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Manchester United
Posted by Mark Payne on 08/13/2012

The start of any season brings out the doom-mongers and the shameless optimists in equal force. In some ways, last season could not have ended more horribly. All of the major trophies ended up at the truly despicable clubs and our heroic effort in the league was left unrewarded.

Nonetheless, there was plenty to cheer in a campaign that saw enormous development from several young players, an 8-2 shellacking of Arsenal, 89 points and some majestic performances from a renascent Paul Scholes. Before looking at the weaknesses, it is important to acknowledge that, as football fans, we are very fortunate with what have.

However, being good is not sufficient for Manchester United and the inarguable truth is that we were not the best team in England last year, and certainly not in Europe either.

When turning to the league my first thought is; ‘Thank God Didier Drogba has left Chelsea’. That guy was far too good and, with him learning to use chopsticks on the other side of the world, the London club are a less daunting prospect.

The fortunes of John Terry’s club will largely depend on the manner and speed with which Ambramovic butchers Roberto Di Matteo. Although Chelsea will still be a handful on their day, they are depleted.

Manchester City have made only one signing to date in Jack Rodwell, who we should have got frankly, but were so excellent last season you can only expect the same again. The confidence they have gained from winning the championship is the most important acquisition that could have been made.

The margins were so fine last year that I have to predict United and City will occupy ther two top spots again. United’s playing squad, palpaply, has got better in the weeks Olympic fever has swept through Britain.

Shinji Kagawa has looked a revelation in pre-season, and certainly made a better impression than Eden Hazard did in the Charity Shield. Powell is an unknown quantity to me but I have high hopes for our ability to score goals in the coming campaign.

Last May though, it was the defence which caused us heartbreak. Whilst we are visibly toughened by the return of Nemanja Vidic, there remain doubts about the rest of the backline. Evra had his wobbliest season yet last time out and the loaning of Fabio to QPR baffles me. Left back is a position which needs cover and we don’t have any. David de Gea has won my vote and it can only be a positive thing to have super-confident Ander Lindegaard breathing down his neck.

Not for the first time we are left wondering what Fergie’s master plan is in the middle of the pitch. At one end of the scale we have the excellence of Barcelona’s passing game to aspire to and that, along with the brute strength and class of teams such as Real Madrid and Bayern Munich will prove beyond our reach this season. In fact, most of the trophies will be beyond our reach without a ball winner in the middle of the park. When the chips are down, who will turn it around? Rooney cannot do everything himself.

Last season could not have finished any worse really but my optimism for the following campaign remains undimmed. That in itself is dangerous, but being a fan of this club has always involved both fantasy and heartbreak along the way. There will likely be more over the coming months.

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Posted by Sha on 08/13/2012

Cleverly deserves a mention. He was tremendous during the game against Hannover and this season could very possibly be his breakout season. Playing with Scholes and Kagawa will only make him better.

We need cover at left-back. There's no one to challenge Evra and he may get complacent. If Berba's not going to stay then we'll need cover up front as well.

Here's to winning the league, at the very least, in 2013.

Posted by Joseph nkansah on 08/13/2012

Kagawa is better than hazard...we need more shinji.ope he is also enjoyin man.utd. Futbal...cleverly+kaGawa+rooney=succeS

Posted by Boni on 08/13/2012

I will be watching our campaign with one palm over one of my eyes and my finger tips hovering above the other eye. The lack of quality in the final third of our team means that we will have to run through matches with both eyes closed. Scary stuff if you ask me. But, the manager always has a plan. I rember the year Roy Keane left and most supports felt that we lacked quality attackers and thats the season we unearthed Ronaldo.

Posted by Kelvin on 08/13/2012

my 2 cents worth.

A contender in the domestic league.

City may have gained some confidence in winning it last year...but that will also take some of the hunger away..and with a squad full of egos..lets see if Mancini can keep all of the stars pulling in the same direction.

I am happier with Chelsea losing Drogba...don't like him much, but he was bloody effective. Their backline is going to be suspect this year with another year of age.

Spurs have gone backwards and Liverpool are not there yet. Arsenal are a respectable unknown with so many new parts.

We're not favourites in the UCL. The 2 spanish teams are clearly better than us, and there is a whole group of other names that are in similar levels of playing ability as us.

But the favourites don't always win. How many who watched the group stages last year would have put money on Chelsea? We are not so far away from the rest, that form, injuries, momentum and performance on the day can turn results either way.

Posted by Auwal Ashiru Aliyu on 08/13/2012

United wil b beta 4 d upcoming season coz we hav bring in quality players dat can help us win bt d champions league nd premier league.Nd i hope 2 c united switch 2 dix formation 4-2-3-1.De gea,rafael,vidic,ferdinand,evra,carrick,scholes,valencia,kagawa,nani,rooney.Hop 2 c vanpersie in red devils shirt dix season.Up united

Posted by Aaron Mark Hendrix on 08/13/2012

Far be it from me being a pessimist,but I dont really think we'll be top 2 with the current squad.But Fergie has a way of making things happen,and to be honest,we'll always be there or thereabouts(we're United afterall ehh?!)But the squad doesnt look like one to dominate Europe and that's where we will be found out,not unlike last season.All said and done,we're about 2-3 top draw players away from an excellent squad.Despite what's been said about this type of player,a box to box mid is what won City the league last season,and it's best we get on soon.At least we need a defensive mid(if we're to rely on Scholes/Cleverly) though i suspect that once again Carrick will fill that position,which is not where he excels really.Drive and thrust is what we need,and how.Tiote looks like one we could use,but we know that aint gonna happen.Also,a striker who'll net 25 goals at least a season and play in almost all the games.Maybe then we might give the big guns a run for their cash

Posted by Maxitaxi on 08/14/2012

I also think defensively we need back up. Agger would be a good signing but Liverpool want 25 mil! Not sure about Van Persie, get him cheaper in January or free next year. Let’s see if he can repeat last season, don’t want another Michael Owen!

What has happened to our scouts? We missed players like Aguero, Tiote, Ben Arfa, Oscar etc. Look at the price Spurs want for Modric, a decent player but $60 mil. Hulk, $150 mil! City, Chelsea and PSG are screwing it up for everybody in their desire to buy trophies.

Agents are also ruining the game. Hazard's agent got $9 mil from the Chelsea deal and Moura’s agent wanted $12. That's why they are always looking to unsettle players and sell them on to rich clubs.

We all know we need a Roy Keane type, arrogant, aggressive, box to box and a leader! But where are they? I think until the dust settles, City will dominate for another year or two but with all their signings, we still have one the best, our twelfth man, Fergie.

Posted by Tapiwa Mubonderi on 08/14/2012

I think Man U is the best team in EPL and what let us down was complacency (1-6, Blackburn Home, Newcastle Away,Chelsea Away, Basel and Wigan). We should regain some of our trophies next year.

Posted by Urmstonian on 08/14/2012

I'm more depressed about our not getting Rodwell than about any of the other big-money non-signings. A keen young lad who will improve tremendously, it's baffling that we missed him. Surely it wasn't the asking price? My next biggest worry is the captain. If he's back to 100% then fine but if he's only 95% (like Jaap Stam was when he came back from a bad injury) then we do have some problems. But let's look on the bright side. De Gea, Jones, Smalling, Rafael, Welbeck are all getting better (though you don't win anything with kids). Personally I still think the battling Bulgar can do good things but I don't think SAF agrees. We'll be there or thereabouts.

Posted by Kripa on 08/14/2012

I wonder why Fergie is in for another striker/forward, either van Persie or Henriquez (today's news). It's true that citeh had a load of them last year, but I'm not sure copying them is a good idea. Rooney, Welbeck, Hernandez, Berbatov, Macheda, Powell, van Persie, Henriquez, just a few names too many.

We've been successful these years because of the wealth in midfield, especially the versatile ones, able to play in many positions so if they switched with each other during a match, the opponent defenders must 'learn' more than one player before the game or they won't be able to know the best way to stop a player.

We must trust him though, he alone knew what is best to do with his team.

But if I have to make a wild guess why he is doing that, perhaps he wanted to have lots of versatile strikers, those who can play in striker position and also somewhere in the midfield.

We've played with 8 defenders, maybe we'll play with 8 strikers someday? Now that would be interesting! :)

Posted by Matt on 08/14/2012

I do believe that until United find a defensive midfield player (ex. Essien) it will be haed to find success. They have improved up front by adding a creative player, but they need someone to do the "dirty" worker. Lets see what happens to Evra this year and if its another bust of a year then its time to shop for a new left back of see how Fabio does at QPR. I suspect a nervous year as a Manchester United fan and hope that someone will step up as Giggs and Scholes start to step down.

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