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Manchester United 07/08 Season Review: The Midfield

Yesterday we talked about the attack and got a good response in the comments as well. For those who missed it, head over and have a look at the ratings and do drop in your comments.

Today we discuss the midfield, and as I mentioned earlier, we mean the central midfield.

Paul Scholes:
As with Giggs, another great servant of Manchester United. Quite easily among the most technically gifted English midfielders of the past decade. Scholesy’s international retirement has been our gain as this has helped keep him fresh for our games, but this season he clearly seemed on his last legs. SAF has said his contribution next season will be much less than this year. The Ginger Prince made an excellent start after returning from injury, with a great performance against Pompey, earlier this year. But after that early promise he seemed to fade away a bit. He punctuated some below-par performances with the odd great ‘un, but overall he has been underwhelming by his own high standards.

He, however reserved his best for the last. While being run over against Barcelona in the first leg, he managed to keep his cool and not earn any yellow cards, while blasting the winner in the second leg. In the final against Chelsea, his one-two with Brown led to the goal against Chelsea. Whilst he was overrun by Ballack and co in the second half, it must be noted that he was battling a bloody nose throughout the game. Rating: 7/10

Michael Carrick:
After a slow start to the season, Carrick has managed to overcome stiff competition for the midfield berth to become a regular. That, in itself, is rebuttal to the earlier criticism that he doesn’t have the bottle to fight for his place. Carrick has certainly improved his passing range this season. He has attempted more forward and ambitious passes than he’s ever done before but he is still capable of doing better than what he’s shown. Rating: 7/10

Owen Hargreaves:
Has had a stop start first season when his injury situation was scaring the hell out of many fans. Thankfully he seems to have overcome all that and can be judged on his performance on the pitch instead of his injury. He ended the season strongly and has shown enough character to potentially become one of United’s most important players in the coming years. His versatility — he can play at right back, right wing apart from central midfield — has given United options they never previously had. His performance at home on the right wing against Roma was one of the highlights. He’s got excellent crossing ability, great engine, and a good head on his shoulders. He’s a fighter, and had he come to the Premier League earlier, many more people would have seen what Sven saw in him. Rating: 7.5/10

The surprise package. No one expected too much from him in his very first season. When Scholes, Carrick and Hargreaves suffered injuries and knocks, everyone thought the season was going to be pretty tough. Not to mention, some hacks writing him off after the defeat at Coventry in the Carling Cup.

Coming on as a sub in the Wigan game changed everything; he turned the game with his energy and passing. But it were the big games where he really grew in fans’ estimation. His power packed performances against Arsenal at the Emirates or Liverpool at Anfield showed the lad had much more in him than quick feet. Upstaging Gerrard and Fabregas in their own den at the tender age of 19 would be the thing of dreams for most footballers. Players like him are the reason why we came so far this season. SAF now has the ability to look at his bench when things aren’t going so well on the pitch, and smile. Anderson’s introduction against Arsenal at OT again changed the game. And his nerveless penalty in the final also showed what he’s made of. An excellent debut season. Rating: 7.5/10

Darren Fletcher:
He’s done the job when called upon like he’s always done. The good thing about United’s squad is that fringe players are always ready to play when the manager calls them up and don’t sulk when they are not called upon. Fletcher has played much less this season than before but he’s been important to the squad. He has this uncanny knack of doing well in big games, like the FA Cup game against Arsenal. However he was run over in the loss at Stamford Bridge. A good squad player, but I can’t see him progress beyond this at United. Rating: 6.5/10