As always when it comes to the closing stages of a season, we as football fans will always think very quickly to the season ahead, just like managers and players do.
Sport in general is like that, as although people like to look back at the past season, it’s vitally important to move on and think of the future.
Despite this season being a good one for the club what with us being only a point away from securing another Premiership and having a Champions League final against Barcelona to look forward to, there’s one area of the pitch where we do need improving – and that’s the midfield.
Yes I know our midfield played very well in the weekend against Chelsea working as a team to combat the Blues’ strength and tenacity in midfield, but it’s not as good as it could or should be. What Manchester United have been lacking really ever since Roy Keane left is a ‘midfield general’ a player who can grab the game by the scruff of the neck and run the game.
Darren Fletcher to his credit has done well for us since Keano’s departure and at times particularly in matches against Arsenal and Liverpool has really been our ‘rock’ in midfield. But as good as Fletch is, he won’t ever be a ‘general’ in midfield. That’s not a knock on him, as up until his recent injury spell Fleth had become one of our best players.
But I can’t help but get the feeling that we need something more especially in games away to the top Premiership sides. Manchester City have Yaya Toure, Chelsea have Essien/Ramires, Arsenal have Diaby. All those players mentioned are good strong players who do bring a physical prescence to the game, who can all track back and defend as well as get forward to score goals.
It’s unfortunate of course that Owen Hargreaves after a good first season at the club, where he revelled in his role in midfield (as well as right back occasionally) very sadly became hampered by injuries that have ruined not only his club career but international one as well. Owen very quickly became popular at United and his partnerships with Michael Carrick, Anderson and Fletch worked wonders.
It’s very easy to forget that Hargreaves is still only 30 and that if he had not been struck down by his ongoing injury problems, he would probably still be playing regularly for us today.
Getting back on track though, who out there is available for us to sign who could be our ‘General’ in midfield?
In my opinion there are two players off the top of my head who could fullfil this role with flying colours, who would win over the fans and most importantly become a vital member of our staring 11.
Option 1 and probably the man who most United fans would love to see us sign would be Roma’s Daniele De Rossi. Of course over the recent years we’ve played Roma quite abit and have got used to De Rossi’s all-action game-play. He is a player who has the hunger, desire and fight to play for any of Europe’s top clubs and has clear leadership qualities.
There’s no doubt we could afford to buy De Rossi and meet his wage demands, but there are doubts as to whether the move would go ahead. With Roma being taken over by new owners, there’s no doubt they will want to hold onto as many good players as possible to bring the good times back to one of Italian football’s most famous clubs.
Despite the impending-departure of Phillipe Mexes to AC Milan, De Rossi who is Roma’s vice-captain and a local boy may want to stay and be loyal to his team, especially if they can leapfrog Udinese and grab the final Champions League place on offer for finishing fourth. Then again perhaps after being at the club for 11 years, he may want to move. Who Knows?
Option 2 for the role is Lassana Diarra, a player United fans know well from his time at Chelsea, Arsenal and Portsmouth. Diarra has come on leaps and bounds over the last couple of years and after being a bit-part player at Stamford Bridge and The Emirates has played well since moving to the Bernabeu in the spring of 2009.
Whilst not having always been a first choice for Real Madrid, he has played well when selected and has become one of the most respected players in La Liga for his hard-working displays in midfield. There has been much speculation in the media that Diarra is open to a return to the Premiership with us and Liverpool rumoured to be interested in buying.
We would definitely be able to buy Diarra and there’s no doubt that he would settle in at Old Trafford and straight away readjust to the demands of playing in the so-called best league in the world.
With competition fierce at Real, Diarra has often found himself behind the superb Xavi Alonso and Sami Khedira at times so would probably open to a move if our rumoured interest in him is true.
It should be intresting in the off-season to see who we buy. Centre Midfield is such an important position for any team and if we are to continue to do well on all fronts next season, Sir Alex Ferguson does need in my opinion to bring in the ‘General’ once and for all.
By Adam Dennehey – @ADennehey87