Manchester United: The 6 Best Players in October 2012
October 2012 was a good month to be a Manchester United fan as the team finally began hitting its stride.
In the first two months of the season, United often played listless and unconvincing football. Add to that an injury-ravaged defence and the absence of the club's talisman, Wayne Rooney. This whole mix gave United fans reasons to worry as they barely sneaked past opponents like Fulham, Galatasaray and Southampton.
The month of September ended particularly badly as United lost at home to Tottenham for the first time since 1989. Despite the team's formidable attacking prowess, it seemed like the defensive side of the game would cost United chances of silverware this season.
However, October turned out to be much more productive. The team improved its form and restored a renewed sense of hope among the United faithful.
In the six matches that United played this month, they won five. Two of these were Champions League games against Cluj and Braga. The other three were Premier League games against Newcastle, Stoke and Chelsea. United's second string rounded off the month with a thrilling but ultimately disappointing 5-4 loss to Chelsea in extra-time.
Most of the games were great spectacles filled with goals and attacking football. The six games saw Manchester United score a total of 19 goals. They also conceded 12 goals in the same period.
Here is a look at six players who made the past month so exciting for Manchester United. Each of these players have a claim at being the Manchester United Player of the Month for October 2012.
David De Gea
De Gea did not do any harm to his chances of securing the Manchester United goalkeeping jersey for good. He once again showed that shot stopping is his best attribute. He was agile and alert for all the games he played but his saves against Chelsea deserve special mention.
The month also saw De Gea face some very physical opponents in Newcastle and Stoke. Overall, he did well against these teams. There were still a few issues with his handling of crosses, but nothing that cost the team.
The young Spanish stopper can definitely take heart from his recent form. United now need him to kick on from here and put in more commanding performances in the coming months.
Rafael Da Silva
This is proving to be a breakthrough year for Rafael Da Silva. The 23-year-old Brazilian seems to have finally made the right-back place his own, even wearing the No. 2 jersey made famous by Gary Neville.
Rafael was ever-present in all six of United's games last month. He was solid defensively, without compromising on his tireless runs to assist in attacks. Nowhere was his presence in the attacking third more important than in the game against Chelsea. Rafael supplied Chicharito with the all important assist for the goal that won United the game.
The main difference in Rafael's game this season seems to be his maturity. He no longer rushes into tackles. He also seems to have a greater understanding of when to go forward to join attacks and when to stay back.
Based on his performances in the last month, Rafael certainly does deserve his place on this list.
This was always touted as a make-or-break season for Tom Cleverley. The 23-year-old England international has genuine aspirations of replacing Paul Scholes in the Manchester United engine room one day.
As far as his performances in October go, Cleverley did not do those aspirations any harm. He appeared in four games, including both the Champions League matches and the all important Premier League clash against Chelsea.
During these games, Cleverley kept the engine room ticking nicely with his passing and movement. He averaged a total of 65 successful passes per game at a success rate of 90% (per whoscored.com). Both these stats wouldn't look too bad on Paul Scholes' own CV.
Cleverley also scored a wonder goal against Newcastle when his long-range shot found the top corner of the goal. Even though it was widely heralded as a fluke, Cleverley claimed later that he had meant it!
While Cleverley might not be the most effective player for United in this period, his performances certainly merit a place on this list.
The start of Rooney's season was marred by a lack of fitness and a horrific injury suffered during the early-season game against Fulham. However, Rooney made a comeback to the first team in October. Since then, he has once again established himself as the talisman of this Manchester United side.
Rooney has been nothing short of inspirational since his return from injury. Ever the team player, he has filled in a variety of roles, from an attacking midfielder at the tip of the diamond to support striker to left winger to central midfielder. Amazingly, he has been effective in every single one of those roles.
In his five appearances in October, Rooney scored two goals and provided a team high of five assists. Since his return to form, he has been everywhere, rallying United with his boundless energy and enthusiasm.
On top of all this is Rooney's budding chemistry with RvP. The duo have shown signs of deadly understanding and have been at the heart of everything good about the United attack in the past month.
Additionally, Rooney also scored three goals during the international break with England to top off an impressive October.
For all these reasons and more, United's talisman Wayne Rooney earns a place on this list.
Robin Van Persie
Robin van Persie's statistics for the month of October reads four goals and three assists from five games.
The Dutchman has been nothing short of sensational since his move from Arsenal, having already scored nine goals from 12 appearances for the club. He also showed his taste for the big occasion by scoring a goal and forcing another (David Luiz's own goal) in the critical clash with Chelsea.
There was a big difference between RvP's contribution in previous months to his contributions in October. Earlier it seemed as if he was carrying the burden of scoring for Manchester United on his own shoulders. Lately though, with the return of Wayne Rooney, we have seen RvP in a more varied role where he has both created and finished attacks.
As already stated, his chemistry with Rooney seems irresistible. Both players seem to thrive off each other's footballing intelligence. Surely there is no better striker partnership in Europe currently than the one between Rooney and RvP.
November will be a bigger challenge for RvP, with the visit of Arsenal first up in the list of fixtures. For now though, he can enjoy a place on this list of best players in October for Manchester United.
Javier Hernandez (Chicharito)
While this is a list of the best United players for the whole of October, there can be no doubt who the best player in the last 10 days of October was. During this period, Javier Hernandez rediscovered his goalscoring touch, silenced his critics and reminded millions of Manchester United faithful why they adored him so much in the first place.
Chicharito paid no attention to recent rumors linking him with transfers away from United. Rather, he made full use of the opportunities given to him to stake his claim for a starting position in the team.
He scored four goals in his five appearances in October. All four goals came in his last three matches. One of the goals was the winner against Chelsea in the league. Two goals came in the Champions League comeback against Braga.
In short, Chicharito found his mojo by scoring some of the most important goals for United in the past few days. His smile seems back, his touch seems assured, his movement looks sharp and his physical strength and passing appear the best they have ever been in his time at the club.
With his heroics and rediscovery of his form, Chicharito is surely one of the favorites for being called the Manchester United player of the month for October.
So who would you pick as your player of the month for October? Do leave a word in the comments section.
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