For all the talks of a crisis, analysing the Manchester Uniteds squad shows that we’re not due for a massive clearout or overhaul – just some tinkering now and then, plus some smart buys.
Take, for example, the list of players that should leave Manchester United – after having gone through the future stars, the old guard, the current stars and their support cast, we’re left with only 5 players that I feel genuinely deserve to be sold. And out of those 5, 3 still fall into the doubt category (although in all 3 cases there is not much doubt).
Let’s look at these 5 players.
Note: Before I start, I have to say one thing – anything said here about players is not a personal attack but an evaluation of their ability to come up to the standards expected of them (by fans) as Manchester United players. If the words are harsh, then they are so because of on-field performances.
Verdict: Must be sold.
Fletcher is the sort of player coaches warn kids not to emulate – very talented and yet after years of being asked to translate that talent on the pitch he has spectacularly failed to deliver.
On one hand it is harsh to ask such a young player to fill the boots of legends such as David Beckham and Roy Keane. On the other hand, it is also criminal to keep a player like Fletcher in the squad ahead of promising youngsters such as David Jones and Lee Martin.
Manchester United have played Fletcher in crisis situations, and his tendency to give the ball away too easily has meant that we have been unable to find an answer to an effective right-midifield or central-midfield backup players. Park substitutes on the right wing and does a better job, O’Shea – a central defender – is preferred in midfield.
Verdict: Must be sold.
If there was one player in the Manchester United squad more disliked than Fletcher it is Miller. Brought in as the new Keano from Celtic, Miller has spectacularly failed to deliver. He is more like Djemba-Djemba than Kleberson or Veron (who at least had some talent and could summon it).
At Manchester United you don’t have the luxury of being played week in and week out if you are in a bad patch of form – if you can’t cut it at the top level, you’re out. Ferguson has usually taken a couple of years before offloading his bad buys, but while Veron and Forlan found buyers it is hard to imagine that another Aston Villa would come by and take Fletcher and Miller off our hands.
Verdict: Must Be Sold.
Despite his haters, Silvestre has shown himself to be capable of filling in at left-back and at centre-half when necessary. His performancing this season will come under extra scrutiny (as Vidic and Evra aim to improve their positions in the team) and while Manchester Untied have extended his contract till 2009 a poor season, combined with good form from Evra could see Silvestre out of Old Trafford.
After all, the cruft has to be cleared sometime, and the youngsters have to be given a chance. If Silvestre is our backup player, then at the very least he should be replaced by O’Shea or one of the young defenders from our squad.
Verdict: Needs More Time.
I’m not too fond of Evra, but everyone I’ve talked to has told me that the player needs more time to prove himself. Well, Evra has had 5 months, plus pre-season, and now the onus is on him to deliver as Heinze’s deputy. A solid season from Evra will make it easier for Manchester United to dispose of Mikael Silvestre (who I think should be sold this season).
Ferguson should have spent the 5 million on Senna back in January 🙂
Verdict: Being Fattened Up.
Some people would not give Howard another chance, and for my money Howard has been loaned out to Everton so as to improve his transfer fee – especially since Foster and Kuszczak have been brought in after Howard.
It is stil possible that Howard shows the same top form that is expected of him at Everton, but in all likelihood the American keeper will not be at Old Trafford next season – and if he is, he won’t be first-choice or even second-choice.
Should Sir Alex Ferguson say goodbye to Manchester United?
This article is Part 4 of our 6-part Manchester United 2006/2007 season preview coverage at Soccerlens.