Park Ji-Sung and Mikael Silvestre have signed contract extensions till 2010 and 2009 respectively.
While Park’s extension will be a positive sign (and keep us hoping that he learns to score), Silvestre’s extension will bother the majority of Manchester United fans. The fact is, Silvestre has a lot of things going against his place in the first team.
As a natural left-back, his crossing ability is fit for the Championship, not a top-3 Premiership club. He is prone to giving the ball away with alarming regularity and when you combine that with his rash tackling, you have a poor squad player.
But Ferguson is refusing to throw Silvestre out. There could be a couple of reasons behind it – first, despite is faults, Silvestre is a good backup centre-half (if he can curb his tendency to give the ball away) and left-back. It is this versatility that keeps him in the squad, despite the fact that United have Vidic, Brown, Heinze and Ferdinand as their first choices in those positions.
The second reason has to do with Evra, and his relative failure to establish himself as a worthy replacement for Heinze. What Silvestre does not lack is pace, and Evra is at best a third-choice left-back and at worst the classic “can’t run, can’t cross, can’t tackle” type of player. Buying Evra proved a necessity in January, and Ferguson will want to give him time this year before determining whether he wants to keep him for any longer.
To sum it up, Silvestre is in the squad because he’s better than his supposed replacement (Evra) and he offers backup to the central defenders.
And currently, Ferguson’s focus is on improving the midfield and striking departments – he can ill-afford to throw out Silvestre when he has no real backup for Heinze available. Like it or not, Evans is too raw and O’Shea is more of a Phil Neville than a quality centre-half.
Maybe in the next two years, when Heinze gets to 30, we’ll see a new left-back coming through the ranks or being bought. You can expect Silvestre to be sold off by then, alongwith Evra (hopefully).