Predictions are a risky business, but on last night’s evidence, I can predict (with more optimism than expectation) that Manchester United will score a lot of goals this season, despite losing Ruud.
Carrick’s place in the midfield gives United the ability to control games more effectively, and that will be further improved upon when a midfield enforcer arrives to bolster the squad. Carrick will be especially effective on the counter-attack, being able to release forward players like Ronaldo, Rooney and Saha into spaces behind opposition defenders.
I’m still not sure that Carrick is the best fit for the team, but we have him, so there’s no point in complaining about it any more.
The quartet of Scholes, Solskjaer, Rooney and Saha will be looked upon for the bulk of United’s goals, with Ronaldo, Rossi, Giggs and Richardson (and Park, if he dares to score) backing them up.
Rooney, contrary to popular opinion, is an awesome goalscorer. The problem is that the player is so competitive and talented that he plays well in any position, and for Manchester United and for England he has been played predominantly as a supporting striker (for Ruud and Owen). Add to that his ability to win the ball back in the front half of the midfield and you really don’t know where to best fit him.
If United can lessen his responsibility and allow him to focus purely on scoring goals, nothing short of injury would stop Rooney from scoring 20 goals next season.
Saha, we already know, can score a handful of goals, and while he may be an injury risk it would not be smart to bet against him scoring around 10-15 goals next season. He will probably create a lot more, seeing that he’s a more natural ‘shadow’ striker than Rooney.
In Solskjaer and Scholes United have regained two assured goalscorers. You can fault Scholes for not scoring too many goals in the past couple of seasons, but this season will see a return to a more open style of play – plus an added responsibility for Scholes to contribute from the midfield. What you cannot possibly deny is that once these two get the ball on their feet they are far more likely than Ronaldo and Rossi to create chances and make something positive happen.
Ferguson hasn’t placed his faith in the two senior players because he has no options – he knows that these two are still some of the best in the goalscoring business, and are far more reliable than any striker United would be expected to bring – not to mention that they already fit in the dressing room and in United’s system and are experienced in the Premiership. The Tevez pipe-dream will HAVE to be dropped – he’s not coming folks.
We lost a 30 goals per season striker in Ruud, but the added reponsibility on Rooney, Saha and co. should see us cover up that deficit and – I dare say – then some. Reducing our reliance on any one player to get the goals will also make the team a better attacking unit and give us an incentive to create more opportunities instead of trying just one thing. What we lacked for creativity could be managed by Carrick, although how we’ll fit in a ‘hard-man’ into the midfield is anyone’s guess.
It will be really, really interesting to see what formation United plays in. Also can’t wait for the CL matches, as that’s when my ‘prediction’ will really be tested.
Manchester United 3 – 1 Porto – Goal Vids
Manchester United 1 – 0 Porto (Paul Scholes)
Courtesy of footyfanatic at the SoccerPulse forums