Grading Every Member of Manchester United's Premier League Squad from A to F
A integral part of Manchester United's Premier League success came down to the squad strength of Sir Alex Ferguson's men.
Although individuals like Robin van Persie regularly grab the headlines for match-winning performances, how well did the rest of the squad fare across the 2012-13 season? Like an end of semester report card, it's time to grade each individual on their showings throughout the year.
First, let's take a look at the grading system:
A: Given to those who have posted career-defining seasons of immense quality. Consistently influenced match results with excellent play. Reserved for the best performers only.
B: A brilliant and consistent season. Played a major role in United's success with little to no mistakes. The team looked weaker without these players.
C: A very good and largely consistent season. Performed well, perhaps with limited opportunities. Also reserved for young players who showed signs of development.
D: An average season. Failed to hold down a regular place in the squad due to a lack of consistency. Need to improve next season if United are to keep faith in their abilities.
E: A poor campaign. Consistent lack of quality and regular mistakes. Often detracted from United's overall play and needs to improve quickly if they are to remain at the club.
F: A disastrous season. Showed very little quality and possesses little chance of a United future.
David De Gea: A
Hushed the doubters after an inconsistent first season. The Spaniard was consistently brilliant after Christmas, despite facing competition from Anders Lindegaard during the early weeks. Made some truly stunning saves to help United preserve points and has 11 clean sheets from 28 appearances going into the final day of the season.
Anders Lindegaard: D
Competed with De Gea at first but ultimately lost his place. United never looked as strong with Lindegaard between the sticks, as his shot-stopping ability just doesn't match his younger colleague. Two clean sheets from nine appearances, which includes losses to Tottenham, Norwich and Chelsea.
Largely excellent and finally made the right-back position his own. Often made Antonio Valencia look good down the wing with his willingness to get forward. Scored three goals and provided three assists, including important strikes against Liverpool and QPR.
Sometimes suspect in defence, a fact acknowledged by Ferguson's decision to substitute him on a couple of occasions. Season cut short due to disappointing red card against Chelsea.
Patrice Evra: C
Started the season excellently on attacking terms. Evra provided a useful outlet down the left, especially with United's wingers in poor form. The 32-year-old improved massively on his 2011-12 showing, contributing four goals and five assists. His defensive positioning was poor at times and stops him from getting a higher grade.
Rio Ferdinand: B
A powerful season. Immensely influential across the back, where his ability to lead came to the fore. Also scored a wonderful goal at Old Trafford to round off Sir Alex Ferguson's tenure as United boss.
Jonny Evans: C
A consistent level of high performances from Evans all season. Often placed in the team alongside either Ferdinand or Nemanja Vidic, but showed the ability to lead when alongside younger players. Even managed to scored three goals and provide a single assist to the United cause.
Chris Smalling: D
A bit-part season for the English centre-back. Never reached full fitness and often looked sloppy on the ball. Needs a decent preseason to prepare for next year.
Nemanja Vidic: B
Some colossal performances from Vidic summed up why he is such a loss when injured. The man's ability to win headers is unbelievable. United looked far stronger with the Serb playing and will be glad to have him consistently towering above opponents once again.
Alexander Buttner: C
Just three starts for Buttner in his debut season for the Reds. His first game against Wigan will be remembered for a brilliant solo goal. Showed great heart and determination in defence, but perhaps his future lies a little further forward.
Phil Jones: B
Emerged as one of United's unsung heroes as the season progressed. Some momentous defensive performances have seen Jones become United's best man-marking machine. Just ask Marouane Fellaini.
Antonio Valencia: E
An extremely poor season from the Ecuador international. Valencia scored just one goal and provided four assists in 29 appearances. Most noticeably, his ability to skip past opponents and deliver pinpoint crosses seems to have disappeared.
Showed definite class on the ball and has the ability to plug United's midfield when things get hectic. Needs a run of games to shed those extra pounds.
Ryan Giggs: C
Used largely as a substitute, Giggs still offers a calming sense of class when he enters the pitch. A handful of big performances underline exactly why United wanted him to sign a one-year contract extension (via The Guardian). Will be massively important now that Ferguson's retirement is confirmed.
Michael Carrick: A
A truly stunning season from Carrick has finally seen him receive the plaudits he deserves. United's most important midfielder by a country mile, his ability to break down plays and set attacking moves in motion has been sublime. Carrick also produced four highly-important assists that will live long in the memory.
A disappointing, injury-plagued season for the Portuguese winger. Could have really taken advantage of Valencia's poor form if fit, but barely made an impact across his 11 appearances. Could still have plenty to offer if he's up for the challenge.
Ashley Young: D
Similar to Nani, Young has failed to play through much of the season due to injury. Young has a huge season ahead of him if he is to remain a United player for much longer.
Paul Scholes: D
Often utilised to help maintain possession, Scholes' final season wasn't a classic. Noticeably slower on the ball but still useful when the situation permitted.
Tom Cleverley: D
Started well and quickly got worse. Cleverley's lack of physical ability and distribution often gave the opposition a real chance at dominating United's midfield. Shows intermittent touches of class, but right now, there's an intensity missing from his game.
Darren Fletcher: D
Just five appearances due to his long-term stomach illness (via The Telegraph). A handful of good performances, but Fletcher needs to regain his health before playing any more football.
Shinji Kagawa: C
A real mixed bag for the man signed from Borussia Dortmund. Kagawa shows real class on the ball and is calm in possession. He often looked conscious of making a mistake at Old Trafford and would therefore always take the safe option when progressing up the pitch. A brilliant hat-trick against Norwich sums up a player who has often been used outside of his favoured position. Move over Wayne Rooney?
Nick Powell: C
Powell appeared twice as a substitute this season and scored a brilliant goal against Wigan. Definitely a player for the future who can be proud of his early involvement.
Wayne Rooney: B-
A strange season for Rooney saw him score 12 goals and provide 10 assists. His transition to the midfield has seemed difficult against tougher Premier League opposition, where Rooney's distribution and ability to naturally skip around players hasn't looked impressive.
Some important goals and excellent assists ensure United still look weaker without him; for the most part.
Javier Hernandez: B
Particularly important when coming off the bench, Hernandez has netted eight vital goals for the Reds this year. His winners against Chelsea and Aston Villa sum up what the Mexican forward is all about: intelligent movement and raw finishing prowess. Deserves more time in the starting 11.
Danny Welbeck: C
Once again proved he isn't a natural goalscorer with just the one goal this season. Looks far more accomplished when working in tandem with the midfield. Welbeck's energy, tackling ability and grit comes to fruition when he plays behind Robin van Persie. Will be interesting to see how next season goes for the 22-year-old.
Robin van Persie: A
The Premier League top scorer with one game remaining has netted an impressive 25 goals and produced eight assists in his first season with the club, including a wondrous hat-trick against Aston Villa to clinch the trophy. His heroics against Southampton and Manchester City also stand out as defining moments from the campaign.
Do you agree with my grades for the entire Manchester United Premier League squad? Let me know in the comments section below and be sure to follow me on Twitter right here:
All statistics in this article are courtesy of Whoscored.
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