Date: 25th June 2010 at 5:00pm
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Having already focused on the defence earlier this week, it now time to look at the midfield, an area that concerns the majority of our fans.

While the defence conceded fewer than any other team in the league and the red hot Wayne Rooney kept United in the title hunt, it was the midfield that played the support cast to both the defence and the forward line.

With almost the same lineup looking likely, the midfield next term looks good; on paper at least.

With Sir Alex switching between the 4-4-2 and the 4-5-1 formations, United’s midfield has changed its shape and players have played in a variety of positions. This is where the versatility of the squad has been tested and on many an occasion, they came through. Yet on others, they came unstuck.

The old guard

Let’s face it; Giggs and Scholes are not getting any younger. The both of them have one season tops. Although they both churned out stellar performances last season, there is no denying that the legs are going. Scholesey in particular rolled back the years with breathtaking displays towards the end of the season but has claimed this soming season will be his last.

The flanks

With Antonio Valencia having a good solid season, injecting that bit of directness into the United attack, and Nani finally coming good, the first choice on the flanks are pretty well covered. Obertan has shown flashes of mazy dribbling and bursts of speed but whether he will step it up to the next level remains to be seen. Giggs can always be relied upon as an option out wide and Park is ever ready to run his socks off for the team. There are talks of a couple of youngsters breaking through but quite frankly, I’m not too sure it’s going to happen this season.

The engine room

Darren Fletcher has been nothing short of phenomenal. The kind of work that the boy has put in and the kind of displays that he has put up over the past couple of seasons has vindicated the Gaffer’s faith in him. He has become the box to box midfielder that United have been starved off since Keano’s departure and Scholes change of role. He has been the dynamo that has kept United ticking. At the other end of the spectrum is Michael Carrick. The dip in the elegant midfielder’s game has been alarming, so much so that many were questioning his inclusion in Fabio Capello’s England squad. With him unable to wield his influence with his stunning range of passing, the back end of last season saw him fall behind even Darren Gibson in the pecking order.

Of the young guns, a lot is expected of Anderson, subject to him staying, staying fit and getting his head screwed on straight. Possebon will return to the first team fold next season and expect him to add that bit of quality to the squad. Darren Gibson has shown that he has a fantastic right boot but must work on his overall game. Giggs and Park can slot into the center of midfield when needed.

The ‘other’ Owen

Whether United make a signing from now until the end of the season, one new face is sure to appear in a red shirt; a face that not many united fans have seen over the past couple of seasons – the ‘other’ Owen. IF, and I must stress the word IF, Hargreaves manages to stay fit, United’s midfield will have a whole new look to it. His sense of positioning, his tackling ability and his general reading of the game are such assets that he frees up positions for others to exploit. As a holding midfielder in a 4-5-1, he’ll allow for effectively a 5 man attack and in a 4-4-2, he’ll provide cover for the fullbacks to get forward more. Add to this, his ability to play on the right side of midfield or even or right-back, and you’ve got a complete midfielder. Who knows! Maybe another season of the liberated Scholes of old could be on the cards. Now that would really be something!

That’s a look at the midfield then. With another year from the old guard, the coming of age of the young guns, another consistent performance from this season’s performers, the return to form of Michael Carrick and the availability of Hargreaves for an entire season, United’s midfield looks in pretty good shape. There are ifs and buts all the way but somehow somewhere one expects that they will indeed come good.


9 responses to “If the season began tomorrow Part 2 : The midfield”

  1. jonathan says:

    It would be absolutely incredible to have a fit Hargreaves return to the team. I’m curious if there’s anyone else whose ever had such a layoff and resumed to their same ability.

    Carrick was quite the disapointment last season, and it wasn’t simply a dry spell over a couple months. He’s also supposed to be at his career peak too, which is more worrying. He had been a good contributor though for a couple years, so maybe deserves another chance.

    What are your thoughts on the midfield then if Hargreaves can’t turn back the clock and Carrick can’t play to his (proven) potential?

  2. Amrith says:

    @jonathan about your first question .. There have been many many who have indeed come back from such long injuries. Keano has, Gary Neville is a prime example. THough you may argue with Gary’s effectiveness after his return, it must be pointed out that he was much older and the natural process of decline had set in.
    If Hargo and Carrick cant cut it? Well, I can only hope for the young ones to come good and the old masters to perform one last swansong 🙂


  3. RedScot says:

    A good read on the midfield balanced and fair in my opinion, as Jonathan says it would be wonderfull to have Owen back and playing the way we saw him at Bayern and prior to his injury at United.
    My big problem and this is were I am not convinced we have enough ammunition to battle all the way through the season as it stands at present.
    If Wayne does not(heaven forbids) have as an equally free flowing goal scoring season, who do we have to step up, to constantly pick the ball out of the oppositions net.
    Chelsea as you are aware have Lampard 27 goals from midfield season 2009/10 albiet in all competitions . 20 in season 2008/09 in all competitions.
    I think we need more contribution from the midfield in chipping in with more goals.
    A hence the need for a more attack minded midfielder.

  4. mike says:

    Hargreaves is one player i really want to see playing again. enough said.

  5. Tom says:

    There is not enough goals and creativity in the center of midfield. It looks good on paper but we saw last season that they were lacking. On the wings we are ok with Valencia, Nani, Park and Obertan. I think these four will do a good job. Obertan was raw last season, but he has had a year in Manchester and does looks to have alot of ability. He will have to step up his game this season and prove himself. But potentially he can be a terrific wide player for Man Utd. In the center of the park I am concerned and will be worried if we go into next season without a new signing. Hargreaves will be a big boost but we have to wait and see how he returns. It will be difficult for him to reach his former level after 2 years out. Possebon failed to make an impact out on loan last season so its difficult to judge if he is ready. Carrick and Anderson both lost there way last season for different reasons. I wouldn’t be suprised if Ferguson sold both of them and signed a new midfielder and promoted Tom Cleverly into the first team. Either way the center of midfield needs a change with more goals and creativity.

  6. Amrith says:

    @RedScot I cannot agree more that more contribution is indeed needed from midfield. We may not have a Lampard but we do have 4-5 players who combined will give the goal output as a Lampard maybe. I know its not the same but its not all doom and gloom either 🙂
    @mike Oh absolutely! No question about it!
    @Tom Like you said, the midfield as a whole hasnt come good or rather, as good as it can be. Yet, we can only hope that they will come good. SAF is likely to give Carrick one more season atleast. Ando, I hope he does get another chance coz the kid is brilliant; only that he doesnt have his head screwed on right. Then again, nani was the same and he blossomed late on. We can only hope Ando does the same. Promoting Cleverly may well happen but again, there are no guarantees as to how well the kid will do. Getting another midfielder .. well who would you like really? David Silva is apparently gone to Citeh .. Who else? Modric maybe?


  7. Tom says:

    What about Rafeal van der Vaart? I mean he might not be in Mourinho first team plans and they may be willing to sell him for £14-15 million. I think the guy has great ability and he showed that last season with Madrid. He was also a success in Germany with Hamburg. He is capable of scoring between 8-10 goals and getting assist as well. Man Utd could give him the perfect platform to produce his best football and he is only 27. Don’t get me wrong its not that I don’t want Carrick and Ando to do well. I just think its dangerous to not make some changes. The team can become stale if we don’t freshen it a bit. As for Cleverly, its true we don’t know if he will be a success, but after three years we still have those fears over Ando.

  8. OliH says:

    an honest assessment of the midfield. to get Hargreaves back would be like signing a new player… I would however like to see more of the young players to get chance, cleverly, eikrem, wellbeck, machada et al because there is a bit of truth in what tosic spoke about, you show very little if you sit on the bench all the time and there is little improvement.

  9. Amrith says:

    @Tom agreed mate … A bit of freshness is indeed required. Van Der Vaart could be a good signing but he looks to be a Jose type player. Good, solid and not the cranky type. Maybe he figures in Jose’s plans. I was mighty impressed by the Kid Bradley yesterday. He is the type of box to box midfielder that United may well need once Scholes is gone.

    @OliH We all would like the kids to get more time but the problem is that we can hardly afford any slip ups anywhere in the season coz you never know where it might come to hurt you. Hence SAF’s reluctance really.