There have been a number of players that have slipped United’s net in my time.
I’ve gone through these before (catch up with them here) and the different circumstances around them not signing and the possible impact they could have had on the team.
Reading back over the piece I realised I had left one out that became particularly poignant in light of our current situation.
Watching Arsenal take on Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday and the hype surrounding Jack Wilshere, my mind was instantly thrown to another of their midfielders who has become somewhat of a forgotten man, Aaron Ramsey.
It seems to be a case of out of sight out of mind for the Welsh midfielder who was building up quite a buzz prior to his unfortunate injury last season. This season he was pulled out of the spotlight by Arsene Wenger and given the chance to work his way back to his best out of the glaring spotlight of the Premier League on loan at both Nottingham Forest and former club Cardiff but you wouldn’t be wrong in thinking had he not suffered the injury he could very well have been the player taking the plaudits on Wednesday night.
What’s with all the gushing about the Gooner ? I thought you hated Arsenal?
Whilst this may be true, I can appreciate a really good player and Ramsey falls into that category. I watched enviously as he turned in good performances for Arsenal last term thinking ‘he could have been ours’. Ramsey is a United fan, as a Welsh boy how could he not love Ryan Giggs? He is also known to be fond of Roy Keane but somehow he managed to end up at Arsenal.
United declared their interest in him following an FA Cup tie and Arsenal and Everton quickly followed behind. It was thought United had done a deal to snap up the youngster and the club even released a statement saying so but when Arsenal revealed they had in fact signed the energetic midfielder, understandably there was confusion. Later it became apparent that Arsenal had concluded a deal for his signature and I remember thinking “F*ck” but not being to bothered as I wasn’t fully aware of how good he was to become.
There are a number of reasons we missed out on Ramsey, there is a running joke that we sent Gary Neville to show him around the club whilst Arsene Wenger flew him out to Switzerland, where he was commentating on Euro 2008, and this touch coupled with Wenger’s intricate knowledge of his brief career sealed the deal for him. Of course with former Arsenal player and coach Terry Burton as assistant manager at Cardiff, Arsene was at an advantage.
It was thought that Ramsey was put off by our intention to loan him back to Cardiff for a year as he thought he was ready at that point was the factor that made up his mind for him or maybe he saw the plethora of players that he could potentially have been behind (Scholes, Carrick, Hargreaves, Fletcher, Anderson, Giggs, Possebon) and felt he would have had a better shot at Arsenal.
Like I said it was a mild annoyance at the time, I never like Arsenal getting one up on us but as I saw more and more of him I begin to realise we had really missed out on something special. His displays in midfield have an energy but intelligence that I wouldn’t mind having in our team especially with our current options in midfield. It’s no secret that we don’t have the best central midfielders at the moment, each one of our players are individually talented in their own way but beyond Scholes, who can’t play every game, this season each player has had me scratching my head at their form.
This isn’t to say that Ramsey would come in, automatically solve the problem and our midfield would automatically become great but it is undeniable that he would improve us in the middle of the park.
I personally prefer Ramsey to Wilshere (I’m not comparing the two, they are different) and whilst Wilshere is a quality player there is something about Ramsey that I quite like whereas with Wilshere I respect that he is a good player without particularly liking him.
Ramsey is looking to be getting back to where he was before the injury and the only way will be forward once he finds his feet. We have a couple of good midfielders coming through our ranks so perhaps if all or even one of these kids goes on to be a star it will soften the blow!