What we want to see in 2012
If we are to believe the lovely Mayans, the bearers of good news, then, sometime in 2012, the year we’ve just entered of course, the beautiful human race – and also Luis Suarez – will be wiped out by some sort of terrible catastrophe. Oh well. Thankfully however, there are a bunch of cool, slick wordsmiths who are considerably more optimistic than the Mayans and see this year as one, not of doom and gloom, but of happiness – in particular, for Manchester United.
Here’s what the editor of this site, and some of the other top-quality writers from around the interweb hope will happen in 2012 (and readers can contribute to in the comments section below):
An injury-free season for the Da Silva twins
As I’m all too familiar with in life, all good things never last. I got a brilliant new phone a few weeks back; it could do everything, such as talk to other, equally-unlucky people from long distances. Amazing, I know. But the joys were shortlived as the touch screen suddenly decided not to work – somehow, probably not the Mayans’ fault – and my smile was gone, replaced with a not-too-welcome frown. And there was something about this that reminded me of the da Silva twins. There’s something quite remarkably satisfying about watching them play; that Brazilian flair, that infectious smile, that curly hair. And they’re quite good, too. However, when everything’s going so well, it’s all undone when it happens. They pick up an injury. And my smile becomes a frown.
And so my wish for 2012 is an injury-free season for either – and, indeed, both – Rafael or Fabio da Silva. I’m absolutely sure should they stay fit (apologies for coupling them), Manchester United will enjoy a happy year. Both have the potential to be the best in their full-back positions too, and so it’s a shame that we’ve never seen either have a lengthy spell in the first team, yet instead they’re nursing a broken eyelash in the treatment room. Who knows, though? Perhaps, just perhaps, we’ll see them become the players we expect them to be this calendar year. Probably not. But – hey – a phoneless man can wish, and wish I will.
Ravel Morrison to drop the attitude and become a star
Forgive me, if you will, for momentarily lapsing into doom-mode to start things off. Times are not, no matter how hard the sighing decree, really that bad. Or if they are, well it’s only a game, isn’t it? Delude to amuse, and all that carry on. However, there does appear to be a lingering air of futility around United supporters’ every wish, demand, desire and enunciating of positivity during these current times. Many will purport that a month of wishing for wonderment is a relatively wasteful exercise, given there’s a litany of ugly obstacles lying each and every way – namely: lack of, um, money, something apparently vital when chasing a player who’s good at playing the game. Ooops. The same sense of futility applies itself to those who admirably bat aside the need for acquisition in lieu of promoting young stars. It’s an appetite born not solely out of an excitement at what’s waiting, but also a sad desperation. We seek change because we’re not happy with what’s in front of us; in fact, our unhappiness can be measured by the way in which we implore Ferguson to change things: by using kids. But our current impairment cannot, despite our romantic notions, be so simply bandaged up.
Ravel Morrison is a rarefied talent. Despite only making 3 first team appearances, his career is already marked by a deluge of juxtapositions. He is one of the finest young talents the club has ever possessed, and he’s also the most criminally immature. His sleekness and irrefutable genius on the ball is hampered by a lingering proneness to tapping frantically at the implosion button. There is a hunger to his game, too: little is made, or heard, of the fact that when he’s not at the club he’s daily partaking in five-a-sides and indoor jousts with the friends who the club would rather he parted with. And yet, despite his seemingly obsessive compulsion to be traversing a pitch at all times, he regularly fails to turn up for training. Quite how a boy of 18 could possess such an attitude is more worrying than it is deplorable. It is surreal and offers little in the way of hope. Morrison, for all his illimitable talent and potential, will be left with all the other would-have-beens unless the realisation of what lies in store dawns on him soon. The majority of those who have invested a hope in him have done so with a belief that it will all work out eventually. Ferguson knows how to deal with troubled gems, we hear. Or Ravel will simply grow out of it. But Morrison is a special case: one who, so far, hasn’t bucked up. Many believed his oozing style would enliven the dull Christmas period, including the club. The scattered word was that his knock post-Palace had ruled him out. The truth was it hadn’t.
2012 is going to be a defining year for United. The title will either be retained or lost to a rising blue sea across town. A midfielder will or will not be bought, and United will either stay and sink or rise to the level a club of its standard should be playing at. Ferguson will age another year and his reign will edge ever closer to its end. The Glazers will pilfer even more money and the vast majority won’t care. And Ravel Morrison, that complex and wonderfully gifted enigma, will either embrace the chances his talents will rightly earn him or see a career dissolve before it even raises its head to the brilliance of what awaits if he really does want it. Forget, for a moment, the talent of Paul Pogba – someone who, if reports are accurate, isn’t overly keen on staying with the club. Ravel Morrison, above anyone, is the one who is unequivocally talented enough to fuel a fire that has been fading out in midfield for too long. Early signs are not encouraging, no matter how readily we dress it up and state the contrary. We try to mask reality because we think that if we say something often enough it will eventually become true and everything will turn out fine and dandy. But, given it’s a new year and the effects of my seasonal indulgences are yet to wear off, I’ll spring a hope upon us: that Ravel Morrison will wriggle free of his own strangle-hold and liberate himself and us. Mark Kelleher, Stretford End
Rio Ferdinand to confirm his status as the best
My first thought was to hope our young players carry on their progress and at least one of them properly ‘breaks through’ – however after giving it some thought I’m plumping for a senior member of the squad, Rio Ferdinand. I’d love to see Rio stay fit in 2012 and remain at the club beyond the summer (there’s been plenty of speculation that he’ll leave). Rio will mark ten years at the club this summer and will probably go down as the best defender in United’s history. This season so far he’s proven he’s still a quality footballer when he’s fit and with Vidic out for a long time he could be crucial in the quest for silverware and helping the youngsters develop. It would be nice to see him reinstated as the captain of England for Euro 2012 too – I wouldn’t be surprised if he retired from international football after the tournament so if he could lead England to victory that would be perfect. His Twitter presence has tainted his reputation in the eyes of some but for me he’s the best defender I’ve ever seen and it would be great if his career hits another peak, in 2012. Doron Salomon, Stretford End (again)
2012 to be David De Gea’s year
My wish for the coming year is that Ferguson will find the solution to the present goalkeeping situation. I say the ‘situation’ merely because there is a concern about De Gea’s adaptation to the English game, Fergie himself admitting that he is rotating the position to ‘help De Gea learn the Premier League’ from the sidelines. The manager is too long in the tooth not to understand the intricacies of introducing a young player to the world’s biggest football club, more, introducing a foreign youngster to the most specialised position on the football pitch. Hence we saw the astute acquisition of Lindegaard, and his rotation of both keepers has thus far worked well – United are level-pegging with Manchester City, and both players have broadly impressed when given the chance. But 2012 should be the year that United see out their ‘transition’, and a settled back line – which includes the goalkeeper – should help settle the side no end.
For me, there is no doubt that the Spaniard will go on to become a fantastic goalkeeper, and United’s number one. The decision to procure his services from Atletico Madrid for £18 million was taken with great forethought and precision – lest we forget that he made close to a century of appearances for the La Liga side, winning the Europa League and the UEFA Super Cup to boot, and has been described as ‘the future of Spanish football’. And whilst Lindegaard has yet to concede a goal in the few Premiership appearances to date, has shown great presence, and exudes a confidence that is often required in this position, I still believe that De Gea will eventually establish himself in 2012 with a consistency of performance that is demanded at this football club. Despite his recent difficulties (most notably in the air), he is more of a complete goalkeeper than the Dane, with a distribution (so vital in the modern game) arguably even better than Van der Sar’s, great agility, and importantly with the mental strength and concentration that has made him stand out at such a young age. Nik Storey, Stretford End (again!)
The beginning of the end for the Glazers
It’s a very unlikely scenario, but what I’d like to see in 2012 is the beginning of the end of the Glazers. How about this for a scenario… Sir Alex Ferguson makes the following rare admission in a presser on the summer tour of Asia:
Q – After being knocked out of Champions League and FA Cup early, and finishing second in Premier League … Will you be adding to the squad this summer?
Ferguson – “We have to respond to the challenge we’ve been set, there’s no question about that. Since we lost the boy Ronaldo there’s been no money in the kitty. Money doesn’t take you all the way, but I’ve just had to make do. I’ve brought in some young players – there’s value when I sell them on. My hands are tied.”
The admission would exert significant presasure on the Glazers to sell up or provide cash. We know the latter is not on the agenda. By the summer the global markets *may* have calmed down enough for the Glazer family to partial IPO in Singapore, resulting in United supporters, or United-supporting investors taking a sizeable chunk of the club and being able to exert pressure. It would be 2005 in reverse, with outsiders chipping away at the Glazer shareholding until a full sale becomes inevitable… Ed Barker, United Rant
United fans to get behind the team
What I want to see in 2012? I’d like to see a permanent end to Middle East conflict. North and South Korea becoming the bestest of really best friends. The Government to suddenly find £100bn of gold they’d had locked in a vault for 50 years, like when you find a fiver in an old pair of jeans. I’d like the Evra and Suarez case to disappear and not to be angered by people’s responses to it daily.
This all seems a bit easy though, what’s the point of these things if you don’t aim high? So what I’d like to see in 2012 is a reality check. A realisation that United may not have the worst team in history.
I was told many times last season how bad United were, mainly from United supporters. So many teams had such superior squads. Then, when United won the league, it was still hard for some to admit their own team may not actually be an embarrassment. Victory was then qualified by saying the rest of the teams weren’t good enough and the title had been won in an easy season.
Of course this isn’t all United fans but a significant and vocal section. At Old Trafford the word ‘sh*t’ is statistically proven (that may be a lie) to be the most used, followed by ‘useless’ and ‘c*nt’, invariably directed at the home team. I’m not asking for blind optimism and for people to ignore frailties the team may have, just that it would be nice to not hear the team being slated week in, week out. For good results not to be met with reasons why they weren’t that good and for bad results not to be met with a gleeful ‘I told you all this, this is what I’ve been saying for ages.’