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What If There Isn’t A New Midfielder?

Sir Alex Ferguson has always been tough to predict in the transfer market, he’s capable of securing transfer deals that seemed incredibly unlikely, unexpected, genius, or sometimes, baffling. From Henrik Larsson to Chicharito to Gabriel Obertan and Bébé, there’s usually something from way out in left field. Yet, centre midfield has long since been viewed by fans and pundits alike as an area that since 2007 has been overwhelmingly under-invested in by Sir Alex.

All Manchester United fans no doubt remember a phrase from last season that has almost become one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s most famous phrases – “there’s no value in the transfer market”. It’s just as hard to understand it then as it is now, there has never really been any value in the transfer market. It’s unpredictable and prone to ballooning at anytime.

It’s also hard to take it too seriously when you consider some of the transfers in football that United have missed out on. Shinji Kagawa moved to Dortmund for what was an incredible bargain. As well as that in the past 4 or 5 years the transfer fees of Rafael van der Vaart, João Moutinho, Mesut Özil, Javier Pastore, Nuri Şahin, and even Wesley Sneidjer. All centre midfielders, all of which are arguably Manchester United quality, and of which went for under £15,000,000.

Since the signings of Owen Hargreaves and Anderson in the early summer of 2007, there has been little in the way of central midfield reinforcements. In January 2008, Rodrigo Possebon signed for the club and looked promising but seemed to lack confidence after his injury and his disastrous loan spell in Braga. Possebon was sold to Santos in August 2009. Darron Gibson made his league debut for the club in November 2008, and it’s now looking likely he will be on the way out to Sunderland. In October 2009, there was the signing of Paul Pogba, which may be an inspired signing, should he develop like many expect him too.

Those are the only central midfield signings since and it is a massive lack of investment when you consider the money spent on other areas of the pitch. So, despite Manchester United now looking likely to invest heavily this summer after a transition season, it’s fortunate that unlike other teams, United are able to win the league whilst reinventing again.

It’s not then, beyond the realm of impossibility, that perhaps the midfield is missed out completely again this summer. Even with the obvious reinvestment of Phil Jones, and very probably David de Gea and Ashley Young. The manager did say back in May that there would be 3 new signings; perhaps that’s our fill of transfer activity then? It’s unlikely, as there is looking like there will still be plenty of cash to spend with players that maybe on their way out, there’s Darron Gibson, Wes Brown, John O’Shea, Nani, and Dimitar Berbatov – depending on what you read.

Should United fail to secure a new midfielder (and presumably don’t sell any) then the only options available would be: Anderson, Ryan Giggs, Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher, Darron Gibson, Ryan Tunnicliffe, and Paul Pogba.

A virus ruined Darren Fletcher’s 2010-2011 campaign, and it was apparent that when he did recover that he had lost a lot of weight, which limited his opportunities. Even before his mystery virus, Fletcher had not replicated the kind of form he displayed from 2008-2010 that made him indispensible to the team, and a huge loss in the 2009 Champions League final. Given he recovers back to his former self, Fletcher can still be an important part of United’s midfield.

Ryan Giggs will be 38 in November, which is frankly, ridiculous – in a good way. Although it has been said for the past 4 years or so, this time it may actually be his last season. Of course, Giggs will be getting attention off the fans next year, after becoming a Daily Star selling machine – with apparent sex stories become more bizarre and abstract. The entire thing is tedious for real football fans, but it will be ammunition for opposition fans. I’d wager that someone as professional as Giggs would remain entirely unaffected by all the extra attention. We can perhaps hope for more of the same from Giggsy next year.

Anderson is a strange one, he is undoubtedly talented but there is still the sense that he could become so much more. When he does pick up good form, he usually been stopped by another injury or falling out of favour of the squad rotation system. Nani’s found himself since 2010, maybe now it’s time for Anderson to do so. There are signs of his improvement; he’s even begun scoring goals now.

Michael Carrick and Darron Gibson have the special ability to divide opinion. Carrick’s first two seasons showed the kind of player he was (and can be), and many said he lost his confidence after the Rome final, but at times he has showed entirely what he is capable of.  Darron Gibson has come under a lot of stick, some would say rightly so – and other’s wouldn’t.  With Gibson to turn 24 this year, it’s certain that if (and that’s a big if) he stays with United it will be his very last chance to impress Sir Alex.

Ryan Tunnicliffe and Paul Pogba are two of the gems from what looks like a very talented bunch of youngsters coming through. Of course, Ravel Morrison is deserving of mention, but his talents are better deployed in more attacking roles than what we are focusing on here. Tunnicliffe has the bite and the desire that have had many compare him with Roy Keane, which is a huge ask. If he manages to be half the player that Roy Keane was then we know we have a special lad on our hands.

Paul Pogba has looked a lot more than the “next Patrick Viera” that many writers, who are looking for an easy comparison, have said. Paul Pogba is more dynamic than Viera ever was, and he’s shown that he is worth every bit of legal disputes with Le Havre so far. Although in the end, the disputes were much more straightforward deal than Le Havre’s president, Jean-Pierre Louvel would have you believe.

Pogba and Tunnicliffe look like immensely talented prospects, but to throw them in at the deep end next season would be irresponsible. It’s likely that both will make their senior debuts at some stage during the season (probably in the League Cup), but we can’t expect Pogba to come in and score wonder goals for the first season straight away, like he does with the reserves.

A central midfield composed of the likes of Carrick, Fletcher and Giggs could be likely to bring about a similar season to the one just passed – and the team may will even end up with a twentieth title if luck is on United’s side, but it would not be able to conquer Europe. The midfield of Barcelona will once again be the best in the world. Perhaps Pogba or Tunnicliffe will emerge, but it is a good few years until they will be able to carry a side like Manchester United. If only Paul Scholes could turn 18 again on his next birthday.

Whether it be Luka Modrić, Wesley Sneidjer or perhaps someone, once again, a bit further left-field. It’s time for a new transformation of Manchester United to build on last year – let’s just hope it will be this season.

Follow Richard on Twitter



  1. Zelh says:

    our marquee signing should be Alba or Fox :mrgreen:

  2. fergie is the boss says:

    check this tool out, thinking he could do a better job managing united

  3. Fred says:

    No, I won’t give him the attention he wants.

  4. King Eric says:

    mara – Modric and that ponce Nasri wouldnt make any difference against Barca.Above all else they are fucking chokers, not least the latter.

    NRD – Hello mate. Good to see you. Hows tricks?

  5. AnomanderRake says:

    Unsurprisingly, not a word about Chicharito in that article.

  6. Zelh says:

    hahaha now scousers are saying downing is a better deal than young.
    love those bitters :lol:

  7. Zelh says:

    Some people should really get a grip.
    The virus is the best example that money and big names does NOT buy you success over Barca.

  8. King Eric says:

    byron – Great post pal as usual.

  9. byron1970 says:

    King Eric – Cheers bud, appreciate it

  10. King Eric says:

    11am – Disagree pal. Tunnicliffe is closer a first team appearance than Morrison at present.

  11. mikekelly12 says:

    Byron – Spot on mate, if Varane doesn’t want to play for United then we don’t want him! Same with Sanchez or any other player. We don’t want to unearth a star who after 2 or 3 seasons starts whining and saying “It has always been my dream to play for *INSERT NAME*!! Little Pea came to United because he wanted to play for the greatest CLUB in world football, as did Jones, as did Young. Give me these players everyday of the week.

  12. King Eric says:

    FITB – Hello mate. Ha. That has to be the worst article I have seen since that Smythes on United’s decline in 2005. Silly bastard.

    Any chance of a new topic Scott. Struggling to fuck to load nigh on 800 comments. Nowt on Young or Hernandez’s goal? Cheers.

  13. willierednut says:

    Yeah StR, get the Young transfer up ther man! The masses need a thread, you provide the needle? :lol:

  14. smartalex says:

    Ashley Young – Welcome To Liverpool FC 2011 – 4 minutes

  15. mikekelly12 says:

    FITB & King Eric

    No idea what that twat was getting at? He could have written the same article about Dogleash, Mourinho, Mankini, Redknapp, Ancelotti etc etc etc etc………what a fucking tool!

  16. Zibbie says:


    I’m all for long lean athletic women, we should also consider full figure women with large natural breast for their wiggle and jiggle effect, like the cupcake lady on the UK Food Chanel. I can not believe I can not think of the Sky Sport Babes name, shit Haley ????? Brian cramp.

  17. JC says:

    @Vilhelm – Spain U21 – #19 – MF – Thiago Alcântara – 11 April 1991 (age 20)

  18. CedarsDevil says:


    I do recall calling someone shallow but in no way would I have referred to you…. If I did then I do apologize my friend, my wires were probably crossed

  19. willierednut says:

    Lost on Translation? ;)

  20. scan74 says:

    if De gea needs a mate to come over that lad thiago would do nicely looks superb in the u21′s

    welcome to ashley young wish the lad all the best think he will do well for us

  21. smartalex says:

    Balaji Sivaraman- hello there mate!

    Charlize Theron as Aileen Wuornos would be a formidable midfield destroyer, and she’d win a few penalties/free kicks with her acting ability. I reckon sign her up!

  22. Zibbie says:

    Wow I’m starting back to work again, hundreds of post to read late tonight. To all RoM reader’s that bleed Red, Glory Glory for every day we awake as Red’s fanatical for Man Utd and SAF and all that the club stands for. For me this gives me a belief in self others will never know.
    With modern medical science the MRI has shown through clinical studies that when people are in love, we are crazy high in love. A study of people were shown while in a MRI pictures of many things. All study participants were in love in an early stage of a relationship, with in 6 months of professing mutual love for each other. When shown a picture of their new love their brain in the MRI machine showed they fired immediately like they shot up cocaine a huge does, and there are 8 types of manic depression and 3 to 5 of those fired up as well. Brain chemistry when we are in love shows we are Crazy High in love and I think it must transfer to some point for are love of this great club.GLORY GLORY MAN UTD !!

  23. CedarsDevil says:


    Just saw the post in question buddy, trust me it was in no way a dig at you, I enjoy your posts and opinions…. It was merely a comment to highlight some modern day fans who know fuck all about the game and spout shit…………. In my opinion you are certainly not one of them buddy

  24. Balaji Sivaraman says:

    @smartalex, That video made my day. Thank you so much.

  25. sandeep1878 says:

    thank u Ashley Young,

    a certain CedarDevil cant tell have we signed anyone yet anymore :P

    its official, young is a red, welcome home buddy, get ready for the best years of your life, on and off the field

  26. Zibbie says:

    Lost on Translation? perfect wiggaley willie type of giggle uuuummmmmm….

  27. Balaji Sivaraman says:

    LOL at the comments in that video.

    Man Utd 2 – 0 Liverpool (Phil Jones and Ashley Young)

    Welcome to the Champions League 2011 – 12.

    We do like to rub it in to those bitter and dipper fuckers, don’t we?


  28. CedarsDevil says:


    Have we signed anyone yet? :-)

  29. willierednut says:

    Jello Zibbie! I’ve some wiggle room left!

  30. Jehovah'sAlibi says:

    Wille – :lol:

    BREAKING NEWS: Manchester United Line up Scholes Replacement.,19528,11661_7001492,00.html

    Suprise name thrown into the Hat.

  31. willierednut says:

    Diego is old hat! :lol:

  32. Zelh says:

    Whoever he’ll play for he’ll make the dippers cry :lol:

    I hope he throws them out of a cup or something like that :lol:

  33. slim says:


    all good mate, heading over to the next post to read youngs comments about number 20. See you there. Wait a minute i’m probably the only one here

  34. 11am says:

    King Eric – dont think so, heard it from a utd coach this week.

  35. WHAT ??? says:

    @ Cedars – Cheers mate! Probably change my screen name back to Paul Parker next season.

    @ JellyBean – long story love :) got a new laptop from work but its monitored, so I got my friend to put some software on it to un-monitor it. I was off RoM for a while anyway, but when I tried to log back on I got the moderator message and thought it was me Lol, but based on Goat’s experience and a few others I guess im not the only one that gets that message. The funny thing is the FA were driving me mad at the time with the Alex and Rooney bans so I had to get online and vent, so I went with WHAT??? until I could sort out the moderator message and its kind of stuck. Everybody I spoke with as Paul Parker could already tell it was “me” but I didn’t think anybody else would notice till I fixed it Lol.

    RoM Shenanigans!

    Agreed on Ando and Fletcher, people forget Fletcher had a woeful season , meaning he spent half of it fucked up and losing weight. Ando was never first team at the start of the season but look how he ended. Either player in their own way can sort out the middle of the Park, and I still think Young is gonna play central. If our boys stay injury and disease free, we’re laughing!

  36. torontored says:

    Wish folks would stop talking formations and who we can buy that would fit in – Barca have probably only 3 defined positions. Two centre backs and one keeper. Rest of the team are essentially flexible midfielders/attackers/defenders. Rarely go in hard – they just nick the ball away due to faster reflexes than any one else. One touch passing and running off the ball does the rest. A new brand of total football.

    We will, I think adapt a similar style and time/drilling/training/desire will do the rest.

    We have a core of centre backs now – not sure about the keeper position but when the other team gets no where near the goal really not an issue.

    May take us two years to emulate the current Barca but I honestly think we have the capabilities – Nani/Valencia/Rooney/Anderson/Chico have great skill as do the the Twins. Smalling/Jones/Vidic are quality – Rio maybe has one or two good seasons left.

    Above all else we have speed and quickness. Not sure about Young but he would have not been signed if he did have ‘The Requirements”

    Also note Barca sold two strikers to get where they are (Etoo and Ibra) – we do not need a lazy bastard “poaching”. We do not need Ronaldo back – gave the ball away too often and did not track back and did not like to pass the ball. Sneider certainly does not track back.

    Multi dimensional players will be the future. The ability to cover ground/cut off space from the opposition will be the tactic – goals will flow.

    As to the youth:- Morrison, Tunnicliffe, Cleverley, Welbeck, Macheda, James Keane, Petrucci etc. All show style/desire – they are worth way more than we know.

    Think we will do ok next year.

    UNITED 20/4/12 – 2012

  37. denton davey says:

    Torontored – I largely agree with what you wrote about “formations”. I would think, however, that Chicharito is a big part of UTD’s future so that would make four fixed positions – GK, 2 CB, and the Mexicutioner. The other seven will be mixed-and-matched according to circumstances. I’m not sure that this is a way to emulate Barcelona – SAF has a strong inclination towards wingers which Pep/Barca don’t share since their “fullbacks” are the ones to provide width – so much as a return to the “whirligig” of 2008 which was both entertaining and very successful.

    If my guess is right then I’d be surprised if the acquisition of Young AshLey means that interest in Alexis Sanchez is over and done with. I say this because it’s my opinion that WayneBoy’s real future is in what used to be called “midfield”, in the “ScholesRole”, as an “attacking playmaker” – or whatever you want to call it. AND I just can’t imagine that Nani is going to be considered surplus-to-requirements, regardless of who is imported to the squad. To my way of thinking, Nani has just scratched the surface of his abilities – same goes for Anderson who is still “just” 22/23.

  38. torontored says:

    denton davey next time I visit the UK will buy you a pint (or ten). Cannot disagree with Chico staying as a “striker”. But maybe can see now Berba moving on.

    Will again add that the ability of the squad will be speed everywhere – playing a Nani or Valencia or Park in the “middle ” means nothing – because any player at any time will be required to go wide/go deep/go forward where the space exists. The talent of players will be their ability to be “multi dimensional”. (Fast/quick/one touch/fast passing/trust in where your team mates are)

    Also would add that Refs do not like “tackling” anymore so to get the ball you have to “swarm the space” and “play the ball” off the opponent. This system plays to that .

    Actually reckon SAF has had his tactical succesion plan developed for a while – let the tabloids speculate all they want. He knows who he wants and will pay the tab if he sees the fit to the team.

    UNITED 20/4/12 – 2012

  39. denton davey says:

    torontored @ 14:28: “denton davey next time I visit the UK will buy you a pint (or ten).

    I live in Toronto – I was born in Denton (hence the moniker).

    I’d like to believe you that SAF “knows who he wants and will pay the tab if he sees the fit to the team” but I’m not sure that really big money signing are likely. Although if you consider the example of Alexis Sanchez that might be wrong – Sanchez is 22/23 so signing him wouldn’t represent the same “risk” as, say, someone like Daniel De Rossi who is 28. A kid like Sanchez could be sold on in four years at a profit, after extracting his best years. Sorry to sound like a commodities broker but that’s what the professional game is all about – money, money, money. Anyhow, that’s another reason why he would be an attractive import – over and above his skills, speed, and bravery, he’d be a very good investment.

    Indeed, the next few days are likely to be interesting on the Sanchez-watch. Barcelona are trying to low-ball Udinese; Udinese are trying to create a bidding war which is why their chairman/owner Pozzo is talking up Sanchez as “a 50 m Euro player”; but Sanchez himself is silent. So, too, is SAF/David Gill. I think that they’re “waiting in the weeds”. Barcelona are in something of a corner since they also want Cesc and have a huge investment in Zlatan and David Villa (they spent 34 m Euros for a 28-year old last year) – maybe as much as 100 m. Euros – that has to be sorted BEFORE they can act. Add to that, Barcelona have the highest wage-bill in EuroFootie. They do have lots of saleable assets in their youth-team prospects but none of them would fetch more than, say, 10 m Euros. Of course, they get interest-free funding – important because they have a huge debt – as well as a huge gob of money for their tv rights and their shirt-advertising. Overall, though, my impression is that they are sailing fairly close to the wind and don’t have a lot of leeway in their bargaining over both Cesc and Sanchez – and there are rumours that they have an eye on David Luiz, who is currently at CSKALondon and he would cost at least 35 m. Euros, because CaptainCaveman ain’t getting any younger. Add to this mix, the suggestion that Alexis Sanchez doesn’t fancy ManShitty and you have the makings of a “perfect storm” for UTD’s money-men.

    I’m digressing in this way because it speaks to your comments about a “multi-dimensional” style of play that might just be on the cards for UTD. I’m not sure that we are in complete agreement about the details of that “tactical succession” but what you’re suggesting seems pretty close to what I’m inferring about the lack of activity in getting a traditional “creative” mid-fielder in the past few transfer windows. I’m excited because we could be on the cusp of a new phase in the evolution of UTD’s playing-style – no question, though, that the talent is there to go back-to-the-future with a more gung-ho attack.

    I also think that one of the reasons why SAF was willing to break his customary hard-man response to negotiations and to mollify WayneBoy after his “no ambition” comments in October because the OldFootieKnight sees him as the lynch-pin of his last great UTD team.

    Most of my “guesses” are based on a sense that some radical changes are in the wind at OT. I have no “evidence” to back up my suggestions – just intuition, which may (or may not) be correct. But, hey, it’s silly season.


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