Early thoughts on the summer signings
When Cristiano Ronaldo departed over the summer most United fans were expecting Sir Alex to come up with a wonder signing. Rumours linked the likes of Karim Benzema, Franck Ribery and David Silva with moves to Old Trafford but these deals failed to materialise. United did capture Michael Owen, Antonio Valencia and Gabriel Obertan over the summer so I thought I’d have a look at how Owen and Valencia have settled in, Obertan is of course yet to play – he is expected back from his back injury at the end of the month.
Five years ago Owen would have perhaps been in the same bracket as the likes of Benzema and Ribery. His injury plagued spell at Newcastle did him no favours though and he arrived at Old Trafford with a point to prove. So far he is coming along nicely, he has two goals to his name already, including that priceless winner against Man City, and seems to have fitted into the side well. Unfortunately for Owen he suffered a recurrence of a groin injury in the Champions League tie with Wolfsburg and is now ruled out until October 25.
At one stage in his career Owen was very much England’s numero uno in the striking department but these days he is looking in real danger of missing out on the World Cup next summer. It could be a similar scenario in terms of the United attack, I’m not sure he’ll start too many games ahead of Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov but he will certainly see a lot of game time, albeit from the bench. It seems as if our initial thoughts were probably right in that Owen would become the guy who comes off the bench when United are in need of a goal, the ‘Solskjaer’ role if you like.
All in all I’ve been pleased with Owen’s contribution to the team so far. His positioning is good, he looks committed to the cause and he is a quality finisher who doesn’t seem affected by pressure. The one worry is his injury record and after his latest knock I don’t think his problems are behind him just yet. Fingers crossed he’ll stay injury free for the majority of the campaign and score a few more crucial goals.
In contrast to Owen it looks as if Valencia will be a regular fixture in the starting line up, for the time being at least. Questions were asked when United snapped up Valencia from Wigan over whether he was good enough for United and, for me, those questions still remain.
He is a quick midfielder but at the moment his game lacks a bit of quality. His final ball is not always as good as it should be but at 25 he has plenty of time to improve. I’m sure Sir Alex knew he was buying a ‘rough diamond’ when he picked up Valencia and I do expect the Ecuadorian to develop as a player during his time at Old Trafford.
Personally I think Valencia perhaps needs to show a bit more confidence and belief in his abilities. He has the pace to scare defenders and if he chooses to run at the oppositions full-backs he will cause plenty of problems. The step up from being a hero at Wigan to trying to make a name for yourself at United should also be consider and all in all I’m quietly confident Valencia will prove to be a worthy signing in time.
What about January?
Nothing, especially in football, is ever certain but it would seem a fairly safe online Premier League football bet that United will add to their squad in January. United’s best players this season have arguably been Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs and at their age neither can be expected to take part in every game. We should get a glimpse of Obertan in the next two months or so, while Owen Hargreaves is apparently nearing fitness and his return will certainly be like a new signing. However, I can’t see Sir Alex not adding to the current side. Chelsea have emerged as the betting favourites for the Premier League title and they have looked very strong so far, something I’m sure Ferguson is well aware of. As yet few names have been mentioned, though Bolton centre-half Gary Cahill has been touted but it might take a bid in excess of £20million to get him in January, but I’m already anticipating a big arrival in the new year.