Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Manchester United Champions : Season Review 2010 2011

"I am not kidding. This isn't just a job to me. It's a mission... we will get there. Believe me. And when it happens, life will change for Liverpool and everybody else - dramatically." So said Alex Ferguson in 1988. Twenty-three years later, he's made good on his promise. Along with title number 19 came o Champions League final appearance - not bad for what many feel is the poorest Manchester United side in recent history. That might seem unfair when you consider they went the entire season without losing a single gome at home, for the first time since the 1999-2000 season; however, a lesson from Barcelona in the Wembley denouement showed just how much they have to improve to become Europe's best... and the rebuilding has started apace.
A good team, but far from a great one. The retirement of Edwin van der Sar represents a big loss in a key position; Paul Scholes less so, as the midfielder's powers had been on the wane for some time. Sir Alex Ferguson has struggled to fill the goalkeeper's berth successfully in the past so he will be putting o lot of faith in new signing David De Gea, just 20. The sustained investment of their rivals means United will have as many as five teams breathing down their neck; new signings like Ashley Young will have to hit the ground running if title number 20 is to be achieved. A good team, but still for from a great one, despite recent investments. Young and Phil Jones are solid signings but will they really take the Red Devils to the next level, no matter how determined they ore after Barcelona's masterclass? In the Prem, though, United's ruthlessness could be the decisive factor. For the big games, expect a 4-5-1, even though the blossoming partnership of Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez gave Sir Alex no qualms in opting For a 4-4-1-1 in some key fixtures at the end of last season. While that was effective against Chelsea, the midfield was found wanting against the superior ball-retention of Arsenal and Barcelona. A simple 4-4-2 formation, especially at Old Trafford. United rotated players effectively last season, and we can expect campaign, albeit with some new faces.

Nemonja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand continue to provide an ever-reliable base for the side, while Fabio's emergence ahead of brother Rafael at right-back has been o pleasant surprise for Sir Alex. Chris Smalling was a more than capable back-up and, with the signing of Jones from Blackburn, the future looks just as sturdy. At the other end, United topped the Premier League scoring charts (78), failing to find the net on only five occasions. Hernandez was the signing of the season, chipping in with 13 league goals to cap off an impressive year. His workrate and clinical finishing earned him a starting place for key games, relegating record signing Dimitar Berbatov to the bench.

The centre of United's midfield continues to bean all-too-chewable bone of contention. Despite fading towards the end, Scholes began the season like a man possessed, and his vision, craft and calmness on the ball will be sorely missed. Michael Carrick offers those characteristics sporadically, while Anderson is yet to make his mark. Darren Fletcher and Park Ji-Sung provide the industry, but not enough creativity, while Ryan Giggs is not signing could well fix this problem area. See games out. United dropped 14 points from motchwinning positions, six of those coming as a result of last-minute equalisers at Fuiham, Everton and Birmingham, Blackpool were the only team to be ahead, at any stage, against Manchester United in the Premier League at Old Trafford last term. They've bought big, but after title number 19, will Fergie's main priority now be to topple Barcelona in Europe before bowing out?  


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