Archive | May 2010

Season Analysis: Dimitar Berbatov

In this final instalment of ‘Season Analysis’, ManUtd24 look at the much-scrutinised Dimitar Berbatov.

Dimitar Berbatov not leaving Manchester United, says Sir Alex Ferguson

Rating: ★★★☆☆

League Statistics:
Appearances: 33
Goals: 12
Assists: 5

It just wasn’t to be for Dimitar Berbatov.  The expectation was high – so high that this season would, just like the previous, be viewed as a failure. In truth, he hasn’t played badly but you could argue that it wasn’t great either.

We’ve seen his magic moments, the flicks and tricks, the chipped passes, the dummy and the finish but we’ve rarely seen him raise a smile, the look of disappointment more apparent on his face. Sigh. No matter how big a fan you are of the Bulgarian, this season has not met the expectations. Of course, more pressure would be applied to the forward because of the departure of former talisman Cristiano Ronaldo, meaning more goals would have to be scored. His return of 12 from 33 is decent, not great, but I certainly feel another thing that has annoyed fans is that they know he has the talent.

And the fans are growing impatient. Some may say sell him, others will say keep him another year. I believe in the latter, simply because I know the quality of this player. I find myself wanting to contradict a lot in this article because you can’t help feel sorry for him. We believed he was to take a starring role and take centre stage this term, a la Cantona but that wasn’t to be, unfortunately.

Let’s hope he stays. Because he is far too talented. When playing for Bulgaria this season, he looked a stranger (in a good way) for his country, running after every ball and scoring every single chance that was offered on the plate. Let’s hope he stays. Because he is a genius of the game, a player who plays the sport as beautiful and majestic as Cantona did.  Next season more would be expected from him, and let’s hope he can overcome all the pressure and inspire United to glory…

United transfer rumours rumble on

Rafael Van der Vaart

VdV to United? Don't count on it...

A recent report on a very well known sports news website ran the story that Spanish side Valencia had issued a hands off warning to Manchester United regarding David Silva.

The report claims United were thought to be weighing up a £30million move for Silva.

This was the quote, Valencia club president Manuel Llorente said: “He (Silva) will not leave.”

They have a quote, but how do we know it relates to United?  Real Madrid have also been linked with Silva and this seems more likely in all honesty, Barcelona have just signed David Villa and they’re after Cesc Fabregas, considering Real finished second last season and they’re changing manager (again) it seems safe to suggest there will be a lot of transfer activity in the Spanish capital this summer as they look to build a side capable of challenging Barca’s recent La Liga dominance.

United have long been linked with a move for the 24-year-old star but never has there been any concrete proof, to my knowledge and after a bit of research, that Sir Alex Ferguson has ever made a move or considered making a move for Silva.

As much as I would welcome a move for the World Cup 2010 bound Spain star I don’t think it is going to happen in all honesty.

Another report to surface recently, this time in a well known British newspaper, has linked United with a move for Dutchman Rafael van der Vaart, currently at Real Madrid.

The paper ran with his headline: ALEX FERGUSON EYES £20M RAFAEL VAN DR VAART

This time ‘reports in Madrid’ is the alleged source, again no quotes.  This is probably a little more likely, but the reporter has made a massive error.  They suggest the Dutch international is ‘surplus to requirements’ at the Santiago Bernabeu, but they’re changing manager with Jose Mourinho looking almost certain to come in and you would have thought the ‘special one’ might want to look over the squad himself before deciding who will be moved on.  Mourinho got the best out of Wesley Sneijder at Inter Milan, and the two Dutch midfielders are fairly similar players so I’m going to suggest if United are interested in the 27-year-old they may have to hold tight for a bit first, probably until after the World Cup.

Sir Alex has already said he doesn’t expect to do a great deal of business this summer after capturing Fulham’s Chris Smalling and Mexican striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernández.  I don’t know a lot about Hernandez but we’ll get to see him at the World Cup and I’m hopeful his nickname ‘Chicharito’ travels across the Atlantic to Old Trafford with him, Smalling hasn’t impressed me particularly from what I’ve seen of him at Fulham (admittedly not a great deal), but considering Arsene Wenger was also interested and Ferguson went to great lengths to convince him to move to United I’m willing to hold fire before I make a concrete judgement.  The United boss may make another deal or two, but whether they will be relatively big names already or players with potential remains to be seen, but until I see them holding a red shirt and shaking hands with Sir Alex I’m going to be a very sceptical man when it comes to transfer rumours after Ferguson’s admission that it won’t be a busy summer of comings and goings at Old Trafford.

Written by Gareth Freeman

Season Analysis: Ryan Giggs

ryan giggs

Rating: ★★★★☆

League Statistics:
Appearances: 25
Goals: 5
Assists: 9

How long can Ryan Giggs last? 36 years young and still possesses a remarkable amount of energy which is pretty much unmatched for someone his age. It has been another good season for the Welshman but unfortunately he could only lift the Carling Cup in what could be his penultimate year at the club.

I’m not crazy enough to suggest that this season was better than his previous, which was apparently so good he won the PFA Player of the Year. He has managed nine assists (more than any of his team-mates) this term and five goals compared to the seven assists and just two goals in 08/09. Yes, he’s played more this season than last, but he will certainly be satisfied with his overall effort. He’s been pretty successful on the pitch.

He has demonstrated his pace (yes even at 36), discipline, technical ability and skill once again this year. It is a wonder how he still manages to do such things on the pitch, especially when the physical demands of the sport have been higher than its ever been. Definitely the game of football has changed since he made his first appearance in United colours back in 1990.

This was the time when Puffa Jackets were in fashion, washing machines was a fairly new concept and the internet was only just created by some chap named Tim Berners-Lee. Thatcher was still in power, too. It’s crazy to think that twenty years later he’s still playing at the highest level. The only player to have scored in every season of the Premier League since its inception back in ’92. This isn’t exactly a ‘season analysis’, more of a tribute to this wonderful player. This is Ryan Giggs, a United great, a football legend.

Season Analysis: Antonio Valencia

Antonio Valencia

Rating: ★★★★★

League Statistics:
Appearances: 34
Goals: 5

Assists: 7

Antonio Valencia wasted little time settling into Manchester United – racking up 49 appearances in United colours and creating a formidable partnership with Wayne Rooney along the way. He’s made a wonderful impact and despite the failures in Europe and the Premier League he can hold his head up high after a superb season.

In a way, he looks a perfect replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo. Not exactly in a goalscoring department, but his ability to create chances (as shown below) and make an impact, as his role as the influential player. This isn’t a comparison – in fact Valencia is nothing like Ronaldo. However, I certainly feel Sir Alex was wise to pay £16m for the winger instead of paying double, or even triple, for Frank Ribery.

Pos Player – Chances Created Total
1 Luis Antonio Valencia 82
2 Ryan Giggs 59
3 Wayne Rooney 53
4 Dimitar Berbatov 47
5 Luís Almeida da Cunha 45

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Valencia has been fantastic and fingers crossed he can continue his good form into the new season. He isn’t a goalscorer and that has shown; only six goals throughout the season but remember at Wigan Athletic he managed to find the net just three times. You could easily single out many of his stand-out performances. He was the driving force behind Manchester United’s comeback against CSKA Moscow in the Champions League group stage. He scored the equalising goal in a frantic finish in a thrilling game which ended 3-3.

Pos Player – Assists Total
1 Ryan Giggs 9
2 Luis Antonio Valencia 7
3 Nani 6
4 Dimitar Berbatov 5
5 Darren Fletcher 5

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The Carling Cup Final was another prime example. A performance worthy of Man of the Match (which he did get, mind), he set up the winning cross which was reward for his consistency and perseverance in that game. He will be able to put his feet up seeing as Ecuador are not featuring in this summer’s World Cup and so that is too good news for the start of next season. I’m confident he may even be able to eclipse last season. We shall see…

Season Analysis: Paul Scholes

Paul Scholes

Rating: ★★★★☆

League Statistics:
Appearances: 28
Goals: 3

Assists: 3

Paul Scholes is a little man who can do really big things. This remarkable player has had a somewhat strange season as we’ve seen, a number of times, glimpses of the old (or young) Scholes. Hold on a minute there, because I have to disagree with what I just said. Scholes, in my opinion, has hardly differed from the player he was six or seven years ago, as his passing ability and visions remains as good as its ever been.

Of course he has the odd wrinkle here and there, his hair has pretty much receded and his hair is no longer as bright as it’d used to be. Yet, somehow, he manages to conjure up the most beautiful passes and continues to make a huge impact in games. Proof that age is just a number. The season of 09/10 saw Scholes flourish around the closing stages – he was now first choice on the team sheet and was easily United’s standout performer in the months of April and May.

Against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, he displayed an assured and controlled performance much like he did so for the whole season. This one, however, was perfect in every way as he was able, not only to pull the strings from midfield, but disrupt and blunt most attacks from the Black Cats. I believe he’s why United were able to keep a clean sheet in that match – playing an all-round role which was a perfect example of the impact a player could have from the heart of midfield. It’s not just centre-forwards who decide outcomes of games.

However, it is his performance against Manchester City which should never be forgotten. Again, much like the Sunderland game which followed a fortnight later, he did the same thing. He denied City before creating more chances for United. That was all good, but he also scored what was then a vital winner and earned full bragging rights over those rather loud neighbours. That game was proof of the importance of this little player to the team. He’s got four stars and he’s earned every single one of them with his performances this season.

Season Analysis: Patrice Evra

Patrice Evra shows his frustration after Liverpool make it 2-0 at Anfield

Rating: ★★★★★

League Statistics:
Appearances: 37
Goals: 0

Assists: 6

It is remarkable that Patrice Evra has notched up 50 games in a United shirt this season, but without doubt, it was his best yet. Whilst Wayne Rooney will take all the plaudits in this rather unsuccessful season, it has been the consistency of United’s premier left-back that has proved influential, as well as inspirational, in United’s fight for silverware.

He is the unsung hero and has won the hearts of many with his down-to-earth honestyand his passion for the game. He has done very little wrong and has successfully combined his cool, composed defensive approach with an aggressive style of football to full effect. It is people like him who make perfect role-models for the generation of tomorrow.

He’s had so many good moments last season that I’ve lost count. Games against Spurs, Sunderland and Manchester City come to mind and certainly he’s been Man of the Match more than just a few times. It was he who crossed the winner against City last month deep in injury time, that being just one of the six assists created by the 5’9 full-back.

And he can really leap for a small man. He wins most balls in the air, never afraid to come in for a challenge, and certainly not afraid to bomb forward with all his flair and dynamism. He is also probably one of the fittest lads in the team, no figure why he’s played more games than anyone else.

There is no arrogance about the player, he is full of praise and puts most of his successes down to Sir Alex and his team-mates. His heart and desire is unmatched and this humble fellow still believes he has a lot to learn. He is proud to be at the club and one couldn’t imagine him going elsewhere.“From the moment I arrived here it felt like it was my destiny because it was only when I became a United player that I found my true identity. This place suited my character, the people here were on my wavelength and I was able to be me”.

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