Watching the Community Shield yesterday afternoon made me think a little about how the coming season is looking for Manchester United. I began to wonder why I felt a little flat watching the team I love. It just didn’t feel like a proper game, more like a glorified training session for some reason.
I think in part that was due to the opposition, if it were Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal or Liverpool I think I might have been able to fully emotionally invest in the encounter but what it meant I could do was watch the team closely and analyse in more detail.
Here are 11 thoughts I came up with;
1. David De Gea didn’t have anything to do really but after a much improved second season I have ultimate faith that he is going to turn into one of the world’s greatest goalkeepers. With the change of goalkeeping coach Eric Steele being replaced by Chris Woods I hope his development continues. De Gea has said in the past how much he enjoyed working with Steele so I hope the relationship between the United number 1 and his new mentor develops just as well.
2. The defence looked OK, but that’s it, just OK. Wigan managed to get in behind Smalling and Jones on a couple of occasions yesterday which is a bit worrying really as the standard of opposition is going to be much stronger than at Wembley over the coming season. Vidic still looks solid but it is absolutely vital he stays injury and suspension free. There aren’t many better central defenders in the country than a fully fit Vidic.
3. Jones will be a great defender if he manages to get a run of games there to learn from either Vidic or Ferdinand. It was a shame to see Rafael limp off, hopefully not a serious knock but they should be able to cover him for a few games as his development last season was vast. Jones is not a right back and I think it would have been more beneficial for Smalling to drop into that position as Jones could really have done with the full 90 in the centre.
4. Evra looked lively going forward and pretty untroubled at the back. Baines would be a waste of money at this stage and United would be better off looking at replacing Evra next year and concentrate on their recruitment elsewhere on the field.
5. Zaha looked OK. One too many flicks and showboats at times but the lad has potential if he can reign it in a little. Giggs’ influence was there to see after an unsuccessful attempt at a backheel, Uniteds veteran midfielder had a quiet word and this is why Uniteds number 11 is so important, his experience and influence cannot be replicated by any new signing.
6. Carrick and Cleverley work well as a midfield duo but Cleverley seemed to lack any real urgency or conviction. Anderson looked much more lively when he was introduced and did more in the 20 minutes he was on the field in terms of attacking intent that Cleverley had in the previous 70. It really highlighted Uniteds need for a top class central midfielder to dictate the attacking flow of the game when given the chance.
7. Welbeck is a winger. Straight and simple he is a winger. I have thought this for a couple of years now that his strength lies in taking the ball in a tight situation and turning on it to launch a counter attack. He has very good feet, is quick and direct and can take a player on. What he can’t do as well is shoot, kind of the most important attribute when lining up as a forward or striker. Moving Welbeck out to the left wing and trying to develop him out wide could be a masterstroke.
8. Van Persie carried on from where he left off last season with two goals, one of them an amazing header. That header deserves all of the accolades it receives. On the back foot 15 yards from goal and the power and placement was nothing short of perfection. With the Rooney saga still in full flow United are looking increasingly more reliant on the Dutchman which worries me. Van Persie has a history of getting injured which he managed to avoid last season for any length of time. If that happens and United don’t manage to resolve Wayne Rooney’s future they are going to be left with Hernandez who is better suited to coming on as an impact sub and one of Welbeck, Kagawa or the unproven Henriquez and Januaj.
9. Shinji Kagawa is a brilliant footballer and I am worried he is not going to fulfil the promise whilst at Old Trafford the entire footballing world knows he has. He has amazing feet, is quick, intelligent, can pick a pass and finish brilliantly. If Moyes puts his faith in the Japanese international and drops him in just behind the main striker he could be on to a winner.
10. Moyes looked frightened yesterday, which I suppose is understandable but he needs to exude confidence. He is the manager of one of the greatest football clubs in the world and he needs to believe it. Gain an arrogance, believe you are the best and don’t look shocked and out of place when picking up a trophy David, that lack of self-belief will spill on to the field unless it is rectified pretty sharply.
11. Antonio Valencia was wearing the number 25 shirt he wore during his excellent 2011/12 Man Utd player of the year season, reverting back from his number 7 leaving that shirt free. Who likes the number 7? Who has been linked with a move to Old Trafford since January this year? Hmmmmm! I think most people know who I mean and I think most Manchester United fans are probably thinking the same thing. Hoping at least.
United looked OK, but there are several areas that need to be improved upon before the season gets going proper. At the moment I don’t feel overly confident of winning the title with the current squad, something which I haven’t felt like for years. Yes it was only the Community Shield but it lacked excitement and drive and the team should have just gone for the jugular. There was some excellent linkup going forward at times and a pivotal central midfielder could link that gap perfectly. You have 21 days Mr Moyes to rectify that most glaring of problems, please don’t let United fall behind the pace before the season has even begun.
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