FIFA 13: Predicting Player Ratings for Manchester United
I, like many of you I'm sure, am an avid fan of EA Sports' FIFA video game series.
When Manchester City clinched Premier League glory last season, I was proud to have led an injury-free Manchester United to glory in my fictional "Manager Mode," a feat that I'll seek to replicate come the end of September, when the latest edition of the game is released.
One point of interest that always captures fans' attention in the buildup to the release has been the game's player ratings for their favourite teams.
Analyzing the United squad's performance last season, and its start to this one too, I'll attempt to predict EA Sports' player rating for every individual Red Devil (with the developers' previous ratings in brackets).
Manchester United's No. 1 keeper, David de Gea, is coming off the back of an up-and-down season for Sir Alex Ferguson's side, having looked rather shaky in the opening few months before bouncing back nicely in the post-winter period.
Both he and Anders Lindegaard should improve in the FIFA ratings system, though not by much.
De Gea's excellent reflexes and diving attributes will overshadow his relatively poor handling, which should see him outrank his rival for the position.
Newcomer Sam Johnstone will undoubtedly be given a low player rating due to FIFA's notoriously poor valuation of young, untested talent.
David de Gea, 81 (80)
Anders Lindegaard, 78 (76)
Sam Johnstone, 63 (-)
United's defence has developed into a fine mix of old and new, and it should be reflected as such in FIFA 13.
Captain Fantastic Nemanja Vidic will certainly be the highest-rated defender in the squad, with veteran Rio Ferdinand a relatively close second.
Considering the latter was rated a particularly high 87 last time around, he is sure to drop in value due to his diminishing pace and stamina, this despite having an impressive campaign in 2011/12.
Patrice Evra is also certain to drop in value; however, Jonny Evans will be the biggest winner in the game, considering his fantastic improvement in the second half of last season.
Brazilian full-back Rafael should see a slight improvement in ratings; the improvement in his efficiency going forward won't go unrewarded.
For youngsters Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, I find it difficult to foresee any great change in ratings from the last edition.
EA Sports will take caution in their rating of newcomer Alex Buttner, though, this despite his fantastic debut against Wigan last Saturday.
Nemanja Vidic, 88 (89)
Rio Ferdinand, 84 (87)
Chris Smalling, 77 (77)
Phil Jones, 77 (76)
Jonny Evans, 82 (75)
Rafael, 78 (76)
Patrice Evra, 80 (85)
Alex Buttner, 74 (65)
Scott Wooton, 64 (-)
It will come as a great relief for United fans to be able to play with Paul Scholes again once FIFA 13 is released. His absence from the game last time out robbed gamers of the opportunity to control one of, if not the best passer in world football.
He and fellow United old boy Ryan Giggs remain top-class, a fact that should be reflected in the game.
Michael Carrick may see a slight rise in his rating, as will Shinji Kagawa, who was at Borussia Dortmund when FIFA 12 was released.
Tom Cleverley should benefit from the biggest jump in value, though, having been given a criminally low 73 rating last time around.
Antonio Valencia too should be rewarded for his excellent form, having been rated lower than Nani in the previous edition of the game.
Nani may suffer from poor early-season form and see a slight dip; the same goes for Ashley Young, considering his lack of consistency since joining United. Having starred for United in the first few games of last season, Young was dramatically overrated in FIFA 12 and has nowhere to go but down.
Nick Powell's potential on the game will be world class, but for now, fans will have to be content with an average rating before he proves himself over time in the United first team.
Michael Carrick, 84 (82)
Anderson, 77 (77)
Antonio Valencia, 86 (83)
Nani, 83 (85)
Ashley Young, 82 (85)
Tom Cleverley, 79 (73)
Ryan Giggs, 81 (83)
Paul Scholes, 83 (-)
Darren Fletcher, 79 (81)
Shinji Kagawa, 85 (82)
Nick Powell, 72 (52)
Manchester United will contend with Manchester City for the highest-rated forward line in FIFA 13, as Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney rival Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero in value.
The question of who's rated higher will be a very controversial topic indeed to many, but I'm going to plead the fifth and give them both a 90 rating.
The gulf in ratings between youngsters Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez will most likely narrow, with the two seemingly neck and neck in the race to be the team's third-choice striker.
Hernandez's greatest attributes in the game will no doubt be his acceleration and vision, whilst Welbeck's ball control and balance has improved a great deal since last summer.
Despite looking slightly above useless in preseason, Bebe will return to the series with an unsurprisingly low rating in FIFA 13.
Angelo Henriquez too will be treated with caution, despite coming off the back of a cracking season in Chile for Universidad.
Wayne Rooney, 90 (90)
Robin van Persie, 90 (86)
Javier Hernandez, 80 (82)
Danny Welbeck, 79 (76)
Federico Macheda, 71 (73)
Angelo Henriquez, 69 (-)
Bebe, 66 (-)
Here are my FIFA 13 Manchester United player ratings in full:
GK: David de Gea, 81, Anders Lindegaard, 78, Sam Johnstone, 63.
DEF: Nemanja Vidic, 88, Rio Ferdinand, 84, Chris Smalling, 77, Phil Jones, 77, Jonny Evans, 82, Rafael, 78, Patrice Evra, 80, Alex Buttner, 74, Scott Wooton, 64.
MID: Michael Carrick, 84, Anderson, 77, Antonio Valencia, 86, Nani, 83, Ashley Young, 82, Tom Cleverley, 79, Ryan Giggs, 81, Paul Scholes, 83, Darren Fletcher, 79, Shinji Kagawa, 85, Nick Powell, 72.
ATT: Wayne Rooney, 90, Robin van Persie, 90, Javier Hernandez, 80, Danny Welbeck, 79, Federico Macheda, 71, Angelo Henriquez, 69.
What do you think? Which Manchester United players will be the biggest winners when FIFA 13 is released, and who will be the biggest losers?