Yesterday, the defenders were rated for their performances in the 2014-15 season, and now it’s the midfielders’ turn.
After years of frustration at Sir Alex Ferguson’s refusal to buy new midfielders and improve this area on the park, we finally now have a half decent midfield. In fact, the midfield is now our strongest position. We even have options in midfield to change the tactics or accommodate for injuries.
At times, our midfield has been stunted by Louis van Gaal’s desire to keep the ball and protect the defence, which is an area that has struggled this season, but all of our best performing players of 2014-15 have come from the midfield.
So, how did our midfielders perform this season?
Ashley Young – 7
If there was an award for the most improved player, Young would win it hands down. Last season he was absolutely atrocious and he would have been the first player I would have sold last summer. Van Gaal put his faith in him though and he has been one of our most consistent performers of the season, whether playing as a wing-back or winger. The improvement in Young shouldn’t kid us in to thinking he is a world-beater now though. A return of 2 goals and 5 assists isn’t setting the world alight. So his development should be applauded but he’ll need to keep on improving.
Daley Blind – 7
Blind has performed better as a left-back than he has in midfield, after doing a great job playing alongside Young when filling in for Luke Shaw. In midfield, he is steady and reliable, but nothing special. Kevin Strootman was the Dutch midfielder Van Gaal wanted, but he settled for Daley Blind. At £14 million, he was a good transfer. He keeps the ball well for United and follows the instructions from his manager, which is why you won’t catch him playing many risky balls. His lack of pace and his desire to keep possession at all costs means United’s football is slowed down when he’s used in midfield.
Ander Herrera – 8
Had Herrera played for a full season, his ranking would be higher, but for whatever reason, Van Gaal only brought him in to the starting line-up on a regular basis at the turn of the year. The first few months showed promise, but that 45 minutes at West Brom was dreadful, and the manager didn’t bother with him for weeks after hooking him at half-time. 2015 has been great for him though, with him injecting pace and creativity in to our side. His eight goals in 22 starts is also an impressive return. You imagine he will only get better next season and for some, he’s been our player of the year.
Marouane Fellaini – 7
Like Young, his improvement has been huge, and that should be celebrated. Like Young, he was tipped to be one of the first players sold by Van Gaal, after a dreadful debut season at United. Strangely enough, it has been the Dutchman, and not David Moyes who managed him for five years, who managed to get the best out of him. He’s had some fantastic games, like when he had Cesc Fabregas, who was far and away the best performing player in the league at the time, in his back pocket at Old Trafford. He’s scored some important goals for us too, finding the back of the net seven times this season, after failing to score once last year. Is he good enough to be in a United team that is challenging for the title? I’d say not, but he’s a great option to have and can do a job for the team that none of our other players can.
Michael Carrick – 7
When Carrick has played, United have tended to do well, and when he’s been absent, we’ve struggled. I’m not a big believer in looking at the % of wins a player is present for, as obviously the result depends on much more than just one player, but it’s hard to ignore that he has played an important role for us when he’s been available. Unfortunately, after escaping any substantial injuries for the majority of his time at the club, he’s been on the treatment table far too often this season. He’s started just 16 games for us in the league, which is a concern, as we need someone we can rely upon.
Juan Mata – 8
I’m probably biased when it comes to the Spaniard, because I love him, but I’ve been delighted with the season he’s just had. Like Herrera, before the turn of the year, there were concerns about his long-term suitability to the club. However, in the second half of the season, he’s really switched it on and become an important player for the team. It’s probably no coincidence that both Herrera and Mata’s form has improved when they’ve played alongside each other, as they link up very well on that right side of the pitch. His goals against Liverpool and City have certainly aided his cult status amongst sections of the fanbase too.
Angel di Maria – 5
His start to the season was brilliant. It was like having Ronaldo back in the team. He ran at players and beat them, he delivered brilliant crosses in to the box, he scored great goals, and he looked worth every penny of the British transfer record we’d spent on him. That only lasted a few months though and his form has grown increasingly worse as the season has gone on. His house got broken in to and he was living in a hotel, his confidence was low, and nothing could get him out of it. The second yellow card against Arsenal where he pulled the ref’s shirt (the same ref that allowed Joe Hart to go head to head with him, who allowed Cesc Fabregas to push him over and who allowed Vincent Kompany to put both hands on him) cost us our only chance of silverware this season. On the plus side, his suspension meant that Mata was brought in to the team and our football improved. All that said, only Rooney has contributed more goals and assists than him, and his rate of one goal/assist per 127 minutes on the pitch is better than any of our players.
Adnan Januzaj – 4
Januzaj only started seven league games this season and only lasted the full 90 minutes on five occasions. Still, it’s hard to think of a good game he’s had. His pace and ability to run at players has been appreciated on occasion, but he’s had little to no end product. Statistically, he’s given us nothing, with no goals or assists to his name, but he’s young and potentially great, so I hope we stick with him.
Overall – 7.5/10