Posted by hakanrylander on September 23, 2009
A Carling Cup tie against Wolves is unlikely to provide anything near the excitement of last Sunday. It’s not a trophy that too many fans care a lot about, but what makes it interesting is of course that it’s the main opportunity to see some up and coming stars in action.
Sir Alex might have a bit of a selection headache. He should pick some youngsters on the fringe of the first team and also some newcomers who are unlikely to start a single game in the PL this season. But he should also consider that some more established stars need games to keep sharp (Owen), find their form after an indifferent spell (Foster, Carrick, Nani, Tosic) or regain full fitness (Brown). Among these players the case for inclusion is strongest for Brown and Owen. Owen needs to play a bit more than just the last 20 minutes of big games while Brown is probably still our best right-back but need playing-time to get back to full fitness. Perhaps Tosic also deserves another chance to prove himself after being left out of the CL-squad.
Among the young fringe players Macheda, Welbeck, Fabio and Gibson virtually pick themselves, which leaves room for three more outfield players. My choice would be Corrie Evans in central defence, Magnus Eikrem in midfield and Ritchie de Laet (who improved beyond recognition towards the end of last season) at left back.
Ferguson has made some disturbing comments about Macheda and Welbeck lacking focus and forgetting “where their real place is” due to international commitments. Hopefully it’s just his way of stirring them into action tonight. Time to step forward for these two exceptionally promising youngsters.
My line-up: Kuszczak; Fabio, Brown, Corrie Evans, de Laet; Welbeck, Gibson, Eikrem, Tosic; Owen, Macheda.
Posted in Previews | Tagged: Carling Cup, Danny Welbeck, Darron Gibson, Fabio da Silva, Federico Macheda, Manchester United, Michael Owen, Ritchie de Laet, Wolverhampton | Leave a Comment »
Posted by hakanrylander on August 26, 2009
No, I’m not thinking of our first three games as a prelude to a golden season. In fact, I don’t think this season will be particularly successful when it comes to winning trophies. Even so I look forward to the next nine months with great expectations. Which might seem a bit peculiar considering that we’ve sold the best player in the world and lost another world class attacker to City, and failed to sign replacements of similar stature.
The reason for my optimism is that I believe that we will see a rapid positive development of several players, which might in a year or two create an even better team than we’ve had for the last couple of seasons.
Firstly, we have a group of hugely talented youngsters of a quality that might even be about to rival the peerless fledglings from the early 90′s; Giggs, Butt, Beckham, Gary, Phil and Scholes (below).
Rafael and Fabio da Silva have taken to the PL like ducks to water. I’ve been amazed by how unfazed they’ve seemed when playing for the first team at only 17. This indicates mental strength to add to their obvious football skills. Only the excellence of Patrice Evra can stop them from both being first-choices before long.
Sir Alex has predicted that Danny Welbeck will travel to South Africa with England next summer. I find this rather unrealistic, but the last time I remember thinking that Ferguson praised a youngster a bit too much he was talking about – Paul Scholes.
Federico Macheda needed only 20 minutes or so against Villa to make it onto most people’s short-lists for both Goal of the Season and Player of the Season. Nick at the excellent manunitedyouth describes Macheda as a mix of Van Nistelrooy and Berbatov. Sounds good enough to me.
I admit that i didn’t think that Darron Gibson would ever make it to the first team, but he keeps on improving and will do so again this season.
Apart from the youngsters I believe we’ll see continued development from some of the more established players. The obvious example from last season is Darren Fletcher. Rarely has a player’s reputation been so enhanced by not playing a game as when Fletcher was suspended for the CL-final against Barcelona. A year ago very few would have predicted that Fergie’s main selection problem in midfield would now be who to pick alongside Fletcher. I think we will see him move on to yet another level this season.
I hesitate to include Nani in this group. Perhaps I’d better not. I’ll get back to him in a seperate post.
Finally, to achieve greatness we need a catalyst, much like Eric Cantona was in the 90′s. Regular visitors to Between the Lines will be well aware that in my opinion “le prochain Cantona” is already present at the club. It’s just a question of Dimitar Berbatov fulfilling this potential, as I think he will begin to do this season. I re-use my favourite quote: “All strikers must be soloists when appropriate – but rare ones, like Berbatov and Cantona, can also conduct the orchestra.”
Those were the days
Posted in Player Analysis, Previews | Tagged: Danny Welbeck, Darren Fletcher, Darron Gibson, Dimitar Berbatov, Fabio da Silva, Federico Macheda, Manchester United, Nani, Rafael da Silva | 8 Comments »
Posted by hakanrylander on July 28, 2009
I’ve watched three of the games on the Asia tour (Korea, China and the second in Malaysia). I found the opposition reasonably strong in Korea and Malysia, but poor in China, which was also reflected in the scorelines. After just a few pre-season friendlies it’s of course impossible to make any well-founded predictions for the new season. But this will certainly not stop me from jumping to a number of conclusions.
Michael Owen looks a brilliant signing. Not only because of his four goals in four games, but even more for the movement he brings to the attack and the way he immediatly seemed to click with his team-mates. But for some strange reason he was rarely, if ever, on the pitch at the same time as Rooney.
I suppose most of you were drooling over Berbatov‘s masterclass against Hangzhou, where he had a hand in all six of the goals scored while he was on the pitch. Yeah, yeah, I know the opposition were second-rate, but this was still a glimpse of the true Berbatov combining efficiency with delightful entertainment. When he’s at the top of his game there’s no other player in the world I’d rather watch. Let’s hope he can show this in the PL.
Kiko Macheda wasn’t as impressive in the build-up moves as I remember him from last season, but he took his goals with calm confidence. Very promising.
I’ve read a number of positive reports about the performances of Tosic and Nani, but unfortunately I don’t agree with them. I didn’t find them particularly impressive in Malaysia or Korea, and they “shined” in China only because they were given acres of space. Both of them will struggle against top-class opposition.
And finally, the two players that I predict will have perhaps the most positive impact this season, Welbeck and Valencia, didn’t even travel to Asia. Plenty to look forward to.
Posted in Match Reports, Player Analysis | Tagged: Antonio Valencia, Danny Welbeck, Dimitar Berbatov, Federico Macheda, Manchester United, Michael Owen, Nani, Premier League, Zoran Tosic | 7 Comments »
Posted by hakanrylander on April 6, 2009
If you watched the game against Villa yesterday you will no doubt regard this headline as a fact rather than an opinion. Macheda came on for the last thirty minutes and capped an impressive performance with an amazing winner in added time. I can’t remember a more impressive United debut since Rooney’s hat-trick against Fenerbache, but Rooney was already an established star at that time while Macheda is an unknown 17-year-old.
For more information about our new star I recommend this interesting article at manunitedyouth. The author, Nick, has followed Macheda closely for more than a year at Youth and Reserves level and describes him as a combination of Van Nistlerooy and Berbatov…
Posted in Player Analysis | Tagged: Aston Villa, Dimitar Berbatov, Federico Macheda, Football, Manchester United, Premier League | Leave a Comment »