Review of the season so far

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With 2009 over and done with it seems appropriate to do a mini-review of the campaign so far.  United currently lie second in the table and are just two points behind Chelsea, who lose the likes of Michael Essien and Didier Drogba to the African Cup Of Nations in January.  Things are looking pretty good when all things are considered, so I’ll start with the positive points.

Pros

Wayne Rooney

How will United cope without Cristiano Ronaldo or a marquee signing in the summer to go someway towards replacing him? That was the question many pundits and fans were asking in the summer but Rooney has gone someway to answering that particular debate.  This season has been one of the England international’s most productive to date and he has shown the ability to win matches on his own.  After a sloppy mistake against Hull City Rooney stepped up to the plate and ensured the points went back to Old Trafford.  Rooney’s displays have been a major factor in United’s success so far this season and he shows no sign of letting up as United chase the league title.

Summer signings Antonio Valencia & Michael Owen

The former Wigan man was never going to be a straight replacement for Ronaldo but he is doing a decent job on the right-wing.  The Ecuadorian was reasonably priced in today’s transfer market and he seems to be improving steadily and should continue his progression as he gains more experience.

Seeing Owen move to United was a little strange but he’s scored some crucial goals and is a decent player to have around the side.  Granted, he may never be an immediate first choice but on a free transfer you just can’t complain and the hat-trick at Wolfsburg was a little bit special.

The Manchester derby

Another reason Owen makes my pros list.  That was truly a great game and United stealing victory at the end made it all the more special.  City fancied their chances after a summer of spending but Sir Alex Ferguson emerged victorious that day and for me that particular derby has been the game of the season so far.

Cons

Performances

I still feel we’re yet to see vintage United this season, though the 5-0 mauling of Wigan wasn’t far off in all fairness.  The consistency just hasn’t been there and there have been some disappointing displays (such as the games at Fulham and Burnley).

Dimitar Berbatov

Perhaps this is a little bit harsh but he is yet to fulfill his true potential in a United shirt.  After a £30million plus transfer big things were expected of the Bulgarian striker but he has only shown glimpses of his undeniable talent.

The League table

Again, considering United are second in the table this is perhaps a bit picky but ideally Sir Alex Ferguson would want his side to be the pacesetters at this stage.  However, the Old Trafford outfit now seem to have got through the defensive injury crisis and Ferguson himself feels United will come into their own in the second half of the season.

“The second half of the season is when experience counts and we have that and we have the squad.” He said after the Wigan victory. “The key is getting the defence fit and then we’ll be a much better team.”

Looking ahead to 2010

A few new faces in January could help United’s title push.  The Premier League is still very much up for grabs and no one has really stamped their authority on the league itself.  Chelsea and Liverpool both thought they had a great chance to take the title following Ronaldo’s move to Real Madrid but that just hasn’t happened and United stand a great chance of retaining the league.  And, of course, the Champions League and FA Cup are still on the agenda for Sir Alex.

Written by Gareth Freeman, a sports writer promoting Grand National tips and Cheltenham 2010.

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