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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. Gabriel

    10 June 2009 at 09:28

    @Craig Mc: Dude, I highly doubt it but neither did I see Kaka leaving!!! The difference between us and Milan though is we are winning trophies, that has to count. Also, despite all this talk about Galacticos, Madrid haven’t yet won nothing and are not guaranteed to; Ronnie should know that and if he doesn’t, i’m sure SAF will point it out.

    Part of me says we should just sell but Ronnie is such an important cog in this team, it will leave a massive hole in the team. Although his departure could see the team get a solid balance as we just tend to rely on Ronnie all the time. The guy is just that good!! Despite SAF buying Berba to provide a plan B, he just ends up going back to the Ronnie show. It’s unbelievable!! Fergie absolutely loves that kid and he won’t give in without a fight, beleive me!!! 😆 😆 I reckon Ronaldo will still be a United player next season. 😀

  2. ROOOOONEY

    10 June 2009 at 09:32

    he will go.

  3. Merlinus

    10 June 2009 at 09:41

    Holy Mother of GOD! Will he? or Won’t he? already!.. Don’t start.. please.. 😥

  4. ROOOOONEY

    10 June 2009 at 09:52

    to the bathroom~

  5. Craig Mc

    10 June 2009 at 11:29

    @Gabriel: I would agree Bro, but truth is, Ronnie was wanting so badly to join Madrid last summer, and they hadn’t won anything that season either. So I don’t think not winning anything comes into the equasion really. What might come into making a decision, is that Ronnie loves to think that he is a teams Saviour, that everything depends on him. With Madrid and the new Galacticos he will just be ONE of the stars, rather than the ONLY star, if you know what I mean Gabriel. On the other hand, he may be totally sold on the Galacticos project, and feel that Real Madrid will be bound to win EVERYTHING with their getting of all the worlds so called best players. Lets face it, Ronnie is eventually going to sign for Madrid or another Spanish team, and my worry is that if we leave it another year, we will miss out on a very big fee presently being offered. Glad its not my headache to sort out though Gabriel 😆 . I do know that SAF is not entirely sure of Ronnie, because he said recently in interview, the info that is coming from the other players in the dressing room, is that Ronnie is not talking about going anywhere at the moment. If that is the way that even the great SAF finds out his information, then I would say he has accepted that the decision is not in Man United’s hands anymore!

  6. Craig Mc

    10 June 2009 at 11:36

    @Merlinus: 😆 😆 😆 , 😆 We’re not starting mate, but the ‘will he’ ‘wont he’ saga started when after the CL final, Ronnie said ‘his future would be decided after the internationals’. That statement brought on all the discussions about him leaving United, because once again Ronnie is being dubious about his future 🙄 .

  7. Traverse

    10 June 2009 at 12:26

    According to Marca, David Gill rang Madrid to say if they want Ronaldo it will cost them £96million. Once again, I call bollocks.

  8. Traverse

    10 June 2009 at 12:29

    I meant Euros.

  9. Stephen

    10 June 2009 at 12:30

    @Traverse: The Mail say a deal has been done @ £75m! They also have sent a doctor to LA!

  10. Craig Mc

    10 June 2009 at 12:43

    @Traverse: Trav 😆 😆 😆 , the 89 million euros offered is not far off the 96 million asked for Bro! I know you keep bollocks-ing everything, and we will just have to wait and see if your bollocks-ing turns out to be right or wrong Bro 😀 .

  11. Traverse

    10 June 2009 at 12:44

    @Stephen: IF it’s true, we need to bring in all of our summer signings FIRST. Otherwise we will get nothing out of that money.

    We’ll need another winger, unless Valencia is Ronaldo’s replacement, and Nani is going to start on the left. If not, buy Ashley Young.

    If Ronaldo is leaving, we need goals. A top striker to partner Rooney. I hope that man is Benzema. If not him, the Hunter. If noT him, Emile Heskey (JOKE! :mrgreen: )

  12. Craig Mc

    10 June 2009 at 12:44

    @Stephen: Are you being sarcastic here Bro, or are the Mail really reporting that? I mean sending a doctor to LA, when LA is full of top Docs already 🙄 😀 .

  13. Traverse

    10 June 2009 at 12:48

    @Craig Mc: I’m just not convinced Fergie would sell him to Madrid, especially without being able to go after someone like Kaka as a replacement. It looks like Ribery isn’t coming here, so unless someone like Nani/Anderson/Rooney is going to step up and be the new goal machine we aren’t selling Ronaldo.

    If we suddenly sign Benzema and Ribery, then Ronaldo is probably off…. But it’d be nice to have all 3!

  14. Stephen

    10 June 2009 at 12:49

    @Craig Mc: I take it Real want to send their own doc matey, also the only docs in LA are plastic surgeons! 😆 😆

  15. Stephen

    10 June 2009 at 12:50

    @Traverse: It will be a smack in the face for Fergie after the virus quote, if it is true of course.

  16. Craig Mc

    10 June 2009 at 13:16

    @Stephen: 😆 😆 😆 .

  17. Craig Mc

    10 June 2009 at 13:23

    @Traverse: SAF not selling to Madrid, – we’ll see Bro 🙂 . I believe the decision lies with Ronnie, if he pushes, SAF cannot chain him to OT! If players want out these days, they GET OUT. If Ronnie does go, it will show that all his I am very happy at United, it is my home etc interview to Daily Mail, will in your own words Trav, just turn out to be total bollocks 😆 😆 .

  18. Rahul

    10 June 2009 at 13:40

    Ah how I love to see the usual great summer delectables! The ‘Will he, wont he?’ saga. I am getting used to the eventuality that Ronaldo will leave.
    There is one thing I know for absolute certain – if he leaves, we are half screwed already. There is no ready-made replacement for him anywhere; all the Ribery/Valencia etc comparisons are er.. Bollocks.

  19. Craig Mc

    10 June 2009 at 15:20

    @Rahul: Oh nooooooooooooooooooooooo, not another Bollocks-er on the blog Rahul 😉 😆 .

  20. Traverse

    10 June 2009 at 15:23

    @Craig Mc: Either way I wish we would just get it sorted and done with before midnight on August 31st…

  21. Craig Mc

    10 June 2009 at 15:24

    Oh noooooooooooooooooooo, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, noooooooooooooooo, the feckers are after Rooney now 👿 🙁 . I wondered how long it would take them to get to that one. Rooney was discussed in the Ronaldo discussions, together with Vida. If you want our whole team you feckers, why dont you just BUY the club? 🙄 🙄 🙄 .

  22. Dan

    10 June 2009 at 15:59

    Well, if we get £75mil +sneidjer and huntelaar, then we sign ribery for £50mil or so, would our team not be better then it is now?
    Foster
    rafael
    ferdinand
    vidic
    evra

    valencia
    carrick
    sneidjer
    ribery

    rooney
    huntelaar

    Heck, we put in a cheeky bid for silva, this team would be miles better then what we have now.

  23. Dan

    10 June 2009 at 16:01

    @Craig Mc: i cant see that on the web?

  24. RedDevilEddy

    10 June 2009 at 16:08

    @Dan: Changes are difficult for players. I dont believe that team would win anything the first season, but maybe in the second and third. Looks good on paper, but so do Spurs and Newcastle! 😆

    Oh, and may I say that I find it hillarious that you have Huntelaar in your team! 😯 😆

  25. RedDevilEddy

    10 June 2009 at 16:09

    @Craig Mc: Rooney wont leave. If you would ask me one player I think never will leave United it is Rooney, so that shows how stupid the papers are these days. Fuck them all, WE RULE!!! 😈

  26. Craig Mc

    10 June 2009 at 16:13

    @Dan: That’s because SAF told Madrid, when you wipe off the United debt, we might consider it. That’s how much he thinks Roon and Vida are worth 😆 😆 😆 .

  27. Julian

    10 June 2009 at 16:34

    We have a bit of a problem for central midfield next season. Giggsy’s career certainly enjoyed an Indian summer but I agree he shouldn’t start anymore and therefore cannot be central to Fergie’s midfield plans anymore. Scholes, after a great career is probably just about finished. The jury’s firmly out on Anderson and Gibson has potential and nothing more really at this stage. Possebon – who knows ? So the only certainties are Carrick, Fletcher and Hargreaves with the latter still a great worry injury wise. It seems Fergie will have to get someone else to fill a central midfield role as well as seeking replacements for Tevez (almost certainly) and Ronaldo (maybe). How and where to play Rooney and the, so far at least, quite unconvincing Berbatov, will also provide much food for thought. It should be a busy summer.

  28. Traverse

    10 June 2009 at 17:04

    @Craig Mc: Well then Fergie better start playing Rooney upfront. Going into a Wolrd cup where would you have rather played the season as a stiker? Upfront, or left wing?

  29. johnsom33

    10 June 2009 at 17:10

    Assuming we have reached the end of the road with Ronaldo, and that Madrid are desperate to have him. ALso assuming this ridiculous “pre contract” bollocks is also true(the one where they have to pay 26m if the deal doesnt go thru) I say its time to pull there pants down over it.

    Tell Madrid they can have him for 75m plus Huntelaar and sneijder/robben. that is our opening offer. if the refuse slowly back down until you hit the rock bottom price of 60m plus huntelaar and sneijder. I wouldnt take a penny less than 60m because it would pip the Kaka transfer as the biggest fee ever. I also wouldnt do any deal that didnt involve another player.

    Before you scoff at my 60m plus huntelaar price, consider the ridiculous of the pre contract agreement. This is why I doubt a club would ever do such a thing.
    1. Its concrete evidence of tapping up a player. How can a club reach a contractual agreemtn with another clubs player?
    2. If I understood it wrong, and the deal is actually with Manchester United then its even better for us. We would hold all the cards, Madrid would have till june 30th to reach our demands or be prepared to pay the 26m pound penalty for not keeping their end of the bargain.

    I know this is all fantasy football, but if we are to lose ronaldo this is a scenario would actually be happy with.

    60m+ huntelaar(realistic price)
    60m+ Huntelaar and Sneijder(david gill redeems himself for the berba fee and signing the ridiculous Tevez loan deal.)

  30. Nino

    10 June 2009 at 17:11

    Reports on Sky Sports are suggesting that Maicon wants to leave Inter Milan. If I was Fergie I’d be very interested in his availability to strengthen the RB position for next season.

  31. johnsom33

    10 June 2009 at 17:14

    One thing we can all rest easy over is that Fergie is hands down the best manager ever in rebuilding a team. If we do lose Ronaldo, Fergie is the perfect man to mould our team into a different animal. He will also have the transfer funds to do so, with the proceeds from the sale.

    In Fergie we trust.

  32. johnsom33

    10 June 2009 at 17:15

    @Nino: Maicon wants to leave? hmmmmm

  33. johnsom33

    10 June 2009 at 17:22

  34. johnsom33

    10 June 2009 at 17:42

    Madrid just bought Kaka, they are trying to get Ronaldo, Villa and Ribery. Yet I havent heard 1 word from Platini. What a complete hypocrite. Man I hate that man.

  35. Grognard

    10 June 2009 at 17:53

    @Merlinus: Oh please, Konami have made millions selling their game around the world for over a decade. There is no excuse for better graphics. Their player physics up close are a joke and yes their first touch and dribbling is pretty nice but the game is too easy in my opinion and to arcade like. I also laugh at the awful stadium and crowd renderings and the look of the goals and pitches are bland and unoriginal.

    When I bought the XBOX titles 5 and 6 years ago I was amazed at how much fun the game was and even though the graphics weren’t great, they were comparable to FIFA. Since then FIFA has improved greatly (don’t get me wrong, they are far from perfect too) where PES continues to offer us ten year old technology in the 360 next gen platform. Inexcusable.

    I remember designing entire leagues and teams for two season of the Bundesliga in the late 70’s and early 80’s on that game back 2005 and 2007 as well as all the teams from the 1974 and 1978 World Cups. I had all the teams and kits down perfect and my expertise on the subject as well as my yearbooks and numerous photos and videos of the German league at the time allowed me to capture a very accurate look for the games as well as the players. Why? Because their editing tool and it’s options were that good for it’s day and it allowed you to be able to take up ambitious projects like that. Many man hours went into me creating those teams and leagues but I still find myself playing the game because it’s fun and very nostalgic for me. It’s too bad that once the Konami boys decided to go to the 360 platform they scrapped all the useful and good elements of their old games. And there is no excuse for only being able to give us a marginal improvement in graphics. Just not acceptable. They have lost me as a customer for life.

  36. Grognard

    10 June 2009 at 17:59

    @RedDevilEddy: I too like keeping my teams real but I pretend in my head that I have a budget of around 40 million and so I will sell players in order to make up money. I am presently playing with United where I have sold Anderson (big surprise) and Scholes as well as Berbatov and have bought only two players, but they are big. I bought Essien and Benzema and of course I have a healthy Hargreaves. So far I like what I see. Essien has been fantastic and Benzema has gotten it going too, although he started very slowly. I guess I need to get used to how to work him around. But still Ronaldo is the man and Rooney is pretty damned good too. I only wish Evra would play as well in real life as I play him in the game. He still sucks offensively as both he and Tevez couldn’t make a good pass in the attacking zone if their lives depended on it. But at least in FIFA, Evra doesn’t get skinned like a sausage all the time. 😀

  37. Grognard

    10 June 2009 at 18:02

    @Craig Mc: Believe nothing you read mate. Fergie is on holidays and nothing will be done before he returns. Also, Perez said that he looks forward to talking with united. That means nothing has happened yet and it’s just Marca spouting their usual BS. Have we learned nothing from last off season? 😀

  38. Traverse

    10 June 2009 at 18:04

    @Grognard: Unfortunately for the 360, in a recent interview about the new Fifa, head of EA Sports said the developers have done all they can on the 360 with FIFA 10 and there is no more headroom on the discs or processing power. This is not the case on the PS3 luckily for me …

  39. Grognard

    10 June 2009 at 18:07

    @Craig Mc: Ronaldo is a passive aggresive loon. He likes to say things to the press to show that he is in charge and he likes to have moments of petulance in puyblic to show that he is an independent thinker and not ruled by anyone but as soon as the Boss says “Ronny, shut it. Come home and put a sock in it, enough already.” Ronny shuts up, puts his tail between his legs and legs it home like his master Fergie told him to do. It reminds me a lot of the way Fergie orders the Ronny puppet to stop and shutup during episodes of “Special1 TV” As soon as he shouts at Ronny, all the passive aggressive stuff turns into cowardice and Ronny gets grounded in reality again. I honestly believe this.

  40. Grognard

    10 June 2009 at 18:12

    @Traverse: One thing is for sure. If Perez wants to heal old wounds with United, he will tread carefuly in how he approaches United with an offer for Ronaldo. In other words, nothing Real Madrid is doing or not doing about this possible transfer is going to be reported to Marca and nobody close to the situation is going to be allowed to say anything to the press. If a deal is to be done, it will be done behind closed doors and highly respective of United. Therefore all the things we are reading, all the rumours etc, are nothing more than an enormous mountain of bull shit. Believe none of it until you see a press conference with Gill Fergie, Ronaldo and Perez. And I personally don’t think it will happen. I seriously doubt that Fergie would ever sell Ronaldo unless he was guaranteed his replacement or replacements before the deal was done. He’s got no intention of leaving the team out in the cold with their talisman gone for good.

  41. Grognard

    10 June 2009 at 18:14

    @Stephen: BS mate, BS. Trust me. Nothing is done until Fergie shows up from holidays. And then I expect Fergie to come out and say “Ronaldo is not for sale at any price.”

  42. Dan

    10 June 2009 at 18:15

    what season are you lads in for fifa? because for me, im so far in its impposibble for me to buy a real player thats better then the fake young guns!

    Heck, im ready to sell ronaldo, and buy this lad called bollat from city whos 17 and rated at 87 😯

    The only real players still in my team are:
    adler
    lahm(but he is about to find himself on the bench)
    vidic
    ronaldo
    hamsik
    fabregas(he also is about to be parked on his arse, probably even sold!)

    Another scary thought, only two of those players are from united, ive sold about roughly 85-95% of my original squad, i know i still have hargreaves, but i also have a bunch of reserves that i dont use and they are some still might be united players 😆

  43. Grognard

    10 June 2009 at 18:17

    @Craig Mc: Can’t you all see this is nothing but bullshit? Honestly, stop falling for this tabloid bull crap. It’s Marca and the Sun and all their minions stirring up shite because they are bored and because that is what they do. Enough already! Don’t buy into any of it. 🙄

  44. Grognard

    10 June 2009 at 18:19

    @Dan: The problem with that theory is assuming United agree to get those players back in return. Knowing the team as it is owned by the Glazer’s, I think they will prefer the money, give Fergie half of it and keep the other half for debt repayment. Are they smart enough to include Scheijder and Huntelaar in a swap deal? I don’t think so. Because frankly, Fergie has shown no interest in these players of late.

  45. RedDevilEddy

    10 June 2009 at 18:19

    @Dan: Only the second season right now, because my previous team got fucked up when I reached the Charity Shield of my fourth season. The last game I played then was:

    Foster
    Rafael Rio Vidic Evra
    Ronaldo Hargreaves Anderson Nani
    Rooney Welbeck

    sybs: Amos, Evans, Fabio/Brown, Eddy, Carrick, Salouk(scouting, LW), Macheda

    I beat everyone 9-0… 😎

  46. RedDevilEddy

    10 June 2009 at 18:20

    Oh, and new thread guys. Defense part…

  47. Grognard

    10 June 2009 at 18:20

    @RedDevilEddy: Hey! Don’t make fun of Dan regarding Huntelaar. He’s slowly coming around. Don’t stir up his old feelings. I have him just where I want him. 😉 👿 😈 😀

  48. Grognard

    10 June 2009 at 18:21

    @RedDevilEddy: Totally 100% agree with you there mate. Rooney is United for life.

  49. RedDevilEddy

    10 June 2009 at 18:23

    @Grognard: 😆 Sure champ, I will follow your orders! 😀

  50. Grognard

    10 June 2009 at 18:24

    @Traverse: The whole point in getting Valencia is to end the experiment with Rooney playing on the left. I think Fergie has always wanted Rooney to play striker but he needed him elsewhere because he had holes he needed to fill and Wayne never complained and was very versatile. Valencia should give Wayne peace and contentment at striker finally.

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