My fellow Reds,
Waking up this morning, I could not help but crack a cheeky smile. Why you say? Was this down to the continued linkage with that Dutch fella, or maybe it was the prospect that an immediate team photograph was not on the horizon (going out on a limb in stressing that had the summer wheeling & dealing been done, we would of had this sorted by now? Possibility.) The answer is a resounding no!
As of today, Wednesday the 24th of August, we are sitting pretty on top of the table, all be it shared, for now! This of course began with an unforgettable performance against those lot in the Community Shield that brought out the best in the new look team. This was followed up with 3 points from a very tricky away encounter to West Brom & a breathtaking 2nd half performance against the Londoners Tottenham Hotspur. Major fears about our potential continuation of the “mediocre away displays”, have not as of yet been quelled but what a breath of fresh air it was to see our two midfield men driving forward at every given opportunity. For the first time, in a very long time, we forced the home side to rely predominantly on countering. Now I’m not saying we were spectacular for the full 90 minutes but I do, however, feel that for the first 20 and the last 45, we were not too far off
However, one thing that strikes me as peculiar is why so many people continue to cry out for investment. This of course is in relation our “weak” midfield options. A continuous press linkage to Sneijder is not helping the cause in any way.
Being a long serving subject of Manchester United has its obvious perks; trophies, superstar players & a continued confidence in whatever XI is privileged enough to own the famous jersey. Then there is, of course, the drawbacks: an all too common example of this is the trend of knee-jerking. Many reds see the departure of Roy Keane as a void which is still to filled. Sitting back and watching the fairytale end of our ginger prince, has only added dementia to the scenario. Transfer speculation, scapegoats (Carrick comes to mind) and a continued pecking on the proverbial shoulder of “we are not good enough in the centre of the park” is something which needs to be put to bed this instant. One further perk, which is arguably the most enjoyable as a red is our world-famous youth structure. I am personally quite pleased with what we have available to us and it is such a joy (as a proud supporter of United since the 80’s) to see such fantastic potential coming through again. Real potential stars such as your Cleverley’s, to your Pogba’s and not forgetting(for some reason ignored as of late) Mr Tunnicliffe. What potential this boy has. He is big, physical and a genuine ball winner. 6 months in the royal rumble that is the Championship is going to add more ferocity and bite to the already sturdy game this lad already possesses. We are privileged as a club to have such talent coming through again and who knows, maybe a similarity to the once sturdy, never say die mentality of a certain Cork man, coupled with the vision & creativity of our little wizard, is already in the works.
Ignoring what the years ahead hold, what our current central midfield has done in the first 3 games has been unexpected to say the least. Few would have thought Anderson and Cleverley would have been able to control a midfield so well but having seen them entrusted with the responsibility of controlling the game is nothing short of a breath of fresh air. Anderson who has, in part, struggled to live up to his price tag since arriving has never truly been given the thumbs up from a large quantity of United sections. Now, take into account that the boy is just off of the back of his first full, injury-free pre-season and how do we assess the situation? Three games played(including the shield) and a marked improvement in each having scored 4 goals in his last 5 appearances. How do we truly rate a player & his potential? One solid way of doing this is to take game #1 and take notes in comparison to #2. Each game the boy has improved and even bagged a goal for his efforts. Over the two league games, Anderson has posted passing percentages of 90.5, with 9 tackles won & 7 interceptions. Compare these with those of Thomas Cleverley. Over the two games he has posted a passing percentage of 90, with 3 tackles won & 1 interception. Not forgetting a delightful pass which inevitably led to his first assist of the season.
What does this tell us people? For me, it screams not only potential but a desire to finally transfer this potential to profit. The two boys are young and the only way either of them can grow as footballers is to get match time, something which SAF will know. It is blatantly obvious that young footballers feed off of the confidence/faith being shown in them and the results are clear as day. If indeed this marquee signing takes place, then what does it mean for our lads? Sure, we could argue that the experience of a Sneijder could only benefit the boys in training but I for one would not be as ecstatic as others to see it come to fruition. Should the cycle occur and everybody could indeed remain happy then what would become of Mr Pogba & Mr Tunnicliffe? To put it in the words of a wise ol’ man I know, we would be cutting off our nose to spite our face. Put faith in youth & more importantly, in SAF.
Author: Shaun Connolly