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RoM Season Review: The midfield

Michael Carrick
It has only taken seven years for Carrick to get his own song and the praise he deserves. The players aren’t stupid though and voted him their Player of the Year. Think about this: United have never finished outside the top two with Carrick in central midfield.

Paul Scholes
In the summer of 2011 he told me his legs were gone and he didn’t miss football, but just four months later he came out of retirement. It was fun to have him back, and there were moments of the old Scholes genius, but the legs have gone for good this time.

Tom Cleverley
Remind me exactly what he does? A solid player with a bit of energy, but nothing more. He would be a decent player for Everton or Newcastle, but he has never looked like a Manchester United player.

Six years and it hasn’t happened. Enough. He came hailed as the new Ronaldinho, briefly looked like the new Edgar Davids, and has been distinctly average ever since. Doesn’t offer either an attacking threat, presence or energy in midfield. The end has come.

Antonio Valencia
United’s player of the season in 2011-12 was almost unrecognisable this season. Where were the goals, pace and assists? The Ecuadorian looked lost this season, and needs to improve quickly.

Ashley Young
An uninspiring signing, he actually managed to have a good debut season at United, but this year has been a disaster. No goals from 18 appearances tells the story of Young’s ineffectiveness.

It’s become popular to give up on Nani, but not me. I love Nani, he excites me like no other player in the United squad for his ability to beat a man. I hope David Moyes feels the same and wants to keep him and get the best out of him.

Ryan Giggs
Three years ago it seemed incredible Giggs was still a vital part of the United squad, but he’s still going, and his performances haven’t dipped at all. He turns 40 this year. This is ridiculous! Surely next season will be his final one as a player at Old Trafford.

Sam writes for FourFourTwo and is responsible for the excellent Best XI Manchester United book



  1. slim says:

    Denton Davey

    Your trio of Carrick ,Rooney and Jones is an intersting one. The only problem i have is discipline. Two out of those three currently lack the discipline to make that set up work . Then you have Rooney lack of close control in those tight areas or when he’s under pressure.
    Carrick spent years working on that single aspect of his game and the dividends are clear for all to see.
    He’s never flustered under pressure and he uses opposing players momentum in his favor. Firmly planting his body between the player and the ball, using his quick feet to shift the ball and a swivel of his hips to get on the ball the way he wants. Rooney simply struggles with this and its something he has to get the hang of to play in this area.
    Jones is strong enough and moves forward with the ball well enough but he’ll have to be a bit more disciplined with those runs and chose to embark on them very wisely. He’s going to have to do the defensive midfielder work and let Carrick and Rooney support the front 3.
    In the event we don’t dip into the transfer market for a midfielder or two, I’d go with your set up.

  2. Sparkz says:

    Lot of rubbish on here about Cleverley. I’ve said it before – but he’s a very important part of our midfield set up. He hardly ever loses the ball. Links up the midfield to the forward players (he’s the “buzz” between Carrick and Rooney/Kagawa). And provides great energy/pressing. His performances in some of the big games this season were terrific.

    Is he the guy we build our side around? No. And we definitely need to sign one, possibly 2 midfielders. But Cleverley is hugely important nonetheless.

    @Samuel – Fully agree with your post at 13.01 about Zaha and Nani.

  3. Toms says:

    Goood on you for recognize Nani

    Cleverly though I think deserves the same chnce we’d give Valencia. He looked damn good when he was playing more aggressively last season before he got injured. He could still push on into a very good player yet.

  4. harrydazzer says:

    What about Kagawa? I would’ve exactly call him a forward

  5. Sparkz says:

    Kagawa is the guy that we should be comparing to Hazard, Mata, Cazorla etc. Not Cleverley, his position and role is totally different.

    Also, agree to an extent with what Klopp said. With Rooney going, Kagawa should be able to make that number 10 role his own. With better stamina, he’ll be flying.

  6. True Red says:

    a bit too harsh on cleverley. he is a solid player who is only 23 at the moment. he is one of the greatest talents united have produced. nani have been rubbish this season and cleverley is a regular starter for england and united and you say he is not good enough? worst FUCKING analysis EVER

  7. calebkzh says:

    @NBI, denton,

    Actually, both Dortmund and Bayern play 4-2-3-1. Dortmund plays with one anchor man (Bender) and one BBM, then three AMs in front of them. Bayern play with similar style (Martinez anchoring, Schweinsteiger roaming) but two inside forwards in the form of Ribery and Robben. They also have Kroos or Muller playing in the hole.

    I actually see us being able to have such a set up, but that’s only IF we have the right personnel for it. 4-2-3-1 is an evolution of 4-4-2, whereby instead of a flat front two, one forward plays deeper, almost in midfield, and the wingers don’t only stick to the flanks.

    We’ve actually seen glimpses of it in the last few games, notably the final game at the Hawthorns, where Carrick and Cleverley drop deeper, with Ando ahead of them. You also saw Kagawa and RvP roaming in from the flanks, playing more of an AP role than a winger role.

  8. UTDFTW says:

    great Scott what kind of season reviews are these, not to be harsh but these sound like passing comments more than anything. enough to facilitate mild discussion I guess but dear Scott you can do better, the republic of mancunia deserves better for an end of season review! (and yes reviews of players like kagawa cannot be missing mate)

  9. UTDFTW says:

    when I mean dear Scott you can do better, I meant have a better contributing writer!

  10. daelm says:

    sam, i disagree with you about Nani, whom i think you overrate, and a less importantly about Cleverley, whom i think will come to life when he grows into the role. but my general midfield evaluation is the same. it’s a worry, isn’t it?


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