Manchester United: Rating Every Red for the 2011-12 Season
The next few weeks will give an insight into Sir Alex Ferguson's ratings for his First Team Squad.
As I've said before, there could be an unusual number of comings and goings. This year some have come good and others have faded. These are our complete ratings for every player. Please give your own opinions.
They only include players who have appeared for the first team, In addition, there are some bright young talents coming through, most notably the players who have just won the Barclays Premier League Reserves trophy.
They are presented in reverse order and include all the Cup appearances, the Premier League and a couple of players who have moved on since.
I put this article together after suffering the gut-wrenching disappointment of City's two goals in three minutes.
The most interesting conclusion was that there is no standout player for the whole of the season, which simply serves to reinforce the point that this has been an astonishing collective achievement. While Patrice Evra has once again played virtually every match, the unparalleled catalogue of injuries means that thirty five players have been used.
With 89 points, United have blasted past their winning total for last year, winning more than double the number of away matches. They have also blown their traditional rivals out of the water. Liverpool and Chelsea are in disarray.
Unfortunately, the 'new kids on the block' had the firepower, a collection of world class players and hardly any injuries all season.
If United had won, it would have been one of Sir Alex's greatest achievements. It still ranks close.
Who do you think we'll be ranking in the top ten next year; and who won't even be here?
35. Ravel Morrison
A year ago, Ravel Morrison was being talked of as one of the greatest Academy prospects ever. He had lead United's Youth team to a stunning comeback.
Sadly, the headline writers were more preoccupied with his antics and court appearances off the field. Rumours began to surface about his indiscipline and then of his impending exit.
That Sir Alex Ferguson did not resist this; and Morrison having had as many FA charges as appearances at West Ham sums up the whole sorry business.
Morrison very much looked the part in his two substitute outings for United, but he's gone and good riddance, therefore featuring at the bottom of the pile.
34. Larnell Cole
Cole is just 19 and had his first England call-up last August. He also played against Leeds United in the FA Cup.
His main position is wide right and he is a skillful ball players.
He was impressive when switched to central midfield in the winning Reserves Final. He needs to grow and fill out but has the potential to succeed at Old Trafford. He will probably go on loan next season.
Larnell has been short-listed for Young Player of the Year at United.
33. Michael Keane
Michael Keane made his first team debut against Aldershot in the Carling Cup. He has grown and matured massively this season.
Starting as a left back, he has made the transition to centre back with ease and is even stronger in the air than his brother Will, as the goal above shows.
While Michael played for Ireland as a youth, like Will he has opted for England as a full international if he gets there.
Again, he will almost certainly go out on loan next season but you are going to hear a lot more about Michael.
Michael has been short-listed for Young Player of the Year.
32. Will Keane
Will Keane just edges his brother because he looks ready now.
He's a natural born goal scorer with head and both feet; and calmness personified. Although his only appearance was in the ill-fated Blackburn match, he did not look out of place.
As I've said elsewhere, he reminds me of a young Denis Bergkamp. He already has 27 representative outings for England and it is surely no more than a couple of years before he gets his chance for the national squad.
Will is a former United Young Player of the Year.
31. Mame Biram Diouf
Mame Biram Diouf has pace and is unconvincing as a striker. However, having been sold to Hannover, he has scored nine goals in 13 matches, so he may have found his niche.
Backed up behind a stack of strikers at Old Trafford, he still managed three starts in Cup matches, culminating in the defeat by Crystal Palace. Fergie had seen enough and Diouf was gone.
30. Darron Gibson
Darron only featured twice for United before he was sold to Everton,where he did his best for his old club, scoring the winning goal against City.
He never quite made it at United and certainly never won the fans over. Sir Alex tried to unload him last summer to Sunderland but his ridiculous wage demands scuppered the deal.
Not missed in any way this season. Gets this rating for doing us a favour.
29. Federico Macheda
Hard to believe that Macheda scored this goal more than three years ago, at the tender age of 17. Sir Alex has described him as the most natural goal scorer at the club.
With at least five strikers ahead of him at Old Trafford, he has spent most of the season on loan. Despite this he still made six appearances for the Red Devils, scoring a penalty in the defeat by Crystal Palace.
He wants to have a career at United and, if Owen and Berbatov leave he may get more chance to establish himself.
He has made 24 representative appearances for Italy and surely has a bright future in the game when everything clicks.
28. Paul Pogba
Sir Alex would love to keep him, but in my opinion has not given him sufficient chances in the First Team.
The supporters wanted to keep him and greeted his arrival on the pitch in his seven substitute appearances with delight. Latterly cheering every time he touched the ball.
This seems to have left him unmoved. Like Morrison he has been described as one of the best young footballers of his generation, but he's almost certainly gone.
If there was one reservation it was that he seemed to find the game so easy that he was rather languid in his play. He thinks fast and can cover the ground with his loping stride. He can tackles and score with either foot as the video shows.
Sir Alex will not keep players whose heart is not red to the core so we'll have to hope he does not turn up at City in a couple of seasons as a budding superstar.
27. Michael Owen
Apparently Michael Owen loves being at United, but he's seen more of his horses than his teammates this season.
He may have scored the winner in the Premier League greatest match ever, but he's been an expensive passenger this season. His goal ratio this year is great at three in three but he's been perennially injured.
He finally made the bench at Sunderland, but fortunately was not needed. That might be the case permanently next season.
26. Ezekiel Fryers
Zeki Fryers looks like the real deal.
Undaunted by having to partner Michael Carrick in central defence in the successful win over Leeds, he played a total of six matches; five at left back.
Eventually, he made his Premier League debut against Wolves and again against Wigan suggested he could save Sir Alex the £10 million fee for Leighton Baines if he signs the generous contract that will be put in front of him next week.
For those who doubt that he will sign, he played the whole 90 minutes of the Reserves Final, which suggests that both parties are relaxed about the future.
25. Ben Amos
Ben Amos made four starts this season, keeping three clean sheets, but he was also one of the substitutes 19 times while Lindegaard has been out injured.
He apparently thought about leaving last summer, but Sir Alex has promoted him above Kusczak and he has looked sound in every match.
If he goes out on loan next season, he has a more than adequate stand-in with Sam Johnstone, the England U19 keeper who made three penalty saves to win United the Reserves Final last Thursday.
24. Darren Fletcher
God knows United (and Michael Carrick) have missed Darren Fletcher this season.
His goal against Manchester City above was the only high spot of that fateful match. Within weeks his season was over--victim of a chronic bowel condition.
He has struck something of a forlorn figure, whether in the Directors' Box or coaching the Reserves.
Darren never lets you down, but it is far from certain that he will return next season.
23. Fabio Da Silva
This is what Fabio and twin brother Rafael can do if they are let off the leash. The trouble is, neither is yet self-disciplined enough.
They will undoubtedly have stellar careers for Brazil and in top level football. For the time being, with Patrice Evra still in the saddle and Zeki Fryers pushing for a place, Sir Alex has decided to send Fabio on loan to Benfica.
Of the two, he is believed to be the most talented. We shall have to wait and see, but he did well enough to earn 15 appearances this season.
If Anderson was fully fit, playing at his best, Sir Alex would not have to raid the market for a creative midfielder. At the start of the season, he and Cleverly looked made for each other. Then Cleverly got crocked by Kevin Davies and Anderson went missing.
He reappeared with a dramatic new haircut, looked really sharp and then disappeared again.
During the times in between he managed to score at last for United and delight the crowd.
Nobody really knows whether he is injured, tired and emotional or what.
In his teens he was regarded as possibly the greatest young midfield talent in the world. Then he broke his leg. Sir Alex took a gamble on him which looked like paying off, but now the jury is out.
It would be no surprise of he was sold this summer.
Rafael is a huge talent, but he must regularly do Sir Alex's head in.
At just 21, he already has 89 appearances for United. He has blinding pace, great ball skill and the ability to run from back to front and finish with a cheeky chip for a goal.
The trouble is he then finds himself at the wrong end of the pitch.
He is getting better as a defensive full-back but has appalling gaps in concentration, like standing and watching as Bilbao scored their third goal at Old Trafford.
He'll make it eventually and he'll be some player; Real Madrid have been rumoured to be interested in both twins in the past.
In the meantime, Sir Alex will need Chris Smalling and Phil Jones as regular cover.
20. Tom Cleverley
The season started so well for Tom Cleverley; his appearance in the Community Shield was a revelation to many football fans, but not to those who had followed United's preseason tour to the US.
Within weeks the media was speculating that the answer had been found to replacing Paul Scholes. Tom isn't the same type of player, but is skilful and energetic with close control.
The dreams were put on hold by Kevin Davies' ugly challenge; also Cleverley tried to come back too soon and suffered a further setback.
By the end of the season it was too late to consider putting his fitness at risk and, other than a couple of substitute appearances, Scholes kept his midfield berth warm.
With the latter unsure about signing a new contract, it seems that only a stellar signing such as Sneijder or Hazard can inhibit Cleverley's march to a regular first team start.
With more than fifteen appearances he might have merited a higher ranking.
19. Anders Lindegaard
Anders Lindegaard did nothing wrong this season--except get injured.
David de Gea had been dropped and Lindegaard looked like he was set to establish himself as first choice keeper for the rest of the season, before he was injured.
De Gea then grabbed the gloves and, with a string of world class saves such as that from Juan Mata to preserve a point at Stamford Bridge, looks to be the incumbent for ten years or more.
Which although disappointing for Anders, means United have not just one, but two top keepers for the foreseeable future.
In the meantime, they also have Ben Amos and surely Sam Johnstone pushing for contention.
18. Nemanja Vidic
A player this good cannot fail to be missed. He is to United what Vince Kompany is to City; captain, leader and world class central defender.
Sadly, I have speculated elsewhere that he may not come back the same player he was and that could put a question mark over his future at United.
Although he only played ten times this season, his cruciate knee ligament injury was enough to unsettle United's defence until the new partnership of Ferdinand and Evans settled in.
Even in that short period, he was world class.
17. Dimitar Berbatov
I would have loved to have ranked Dimi higher and will unashamedly admit that he is my favourite United player.
The trouble is, Sir Alex hasn't given him the chances, which is surprising given he was joint Premier League top scorer last season. Imagine Arsene Wenger leaving out RVP next season.
He may seem too languid for some fans, but if you watch he is deceptively fast. It took his teammates a while to work out that he wants the ball hit straight at him, not in front. He kills it stone dead, can lay it off, hold it up or run with it.
Some of what he has done has been sublime. Why do we rave about Rooney's overhead goal against City rather than Berba's against Liverpool. Nobody claimed that he shinned that one.
Meanwhile, his goals to games ratio this season, in just eleven starts and ten subs, was almost 0.5. He has scored more goals in 21 matches than either Fernando Torres or Andy Carroll, since either signed for their new clubs a season and a half ago.
Can't be bad.
16. Ji Sung Park
In the absence of Darren Fletcher, Ji Sung Park is Sir Alex's 'go-to' player. But not for much longer methinks. He was pretty anonymous against City.
Ji is now 31 and although he has played 28 games this season, scoring three times, he will surely move on this summer.
His marketing value is exceptional in Korea, so it would be no big surprise of Shinji Kagawa came in to plug the Far Eastern gap.
15. Chris Smalling
Chris Smalling has not made the same impact this season as last. Hardly surprising given his sporadic injuries; a groin problem; and oscillation between right back and central defence.
It is to be hoped that he recovers from his pivotal lapse of concentration against City that helped cost United the title, because he has great potential as either a footballing centre-back or a marauding wing-back.
He is one of the few defenders likely to score a goal (as he did against Chelsea) and heads the ball as anyone in the squad.
14. Javier Hernandez
Fans' Player of the Year 2011, they are probably frustrated that he did not get more starts this season.
His form was punctuated by injuries and the arrival of Welbeck as first choice pairing with Rooney. Also, he is still young and has hardly had a rest in three years.
Maybe he also suffered from 'second season syndrome' like Chris Smalling.
Sir Alex has withdrawn him from Mexico's Olympic squad and he will surely arrive in preseason action with a bang.
A million experts can't be wrong and Chicharito got rave reviews in his first season at United.
He'll be back.
13. Phil Jones
So near yet so far. Winning a title in your first year at just 20.
In many ways its been a great year for Phil. A couple of years ago he was in Blackburn's Academy. He now looks a bull of a player. At the start of the season, people were comparing him favourably with Duncan Edwards and saying he was a future captain of England.
Between Phil and Jordan Henderson, Fergie definitely did the better business.
The thing is, nobody yet knows what Phil is and he surely does not want to be labelled a 'utility player'?
He has been less certain at centre-back and defensive midfield than at right back, where he has gone from strength to strength. His cross for Rooney's goal was sublime.
He has great power running from deep and is excellent in the tackle. He will surely also be disappointed not to score more goals than his two from 40 games.
But he has far more appearances than he would have dreamed when he looked at the competition for places.
He will surely go to Euro 2012 and, no matter how many games he plays, come back the better for it. But where will he play next season?
12. David De Gea
I have never wavered from my view that this lad has the potential to be the greatest keeper in the world. He is undoubtedly one of the best shot-stoppers I have ever seen.
His save from Mata was one of the best ever.
And yet, struggling to come to terms with the physicality of the Premier League, including a deliberate pummeling from Shane Long, he was dropped by Sir Alex.
He credits this as turning his season round and, when the chance came again with Lindegaard's injury, he seized it with both hands (pun intended!)
In some ways he is similar to tennis Andy Murray. Everything comes easily to him, because of his immense natural talent. They also both have the fastest reflexes and this can make you lazy.
De Gea is here to stay; a hero at Old Trafford who, if he'd played the full complement as well as he's done in the second half of the season would surely be a contender for United's Player of the Year.
That can only go to one man.
11. Patrice Evra
You would have thought that a player with 47 starts in 2011/12; 242 in five seasons; who took over the captain's armband at short notice and led United to 89 points in the League would be a shoo-in for Player of the Year.
But not 'Paddy'.
Why? He may be one of the best attacking wing backs in the game, but he can be woeful at defending.
He may have hit the post against Everton, but he was at the wrong end of the pitch when United should have shut up shop on a 4-2 lead.
And OK, United play to win and attacking football, but why was Evra in the wrong half of the pitch for five of Manchester City's six goals?
In Europe, opposition players ran rings round him and through him.
So sadly, Evra does not even make our top ten.
10. Jonny Evans
Are these two a future partnership at Old Trafford?
At the start of the season, Evans would have been many people's least favourite player. He was woeful in the 6-1 defeat by City--asleep for Balotelli's opener and then again in the foul that led to him being sent off.
Since Vidic was not available, he has been able to establish a partnership with Rio Ferdinand which has been pivotal to United's success in the second half of the season, his confidence has zoomed. He has been one of the best central defenders in the Premier League.
Sir Alex has always rated him. With 29 full caps for Northern Ireland, 40 appearances for United this season and now his first goal, Jonny has surely arrived.
9. Ashley Young
Ashley Young is a silly boy. He does not need to dive and God knows where he learned it. After his second penalty winning dive, Sir Alex gave him the hard word.
He is that curate's egg, a winger playing off the wrong foot. Naturally right footed, he prefers to play on the left wing or through the middle.
He has scored some not only brilliant but pretty important goals this season--even keeping Nani out of the team against Sunderland.
His 33 appearances were again restricted by injury, but he scored eight goals, which is what Sir Alex wants--goals from everywhere.
He has been underrated as an England player and has undoubtedly improved further since he arrived at Old Trafford. From next season he is going to be one of the senior players guiding the new young crop.
He is intelligent, thoughtful and a much better footballer than the idiot who dives. Stop it Ashley.
8. Ryan Giggs
Sorry for the video quality. You all remember it--another pivotal goal by Ryan Giggs. It was also his 900th game for United, which is quite stunning. He will undoubtedly get another contract next year.
I would have placed Ryan higher, but he does not get the number of starts (22) he used to and, despite his brilliance--nobody dribbles better than him in the Premiership--he is too wasteful of the ball for me.
In fact these days his presence and coolness are probably as valuable as anything.
The thing is that next season if he plays he will be keeping a younger player out of the team. Sir Alex needs to move on and, assuming he and Scholes re-sign, they should be no more than squad players next season, with a role to play in the Cups and Europe.
However, Ryan is the best Premier League Player of all time.
7. Paul Scholes
This is what he came back for...moments like these.
Some people would make Scholes the Player of the Season, because of the galvanising effect he had. Just look at the results in the 21 matches he played.
But although his passing is still sublime, it is his calmness and ability to put his foot on the ball that are most important.
He can no longer go 90 minutes at full throttle and indeed should have been substituted at 4-2 against Everton, because his legs were gone. He was nearest to Fellaini when the cross came over.
That takes nothing away from the quality of his performances, however, but with only half a season under his belt, he merits no better than seventh.
6. Rio Ferdinand
Halfway through the season, Sir Alex reminded Rio that he was not as young or as fast as he used to be. Since then he has been outstanding.
He has been calm under fire and coached Jonny Evans to be recognised for the talent he has. They have established an excellent understanding and, with Rio managing his back better, he has probably surprised a lot of people by playing 38 games.
It is rumoured that he will be asked to take a pay cut next season but, at 34 in November he has a touch of the Paolo Maldini's about him and, paired with a younger man can surely put in another three years.
He is also needed to nurture and encourage the younger players. He may not have been able to persuade Paul Pogba to stay, but he watches most of the junior games and the young rising stars respect him greatly--as a footballer and a person.
He devotes a great deal of his cash and time to charity and a call-up for England this summer, maybe as captain, would be the icing on the cake of a great career.
5. Danny Welbeck
Danny Welbeck has arrived. With 39 games in total, he has pushed Chicharito down the pecking order.
The partnership he has established with Wayne Rooney will surely be replicated this summer with England.
His growth this year is probably the main reason why Sir Alex is happy to let Berbatov go. Danny may not quite have the silky skills that Dimi has, but he has great ball control, huge physical strength, pace, is an excellent target man and can score goals anywhere and anyhow.
He can be a United and England striker for the next ten years.
4. Michael Carrick
I make no apologies for placing Michael so highly. Sir Alex also rates him highly.
His greatest achievement this season has been to turn round many of the doubters. While Scholes was retired, Michael had to continue to fill an unaccustomed role as holding midfield and even to revert to centre-back yet again.
He does everything the Boss asks. His passing, intercepts and tackling stats are as good as almost anyone. He's played 41 times this season.
While people focus on Scholes passing ability and range, Carrick can ping a long pass every bit as well and often hits the one that carves open a defence. In the meantime, he hardly ever gives the ball away and is utterly professional.
Scholes should at best be a squad player next season, making way for players coming in and young talent like Cleverley. That means Carrick could be the pivot around which Sir Alex builds his next title challenge.
Always underrated at United, top journalists, insiders at United, Harry Redknapp and probably Roy Hodgson rate him higher than many United fans.
Do not be surprised if he's in the England squad on Wednesday.
This goal alone is enough to place Nani at number three. Oh and did you see Carrick's three passes as well?
Last year Nani was the United Player's Player of the Year after a stellar year with more assists than anyone else.
Injury has again restricted him to 32 starts and he can be perennially frustrating for both supporter and manager.
But he's scored 12 goals from the wing--not quite Cristiano Ronaldo yet--and has that magical ability that Balotelli has, to create a goal out of nothing.
2. Antonio Valencia
Recovering from a bad injury, Antonio Valencia has found his way back to his best form in the 38 games he has played this season, with six great goals. If he'd had a full season he would have been a shoo-in for number one.
He is an enigma being so very one-footed, but his dribbling ability, pace, crossing and bullet shot mark him out as a top, top player.
He is intelligent, modest and loyal and will almost certainly go on to become a United legend.
1. Wayne Rooney
Easy to forget that eighteen months ago Wayne wanted to leave Old Trafford.
He and the Boss have put that behind them. He is now genuinely world class; has scored 34 goals in 43 appearances and received only one yellow card all season.
In fact he seems reborn--the hair implants, the responsibility of fatherhood, the past scandals, have all helped make a man of him.
In my opinion, Sir Alex has already marked him out as the next United captain--maybe as early as August. He is regarded as thick and crude by those that do not know him, but he is intelligent, thoughtful, articulate and now sets a good example at United.
He has been alternately brilliant and frustrating this season. Having achieved what he has despite not being at his best for much of the season marks him out as a runaway choice for number one.
As well as Michael Carrick, Sir Alex may look to build the outfield around him next season. Rooney harbours a wish to eventually succeed Paul Scholes in the number ten role Paul used to play. If Sir Alex cannot land a top 'trequarista' in the summer, don't rule out a new top striker and Rooney in 'the hole'.
So there you have it. 35 players have appeared this season, some won't ever be seen again. If you do not agree please post your comments.
See you next season.
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