It’s that time of the year, when every Manager would be evaluating his team’s progress. The new signings would have had game time under their belt, while the already established stars would look to kick on to greatness.  At the onset of every league season, an average United fan demands certain objectives; more importantly, Sir Alex demands a level of performance from the men that don the sacred red jersey. With a third of the season gone, the gaffer would be evaluating those goals – where did United lack the cutting edge? Were expectations met with performances on the field? Let’s evaluate for ourselves the season so far.

Stoke City v Manchester United , Premier League 24/10/2010 Manchester United Manager, Sir Alex Ferguson as he sits on the bench Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

The season summary so far:

In an ideal world, with 13 league games of the season gone by, the Manager and fans would have hoped for top billing and possibly a healthy lead. However, such wishful thinking is a recipe for disappointment.  Three points off the summit after a third of the league season and guaranteed  qualification to the knock out stages of the Champions league are hardly a cause for sleepless nights.  The league Cup campaign is going as strong as ever, where a quarter final show down against the Hammers awaits.  The biggest victory, however, seems to be of the field, where United managed to convince their talisman Wayne Rooney to stay at the Theatre of dreams.  Like him or hate him, United are most certainly better off with his presence in the team.  The cynics can point at the points dropped and the leads squandered; however, there is only one team on the British Isles who can call themselves undefeated.  There are certainly some chinks in the amour, but there’s nothing that can’t be set straight.

Positives from the season:

The most obvious positive has to be the form of United captain Nemanja Vidic; the Serbian has been immense and possibly the best center back on view around the country. With Rio getting back to fitness and form, the central defense issues of last year look a thing of the past. The emergence of Chris Smalling as a reliable back up points to a bright future, with Johhny Evans, Wes Brown and John Oshea available as more than decent cover.

Wayne Rooney was in the form of his life in the season gone by, and United sailed on the tide of Rooney mania. The reliance on the man from Croxteth was undeniable, and in his absence the goals seemed as rare as an oasis in a desert. However things have changed for good this season. United have scored 26 league goals so far without a single Rooney goal from open play. The one man team myth has well and truly been buried; Rooney is instrumental but certainly far from indispensible.  The early season form of Berbatov and crucial goals from new signing Chicharito has eased the pressure. Nani has made his presence felt with goals and assists of his own, and the midfield has chipped in when the need arises.

Nani Manchester United 2010/11 Manchester City V Manchester United (0-0) 10/11/10 The Premier League Photo: Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via NewscomRising to his potential

The rather comfortable position United find themselves in has to be credited to the brilliance of Luís Carlos Almeida da Cunha, a.k.a Nani. The Portuguese has been at the center of everything United have conjured up offensively. With four league goals and the highest number of assists, the twinkled toed winger has set the league alight.

However the thing that fills United hearts with pride is the ability of the side to never accept defeat. Even when the most ardent of supporters lose hope, the men on the field still carry on their fight. The comeback is always around the corner; it’s never really over. It’s rightly said  that “Man Utd never lose, they sometimes run out of time”. The belief instilled in them by the great man at the helm has been the hallmark of each and every United team in his regime – a testimony to Ferguson’s longevity and resilience.

Negatives from the season:

The Rooney Saga undoubtedly remains a blot; the player and the club could have done without the episode. Dirty linen was washed in public ,and the repercussions are yet to be seen. The Wayne Rooney fiasco left a bitter taste in the mouth; bridges will have to be rebuilt, as fan ire is inevitable as soon as the Roon returns. It’s been an unnecessary distraction which should certainly have been avoided.

A happy Wayne Rooney on the Subs Bench Manchester United 2010/11 Manchester United V West Bromwich Albion (2-2) 16/10/10 The Premier League Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via NewscomA Red after all

On field, United are yet to lose a game this season; however the bigger picture indicates an inability to win games. Leads have been squandered and points dropped in a very un- United way.  United have lost points from winning positions in none less than three games. Fixtures like Man city, Sunderland and Bolton yielded nine points the season before; this season, the total stands at a miserly three.

Another major issue giving unbearable heartache to Devils has been the weak and subdued performance of United’s center midfield. Carrick and Fletcher have been unimaginative at best. The old war horse Scholes soldiers on, but the burden hasn’t been shared. The clamor for an attacking midfield addition is growing like never before, but Fergie will still seek answers from within, as his philosophy says “Sometimes you look in a field and you see a cow and you think it’s a better cow than the one you’ve got in your own field, it never really works out like that.” The enigma that is Anderson rolls on; in his third season with the Manchester club his progress has stalled. Hopefully, like Nani, he’ll rekindle his form and the Anderson chant will be heard again in the terraces of OT. The most disappointing case remains that of Michael Carrick, devoid of inspiration and exuberance – the axe could be nearer than imagined.

Aspirations from the season ahead:

The Red Devils need to buckle up. The club takes pride in its attacking, free flowing, aesthetically beautiful brand of football –  ‘the United Way’ , as its often called. However the swagger has largely been missing, and the displays have been timid and uninspiring.

Young guns like Obertan and Fabio could possibly be given more game time, as they look set for the stage.  Exciting new talent has always excited the Old Trafford crowd and set pulses racing.

United need to perform commandingly against other title rivals; the two games against Chelsea effectively cost them the title last season. With the league up for the taking, United should clean up their act, remove those annoying inconsistencies and play without fear. Christmas is fast approaching; it’s that time of the year when United of the season gone by had thrown down the gauntlet.  Belief has been the bedrock of this football club, and belief shall stand it in good stead even when tough times arrive. “For those who believe, no proof is necessary, for those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.

67 Responses to “Manchester United’s Corner: The Quarterly Report Card”

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  1. ARul says:

    The article is missing something – Javier Hernandez :) and the Curious case of the Bebe signing

  2. Streford End Arising says:

    @Arul: Chicharito has been mentioned, while Bebe has a whole article devoted on him on this site 😉

    http://www.thehardtackle.com/index.php/manchester-uniteds-corner-let-my-bebe-be/

  3. Elizabeth Turpen says:

    Wonderful work! I’m certain you have followed United closely and done a lot of research to come up with this. Many thanks.

  4. ismail yk says:

    It was an excellent piece of writing. But you have forgot to mention Bebe. He is an exciting buy for United.

  5. Vivienne Weddle says:

    They have signed some exciting young players. Moreover United squad is more versatile than Chelsea or Arsenal’s. United will have a better 2nd half of the season. By Christmas eve, United should climb to the top of the table.

  6. Nipun says:

    @ismail: thanks for the appreciation, but we havent forgotten Bebe, here’s an entire article on him :) just follow the below link:
    http://www.thehardtackle.com/index.php/manchester-uniteds-corner-let-my-bebe-be/

  7. Henry says:

    Hello, actually I landed up on your site accidentally carrying out a search on the internet about United’s debt and revenues; but I think I have discovered a tresure. I’ll definitely come back to read the quality articles. I am from UK, but surprisingly I have not heard about this well maintained football blog ever before. I will definitely refer my buddies also to your blog. Thanks and keep up the good work.

  8. RedDevilForLife says:

    You think Johny Evans and Wes Brown as more than decent? Mate, I doubt whether you were watching the United matches or not. Johny Evan’s development is going backwards and Brown has been plane shite in all the recent games. Oshea is always at best an average player. Rio has lost couple of yards pace and Vida is unable to cover up for that. Evra is more keen to become the next Bale, forgetting his defensive duties. Fabio is not getting enough testing time on the pitch either. Only positive has been Rafael and Smalling. These two are real quality. Defensive ammunities for United may look good on paper, but in reality, it sucks big time. :(

  9. Lehman says:

    I don’t see United winning any silverwire this season unless Fergie goes on to add a couple of big names in the Jan transfer window.

  10. Nipun says:

    about the defensive cover i would rather have our rio,vidic,evans,smalling,brown,oshea over anybody else in the league or for that matter any team in the whole world. People keep up the faith we havent lost a game since april, we r joint top of the league and our most important player hasnt even started his season yet. I believe in Sir Alex and we will win silverware, we always so, and for the non believers who would u rather be?