There is always a consistent gripe with many Manchester United fans after a particularly poor performance from their team. Certain players tend to be picked out and focused on more than usual, unfortunately it is for all the wrong reasons.
Every club has fans that will choose scapegoats and blame them for everything that is wrong with their team. United are no exception to that, fans’ current favourites are what you would call the ‘squad’ players. John O’Shea is often the first point of reference, Park Ji-Sung has come in for much criticism throughout his career at Old Trafford and Jonny Evans is now suffering the same treatment after a particularly poor season. I have to say, I disagree with all three. I am not claiming that I don’t get on players’ backs when they under-perform but I refuse to blame certain players for poor ‘team’ performances.
We have all seen or heard the rants about how Fergie needs to have a clear out and bring in world-class stars, as if it is a genuine possibility. In some circumstances that argument may be valid, the squad does need improvement in areas and we also need to come to terms with the fact that Giggs and Scholes will eventually retire. What we don’t need, though, is to ‘get rid’ of players that are an integral part of our squad. Do people not understand that having a squad full of world class superstars is not a possibility? World class stars will obviously be expecting to play every week. That cannot be guaranteed. This is why O’Shea, Park and Evans are vital components of what could be another trophy-laden campaign.
First of all, Jonny Evans. The young centre-half is in the worst form of his relatively short career. After assured performances in some of the biggest games last season, his confidence has been shattered by poor individual errors that have led to goals for the opposition. With Ferdinand and Vidic forming their partnership on a much more regular basis and the emergence of Chris Smalling, Evans fell out of favour. This, however, does not warrant selling one of the most talented young defenders in the league. Lots of players have had terrible blips in form or a bad season. Jonny Evans will be back to his best. Fergie has taken him out of the firing line and protected him before the media jump on him and proclaim him a liability. I fully expect to see a refreshed player next season, ready to stake a claim for the starting eleven.
Park Ji-Sung is still, unbelievably, another who is often criticised for not being ‘United class’. It is completely beyond me as to how fans still have this opinion of the South Korean. He is Fergie’s big game player and who are we to argue with him? Look at some of United’s big victories over the past few years; the Arsenal demolitions, the 4-0 win over Milan and you can also look at this season with his two-goal performance in the 2-1 over Wolves for three vital points. His engine is ridiculous, he can run all day. Absolutely perfect in the big games when dangerous players need negating. Not only that, he has a tendency to score vital goals. No, he isn’t Lionel Messi but that doesn’t mean we don’t need him. Just ask the players at United, they love him.
The player that is always the first one to get all this from the fans is John O’ Shea. This is one that annoys me more than others. Yes, he has shortcomings as a player but he is surely one of the most important players in the United squad. Anywhere across the back, in the centre of midfield, thrown up front for desperate last minute equalisers and even in goal! John O’Shea has featured almost everywhere for Manchester United and, most of the time, he does a fine job of it. Solid, reliable and raring to go. This was highlighted perfectly in the game against Crawley Town. Starting at centre half, O’Shea was moved to right back when Rafael went off then when Fabio (who is apparently made of glass) was forced off, he made the switch to left back. Is there another player in the United squad who could do that in one game with such ease? He remained as solid as ever as United kept out a spirited Crawley side. How can a player who will fill in wherever he is asked, be surplus to requirements? Anyway, even without that overwhelming evidence in favour of Big John… he nut-megged Figo. Say no more.
Not that any of this will ever stop, we always need somebody to blame. We have had many over the years and they’ll be more in the future. I distinctly remember Darren Fletcher being the root of all the problems at United a few years back. A squad player at the time, he was always one of the first that we needed to be rid of. Now look at him. So next time we put in a bad performance maybe we should look at the whole team’s performance? That way we won’t need scapegoats. Just collective improvement to move forward.
And Roy Keane back in the middle of the park.
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