Manchester United 2013/14 Season Review.

Image

I can sum up Utd’s season in a couple of sentences; it was atrocious, the worst thing I have ever seen as a fan and totally unacceptable at every level of the club (management, players and board).  So there you go that’s the review of the season right there, it was utter pish.

Instead of keeping this review to a mere paragraph I will instead talk about how the players performed throughout the season and how things look going forward. (If you want to read ranting’s on how poorly things went this season look no further than what I wrote after David Moyes got sacked).

Goalkeeper

De Gea is one of a handful of players who actually improved this season and could hold their head up high in regards to their performance.  He is in my opinion the best goalkeeper in the league, and when you consider that he is still only 23 he can surely only improve and that is very good for the club.  De Gea was a rock in nets this season and should be so for many years to come.

Lindegaard barely got on the pitch this season and very much became an out and out backup (which is what he should be).  The question is, is Lindegaard willing to be the backup for another season?  If the answer is yes then Utd look good going forward in nets, if the answer is no then you have to start asking if Ben Amos is good enough to step in when he is needed, I get the feeling that the answer is yes he is good enough to be a backup.

Right Back

Rafael had a standout season last year; he looked like he was growing into the right back of the future.  This season he regressed dramatically.  There is no doubting in my mind that Moyes never trusted Rafael, thinking he wasn’t good enough defensively to play in his team and didn’t appreciate what Rafael gave going forward.  Rafael wasn’t helped by injuries but his performances were at best inconsistent.  At the start of the season Rafael was a guaranteed starter, now there are genuine questions over whether or not he is the future of the position at the club.

One of the major issues this season was that beyond Rafael there was no back up at all.  That makes Moyes’ refusing to play Fabio and then letting him go to Cardiff all the odder.  Yes Fabio isn’t a great player and can’t really defend but he is a full back and surely can’t be any worse than playing two centre backs out of position or a wide man there hoping that he all of a sudden learns how to defend.  I don’t think this lack of options at right back necessarily cost Utd games this season but in the long run you can’t keep relying on utility players to fill this role.

Utd need to sign another right back, I think Rafael is good enough to be the starter but he really needs a backup who can push him to improve but also step in whilst he is injured or in need of a rest.  It isn’t a high necessity signing but it is required.

Left Back

For me left back summed up Utd’s season perfectly, you knew it wasn’t good enough and you knew something needed to be changed but it either couldn’t happen or it was decided that it wouldn’t happen.  You don’t need to be a football genius to notice that Evra was pitiful this season, the signs were there last year but this year it was far far worse.  He still does it going forward but he has either lost the desire or lost the ability to defend.  I have lost count of the amount of times this season where teams have exploited Utd down the left hand side of the defence because Evra had made little to no effort to get back into position.  This was made even more infuriating when you watched as he jogged back slowly behind the play rather than bursting a gut to get back into position when he would clearly have been able to see the gap which was exposed.  I can’t see Evra being at the club next season and that to me is a good thing, he is past his best and isn’t getting any younger (I wrote this before he signed a new one year contract and didn’t see the point in changing it).

Buttner is not good enough to play left back for Manchester United, the guy can’t defend for shit.  How many times have you seen him sitting five yards deeper than the other defenders?  Too many times is the answer.  It might be worth trying to turn him into a left winger because he has no future as a left back at this level.

Essentially it means that Utd need two left backs in the summer, one of whom will be the mainstay starter (necessity) and the other will be an understudy (needed) (again written before Evra got a new contract).

Centre Back

Defensively Utd were a total mess and the centre back position was at the heart of this, at the start of the season Utd looked stacked at centre back but by the end of the season that was not at all the feeling I had.  Ferdinand went from being named in the Premier League team of the year to once again being a liability at the back.  Rio used to be a cultured centre back that could get away with mistakes by using his pace but as time has progressed his pace has dropped and this has affected his defending, he won’t be a loss next season.

Naturally it is sad to see Vidic leave the club as he was a great player for Utd for a number of years but I think it is the right time for him to leave.  He can’t play every week because of his fitness issues and due to his in and out of the team situation it causes unneeded disruption in the backline.  I wouldn’t call Vido’s season as a classic (only made 34 appearances) but he was the best of a bad bunch.

When Phil Jones was signed three years ago he looked like he would be the heart of the defence for years to come and he would become that sooner rather than later, amazingly into his third season and he still can’t cement a place down in his natural centre back position.  Jones managed 39 games this season, if half of those were at centre back I’d be amazed.  That is the problem with Jones he hasn’t progressed beyond where he was when he joined the club, in fact if anything he went back this season.  Two years ago I thought Utd had a gem, now I’m not as sure as I constantly see Jones go lunging into tackles and finding himself out of position.  He still has a future at the club, but he has went from looking like a stalwart of the team to looking like Phil Neville.

Exactly what I wrote about Phil Jones could be applied to Chris Smalling, he seemed to regress this year and couldn’t hold down a regular place at centre back.  Him and Jones should have been the future, it’s questionable whether that is the case anymore.

Jonny Evans was probably Utd’s best centre back this season (yes I just wrote that), he was injured for large chunks of the year but when he did play he generally did fairly well (or maybe it was that he did better than the others).  I don’t think he’s good enough to be a starter at Utd but he is a good squad player to have around.

Utd are losing two of their five centre backs, so will need to bring in at least two new centre backs to replace them.  What I would love to see happen is Michael Keane be promoted to the senior team, he has done well on loan at Blackburn and Leicester the past two years and personally I would have kept him around for the second half of this season and given him some first team exposure.  If Keane were to be promoted it would mean that only one centre back would need to be purchased, however it would need to be a guy who has plenty of experience because he will be coming into a team where none of the other centre backs have managed to reach 30 league games in a season for their club.

Wingers

For a team that played wingers nonstop this season you would have thought that Utd would have had half decent wingers, apparently not.  If you as a team are going to insist on crossing to a number of short and useless in the air strikers then they need to be able to put in a good delivery and do it on a consistent basis, Utd did not have that at all.

Adnan Januzaj was the one new shining light this season, after losing a number of promising youngsters because of a lack of willingness to pay them money Utd finally bit the bullet and paid the highly talented youngster, and thank god.  He has everything; skill, dribbling, delivery, speed and best of all an ability to finish, Januzaj is quality through and through and he is only 18.  The future is here, the future is Adnan Januzaj.

Where do I start with the rest?  Young; another incredibly disappointing season, how was this guy so good at Villa yet so unproductive at Utd.  Nani; why was he given a new contract?  Why is he ever played?  He is so wasteful and shows no signs of improving.  Zaha; what the fuck happened there?  This guy looked incredible a mere year ago and now he is struggling to get into a Cardiff team which finished bottom of the table.  I don’t give a fuck if he’s shagging the boss’ daughter, you don’t have any pace or productive wide men in the team so you refuse to play him and then send him away.  I can only assume that he has an attitude issue because the raw talent is there, and there is nothing worse than seeing someone squander their talent.  Young and Nani should be shown the door, Zaha needs to straighten up otherwise he should get the same treatment.

Valencia didn’t deserve to be in the list of shame because he actually performed better this year than last.  The problem with Valencia is that he used to beat people with his power and pace but he has lost a yard of pace and can no longer hide his lack of crossing ability when he has less space to use.  He also is very one dimensional, if he can’t go to the by-line he can’t do anything, that is his game.  Valencia is worth keeping around but he should be relegated to a sub role where he could still exploit defences with his pace late in a game.

I would have liked to have seen Lingard given a chance in the first team this season instead of being shipped out on loan again because it isn’t like the competition was that strong out wide and he could have made an impression and maybe put the older guys under pressure, something they clearly weren’t feeling enough of.

Utd are a mess out wide, two new players are needed and Lingard will have to move into the first team as well.  Moyes was way to patient with guys like Young and Nani, clearly neither was performing to the level which was required yet both kept getting chances (and yes I know they were injured a lot but that isn’t really an excuse for being that poor).

Central Midfield

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Utd’s midfield didn’t perform this season because everyone and their grannie has been saying that it isn’t very good for years now.  This season was the worst I’ve ever seen though, another embarrassing problem of the season.

Carrick much like Rio had a great year last season after a number of questionable performances but much like Rio he regressed dreadfully this year.  I don’t know how much you can really blame him because it isn’t like he was ever playing next to anyone with competence but Carrick didn’t show up this year which is criminal when he is one of the most experienced players in the team.  He doesn’t look like a starter anymore but is definitely good enough to be used in rotation.

Nice to see Fletcher back after his illness, I don’t know how fair it is to judge him based on his play after basically sitting out for two years.  If he is at the club next season we should get a better judgement of that.

Cleverley currently looks so out of his depth it is remarkable to think that he was ever considered to be good enough to play for Utd.  The boy can’t handle pressure and at a club like this pressure is always going to be there.  Cleverley doesn’t do anything really well, he just sort of does everything ok and that isn’t good enough.  Should be sold in the summer, out of his depth.

Anderson is such a waste of talent it is infuriating, put down the burger you fat fuck!  Honestly!  Too many chances not enough production.

Giggs is a legend and it is always sad to see legends leaving the club but he should have went last year and quite frankly his play wasn’t good enough this year.  He was taking a spot and opportunity from a younger player and that is not the Utd way.

I actually had to go back and insert Fellaini in here after I had finished because I totally forgot about him, says everything about the £27 million midfielders season.  Fellaini has been unfairly criticised this year and has received the brunt of it because he was the only signing when about four were needed.  This was made worse by him actually not playing particularly well (to be fair not in his best position) and he seemed to sum up the move away from the Fergie years into the Moyesy years perfectly.  Everything seemed so humdrum with him; more likely to be booked than make a good pass.  If Utd could get £15 million for him they’d be lucky, I have doubts he’ll be there at the start of next season.

I thought this year would be the year of Shinji but it turned out to not be the case, he had another disappointing year.  It isn’t really his fault, he never seemed to get played in his position and when he did he hadn’t had time to develop chemistry with the other players, the old catch 22.  You saw what Kagawa could do when he was played alongside Mata, hopefully van Gall sees his quality and starts getting the best out this talent which has been wasted the past two seasons.

Utd’s record signing Juan Mata was meant to come in and rejuvenate that season, guarantee Utd Champions League football and spare their blushes, he didn’t manage to do any of these things.  It isn’t really his fault you can’t throw money at a problem and hope it automatically fixes itself.  It also isn’t his fault that he wasn’t really the type of player Utd needed, but I thought he would give them a boost by seeing a quality player come in, he didn’t and it turned into more of the same.  He should be there next season but I have seen some weird rumours kicking about that van Gaal doesn’t rate him and wants to get shot which would pretty much sum up the mess of a season that this was.

It would be nice to see some of the younger guys get given a chance in a position which is going to receive a lot of upturn, the standout candidates are naturally Powell and Lawrence although it would be interesting to see if a Pereira could step up also.

Utd need a minimum of a central midfielder who can break up play and actually defend and a guy that can make passes from the middle of the park, but you could almost see another two guys being added into that as well.  The whole midfield needs totally reconstructed, it is currently a total mess.

Forwards

Utd went from having the best strike force in the league to having their two best strikers not willing to make passes to each other, it is incredible how many times you can write down what a mess of a season this was but this is another example of what a mess of a season this was.

RVP played like a man possessed last year and arguably won Utd the title, this season he was the total opposite.  There are genuine questions over whether or not he was injured at points during the season or if he just didn’t want to play for David Moyes so took a wee break.  His goal scoring ratio was still pretty good but his appearance numbers plummeted.  He went from being a vital member of the team to being a bad distraction.  RVP will be there next year because him and van Gaal are buddies, I get the feeling we won’t see this seasons RVP next year.

Rooney was Utd’s best player this season and dragged the team through a number of games.  He managed to buck the trend of most of his teammates by actually playing better this year than he did last year (probably because he wasn’t so stroppy this year).  I still would have sold him last summer; he has lost at least a yard of pace and isn’t a team player (has to be the centre of attention).  His antics at the backend of last year turned into a cancer in the dressing room as many of the other players clearly felt that Rooney was receiving preferential treatment, and they would be right to think that, the guy asks to leave the club twice yet the board and the manager bend over backwards to give him more money even though he has never reached his true potential and his form had dropped considerably from seasons prior.  Currently Rooney is saying all the right things in regards to van Gaal but I wonder if that will be the way after the World Cup, although as long as his pockets are lined with money I’m sure he’ll be smiling.

Welbeck is a frustrating player because he is so physically gifted yet can’t do simple things well.  I totally understand why he plays out wide because he isn’t reliable enough to play up top and apparently he doesn’t take criticism well (yes Danny you do need extra shooting practice).  Welbeck’s goal scoring was actually vastly better this year but his general play dropped off, bit of an odd season really.  He’ll be there next year.

Got to feel sorry for Hernandez, what does the guy have to do to get a starting role in the team?  Clearly Moyes didn’t trust him, which is a shame because he is a good player.  I’d like to think he’ll be there next year but I think for his career he should leave.

Again there are some young forwards on the fringes at Utd in Wilson and Henriquez, it will be interesting to see whether or not van Gaal gives them an opportunity to prove themselves in the first team or just goes out and buys a new forward.  Utd actually don’t really need a new forward unless one of the four main guys leaves, which I do think is likely but we’ll have to wait and see.

Conclusion

At the start of this season I felt Utd had the second best squad in the league (after City), the funny thing is that I still think that Utd have about the third best squad in the league now (Chelsea being above as well) it is just that the players underperformed dreadfully this season.

If you’ve been counting I think Utd will need a minimum of six players to come in straight away and contribute to the squad, which rises to ten (yes ten) if you count all the gaps that I think need filled.  The question is how are these gaps filled?  Traditionally van Gaal goes in to clubs and brings in loads of youth players and develops the team around them, the youth team at Utd has players who are potentially good enough to make that step up, the question is will van Gaal be willing to take the risk which Moyes clearly wasn’t capable of?  If the answer is yes then Utd could be set up for years to come, if the answer is no then I get the feeling that it will be another difficult season next year.

I could sit and talk about the rumours of players who are supposedly coming in but the papers in England talk so much shit it is hard to tell what a serious story is and what is fabricated.  For instance Utd were signed sealed and delivered on Toni Kroos about a week ago only for the next day them to not be interested in him at all, I hate bad press.

The aim for next year (much like this season) is a top four finish; anything else would be a bonus (sad to be writing that).  Van Gaal will be given more time than Moyes because Utd won’t finish any lower than 7th so he can’t do any worse than his predecessor.

You know a season is bad when in the end you are happy that City won the league, let’s hope that this is a blip rather than what the future is actually going to be like.

To be honest I wrote this over a two week period so I’m not sure what the continuity is going to be like, but to put it simply Utd are a club in crisis and we need a man who can come in, make changes that need to be made and ruffle the feathers of the prima donnas.  It certainly seems like van Gaal could be that man, something drastic needs to happen.

Leave a comment on the worst Manchester United season of the Premier League era.  Plus have a say on who you would like to see join the club in the summer and whether you think that Louis van Gaal is the right man for the job.

You can find all the latest bm23sportsreviews updates on Facebook and Twitter and I would fully appreciate any likes, follows or shares that you could offer. Thanks.

Advertisements

Author: bm23reviews

I watch TV and sports then write stuff.....that's about it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s