Date: 23rd June 2010 at 5:00pm
Written by:

With the World Cup in full swing, papers speculate which star at the
World Cup is linked with which club. Every day, a new star arises in
the world cup and not surprising, he’s linked to a major European
club. United are no exception to this rule. Yet, having seen the
comments coming out of Old Trafford in recent weeks, I have my doubts as to the number of signings that Sir Alex is out to make.

David Gill might be coming out and saying that Sir Alex has all the
money he wants and that no one is off limits but the gaffer for his
part has almost effectively ruled out too many big money signings by
saying that he doesn’t see value in the market. Taking this into account, it’s more than likely that United are going to start the
2010-11 season with pretty much the same squad as last year, minus one or two and plus another one or two.

This is precisely the reason that I’d like to look at how United will shape up if the season were to begin tomorrow.

The first part: Defence

Let’s start with the last line of defence, the goalkeepers. With van der Sar donning the number 1 jersey for possibly the last season, we have a ‘keeper who maybe pushing 40 but is still one of the best around. His form, when he played last term was superb and brought that calming influence that inspired confidence in the defence. Tomas Kusczack is his undisputed deputy this year with Ben Foster off to Birmingham. Ben Amos completes the lineup. While many still question Kuszczack as number one material, the hunt for a new number one can indeed wait another year primarily because of vdn Der Sar’s age defying form. He is most certainly good for another year.

Let’s look at who we have in defence: Gary Neville, Wes Brown, John O’Shea, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Ritchie De Laet, Rafael, Fabio, Patrice Evra and the in coming Chris Smalling.

Now this doesn’t look bad at all. After all, it was the same that was the best defence in the league last term (in spite of the absence of many of the players through various parts of the season.) Giorgio Chiellini has been linked with United but the biggest signing that Sir Alex has to make has to be that of Nemanja Vidic. What am I saying?
Well, there have been murmurs all through last season that Vidic (or more specifically his wife) are unsettled and these have gone from murmurs to whispers to full blown loud talks about Real Madrid in the hunt. Tying him down will be paramount.

With Rafael developing nicely, and Brown and O’Shea hopefully getting back to full fitness, United’s right-back options are looking pretty good. Throw the skipper into the mix and we have the experience to go along with the youth. Gary’s playing time might well be limited (even more than last season) but his experience will be invaluable.

Rio, Vidic, Evans. These seem certain to be the top 3 center backs in the team. Yet, with the dodgy fitness of Rio and the uncertainty over Vida, things don’t look as rosy. Evans has shown that he can ably deputize for Rio or Vida and will play a crucial role for sure. Brown and O’Shea can slot in at center back (or even Neville) but they will not be the preferred choice. De Laet, when he played last season still looked a bit raw but will only improve under the guidance of the senior pros whilst the incoming Chris Smalling is still an unknown quality and despite looking shaky for Fulham at the end of last season this could be put down to the move to Old Trafford playing on his mind.

With Patrice Evra now getting a welcome break (now that France are eliminated), United will look to him to provide another stellar season on the left flank. He was most definitely one of the, if not the, standout performers of last season. With Fabio as his understudy and O’Shea capably of filling in the left-back slot, things are looking pretty good.

That’s a round-up of the defence then. It does not look bad at all but what will probably be the decisive factor will be fitness. Provided everyone is fit (and everyone stays), this defence looks as good as any. Add the versatile Hargreaves into the mix and it doesn’t look bad at all.

Next up, the midfield.


5 responses to “If the season began tomorrow Part 1 : The defence”

  1. jonathan says:

    The easy work is done for you Amrith regarding the defense. Should be interesting to read your take on the midfield.

  2. RedScot says:

    Good read on the defence.
    I think the key there is the situation with Nemanja and wether he stays or goes.
    I believe if a decent offer came in for him in excess of £25million I would think it would be sensible to take this money and invest in a younger player who’s partner does not yearn for the sun.
    We shall maybe be all a bit clearer on the subject
    of Vidic, if Serbia exit the world cup tonight.
    Then his contract might be resolved one way or another.Then Sir alex can prepare the central defence.
    Of topic,but I think Vidic has done is transfer value no harm at all during the two games we have seen him play against Germany and Ghana, apart from the flying through the air like superman to give away a penalty.

  3. Tom says:

    The balance at the back is good although I wonder about Wes Brown. Fergie spoke very highly of Smalling and said he was the future. He needs games to aid his development. As does Ritchie De Laet who can play across the whole back line. Brown is 30 and has missed enough football through injuries. I can’t see him playing alot next season and think he might be sold. Can we really keep four players to play right back? It doesn’t make sence. Rafeal, O’Shea, Nevile and even Hargreaves can play right back. De Laet can cover right back and left back if needed. Ferdinand, Vidic, Evans and Smalling are the 4 center backs. I do agree that keeping Vidic is important and hopefully we can achieve that.

  4. MANCITY says:

    I think we should buy a new keeper,2 centre backs to replace lippy and vivisection and a left full and a right full,what do you think?

  5. Amrith says:

    @jonathan … will be posting it soon 🙂

    @redScot maybe we should cash in but then again, I dont know how much of it we will spend. The same was said of even Ronaldo; Cash in .. get the 80 mil and buy others. The first 2 parts happened but sadly, we are still awaiting the 3rd.

    @Tom Brown and O’Shea can play anywhere along the back too .. so them being in the squad only enhances it IMO. hargo can indeed play RB but if hw were fit, I’m sure SAF has a much more imp role in Midfield for him.