EPL season 2012/13: Manchester United preview
Many Manchester United supporters tend to block the images of the last few minutes of last season. For a good few minutes there, myself and millions around the world felt jubilation because we had, technically, done it.
The twentieth Premier League title was in our hands. The scores were locked for City and we had just completed our game victoriously.
Then came the tragedy as the title was viciously snatched away from us. I will never forget the sound of those petty Sunderland fans that were celebrating that Aguero goal, nor will I ever forget the horrified look on Phil Jones face, or the look of defeat from Sir Alex Ferguson.
It was gut wrenching, even sitting thousands of kilometres away in a cold, dark room on a Monday morning while the United players were walking off dejectedly, I was in tears, because it wasn’t the loss that hurt, but the build up of hope.
But enough of that season. The 2012/13 seasons shines a new light on United, a new challenge is set with a new sense of focus.
A lot of dead wood has been cleared from the club, while a few youngsters got too big for their boots and have decided to ply their trade elsewhere.
Tomasz Kuszack – Brighton
Paul Pogba – Juventus
Ezekial Fryers – Tottenham Hotspur
Michael Owen – Free Agent
Ji Sung Park – QPR
Fabio (Loan) – QPR
Ben Amos (Loan) – Hull City
Shinji Kagawa – Borussia Dortmund
Nick Powell – Crewe Alexandria
With eight players departing United (or on loan), Sir Alex has paved way for a influx of youth to add to the current crop of players in our squad.
This season is going to answer a lot of the questions that was left unanswered after last season. One key question that is still being asked repetitively by United supporters is “Who will step up and take charge of our ailing midfield?”
Kagawa is a class buy, but he isn’t the fix to our midfield situation. With Darren Flecther still unfortunately battling his chronic illness, our midfield options aren’t as inspiring to most supporters.
Anderson hasn’t produced the goods, season after season, Carrick had a boss season last year, while the return of Scholes could be seen in both a positive and negative way, the negative clearly being our inability to fork out the cash for an established midfield.
The arrival of Nick Powell has been promising; so far on tour the kid has show glimpse of his potential, but is still in the raw stages and will need a lot of molding, dedication and experience to fix our midfield issues.
One guy, hwo I’m confident in inspiring our midfield is Tom Cleverly. Last season he sent tongues wagging among United supporters with his exciting and dominant appearances in midfield but several stints on the sideline through injury completely derailed his season.
Throughout this season, United have been linked with anyone that plays in cidfield, from Sneijder to Gaitan followed by Moutinho, yet still no action has happened.
Sir Alex Ferguson uncharacteristically came out while on tour in South Africa and confirmed United have made contact with Sao Paulo about getting the services of a very exciting and raw 19 year old who has the potential to be a Ronaldo’esque type of player.
Ridiculous sums of money have been quoted. In my opinion he would be a great buy for a much cheaper price, for the future, as his possible signing won’t do anything for our midfield right now.
Though enough of that. United’s attacking department hasn’t looked this exciting since Ronaldo and Tevez’ departures.
With a significant number of options for our wing, Sir Alex Ferguson has the luxury of creating combinations with Tony V, Nani, Kagawa, and Ashley Young, while Rooney, Welbeck, Macheda, Chicharito, Berba (who may still be with us for the forthcoming season) and BEBE will battle it out for striking combinations in several cup competitions.
I would think Sir Alex will continue with the beautiful development of Danny Welbeck and keep him and Rooney as our #1 strike partners.
We also have the exciting Will Keane who is sidelined with an unfortunate cruciate ligament injury, which is shame considering he had been promoted to the first squad, but I’m certain this little strike enforcer will come back even stronger after his rehabilitation is complete.
Onto our defensive department, and you can say it has it’s pro’s and con’s for the forthcoming season.
The biggest pro will have to be the return of our colossal captain and center back Nemanja Vidic, I just hope we can utilise his services without any more stints on the sideline as his presence in defense creates such a calming and reassuring presence to the rest of the squad.
Rio Ferdinand played his socks off last season, so the return of the two together will be a joy to all eyes. I can see Rafael securing that right back position for majority of the season. Phil Jones is completely wasted at right back, and I find him more appealing in midfield.
Patrice Evra is slowly losing his pace and consistency which is a worry, considering that our next best prospect for the left back position, Zeki Fryers has decided that he would prefer a higher wage than playing for United as has signed for Tottenham Hotspur.
I was gutted when I found out, as I rated this kid, highly but if Sir Alex did see a future for him, I highly doubt he would’ve signed with the Spurs. Our cover for left back is limited so we may still see the arrival of Everton and England left back Leighton Baines.
We wouldn’t be United without our defensive injuries, so coming into this season Johnny Evans and Chris Smalling will be on the sidelines for a few weeks still recovering from injury.
Also, Fergie has promoted Robby Brady, who is a traditional winger, and would like to mould him into a left back, which is interesting considering that we have another young lad named Tyler Blackett who is showing signs of promise.
You can’t preview a season, without speaking about potential reserve players we may see this season.
Besides the greedy likes of Ravel Morrison, Pogba and Fryers, the rest are just loveable little players who put in their all, and I have thoroughly enjoyed following their progress over the last two seasons.
My top five prospects for this season would be:
1. Jesse Lingard – Midfielder, with experience and further development we could have a pretty darn good centre attacking midfielder on our hands. He has still a way to go but there isn’t a time that I do watch him and he doesn’t impress.
2. Michael Keane – This kid is an orthodox defender, he is hard and committed and I’d love to see more of him this season.
3. Ryan Tunncliffe: Midfielder, just gets what it means to be a United player, he is an all round player, who loves a clean hard tackler and dominant possession for periods of matches. He is also has a decent shot in him.
4. Larnell Cole : This tiny attacking midfielder has many shades of brilliance to his game. He is quick, skillful on the ball and gives the most pleasant of views when he dummy’s through an opposition’s defence.
5. David Petrucci: An edgy yet silky midfielder, has high promise, he brings this exciting poise to the reserves midfield and has a very physical presence.
So overall I think our squad is pretty decent to re-secure the Premier League title. But if we are to put up a decent challenge in Europe, our midfield issues need to be addressed buy either buying a centre attacking midfielder or the ones we have who haven’t been performing need to wake up to themselves and let their skill be counted.
Also, an established cover for the left back position is needed as Patrice hasn’t been himself the last couple of seasons, and competition might exactly be what he needs to wake up to his performances. I am so intrigued and excited to see how Shinji will fit into our attack.
Possible Starting XI:
Rafael Vidic Ferdinad Evra
Valencia Cleverly Carrick
So with less than 18 days until we take on the blues of Merseyside, I was budding with exciting for this season to get under way.
Also in the recent revelations of the Glazer’s IPO plans, I hope all United supporters can unite for the occasion and get behind the boys 100%.
I wasn’t too pleased with the way Sir Alex Ferguson came out and criticized supporters for their protestations against the Glazers.
The Glazers have brought much hurt and division to this club, and I like thousands of others and sick to death of it.
But I will get behind the boys and Sir Alex Ferguson regardless. My love for United is far greater than my hatred for the Glazers, and I want redemption, I want the hurts of last season to be transformed into a celebration of our brilliance.
Keep the red flag flying!
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