Manchester Untied have already signed two midfielders in Kagawa and Powell, but the squad certainly needs more tweaking. TheHardTackle analyses the squad composition and the areas Sir Alex needs to strengthen further.
After the conclusion of the European Championships, Manchester United finally got their pre-season underway in South Africa albeit with a depleted squad, certainly in terms of star attraction, if not numbers. The tour party excludes players who participated for the national sides at the Euros and certain others who will be involved in the Olympic Games in London. Nevertheless, United and Sir Alex can’t afford to take their eye of the ball and the preseason must stand for what it is – a chance for youngsters to prove their worth and stake a claim, while for the fringe players to force their way into first team reckoning.
While the team is working hard in the southern hemisphere, Red faithfuls around the world have kept an eye on their club’s transfer activities and while it might seem a case of so far so good, there still remain a few concerns with regards to the team composition that surely need to be addressed before the opening day fixture at Goodison Park.
The summer signings so far include the much coveted Japanese sensation Shinji Kagawa and the highly-rated teenager form Crewe, Nick Powell. On the other hand, Sir Alex has also a let a fair few leave so far, none more important than Park Ji Sung who will always be remembered in these shores for his commitment and passion to the United cause. Tomaz Kuczszack has been released as the Polish shot stopper failed to make the cut at Old Trafford, while Michael Owen’s contract wasn’t renewed as well.
Further changes are expected in the coming days with Ferguson very much in the market for what or rather whom he deems necessary to regain the title back from the Blue half of Manchester.
A look at the squad composition must ensure the need for fine tuning and the next few weeks will be pivotal in the getting that balance right.
Goal Keeping – No Worries
The presence of David De Gea, Anders Lindegaard and Ben Amos ensures no need for further addition to the shot stopping department in the near or distant future. In fact, Sir Alex had a happy problem last term as both De Gea and Lindegaard were ready to fight tooth and nail to be United’s no. 1 goalkeeper. In the end though, De Gea came over the early season mishaps and showed his class during the latter part of the season in the absence of Lindegaard, who had his season cut short due to injury. However, the Dane will not be surrendering the top spot as easily and will be keen to impress in the pre-season, while De Gea will be away on National duty.
Sam Johnstone, the academy star, might be loaned back to gain game time much like the season before.
Defense – Lacking Evra’s Back-Up
Sir Alex must be delighted with the news of club captain Nemanja Vidic’s return from the long term injury that he endured on the fateful night at Basel. Furthermore, Chris Smalling might also regain his fitness before the season commences. United boast great strength in depth at the center-back department with Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans and Phil Jones all capable of brilliant performances. It’s fair to say, there will be no more additions and none shall be allowed to leave.
United, however, seem a bit stretched at the full back positions, especially left back. Fabio has joined QPR on a season long loan while Zeki Fryers is almost certain to leave. Patrice Evra remains the lone man standing and although his durability has never been in doubt, one just can’t rely on a single player. Ergo, the need for making a signing for the left full back position becomes increasingly unavoidable. Rumor mills certainly mark Leighton Baines as the favorite but Ferguson could spring a surprise if Everton remain unwilling to budge on the selling price.
Robbie Brady might also be an option as Ferguson was quoted recently, but surely a distant back up at best.
THT Verdict: Signing imminent
Midfield – The Mystery Continues
Make no mistakes, Kagawa is a phenomenal signing and the United fans must be more than pleased to have him amongst their ranks. However, with Kagawa’s best work coming higher up the pitch behind the front man or as a wide forward, does United’s much maligned central midfield get any healthier?
Nick Powell, on the other hand, is one for the future and once again an attacking midfielder by trade. Ergo, United still need to splash the cash for that elusive central midfield signing. Darren Fletcher’s return remains uncertain and if he does make a comeback, his effectiveness might not be what it used to. Anderson – the enigma – rolls on but surely this has to be his breakthrough season. Tom Cleverley still needs time, while Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs are a season older. Paul Pogba has been lured away to Italy and none from the academy look ready to make the breakthrough just yet.
Rumor mills have gone overboard with United’s supposed interest in Lucas Moura. The Brazilian is one of the hottest young talents but Sao Paulo’s asking price is unlikely to be met, certainly by Sir Alex and Man United. Joa Moutinho link ups have dried down lately as was the case with Luka Modrić last month, while Cristian Erikssen’s name is suddenly in the limelight. The names in the media certainly show that Fergie is in for a central midfielder but it is anyone’s guess who will that turn out to be.
THT Verdict: One or perhaps two signings needed to strengthen the squad
Strikers – A Problem Of Plenty
Kiko Macheda has returned from his disastrous loan spell and even though Michael Owen has left, there are still five quality strikers at Fergie’s disposal. Problem though, is lack of game time for two or even three of those.
Dimitar Berbatov departure looked very probable but with the lack of genuine suitors, the Bulgarian might end up staying. Nevertheless, even if Berbatov leaves, United are well covered with Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck, Chicharito all more that capable of leading the line. Kagawa too is an option behind the front man if the need be.
Macheda’s situation remains hazy at best. The Italian has struggled to get a consistent run of games at United or his two loan spells. At Macheda’s age, game time is of paramount importance and Kiko might have to go out on loan again to gain mach experience. Perhaps if the right offer comes in, Ferguson could let Macheda leave for good.
Van Persie to Man United rumors look nothing but thin air and it would be a shock to the system if the deal materializes, but a happy one at that.
THT Verdict: Arrivals improbable, departures expected