5 Manchester United Players Who Need a Big World Cup
Following Manchester United’s dismal 2013/14 campaign, this summer’s World Cup provides a number of players with a chance to impress ahead of the new season.
Louis van Gaal, currently leading the Netherlands’ charge in Brazil, will no doubt be keen to re-watch some of his soon-to-be players’ efforts once the World Cup is done and dusted.
For a few United players, it’s a chance to shine.
United are likely to make multiple signings post-World Cup, which will almost certainly lead to three or four departures. These five players must grasp the opportunity at hand to ensure they figure under Van Gaal.
Wayne Rooney, England
Wayne Rooney is fast approaching a critical juncture in his career.
Robin van Persie is likely to be Van Gaal’s main man at United—and captain—which means Rooney will have to fight for the place he was assured of under David Moyes.
It’s a similar story for England, where he has been forced onto the left-hand side and ousted from his favoured central role.
Despite playing a crucial role in England’s equaliser against Italy, clipping a pinpoint cross into the box for Daniel Sturridge to sweep home, he did little else.
Rooney has to step up and have more of an impact to ensure England make it out of Group D.
Juan Mata’s bright performances at United mean he has the strongest claim to start in the "No. 10" role next season; it’s up to Rooney to change that.
Marouane Fellaini, Belgium
Marouane Fellaini endured a miserable debut season at United.
Plagued by injury, he failed to make good on his £27.5 million transfer fee when fit. He looked out of his depth far too often.
Conversely, Fellaini still remains integral to a vibrant Belgium side packed full of talent.
In a group with Algeria, Russia and South Korea, he will get the opportunity to impress. He has the chance to show he is capable of playing an important role at United.
If he can string together a number of decent performances he will be hopeful of nailing down a spot in Van Gaal’s favoured three-man midfield. Yet, the high probability of United signing midfielders after the World Cup means it may already be too late for the Belgian.
Nani remains one of football’s greatest enigmas.
He’s a supremely talented individual, capable of doing things other players simply can’t. He’s skillful, tricky and possesses a wonderful shot when afforded space outside the box.
However, Nani’s inconsistent performances mean he’s struggled to fulfil the potential he showed early in his career.
The winger fell flat in Portugal’s collapse to Germany. He was anonymous. On the world’s biggest stage, Nani must perform much better. A failure to do that will likely see him sold this summer or condemned to the bench next season.
At 27, he still has time on his side but he won’t be given too many more chances before United look to move him on.
Maybe, just maybe, he will reinvigorate his career playing for Portugal this summer. Don’t be surprised if it doesn’t happen though.
Shinji Kagawa, Japan
Shinji Kagawa’s performance in Japan’s opening game was symbolic of his 2013/14 season at United—there were glimpses of his talent but he failed to stamp his authority on the game.
Sooner rather than later, his neat touches and slick passes have to translate to goals and assists. He has to become more of an attacking threat in the final third for both club and country.
In Japan’s final two group games against Greece and Colombia, who will afford space in and around the 18-yard-box, Kagawa must be more effective than he has been in recent months.
Kagawa could find it difficult at Old Trafford next season if he doesn't improve.
Javier Hernandez, Mexico
Javier Hernandez is at a crossroads in his career.
An infrequent starter for United, Hernandez now faces the prospect of starting on the bench for Mexico. Oribe Peralta was the go-to man for El Tri in their opening game vs. Cameroon.
When Chicharito did come on, he missed a wonderful opportunity to extend his side’s lead from six yards out. It was the sort of opportunity he normally pounces upon, and was indicative of his current goalscoring woes.
With difficult games against Brazil and Croatia coming up, Hernandez must convert that type of chance to be a valuable asset for Mexico.
If Hernandez wants to feature more regularly for United, he has to average close to a goal a game. Perhaps the same is now true for Mexico.