I thought of doing a three part preview, but then decided against it because it could be rather long drawn and tiresome. Also, I’m sure, I wouldn’t want to bore you with a three part preview because I really don’t get the point of stretching a preview to three parts. So let’s see how I can preview the 08/09 season as short as possible.
This will be the most interesting part of our team. If — and at this point it looks like it’s safe to say, when — Berbatov arrives (along with Manucho) it will give our strike force a new look. Sir Alex Ferguson will be left with a happy conundrum — that of picking his best two strikers. Whilst the price paid for Berbatov ensures that he will get a sizeable chunk of appearances this season, the fees paid for Rooney, and that touted for Tevez, is no chicken feed either. It will be interesting to see how the boss picks his starting strikers.
When I talk about attack, I also refer to our wingers who play an important role in our interchangeable system. Early on, with a tough fixture list, an injured Ronaldo, a suspended Nani, and a new signing (Berbatov, hopefully) it will be quite tricky for us going forward. It could mean having to play Tevez on the wing if Rooney and Berbatov are to be pressed into action against Newcastle (as unlikely as it may sound.) The return of Park to training augurs well for the short term as the ageing Ryan Giggs will need to be on his better days early on.
Let’s make no pretense about it: the start of the season is going to be very challenging and tough. And the key to our fortunes for the rest of the season rests on how Fergie manages his depleted forward line for the first few games.
If we stay afloat till October when Ronaldo returns, it will give us the boost to switch gears. Or who knows… maybe our new signing will inspire us even before Ronaldo steps on the turf.
Player to watch out for: Carlos Tevez. The Argentine, to me, looks like he’ll have a stormer of a season.
On paper, we have a midfield as good as any in the Premier League. Unfortunately, at the moment, Hargreaves remains crocked, and Anderson is in Beijing. So we will start with Carrick and Scholes in midfield. Which isn’t all that bad against the likes of Newcastle and Portsmouth. In fact, with Darren Fletcher I wouldn’t be too worried to get the job done against such opposition. But the return to full fitness of Hargreaves, and the return of Anderson will give our midfield the formidable look that it deserves.
Player to watch out for: I think this is going to be Michael Carrick’s season. But again, I also think Hargreaves will prove everyone why he was bought. For real.
It’s the one area I am least worried about. We have an outstanding first choice back four and an able backup. If Neville is fit, he will return to the starting XI. It would need a few games to gauge his value to the team, although it would be extremely unfair on Wes Brown. I don’t need to talk anymore about the peerless Rio, Vidic and Evra axis. I expect another stingy season from our defence — barring any injuries.
Player to watch out for: None in particular. Because they are all quality and they’ve all proved their pedigree.
Overall Performance and Tactics
I have a feeling that we’ll appear a little disjointed at the start of the season because of a lack of a settled line up in pre-season, and due to injuries and suspensions. But I have been wrong in the past. Queiroz’s absence will be quite a blow, however, Fergie’s experience will see through that problem. With the presence of a target man we will see more of a 4-2-3-1 formation.
It will sound rather strange to you all, but I generally am a low expectation fan. It gives me immense joy just to see my team trot out week-in, week-out and put on a display of some excellent attacking football. And as a Manchester United fan I am spoilt in that sense. The years of trophies have made me indebted to the lads and Fergie in particular, so I feel guilty if I expect Fergie to deliver me a treble or even another Premier League title. I think I will be satisfied with a trophy other than the Carling Cup. Don’t get me wrong — I will be gutted if we don’t win the Premiership. That’s something I always want because that’s what we spend the year waiting for. But I won’t call for heads to roll if we get pipped at the post. As long as we play good football, I think we can win the league title this year too. Personally, I’d like us to win the FA Cup because it’s been a while — I know, I know, we are a spoiled lot! I won’t be gutted if we didn’t win the Champions’ League, except of course, if we lost it to another English club in the final.
I think we’ll win either the League or the FA Cup. The presence of a good core of youth will get us far into the Carling Cup competition (and I think we’ll win it this time.) And we might make it as far as the semis of the Champions’ League.
So that’s the preview for the season. Hopefully you found it terrible reading (especially my expectations and predictions for the new season). I am excited about the new season and I hope you are too. Fasten your seat belts with only two more days to go! Hopefully we at Red Rants can help you along another roller coaster season.
Come on you Reds!
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