This season is a new era for Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson is all I have ever known, as will be the case for a lot of people, and now he’s no longer there. A new man will be there in the dugout. For Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes was the only choice. He was the man the club wanted, he ticked all the boxes and now it’s up to him to stamp his own image on Manchester United.
I was initially underwhelmed with the appointment but that sooned turned into excitement. A 6 year contract shows the faith Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson have in David Moyes. His teams are always set out in the right way. Everton have been difficult opponents in recent years because of the effort his players put in off the ball and the intensity and attacking intent Moyes’ team plays with.
The pressing game is something that Man Utd didn’t really play under Sir Alex Ferguson. It’s one thing I felt would’ve really benefitted us over the years. I’m sure I’ve not been the only frustrated fan screaming for our man to close down the opposition! This is one aspect of a David Moyes team I’m very much looking forward to.
The first issue David Moyes has had to deal with is Wayne Rooney. The forward has intimated to the club for a second time that he wants out. Sir Alex Ferguson, on the night Manchester United secured the Premier League title, left Wayne Rooney with a parting gift; communicating to the fans that he has again asked for a transfer. He was subsequently dropped for the remainder of the season and was booed by the fans when picking up his Premier League winners medal during the trophy presentation.
Since taking the helm at Old Trafford David Moyes has been adamant that Wayne Rooney is not for sale; rejecting two bids for him from Chelsea, the second of which was in the region of £30million. While I have no real love for Rooney, letting him go to Chelsea would be a mistake we may rue, significantly strengthening the position they most need and therefore I support the club’s stance. It’s rather ironic that the reason he gave for his first transfer request is now the reason why he wants out on this second occasion. Rooney questioned the ambition of the club and subsequently the ambition the club showed made him 2nd choice and less relevant.
In terms of new acquisitions we have already seen for the first time WIlfried Zaha from Crystal Palace take the field for Manchester United. Having been bought in January and loaned back for the remainder of that season to help Crystal Palace gain promotion to the Premier League, Zaha has impressed massively throughout the pre-season tour. He has been one of the better performers in each of the games that he has played in. He subsequently started his first game of the season in the Community Shield against Wigan at Wembley.
This pre-season has been one for the young lads. Along with Zaha, the better performers includes two teenagers from the U21’s; Jesse Lingard and Adnan Januzaj. The three aforementioned had often found themselves playing as a 3 behind the striker and were mightily impressive. The two lads from the U21’s did much to impress and should find themselves on the fringes of the first team. Adnan Januzaj came off the bench to play in the community shield and is likely to be involved a lot more this season, and could even be involved in the match day squad at Swansea on the opening day of the Premier League season.
This summer Manchester United’s main pursuits in the transfer window have been less than fruitful. Two Barcelona midfielders have been on the radar with no avail. Thiago Alcantara joined European Champions Bayern Munich and the Cesc Fabregas saga is still ongoing. Two bids and a few weeks later, the prospect of Cesc Fabregas coming to Man Utd is seemingly diminishing with the player stating that he’s happy at Barcelona and the club issuing a statement that they respect that Fabregas is a contracted Barcelona player.
While the lack of transfer activity has been disappointing, I’m still hopeful that the Manchester United management can make big strides in the market to improve the squad. Buying big players is difficult. Teams that possess those players want to keep those players. It’s unlikely they will part with those players unless a tempting offer is made. Negotiations take place over a length of time in the hope that a resolution can be reached. Last season Robin Van Persie signed for United 2 weeks before the transfer window shut. If a player of the same ilk is to arrive this summer it’s not unreasonable to think that it’ll happen in the same kind of timescale.
What’s most encouraging is that David Moyes has identified the weakness of this current squad, one that has existed for a couple of years now, and is now trying to strengthen that area. The midfield has lost Paul Scholes for the second time through retirement and we’re once again left with the same midfield that had to bring the midfield maestro back in the winter of 2012, after half a season out of the game.
Michael Carrick enjoyed his best season in a Manchester United shirt last season. He was absolutely majestic on a consistent basis and it’d probably be fair to expect the same from him this term. As Sir Alex Ferguson predicted before the season began, he was the key man for the club. Finding a consistent, nailed-on, partner for Michael Carrick has proven to be problemsome.
Tom Cleverley, despite doing well earlier on in the season, eventually lost his place. Anderson went through a couple of injury spells once more and was in and out of the team. As I said in the season preview this time last year (and probably the 3 before that!), it’s make or break for Anderson. His saving grace is a good pre-season, looking more shape than he has for a while and a new chance for a new manager.
Darren Fletcher is still missing and has not played any part in pre-season preparations so far. Ryan Giggs, despite still performing well and getting many games, is coming closer to the end of his career. We will this season see a 40 year old footballer playing for the best club in England!
Despite this, last season’s 30 goal striker Robin Van Persie should leave fans excited for the coming season. He was fabulous. His goals won the league for Manchester United. Van Persie has been the most effective player in the Premier League for the past 2 and a half years and that should continue next season. With Robin leading the line, this Manchester United squad will be there or thereabouts come the end of the season. His brace against Wigan, including a fabulous long range header, shows he’s planning to pick up exactly where he left off last season.
Shinji Kagawa starts the season on the back of what was a disappointing campaign for him. There is a feeling that this season will be big for him. Injuries disrupted the first half of his season but he got a more consistent run in the second half of the season and has been widely tipped to be better this year after adapting to Premier League football. The 3 wingers who were present at the club last season has a new chance to impress. All 3 were generally disappointing all season, not contributing much in terms of goals or assists. Nani goes into the season with just 1 year left on his contract having not yet agreed an extension.
Nani seemed like a talent unfulfilled last year, having failed to rediscover the form he showed in 2010/11 when he played a key role in winning the title, but this year, under new management, he looks set to be given a chance to earn the money that he was hoping to be handed in a new bumper contract. Despite being linked away from Old Trafford, the indication is that he will play for Manchester United this season.
The defence is in good shape for the new season, both in terms of numbers and quality.
Rafael came of age last term, although a hamstring injury in the Community Shield will keep him out for the first month. Rio Ferdinand enjoyed one of his best seasons in a Manchester United shirt. Jonny Evans was pretty key for the first team too. Both Nemanja Vidic and Chris Smalling have so far successfully made their comebacks from sciatica and ankle surgery respectively, and Vidic is set to start the season as the man centre back. Phil Jones has had a full pre-season this summer and will probably play a utility man role once more, filling in at centre back, right back and at the centre of midfield too. With Rafael injured in the first month of the season, we may well see Jones playing right back a few times.
Patrice Evra is still ever present at left back and will continue to be first choice, though a long term replacement is an issue that will have to be addressed in the next year or two. Buttner is waiting in the wings for his chance to stake a long term claim to the place and Fabio returns from a loan spell at recently relegated QPR.
Danny Welbeck has gone through a full pre-season and seems very much in favour with David Moyes as he’s started hitting the back of the net this summer for both Man Utd and for England against Scotland on Wednesday. Famed for his work ethic and ability to take part in quick and slick build up play, this could be a big season for the Manchester born forward. Javier Hernandez begins the season injured having not taken part in pre-season at all, however he did play a few times for Mexico throughout the summer.
The squad is largely unchanged from last season. It’s the same group of players who walked the league last season. The determination to win the title back after the final day disappointment of the 2011/12 season was apparent. We were relentless in the pursuit of the title. We found a way of winning games that in previous seasons we wouldn’t have. The new manager means new chances, established players have to prove themselves again, young players will be given a chance. It’s my belief that this team is yet again equipped sufficiently to retain our trophy and keep it where it belongs, despite the absence of any significant additions to the squad.
How do you think Manchester United will do during the season? Comment in the section below.