The Trouble with Manchester United is…

Manchester United have endured a challenging start to the 2013/14 season. The replacement of Sir Alex Ferguson by David Moyes was always going to be tough, but few could have expected just how tough it would actually be. We got our friend Marcel Sigg from Run Ride Dive, a lifetime Manchester United fan, to give us his views on all things Manchester United.

The trouble with Manchester United is that we the fans have come to expect success. This is not an unrealistic expectation considering we are the defending champions. The squad has one new addition and of course a new manager. Of course another year has passed and time is no friend to football players over thirty.

Alex Ferguson is known for his hairdryer half-time talks and you can probably bet your house that he had the same totalitarian approach to players stepping out of line at training or in the media. Just think of Beckham’s departure at his prime or even Jaap Stam being pushed out after some comments about his teammates. Do I even need to mention Old Trafford’s favourite son Roy Keane?

I’ve never heard of players publicly criticizing training sessions as RVP did at the beginning of the season. Yes, he is Dutch, yes they complain a lot at times but this is United, this stuff just doesn’t become public knowledge.

Moyes looks uncomfortable in press conferences. His body language says he is under pressure and not comfortable fielding the questions, in his last interview he was cagey and defensive. Is this the same person in the dressing room we are expecting inspiration from?

Moyes only signed one player before the season began. Let’s ignore the bungling of Woodward and focus on what he has to work with, a team that won the title just before he took over.

David de Gea, 23, Spanish goalkeeper

Without a doubt the best young goalkeeper in the Premier League; his youth is probably his shortcoming; he has been improving every game since his arrival in 2011 and looks to be gaining in confidence with the high ball. KEEP

Anders Lindegaard, 29, Danish ‘keeper

Understudy to De Gea; I have no confidence in Lindegaard; I have never seen him play exceptionally well, this is probably related to the fact that he only plays in the CoC with other 2nd choice players and doesn’t get an extended run in the first team; in 2012 he had a reasonable tour to South Africa where I saw him play in a 0 – 0 draw with Amazulu. REPLACE

Phil Jones, 21, English utility player

Some people rate him highly; sometimes he even plays quite well but for me he lacks consistency and moving him from to defence to midfield every other game isn’t helping him develop; I think his best position is in a defensive role, be it defensive mid or centre half; KEEP

Rio Ferdinand & Michael Carrick (Photo: Marcel Sigg)

Rio Ferdinand, 35, English defender

Rio has won many titles with United but his number is up; continually suffering with back injuries and lately showing a complete lack of pace he needs to be replaced immediately; keep him as an emergency replacement if you must keep him but he cannot compete with the 20 something’s for pace and more often than not he has been exposed this season in the heart of defence. SELL

Johnny Evans, 25, Irish defender

Evans has come on in leaps and bounds over the last few seasons; initially a handicap to the defence he found some confidence with an extended run in the first team when Vidic was out for months; Lately Evans isn’t getting any game time which won’t help his state of mind; KEEP

Chris Smalling, 24, English defender

Chris Smalling is one of my favourite defensive players; I believe he has surpassed Rio and Vidic in terms of ability; he is really quick, he plays central or on the right and he has a desire to win the ball; Smalling is one of the most improved players in the squad in my opinion he should start every game when fit; KEEP

Nemanja Vidic, 32, Serbian defender

Vidic was the darling of Old Trafford; a hard man, a ball winner, all heart; alas these are all terms that were applicable in the past; he has suffered some long term injuries and never quite recovered the speed and ability of a few seasons ago. Once half of the best defensive partnership with Rio, Vidic has lost a few gears and should really be shipped asap; SELL

Patrice Evra, 32, French defender

Evra is a really difficult player to comment on; he replaced Gabriel Heinze in 2006 and it took a while for the home crowd to warm to him but he proved himself over the seasons winning 5 titles; unfortunately Evra is also the weak link in the defence with many attacks coming from his side of the field; it seems any ball down the right wing will beat him and find him out of position putting pressure on the old legs of Rio & Vidic and forcing young de Gea to prove his keeping ability; he needs to go ASAP! SELL

Fabio, 23, Brazilian defender

One of half of the twins; Fabio hasn’t had the same opportunities as Rafael in the first team and was recently loaned to QPR where he performed reasonably; Should be in the first team if we can ship Evra out; KEEP

Alexander Buttner 24, Dutch defender

Buttner had an impressive debut scoring twice and always looks good going forward; defensively similar to Evra but with significant pace and youth on his side; deserves a run; KEEP

Anderson, 25, Brazilian midfielder

Anderson is an enigma; if you search Youtube you will be surprised by the talent he displayed as a young attacking mid; in my opinion Ferguson completely ruined his career by always playing him in a more defensive role and limiting his run in the first team to just a handful of starts and another handful of 10 minute cameo performances; it is rumoured that he is leaving Old Trafford in the January window; KEEP

Ryan Giggs, 40, Welsh midfielder

Giggs a player with 950+ caps, more league titles than Arsenal, the sooner he leaves, the better; a former winger now preferred to central players like Anderson, Morrison and Pogba, the last 2 having left before Ferguson; Pogba was voted best player at the U21 World Cup after joining Juventus on a free transfer; GIVE AWAY IMMEDIATELY

Michael Carrick, 32, English midfielder

Carrick was the top midfielder in the last season and looked to be on form again until getting injured; his advancing years should be considered and a replacement should be sought immediately; SELL in 1 season

Tom Cleverley, 24, English midfielder

“Clevers” has been featuring in the midfield fairly regularly; he plays regularly for England too but United need someone more creative rather than reliable; SELL

Darren Fletcher, 29, Scottish midfielder

Fletcher has been ill with a virus for almost 2 seasons now; we can only speculate what form he will be in when he returns, if he ever does; SELL

Marouane Fellaini, 26, Belgian midfielder

Fellaini is the latest signing and David Moyes’ first; he is struggling to fit into the United playing pattern; personally I think he was great at Everton, will he make the grade at United? KEEP

Shinji Kagawa, 24, Japanese midfielder

Kagawa was a huge success with Dortmund; more of a shadow striker than a midfielder this creative player with sublime touches reminiscent of Berbatov has been played out of position in most games he has played; just a few weeks back he showed how devastating an impact he can have when played in his beloved number 10 position by destroying Bayer Leverkusen 5 – 0; he has real potential, he must start every game; KEEP

Ashley Young, 28, English winger

Young is the player most associated with diving for penalties at United; a player blessed with tons of pace and a tricky turn but not featuring in recent matches at all; SELL

Adnan Januzaj, 18, Belgian winger

Adnan is the next hot talent; his explosive pace and tricky runs are a pleasure to watch; Ferguson would probably shield him from the limelight; I’m not sure how Moyes handles the young talents but this kid is the next big thing and should start every game; KEEP

Nani, 27, Portuguese winger

Nani is the most frustrating and most amazing player all at once, blessed with incredible talent, this petulant player can score the most incredible goals and fluff the simplest of passes; Nani had a superb game in the Champions League demolition of Leverkusen but more disappointing performances than great ones in recent memory; SELL

Antonio Valencia, 28, Venezuelan winger

Valencia was easily United’s most influential player a few seasons ago; in the previous season he changed his shirt number, claiming the famous 7 put too much pressure on him to perform; ever since he has been a flop on the right hand flank; on Wednesday he was moved to right back and caught out of position when Oviedo slipped around behind him to score the only goal; SELL

Wilfred Zaha, 21, English winger

Zaha was the find of the season not so long ago, signed from Crystal Palace for 17 million pounds he has not featured in a single premier league game; rumoured to be having an affair with Moyes’ daughter, I hope this isn’t clouding Moyes’ judgement; Zaha should be playing with his electric pace and goal scoring prowess; KEEP

Wayne Rooney, 28, English striker

Rooney is the heart of United; he works harder than any other player and runs further in every game; Rooney is adamant he is a striker although his heart and pinpoint passing ability offer an extended career in the heart of midfield, an ideal replacement for Paul Scholes; KEEP

Durban South Africa 2012 Photo: Marcel Sigg

Chicharito, 25, Mexican striker

Chico, is more of a poacher than an out and out striker; his movement in the 6 yard box is exceptional, however he lacks real pace and is therefore always trying to get an advantage on the offside line, usually getting trapped; he does not start many games and in my opinion isn’t good enough for United; KEEP

Danny Welbeck, 23, English striker

Welbeck is a very tall, very fast player, he scores regularly for England but cannot find the net consistently for United; there are two good reasons for this, first of all he is constantly played out wide because of his pace and secondly, the delivery from midfield for England is from players like Oxlade-Chamberlain, Townsend, Walcott & Gerrard, all but Gerrard have great speed and that makes the difference; KEEP

Robin van Persie, 30 Dutch striker

RVP is a great player; easily among the top 10 strikers in Europe; it is rumoured he doesn’t enjoy the rigor of the Moyes training sessions; RVP’s goals were the difference between winning the league in 2013 and finishing second to City; Arsenal fans will remember that he is quite frail in terms of injuries and like all Dutch players, a mood player who needs a bit of fire to get going; KEEP

In conclusion I would keep 16 of the current squad, including Carrick for just one more season, and replace all the others. Most importantly Giggs, Ferdinand and Vidic need to go immediately.

My starting line-up would look like this:

De Gea

Fabio – Johnny Evans – Chris Smalling – Rafael

Marouane Fellaini

Adnan Januzaj – Wayne Rooney – Wilfred Zaha

Shinji Kagawa

Robin van Persie

Mr Moyes, there is little point in playing the over 30’s crowd and losing. Play the youngsters while your job is still secure, give them some experience! Find out if they have what it takes and allow them to develop some confidence.

If there are no injuries, allow the team to settle. Chopping and changing the team every week solves nothing and only damages the confidence of the players.

My shopping list for replacements would include players like Luke Shaw, Marco Reus, Ryan Shawcross & Romelu Lukaku just to name a few. United have an extensive network of scouts and should be able to source some serious talent for 2014/2015 and the future.

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