Date: 24th July 2011 at 3:05pm
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With much having been made of the brilliant Javier Hernandez and the impact he made during his first season at United, finishing with 20 goals and making the difference in crucial games, such as against Chelsea in the Champions League, another youngster who made a great debut for United has been left in the cold.

Having just returned from a nightmare spell on loan in Italy at Sampdoria, Kiko Marcheda is looking to live up to the expectations that once surrounded him in the Theatre of Dreams.

Now back at Old Trafford to stay, Macheda has made a good start to pre-season, looking sharp and finishing the chances put his way. Although it may not be feasible for him to be in the starting eleven, it is clear that he could make a claim for a place on the subs bench on a regular basis, with a view to then becoming a regular starter for the team. Berbatov is displaying the form he showed late last season, suffering from both a lack of finishing and confidence, and it is not clear how long Owen is capable of staying fit for.

Macheda made a stunning debut for United, and without a doubt the subsequent hysteria and expectations that surrounded the player affected him – a point the player himself has alluded to – saying that he was a ‘young boy of 17, with little experience of how to deal with such pressure’ and now is more equipped to deal with such expectation. The fact that the spotlight has been taken off him and people’s expectations are considerably less, with Chicarito being the young player of the moment will only help Kiko, and there are few better clubs than United for developing young talents.

Without a doubt, there is a huge level of competition at Old Trafford for all positions in the squad, especially up front. Rooney is a world class player, and Hernandez looks like continuing with his superb form displayed in his debut season. The saying ‘form is temporary yet class is forever’ can be applied to Berbatov, who when he finally re discovers the something that helped him score 21 goals last season will be nothing but an asset to the team, and could quite realistically force his way into the first eleven on a permanent basis. Add to that the experience of Owen and the youngsters like Diouf and Welbeck, Macheda has his work cut out for him. That aside, the boy clearly has a strong character, stating that his time at Sampdoria, although a bad experience, has to be looked at from a positive perspective and has strengthened his mental resolve and will to win.

Macheda clearly wants to be at Old Trafford, and whilst far from being a hero with the fans, is regarded fondly, and has the ability and natural talent to score goals in the premier league. From the player’s point of view, it is vital that he has a strong pre-season and does not allow this to fade once the season starts – something that was notable last season – and keeps a positive attitude if he does not make the squad initially.

The opportunity to learn from experienced strikers such as Rooney and Berba is also something to be taken advantage of, not to mention Owen who has experience at the highest level, and also of the highs and lows of being a footballer. Moreover the attitude of constant professionalism both on and off the field that is displayed by Owen and other senior figures in the squad is something that Macheda should take note of, and use any opportunities available to him.

Although competition for places is fierce, Macheda himself believes he can break into the squad, and though unlikely there is no reason why this cannot happen. The fact that United have such quality both in the main squad and from the up and coming young players bodes well for the future, with Chelsea’s squad aging by the day and Arsenal having both want away players and ones who lack the qualities to win titles – something that has been proven time and time again.

United breed winners and should Kiko Marcheda use the opportunities presented to him and fulfil his potential, he could well become one of these.