Manchester United have not started the season in quite the fashion they had imagined; a loss to Everton followed by narrow victories over Fulham and recently promoted Southampton does not signify world beaters. Nevertheless, if there is any team that can never be written off—on neither domestic nor European fronts—it is Manchester United.
Sir Alex Ferguson has indeed assembled a world-class team, and chinks in the armor have been fixed with the procurement of Shinji Kagawa and Robin van Persie.
Obviously, Wayne Rooney is their natural talisman, and he will be the most critical individual for United’s success. Besides him, I reckon that the following five individuals will be imperative for United’s success in this season.
Michael Carrick has often been the overlooked midfielder in a generation that has bestowed us with the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta. However, much like the Catalan duo, Carrick is the fulcrum of the team.
He closes down space, holds the ball exceptionally well and distributes with perfection.
Last season, Carrick came to life and finally stopped being the scapegoat for United’s troubles and was being rightly praised for his abilities in central midfield.
This season, he will prove even more important, as United shift towards a more fluid formation in 4-2-3-1. From the “2” position, he will be expected to move the ball swiftly out to the wings or to Shinji Kagawa, who in my reckoning will take up duties as the attacking midfielder.
4. Nemanja Vidic
The Red Devils’ really missed Nemanja Vidic last season, and with the host of defensive casualties this season, his role will really be the key to United’s success.
Calm, composed and a stalwart at defence, Vidic will be entrusted with the responsibility of keeping the defensive unit intact.
3. Robin van Persie
The news that Robin van Persie is slightly injured is distressing news indeed. Thankfully, it is not that wretched ankle yet again.
Sir Alex Ferguson demonstrated a strong intention of intent by bringing in England’s best player last season for quite the sum. And if initial proceedings are any indication of the future, the signing will pay off handsomely.
Only three games into the new season, and van Persie already has a handful of goals to his name, not to mention the superb hat-trick against Southampton.
The Dutchman, over the course of the season, will lift the pressure off of Wayne Rooney, combine well with the other offensive players and score loads of goals.
2. Antonio Valencia
Last season, the Ecuadorian burst onto the footballing stage and announced himself with quite the style. Wreaking havoc down the right flank with his pace and skill on the ball, Valencia terrorised opposition defenses and was often the man that rose to break the impasse.
Hopefully, the winger can repeat his exploits this season as well.
He provides much needed width, and his relationship with his right-back is almost telepathic and thus equips United with more attacking options.
1. Shinji Kagawa
Shinji Kagawa’s introduction to the United team has already seen a few changes rendered to the United style.
His natural instincts as an attacking midfielder has resulted in the traditionally stiff 4-4-2 pave way for more fluid formations. Furthermore, his orchestrating abilities have allowed the more natural forwards to concentrate primarily on goal-scoring duties.
Under Sir Alex’s tutelage, he will blossom into an even more skillful player; his defensive abilities will improve and so will his link up play (which is already on a level you wouldn’t expect who has just come into the team and has limited language abilities).
I have written quite a bit about Kagawa and why he can be instrumental in driving United to the path of glory yet again. To read more:
Follow me on Twitter: @BrenGoetze
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