This is Part I of our three part series on Manchester United’s successful 07/08 season. We’ve broken it up into three parts: the Attack, the Midfield and the Defence. Now we must also be clear about what I mean by these; the attack comprises of our strikers and wingers; the midfield is strictly central midfielders; the defence would represent our central defenders and ‘keepers.
So let’s get on with this shall we?
Had to endure two frustrating injury spells, be it the first day against Reading or some random training equipment. The belief that a relaxed summer might have had a good effect on him was proved right when he came back from injury to go on a rich vein of form. But following the new year his goal scoring form appeared to have dipped. There is no escaping the fact that he’s not a natural finisher and he is at his destructive best when allowed free rein behind the striker or in a free role. But from a mental aspect this season was perhaps the best we’ve seen from Rooney. He’s been selfless, constantly running around the place to help the defence, he’s matured a lot and throws far fewer tantrums than before. His performances — whilst unfortunately and perhaps rightly so — have been judged by his goal return and his inability to finish clear cut chances, but his overall role has been understated.
To me, Rooney represents the future of Manchester United. It’s a little premature, but if there is a player that might finish his career at United from the current crop of youngsters, it is Rooney. Ronaldo may be the man of the moment, but Rooney is going to be the one for the long run.
I like his growth this season in other aspects of his game, but I think leading the line may not have been the best idea. Nevertheless, Rooney’s still had a good season. Rating: 8/10
Ronaldo has continued to make 7 a special number for Manchester United. This season he has managed to outdo his past seasons; the puffed up chest, the free kicks, the ice-cool nerves in penalties (usually); the ability to finish with both feet, head, back heel, thigh, crotch make him a complete player. He can be stopped when the opposition double-teams on him because he relies on raw pace, jugglery with his feet and is destructive on the break. He may not have the same close control of say, Messi, but he’s fit, strong and can leave full backs biting the dust.
Ronaldo has exceeded all expectations and it’s hard to think of another winger who could equal his record for a long time. His flirtation with Madrid and the Spanish press could be a little unsettling for the United faithful but, surely, he should be running along the wing at OT for another year. Rating: 9.5/10
The phrase “unsung hero” could never be better applied to another player. It must be terribly gutting to see him not make the bench in the final considering his contribution in the run up. But whilst other players would go on a strop he’s been a picture of dignity.
Park’s involvement in this season began late, considering he came back from a bad, bad injury. But he was crucial in providing depth in the squad. Players like Nani, while being extremely talented, were still finding their footing in the league. But Park did the job when called upon with his endless running and tracking back when asked to. Rating: 7/10
The Argentine is a legend at Upton Park, and he looks on his way to becoming one at OT. He was as crucial for ensuring West Ham’s survival, last season, as he was for United winning the double. He scored plenty of crucial goals and, like Rooney, ran till he dropped. He was a bit suspect in finishing but for any player scoring 19 goals in his first season at a club is impressive.
The man has heart — an Englishman in an Argentine body, if that makes sense — and looks like he’s here to stay. Fergie, make his loan deal permanent. Rating: 8/10
Poor season for the player, blighted by injuries. Five goals to show for it. Most United fans have run out of patience, and we believe the manager may have too, rightly so. It’s surely the end of a what may have been career at United. Sell him off, Fergie. Rating 5.5/10
An inconsistent season, but considering he’s young and it’s his first season fair play to him. He’s been wasteful, selfish, shown poor decision making, dived but he’s shown good potential and given us enough reason to believe that he’ll be better this season. He’s been pressed into action earlier than usual, shown great ability to deliver telling crosses and has smashed a couple of screamers. His most memorable performance would be the Arsenal FA Cup game and he must look back on those performances to drive himself on. Rating: 7/10
Scored the goal that sealed our Premiership crown. Scored the winning penalty. Won ten Premiership titles. Two Champions’ League titles. Went past Bobby Charlton’s record. One word: Legend.
But that said, he’s had his own critics and quite easily, the worst season of his United career. Fergie has said that he’ll look to phase out the old boys, so we will see less of him next season. But we will perhaps appreciate the true magnitude of his achievement when he calls it a day. An underwhelming season, but a legend nonetheless. Rating: 6.5/10
Up next is our review on central midfield and defence. So watch this space.
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