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Season Preview: Manchester United 2012/2013

The whistle blows for full time at the Stadium of Light. Manchester United have just beaten Sunderland 1-0 and secured a potentially vital 3 points. United had laid at the top of the Premier League table as their city rivals headed into injury time 2-1 down against relegation battlers QPR at home.The anxious wait began. With City needing to score twice in injury time surely United had to win it? In the end it was not to be.

That’s how the script was left at the conclusion of the previous season. The blue half of Manchester have the bragging rights going into this season. They are the champions and did the double over us in the league. Our pride has been dented, the players’ pride has been dented, the manager’s pride has been dented and this season we must put it right. Throughout his tenure at Old Trafford, Sir Alex Ferguson has faced a similar challenge 5 times; attempting to win back the Premier League trophy having lost it the previous season, and he has succeeded on 4 of those occasions. Winning it back from our ‘noisy neighbours’ just gives this challenge a little extra incentive.

Returning this season with a glint in his eye, Sir Alex Ferguson has risen to the challenge and has made some shrewd buys in the transfer market. So far, the summer of 2012 has seen the arrivals of former Borussia Dortmund attacking midfielder Shinji Kagawa, a vital cog in a back-to-back German championship winning squad, and 18 year old midfielder Nick Powell from Crewe Alexandra. These two signings have only recently been added to by last season’s Premier League top goalscorer Robin van Persie.

Manchester United – First 3 fixtures

  • Everton (A)
  • Fulham (H)
  • Southampton (A)

The summer of 2012 has also seen Manchester United miss out on two marquee £30million+ signings in Eden Hazard to European champions Chelsea and Lucas Moura to the oil fuelled PSG, something that is almost guaranteed to have annoyed the manager after both deals appeared to be close to completion. Nevertheless, Sir Alex Ferguson seems to have gone all out on his attempt to sign Robin Van Persie and has since suceeded in doing so. The arrival of the Dutchman signals Manchester United’s intent for the upcoming season; the priority is to wrestle the title back to Old Trafford and having the Premier League’s top 2 goalscorers from the previous season could go a long way in ensuring that.

Robin Van Persie’s signing will probably be our most significant addition of the summer. Last season we watched him put the ball in the back of the net repeatedly at a ridiculously frequent rate to almost single handedly ensure that Arsenal are competing in the Champions League this season. We’ve signed a player who can make a real difference becoming the second such player in Manchester United’s squad. Questions have been raised about the Dutchman’s fitness however with such wealth now available in the striking positions it’s hard to think that we’ll struggle to keep him fresh.

Robin Van Persie, along with the acquisition of Shinji Kagawa, has increased our immediate depth in the forward positions. There’s no question that both will be involved in the first team from the beginning. In Rooney, Van Persie, Welbeck, Hernandez, Berbatov?, Nani, Valencia, Young and Kagawa, Sir Alex Ferguson is almost spoiled for choice. Not everyone will play every game so at times some of the players will endure periods out of the team, however with such depth, resting a player and replacing him with another for possibly an FA cup or League cup game will not necessarily weaken the team. Especially in the forward positions, Manchester United could play a strong team capable of comfortably beating most opposition this season which will ultimately mean we’ll be challenging for multiple honours without having a detrimental effect on each front. This is the benefit of having a strong squad in both quality and depth, something which I believe Sir Alex Ferguson has purposely been trying to achieve this summer maybe as a result of losing the Premier League crown on away goals and failing to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League.

Top 4 2011/12

  1. Manchester City
  2. Manchester United
  3. Arsenal
  4. Spurs

One position that has gone under-invested this summer, to many supporter’s displeasure, is central midfield. For me it is not necessarily quality that is lacking in our midfield, it is just the number of them. Last season saw us lose Darren Fletcher for the majority of the season to illness as well as Tom Cleverley and Anderson to injury. Out of all of the central midfielders that began the last season, only Michael Carrick finished it. Paul Scholes, who missed the first half of the season through retirement, returned in January to play a key role. This season they will all have to play their part. With Darren Fletcher still missing, it will be imperative that each of our 4 available central midfielders go through the season without any long term absences. For Anderson, it’ll be a big year. Yes I’ve probably said this before each of the past few seasons but I feel this time it really is make or break for him.

One has to ask themselves why a substantial addition in midfield has failed to materialise. Money and availability of a player suitable for Manchester United may well be part of that, but I can’t help but wonder whether it is partly motivated by the current crop of young players on the fringes of the first team. Ryan Tunnicliffe, Davide Petrucci , Nick Powell and Jessie Lingard all played quite a large part in pre-season in the absence of the majority of the first team squad and all did pretty well too. This season, with the lack of numbers at central midfield, I’d expect to see some of those youngsters play a part, at least in some of the earlier cup games. It is partly my belief that the signing of Robin Van Persie along with Wayne Rooney, having two players of world class talent who can perhaps ‘carry’ a top team, almost makes up for not signing a central midfielder of similar stature.

It is in defense where I believe problems are most likely to occur for our club, especially at the beginning of the season. Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have already been ruled out of the season opener leaving the back 4 of Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Rafael Da Silva to pick itself. Again, as with last season, injuries at the back could be a big cause for concern. In pre-season we have already seen Antonio Valencia regularly used at right back and Michael Carrick used at centre back. After Fabio Da Silva went out on loan to aid his development, Sir Alex Ferguson stated earlier in the summer that Manchester United are trying to sign a left back to deputise the immovable Patrice Evra. So far this hasn’t come to fruition and it is looking increasingly unlikely. The way things are going, I can’t imagine it will be too long until we see Ryan Giggs being employed at left back!

Current United injuries

  • Phil Jones – Back Injury
  • Chris Smalling – Foot Injury
  • Jonny Evans – Ankle Injury
  • Darren Fletcher – Long term illness

It is no secret that last season Manchester United were plagued with injuries. We sustained more than our fair share, more than every single team in the country. It was somewhat surprising last season and it is something that has to be avoided this season. With the additions to the squad, with the experience and know-how already in the squad as well as the desire to eradicate the hurt of losing the title in the final minute of the Premier League season I feel that Manchester United, this season, are equipt sufficiently enough to get our trophy back.

“Now it is about how we come back. We have shown in the past the mentality of the club and its history is that we always come back stronger.

“We want to give the fans what they expect and be battling at the top of the league.

“The gauntlet has been thrown down time and time again. It is up to us to pull in the right direction. We have to step up to the plate and produce. I am sure we will.” – Sir Alex Ferguson.

REDMANCUNIAN TEAM PREDICTIONS:

Team Member: Darren (@thedevilstweets)
Where will Manchester United finish?
Premier League – 1st
Champions League – Semi Final
FA Cup – Quarter Final
Capital One Cup – Semi Final
Youth Cup – Final

Manchester United’s Player Of The Season?
First Team – David De Gea
Reserves – Davide Petrucci

Most booking’s for the season?
Selection – Nemanja Vidic

Manchester United’s golden boot winner?
Selection – Wayne Rooney

Most assists for Manchester United?
Selection – Luis Nani


Team Member: Sam (@centersneak)
Where will Manchester United finish?
Premier League – 1st
Champions League – Winners
FA Cup – Winners
Capital One Cup – Winners
Youth Cup – Winners

Manchester United’s Player Of The Season?
First Team – Shinji Kagawa
Reserves – Michael Keane

Most booking’s for the season?
Selection – Patrice Evra

Manchester United’s golden boot winner?
Selection – Robin Van Persie

Most assists for Manchester United?
Selection – Antonio Valencia


Team Member: Andy Thompson (@andy_thomo)
Where will Manchester United finish?
Premier League – don’t like to say
Champions League – 2nd round
FA Cup – Runners up
Capital One Cup – Quarter finals
Youth Cup – Runners up

Manchester United’s Player Of The Season?
First Team – Nemanja Vidic
Reserves – Bebe

Most booking’s for the season?
Selection – Nemanja Vidic

Manchester United’s golden boot winner?
Selection – Wayne Rooney

Most assists for Manchester United?
Selection – Shinji Kagawa


Team Member: Alex Porter (@alexistar)
Where will Manchester United finish?
Premier League – Heart says 1st, head is urging a note of caution. 2nd again I think but do hope to be proven wrong!
Champions League – Quarter Finals – I don’t think Fergie or the team will make the same mistake that saw us exit at the group stage last time, but equally think the squad isn’t capable of taking on the European big boys.
FA Cup – Winners.. Been too long Sir Alex…
Capital One Cup – Youngsters will see us through to the semi finals.
Youth Cup – Runner up

Manchester United’s Player Of The Season?
First Team – Antonio Valencia
Reserves – Jesse Lingard

Most booking for the season?
Selection – Paul Scholes

Manchester United’s golden boot winner?
Selection – Wayne Rooney

Most assists for Manchester United?
Selection – Shinji Kagawa


Team Member: Vikesh (@redmancunia)
Where will Manchester United finish?
Premier League – 1st
Champions League – Runners Up (to Cristiano Ronaldo)
FA Cup – Semi Finals
Capital One Cup – Quarter Finals
Youth Cup – Winner

Manchester United’s Player Of The Season?
First Team – Luis Nani
Reserves – Michael Keane

Most booking’s for the season?
Selection – Rafael Da Silva

Manchester United’s golden boot winner?
Selection – Wayne Rooney

Most assists for Manchester United?
Selection – Luis Nani


Team Member: Mark Hamnett (@mdhzk3)
Where will Manchester United finish?
Premier League – 1st
Champions League – Quarter Final
FA Cup – Last 16
Capital One Cup – Semi Final
Youth Cup – Semi Final

Manchester United’s Player Of The Season?
First Team – Antonio Valencia
Reserves – Larnell Cole

Most booking’s for the season?
Selection – Patrice Evra

Manchester United’s golden boot winner?
Selection – Wayne Rooney

Most assists for Manchester United?
Selection – Antonio Valencia


Team Member: Craig Norwood (@craignorwood)
Where will Manchester United finish?
Premier League – 1st
Champions League – Quarter Final
FA Cup – Winners
Capital One Cup – Quarter Final
Youth Cup – Quarter Final

Manchester United’s Player Of The Season?
First Team – Shinji Kagawa
Reserves – Jesse Lingard

Most booking’s for the season?
Selection – Nemanja Vidic

Manchester United’s golden boot winner?
Selection – Wayne Rooney

Most assists for Manchester United?
Selection – Shinji Kagawa


Team Member: Shaun Payne (@shaun_payne_7)
Where will Manchester United finish?
Premier League – 1st
Champions League – Quarter Final
FA Cup – Quarter Final
Capital One Cup – Runners Up
Youth Cup – Semi Final

Manchester United’s Player Of The Season?
First Team – Luis Nani
Reserves – Jesse Lingard

Most booking’s for the season?
Selection – Patrice Evra

Manchester United’s golden boot winner?
Selection – Luis Nani

Most assists for Manchester United?
Selection – Shinji Kagawa


Team Member: Darren Goodson (@manutdot)
Where will Manchester United finish?
Premier League – 1st
Champions League – Quarter Final
FA Cup – 5th Round
Capital One Cup – Winners
Youth Cup – Winners

Manchester United’s Player Of The Season?
First Team – Shinji Kagawa
Reserves – Will Keane

Most booking for the season?
Selection – Rafael Da Silva

Manchester United’s golden boot winner?
Selection – Robin Van Persie

Most assists for Manchester United?
Selection – Antonio Valencia


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By Vikesh Chevli

I blog and tweet Manchester United. Follow me on twitter http://www.twitter.com/iconicnumber7

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