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Manchester United 07/08 Season Preview

I am not back as yet from my mini-vacation, but that hasn’t stopped me from sneaking in to make a post. (Label me jobless, useless, or with other juicier insults, but with the season closing in, this is out of an irresistible urge to post! So there.) Also much thanks to Ahmed and Brian who have stepped in and continued our conversations, in my absence. Hats off lads!

Getting back to the article, I realised that I hadn’t posted a preview to the season yet so I’ll do it now. Read on…

The Attack
As appetising as it might sound, if I start rattling off the names of our attackers, I believe it will be Rooney, Ronaldo, Giggs (and Tevez) who will bear the burden of leading United’s attacks. Yes, I mention Giggs, because his versatility would be of immense value to the team and this season he will look more to pass than go at the opposition on his own. He and Scholes might play alternatively in the hole. But his value cannot be underestimated. For what they were worth, his finishing, in both – the Dunfermline as well as the Chelsea – games, was sublime.

While needless to say, there is more to come from Rooney and Ronaldo – especially Rooney, who is due a big season. Tevez might make his debut in the City game on Aug 19. We’ll talk about his performances once we actually start seeing him play. Nani has been easing into the side nicely, and his goals (and celebrations) have been impressive. I think it is unfair to compare him to Ronaldo, but for a promising winger from Portugal and Sporting Lisbon, such comparisons are unavoidable. What I liked from his game so far has been this: he looks to create more, showboat less thus tries to make most efficient use of the ball without sacrificing a little bit of his creativity. I know he’s played against inferior opposition, but his progress, integrating into the United setup, has been very good and that will hold him in good stead come Reading. I would actually expect him to start on the bench and come on as a sub. If his pre-season showings have been anything to go by, there would be more of Nani than previously expected.

Anderson will take a little more time. He’s shown good touch and good vision. He’s run his lungs out even when he’s not with the ball and looks to create. However he needs more time to integrate, and he’s still raw. But he does promise a lot to us. A surprise addition to this category is Patrice Evra. He’s been played in the wing in pre-season more often and has impressed. He’s also scored two well taken goals in the pre-season. It is sign that SAF wants him as another attacking option.

Chris Eagles, Lee Martin and Dong would do well with loan spells at Premiership clubs. And Saha> What of him? He’s still an excellent striker to have but for his injury problems. As a player he has almost everything one would want in a striker including aerial prowess and strength as Rob Smyth in a Guardian article pointed out. At the moment though, he is a subject of intense ridicule even among fans like this one.

The Midfield Engine
Carrick and Hargreaves would be normally expected to take up the central midfield berth. But Scholes’ quick return would see him most probably start against Reading. Carrick’s looked to go more forward in pre-season. It is an indication of SAF trying to groom him into that role he would eventually have to take. Hargreaves, according to reports, had another solid game against Dunfermline. I think both Carrick and Hargreaves wouldn’t be played straightaway. Scholes should start alongside either one of them and as the Ninja is rested these two will be slowly pushed into the side together.

Fletcher and O’Shea’s versatility would ensure that they will certainly play crucial roles this season. Although, the number of games they will get will be significantly lower than last season when each got around 40 games. They offer good depth and can play across the park. Trust SAF’s man management skills to work wonders here as he will make sure all get good matches under their belt to be ready for the final push – come the business end of the season.

Gibson would benefit on loan at a Premiership (or even a Championship) level club.

The Defence
The central pairing of Vidic and Ferdinand look well settled and fit. But should any injury come we will hopefully get to see Pique or Evans deputising. Although I think SAF might trust Brown over Evans, Pique or even Silly. Evra would take his customary left back position unless the boss decides to push him forward and bring Silly to play at left back. Brown would play right back till Neville takes over. However I would love for Fergie to show more faith in Pique. The lad needs more confidence from the manager, or else he could easily run off to Spain where, I’m sure, a host of suitors are ready in line, waiting with their cheque books.

I’d also love it if Evans gets a run in at left back instead of Silly. Although, he looks certain to be paired with Pique at the centre in the Carling Cup and early rounds of the FA Cup. I find Simpson promising, but I don’t expect him to feature prominently, but for some injury crisis.

So the season looks promising for us and as Scott would say in another excellent post on his blog (I am running out of adjectives here) United have nothing to fear. I am trying not to sound smug here. Just saying that the fearlessness that I am talking about should reflect on our playing style on the pitch, uninhibited by mind games and irrespective of opposition.

So here’s raising a toast to another successful season for United.

To Glory!