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Alexander Buttner: Assessing His Contribution at Manchester United so Far

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Alexander Buttner: Assessing His Contribution at Manchester United so Far
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Since moving to Manchester United from Vitesse Arnhem in the summer, Alexander Buttner's impact at his new club has been limited.

Patrice Evra, the Red Devils' No. 1 option at left-back, has been in stellar form this season, keeping Buttner from seeing a great deal of game time.

Over the past six months the 24-year-old has played most of his football in the United reserves team, patiently waiting for an opportunity to impress.

Buttner isn't the finished article yet, nor will he challenge Evra for the starting job next term, but when he has featured for the first team, he has certainly looked promising.

Despite throwing himself around and into challenges with a healthy zeal, he has been caught out of position defensively on a number of occasions.

His exuberance is admired by fans of the club, but it needs to be reined in before carelessness takes over.

He could stand to learn a lesson from Wayne Rooney in this respect, who has turned his raw power and enthusiasm into a calculated technical genius over the past few years.

His final ball also needs work, but these are minor quibbles that can be ironed out by the United training staff.

 

Dream Debut

Alex Buttner's first game in a Manchester United shirt couldn't have gone more perfectly.

The Dutchman scored a cracking goal, one that fans are unlikely to forget for seasons to come.

Picking the ball up close to the left byline, he weaved his way around several helpless Wigan Athletic players before beating the Latics' Ali Al-Habsi from a near-impossible angle.

He also nabbed an assist in the 4-0 win at Old Trafford, and was named a very deserving man of the match by WhoScored.com.

The Guardian claimed that Buttner stole the show, while Sir Alex Ferguson quipped: "He was rash at times but he has great engine and great enthusiasm for the game."

It would be fair to say that the tenacious left-back became an instant cult hero at the club following the victory.

But since then, Buttner is yet to play another game in the Premier League, perhaps deemed unready for the rigors of the Red Devils' bigger matches.

This does, of course, leave his league goalscoring record at a very healthy one in one appearance, but the statistic by itself is rather arbitrary.

More importantly, should the Red Devils claim Premier League glory this term, Buttner is unlikely to make the 10 appearances necessary for a winner's medal.

The club could always appeal for special dispensation, but this would also be an odd scenario were the full-back to play less than half-a-dozen games.

Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

 

Cup Regular

Alex Buttner has been a regular in the Manchester United team that progressed to the fourth round of the 2012/13 Capital One Cup and remains alive at the quarterfinal stage of the FA Cup.

He impressed a great deal in his side's 2-1 win over Newcastle United in the third round of the league cup.

Playing in a youth-orientated defence that included the likes of Scott Wooton, Michael Keane and Marnick Vermijl, Buttner looked the most assured of the four.

His next two appearances—in the 3-2 Champions League win over Braga and the 5-4 defeat to Chelsea—were a little less impressive.

In the latter match, he was subbed off at the half having been given the run around by Juan Mata and Victor Moses down his left flank.

He played in both of United's Champions League group stage dead rubbers against Galatasaray and CFR Cluj, fixtures that saw Sir Alex's side beaten 1-0 both times.

Most recently, he was given a rare start in the Red Devils' FA Cup clash with Reading, providing a marauding threat down the left wing.

He is yet to replicate the sort of landmark moment he conjured in his debut for the club, but he has looked far more sturdy on the back foot than he did in his early days in Manchester.

 

What the Future Holds

Looking at United's upcoming fixtures, it is difficult to see Alex Buttner heavily featuring for the team.

With the Red Devils in the crunch phase of both the FA Cup and Champions League, Sir Alex is likely to deploy his best possible XI in all games.

However, if the side can wrap up the Premier League title early, he could earn several starts late in the season.

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Buttner's biggest problem is Patrice Evra's near-superhuman stamina and fitness levels, which allow the 31-year-old to play as many as two games a week with ease.

The Frenchman also has an excellent recent track record with injuries or lack thereof.

Buttner would also have to show a great improvement to play more next season considering Fabio's imminent return from his loan spell at Queens Park Rangers.

It will be up to the Dutchman to stake a claim to being Evra's eventual replacement and United's long-term solution at left-back.

 

What have you made of Alex Buttner's contribution for Man Utd so far?


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