After failing to lift a trophy last season and sometimes too reliant on Wayne Rooney, Manchester United head into this season with a few new faces brought in by Sir Alex Ferguson. For those already at the club, there are a number who still haven’t delivered at Old Trafford and must deliver this season if they’re to stay any longer.
The arrival of Javier Hernandez and Bebe will put Dimitar Berbatov under pressure to finally produce the goods as he heads into his third season in a Manchester United shirt. Having frustrated fans for two seasons following his £30,000,000 move from Tottenham Hotspur with his lazy body language, Berbatov showed what he’s capable of doing in last weekend’s Community Shield with a delicate chip over Hilario to seal the trophy. Berbatov needs a good season otherwise Fergie should be looking to recoup some of the money he spent on Berbatov come the end of the season.
Another injury-plagued season for Michael Owen saw him fail to make a significant impact in his debut season. A winning goal against Manchester City in stoppage time certainly helped settle him in, but it’s going to be even tougher for Owen to break into the first team this season following the arrival of Chicharito. His experience and positioning will be key to developing the younger players, which means Michael Owen still has a role at Manchester United. However, another injury-ravaged season could spell the end of Owen’s short United career.
A trip back home without the gaffers permission and injuries gave Anderson a terrible start to 2010. This £18,000,000 Brazilian has failed to set Old Trafford alight in the three seasons he has been here. Just 1 goal from midfield, Anderson is leaning towards becoming a cup player than a key player at Manchester United. He’s still young, but needs to replicate the form of his first season and stay out of trouble off the field.
Often touted as a poor man’s Ronaldo, Nani’s inconsistency has frustrated fans in his three year stay at Old Trafford. As he showed against Arsenal last season, he can beat teams almost single-handedly. But sometimes he’s too big for his own boots. He turns 24 later this year, so you would expect maturity to finally start kicking in to the Portuguese winger. He faces tough competition from Ryan Giggs and Antonio Valencia on the wings, but he’ll get enough games to prove himself and I have a feeling Nani will deliver this season.
Coming off the back of a poor season, Michael Carrick needs to refind his form in 2010/11. He was a solid defensive midfielder at the start of his United career and has great distribution of the ball. Last season he was at fault for a number of goals and misplaced passes. The same again this season and I don’t see him wearing a United shirt for much longer. I am expecting Darron Gibson to see more action this season which would also limit Carrick’s chances of first team football. Currently, Darren Fletcher seems a more obvious choice in the starting line up, ahead of Michael Carrick.
Two half seasons for Manchester United now, aided by injuries for team mates, Jonny Evans faces extra competition following the arrival of Chris Smalling. Someone who is not going to be picked ahead of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand when they’re fit and available, Evans wasn’t a comfortable replacement last season. He’s not a world class defender, and unless he gets his act together this season, he’s not going to be a top 4 defender for much longer. He doesn’t have good positional sense and his closing down of strikers can be lacklustre. He’s still only 22 which could see him given an extra few seasons at Manchester United. Who knows, he could even become the next Wes Brown!
A world class holding midfielder and a versatile player. Looked set to be a great signing when Sir Alex Ferguson finally got his signature in 2007. But injury after injury seems to be putting an end of Owen Hargreaves’ career. He’s 29 now and has only managed to play 4 games in the past two seasons for Manchester United. And would you know it, he enters this season with another long-term injury.