Manchester United End of Season Review - What does the future hold?

It is finally over. Season 2013/14 will certainly be one to forget. We never got going and, in fact, I don't think I can recall three PL wins on the trot. The very few good games we had were followed by one or two disastrous ones. It was a start-stop season. We were out of the title race by December, got eliminated by Sunderland in the league cup semi-final (perhaps our only realistic chance of silverware this season), were defeated by Swansea, at OT, in the third round of the FA Cup and got eliminated by Bayern Munich, who were later trounced by Real Madrid, in the Quarter Finals of the Champions League. If there's something positive to take out of this season, it was Januzaj's emergence and David De Gea's brilliance in goal. Also, Mata's arrival could be very important in the future. We finished seventh in the Premier League but the season could have been much worse had Liverpool not slipped (excuse the pun) against Chelsea and handed City the title. The fact that we're relieved and happy that Liverpool finished second to City shows how dismal our season has been.
It was also a season which taught us that Manchester United is not infallible. After years of constant success, we had to bear the image of our players going down to mediocre teams and getting whipped by the big guns. That was tough to take and, in fact, most supporters crumbled under the pressure and started doing things that, I used to think, were only done by Chelsea, City and Arsenal supporters. I've heard some fans boo our own players and that MOYES-OUT plane message was totally embarrassing. However, our away fans were absolutely brilliant. You just have to look at the final game of the season vs Southampton to see the brilliance of our Red Army. They were all behind our players, even if they didn't like some of them, and gave them the necessary boost our players needed during such tough times throughout the season. No wonder our away form has been so good this year.
Only a handful of things went right and a lot of parties at the club should shoulder some of  the blame. Ultimately, most of the blame had to be assumed by David Moyes and, as a result, he lost his job. Although I was totally against the way David was sacked, sometimes I did think that our club under his stewardship was going nowhere. There were so many signs on the pitch that things weren't working out. I did hope, however, that Moyes would turn things round in the upcoming season but deep down I’m not sure whether I believed that would happen. There’s a big difference between hope and belief. At the end of the day things were getting ridiculous. Moyes had become a figure of ridicule and that sparked a high degree of pity from my end towards him. Perhaps that pity made me really really wish he could turn thing round and win some trophies in the future and then shove them up his critics’ arse. Sometimes he looked lost and his post match interviews sparked rage amongst the legions of United fans. To have the cheek to say that United played well right after some horrible performances was something that bemused me.

Some Years Ago These Three Were in Their Prime. Age Has Caught Up With Them
However, as those who’ve read my post re. the Moyes sacking might well know, I think David was put in a very difficult position. He had to manage a team consisting of a bunch of over-the-hill players and a few youngsters who lacked motivation. Although absolutely brilliant in their prime, Rio and Vida aren’t anywhere near their former selves. Evra’s love towards the club is a joy to see but he didn’t have five decent defensive performances all year long. Add that to the occasional clumsiness of Jones and Rafael and the lack of consistency from Smalling and you’ll have SEVEN out of eight regular first team defenders not performing to the level required in the Premier League. Evans is perhaps the only defender who maintained some consistency in the games he’s played.

Moyes also had to field a team with no real midfield enforcer. Why Anderson is still on United’s book is a huge mystery, a mystery not even the Scotland Yard would come close to solve. Cleverley’s fall, after a pretty impressive first season, is puzzling. Fletcher will never be the battling Fletcher we had before his sickness, as harsh as it may sound. To make matters worse, Carrick was unusually poor this season which is why he’s not going with the England team to Brazil which, in turn, is very very very good news for Manchester United fans! Anyway, that’s four underperforming midfielders in our squad this year. How on earth can you challenge City’s central midfield with that quartet?  (EDIT. Can you believe I forgot Fellaini?! That pretty much sums up his contribution this year. He was ineffective. I still believe he’ll come good someday. Let’s hope he has a good World Cup so maybe he could get a much needed confidence booster. At the time of his arrival, I thought we made a really good buy. We needed someone strong in midfield and I thought Fellaini would, partially, solve our midfield problems. Well, it hasn’t worked out.....yet.) (Another edit: I also forgot to mention Kagawa! Don't really know what to say about him. I know he's quality but he doesn't seem to fit in our system)

The wings weren’t that bad. Januzaj had an excellent season. At 18 years of age, the guy is likely to improve and reach new heights next season, so that’s something to look forward to. Valencia had a decent season but sometimes I think he could be more effective if played at right back with  license to bomb forward. His speed and physical power make him ideal for that position although, if I’m honest, his defending leaves a lot to be desired. Giggs played a handful of games this season but he hasn’t been as effective as he would’ve liked while Young had a couple of decent games but he’s not United quality. Nani was always injured.

Nothing Wrong with our Strikers
At the front we had toooo many injuries. If it wasn’t Rooney on the treatment table, it was RVP. They still managed a total of 37 goals this year but that tally would have been much bigger had they stayed injury-free all season. Welbeck scored 10 goals and Chicharito managed one less, which is quite a good number given that the latter didn’t play a lot this season. I wouldn’t mind if our strikers next season are the ones we had this year. I rate them highly.

So that’s the team Moyes had to work with. I think even the highly rated Mourinho would have struggled with this team. Giggs took over but all the team weaknesses that resonated throughout the year were still evident. Our team is well below the standard to compete in the PL and, as hard as it will be, we should wave goodbye to a few of these underperformers. The likes of Vidic(confirmed), Rio(confirmed), Evra, Nani, Giggs, Cleverley, Fletcher, Anderson and Young have to go. It’s as simple as that.

We’ll probably have a very busy summer coming up. Rumours have already started circulating that we’ve made a bid for Luke Shaw. The guy’s absolutely brilliant and he’s English. Call me old fashioned but I love our team to have some English blood. I think English players appreciate more than their foreign counterparts the massiveness of this football club. If we get Shaw, we’d have our left back position sorted for a good number of years. I just hope Woodward doesn’t fuck it up this time. Let’s hope our directors won’t keep back from throwing 30 odd million at this great talent because I truly believe that, in the long run, every penny spent will be worth it, such is the guy’s potential. A host of other players are also being linked with us but the Shaw bid was confirmed by Sky Sports and BBC so there’s probably some truth in the rumours. We’ll need to buy, at least, 6 excellent players before the start of next season; a left back, two central defenders, two central midfielders and a winger. Mata will have a summer to get used to his team-mates and I think he’ll have a great season next year.

I’d like to see some real effort and improvement from Zaha. Moyes didn’t look particularly interested in this winger and, at Cardiff, Solskjaer didn’t really play him as much as Zaha would’ve liked so there’s definitely something wrong. Last year he was absolutely excellent for Palace so I hope he rediscovers that form and offers us some exciting times on the right flank. A player who has impressed on his loan is Nick Powell. I’d love to see him stay at OT next season and get a few games. There we’ve got two players with bags of potential. As for the reserves that could make it to the first team next year, there seems to be some interesting talents. Lawrence and Wilson have already had a pop at first team football and did very well. However, they’ll probably be loaned out next year. Perreira is also an exciting prospect. Vermijl and Varela can both be adequate covers at right back. The former has had a very good season in Holland while I’ve heard some good things about Varela. Much has been made of Will Keane in the past but I don’t think he’ll make it at United. On the other hand, I think Michael Keane has a very good chance of progressing to the first team, especially if we fail to get another central defender. Lingard scored 9 goals in the Championship but, despite his excellent form in pre-season, I don’t really rate him highly. Macheda (yes, he’s still on our books) had a decent loan spell with Birmingham City. 10 goals in 10 starts is quite good. Not United quality though.

The new manager will probably be Van Gaal and, to be honest, I’m already warming up to him after the recent interview he made with some English reporters. He’s straight to the point, ain’t afraid to go toe-to-toe with journalists, called Manchester United the best club in the world and said he’d love to manage United. Surely, he’s United bound. I’ve read that he likes to promote youngsters to the first team so that’s a big plus. Promoting youngsters is the United way. A lot of journalists say that he’s responsible for the recent successes enjoyed by Bayern Munich and Barcelona as he laid the foundations to those successful sides. If he comes to United, it will most probably be his final managerial job so he’d strive to be a success, given that his ego is as huge as Mourinho’s. I’ve heard he’s not afraid to chop players who think they’ve become bigger than the club. Can you imagine Moyes or Giggs trying to get rid of, for example, Rooney if he’s not interested anymore? No. So Van Gaal’s arrival would be very welcome, if it does indeed happen, as he would probably bring our underperforming stars back on track.

Yesterday Rio announced that, just like Vida, he’ll leave Manchester United and seek pastures new. Rio is definitely one of the best defenders I’ve ever seen donning United’s shirt. His partnership with Vidic would make any striker wet his pants. They were rock solid and instilled fear in any opponent. Perhaps their diversity made them such a good partnership. Rio was composed and quick and was also an excellent ball player. Vida was more of an aggressive defender. I remember some 5 years ago when I used to see Vidic and Rio lining up in the tunnel, I used to think that no team in the world could beat this defensive wall. In fact, very few teams managed to beat us during those times. We managed to get to THREE Champions League finals, won some League Cups, won the Club World Cup and some Premier League titles. Rio and Vidic were the backbone of the side that won those honors. Injuries got in the way and both Rio and Vidic lost some of the abilities that made them the best in the Europe some seasons ago. They both lost pace and strikers weren’t afraid to have a go at them anymore. At their peak, they were excellent and both will be regarded as club legends. Rio gave us 12 years of impeccable service while Vidic spent 8 trophy-laden years at OT. Their contribution is much appreciated and their names will be forever remembered. HOWEVER, it was time to go. That’s the only way our club will improve. Good luck to both Rio and Vida, they’re still good enough to have a couple more years playing with a decent side. We all know where Vidic’s heading, now let’s see which team will get Rio’s signature. He’s definitely more than good enough to play for West Ham and the likes. Actually, he’d be a luxury for them. Farewell LEGENDS.

So that's it for this year. I'll update this blog as soon as there's some transfer activity at Old Trafford.  


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