anymore. He’s reinvented himself against the tide of doubt on countless occasions, and he did show us another avatar of himself this season. But he has to be no more than a squad player next season — and I think even he, surely, would recognise that fact.

He’s done well on occasion to roll back the years, but he’s also found wanting on quite a few — not entirely his fault when the manager expected a far greater load on him than was warranted of a 35 year old.

Rating: 7.5/10

Paul Scholes

*cliche alert* Another great servant of the club but, in his case, his time was already up last season. He’s been rather average, and age and physicality of the league has finally caught up with him. His highlight reel will undoubtedly hark back to that volleyball red card against Zenit St Petersburg, and the sending off at Fulham. He showed flashes of being able to do it in short bursts, but to me, this ought to have been his last season — and I don’t mean it as disrespect.

Rating: 6/10

Darren Fletcher:

Stepped into the giant Hargreaves shaped, tendinitis afflicted void seamlessly. He just grew with every game right through the season. The Chelsea game stands out as well as the Champions’ League Arsenal game, before being sent off. The fact that there is even a debate over what might have been had Fletch played in the Champions’ League final is testimony to the way he has grown in stature at the club when, not too long ago, he was one of the objects of Roy Keane’s ire following our 4-1 embarrassment against Boro.

Oh, how the tide has turned!

Rating: 7.5/10

Anderson:

When Anderson came to the club in the summer of 2007, he was a virtual unknown, despite papers hailing him the next Ronaldinho. The fact was no one in the club seemed to know what his position was. Expectations weren’t much to talk about, which was why when he was not intimidated against the likes of Gerrard and Fabregas in his first season, he was hailed as the next midfield magician. 2008/09 has been a more sobering realisation of his talents. He has blown hot and cold this season. On occasion he seems to make killer passes, on other occasions he seems to pass the ball right back to the opposition player. It’s been frustrating to watch him play. He missed the early part of the season to injury and took a while to get going in the second half. His performance in the final was diabolical, but again, it’s unfair to single him out in a game when everyone was generally poor.

Ferguson calls him the natural successor to Paul Scholes. I don’t agree with it, because he is a completely different player to the Ninja. He needs to work on keeping the ball, looking up for the right pass to make, and run less often with his head down. Quite a few traits that he needs to work on (apart from his terrible shooting) if he is to become anyone approaching Scholes. They say he has age on his side. I hope he does. It will be fantastic to see him become a good, consistent player, but he needs to work on his game a lot more than one believes.

Rating: 6/10

Michael Carrick:

It’s been a long journey for the former Spurs man. He is now the heart beat of United’s midfield. He has shown consistent improvement over the seasons and this year he’s shown more offensive ambition than the past. Having a very good midfield enforcer would be even beneficial to the man’s talents because it would free him up to move up the pitch. He’s also added a few goals to his tally, and hopefully that would improve next season.

A very good season for the man — if only there was a stable partner who could reliably do the dirty work in midfield.

Rating: 8/10

Honourable mentions: Rodrigo Possebon showed some glimpses of technique far superior to the fare English clubs churn out in their academies. He is in the mould of Carrick, but would benefit from a loan spell in a Premiership club. Another shout goes to Darron Gibson who, in his limited appearances, actually showed a lot of drive going forward. However, it looks like he might see his future elsewhere, and we wish him the best wherever he goes.

This ends Part II. Join us tomorrow for Part III — which should be the last part, unless I decide otherwise.

322 Comments

322 Comments

  1. RedDevilEddy

    10 June 2009 at 18:24

    @Grognard: Wazza is da pimp-shrimp of Old Trafford! 😎

  2. Grognard

    10 June 2009 at 18:25

    @johnsom33: Bayern Munich have done us a big favour. They have posted an asking price for Ribery at 87.5 million. If true, then we will not accept a price less than 90 million as Ronaldo is worth more than Ribery in his sleep. Digest that you Spanish assholes.

  3. RedDevilEddy

    10 June 2009 at 18:27

    @Grognard: I think the fact that our first choice left wigners this season have been Ronaldo and Rooney says a lot… Ronaldo is a right winger, and Rooney is a striker, and Park is just not a winger, so the thought of getting Valencia makes me happy! 😀

  4. Grognard

    10 June 2009 at 18:27

    @Nino: In two years time Rafael will make you forget you even thought about Maicon. Trust me. 🙂

  5. RedDevilEddy

    10 June 2009 at 18:28

    @Grognard: In four years I will make you forget about Rafael… 😎

  6. Grognard

    10 June 2009 at 18:33

    @johnsom33: Christ I hate that prick back in 1976. There was always something abouthim that just rubbed me the wrong way. Certain players have that affect over me. Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Didier Drogba, John Terry, Paolo Rossi, Ronaldinho, Rijkaard, and Maradona are players I just hated with a passion. Some of them I know were incredible players but that never took away my incredible dislike for them. Platini would near the top of that list alongside Ronaldinho and Henry. Assholes and punks the whole lot of them.

  7. Grognard

    10 June 2009 at 18:38

    @Traverse: Yes but the 360 is on it’s last legs. Microsoft is presently in the works for the next gen console to be revealed sometime next year. Possibly at E3 in 2010. That will leave the PS3 in the dust for the next 3 to 4 years until Sony decide to up the anti themselves. They have put too much money and sweat fixing all the problems with the PS3 to scrap it now or in the near future for the PS4. But I know from a couple of close friends working in Seattle for Microsoft that work on the next console is ahead of schedule and we are talking no longer than 18 months before it is released. Then you will see FIFA as it should be. I hope. I’m hoping Peter Moore is keeping them busy at EA because they were getting lazy there for quite a while.

  8. Grognard

    10 June 2009 at 18:42

    @Dan: I’ll be honest folks. Although I do buy and sell players, I often will start a game and place what major player I want on my team before I go into a season or manager mode. Who cares if this is cheating. The buying and selling model in FIFA is rank amateur childish shite anyway. So I place the players I really want and get rid of the ones that I think would make the team unfairly unbalanced and then proceed to move the team into a manager mode scenario. Like i give a rats ass if I ever buy a player using their transfer tool. Now that of course is different for those playing live, but I don’t do so. If the game had a Football Manager feel to it with that kind of complexity and realism, then i would play by the rules.

  9. Grognard

    10 June 2009 at 18:44

    @Dan: At least you listened to me about Adler and Lahm. I consider that a personal victory even though I know you will not credit me with that. 😀

  10. Grognard

    10 June 2009 at 18:46

    @RedDevilEddy: God! You’re worse than Fergie. Have you considered going out there to buy a player and some new blood and a new look to your team. If I had to put up with our existing lineup for one more season I would go crazy from stale boredom. 😀

  11. Grognard

    10 June 2009 at 18:48

    @RedDevilEddy: I’m counting on that but I would prefer if you helped me forget about Evra…..PLEASE. 😉

  12. Dan

    10 June 2009 at 18:54

    @Grognard: ive always liked those two, i prefer foster though.(in real life)

  13. Dan

    10 June 2009 at 18:54

    @Grognard: cheater! 😉

  14. Dan

    10 June 2009 at 18:55

    @Grognard: No, i wouldnt spend more then £7mil on him, but i wouldnt mind him coming in on a free.

  15. Red Ranter

    10 June 2009 at 18:56

    For those waffling here unaware of the treasures that lay beyond, part 3 is up. Head over there to continue waffling, but in bliss. 🙂

  16. Dan

    10 June 2009 at 18:57

    @Grognard: i agree, they’re punks like that, we need someone different in higher management EG Manager, assistant manager, chief executive or chairman. One of these positions need revamping with a new fresh lad with urgency.

  17. Craig Mc

    10 June 2009 at 19:57

    @Grognard: We’ll see! I told you last year that Ronnie was going to Spain this year, because of what the United players Missus told my friend. I wont believe Ronnie is staying until I see his name up on the electronic scoreboard at OT starting next season. 🙂 .

  18. Craig Mc

    10 June 2009 at 19:59

    @Grognard: Fergie isn’t on holiday though yet!

  19. Craig Mc

    10 June 2009 at 20:07

    @Grognard: Grog the preseident/secretary of Real Madrid was on Setanta sports here this evening, saying to the whole world that they are talking with Man United management and Fergie, over the lasr few days! They are not talking to Bayern or L’Pool about Ribery or Alonso who they want also, because these clubs have told them firmly that they are not going to sell. He said if the situation changes they will talk with the clubs. But he confirmed they were in talks with Ronaldo and Man United. So if he was lying in front of the TV cameras, and we are not talking about Marca here, we are talking about a member of the Real M management team, then they should be punished for saying what they are. Anyway believe what you like Bro, I am only saying what I heard from the Madrid official himself talking on Setanta.

  20. Grognard

    10 June 2009 at 21:50

    @Dan: It’s not cheating when you consider yourself infinitely smarter than the designers of the game. They are total quints so when I do things, I consider it an improvement on a stupid game engine and user interface that limits practical and realistic use of players. Like I said earlier, they begin to have a transfer and player engine like Football Manager, I’ll quit creating my teams outside of the box.

  21. Grognard

    10 June 2009 at 21:52

    @Craig Mc: I heard he was in the south of France tanning his red nose brown. 😕

  22. Grognard

    10 June 2009 at 21:55

    @Craig Mc: Well that is disturbing indeed. If United were still adamant about not selling Ronaldo, they wouldn’t open up dialog with these pricks. On that note, it appears to me that Ronaldo’s days at United are indeed numbered. 😥 😥 🙁 🙁

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