Twelve points clear in the Premier League in a potentially record-breaking season, Manchester United have enjoyed a sweet campaign.
However, the past few months has seen drops of sour moments: defeat to Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester City. While Robin van Persie, David de Gea and Michael Carrick have had ground-breaking seasons, there seems to be that lack of overall consistency within every squad player.
A vital element of the United dynasty is overall team-play, which has been lacking not just in the latter part of the season, but even in the beginning as well. Only a handful of players have made a difference and, at times, we’ve seen Van Persie have to save their skins on his own.
I think this team has been highly overrated, and doesn’t deserve any comparisons with the 1999 squad. There have been a few areas where United have been incredibly disappointing, and it all comes down to individual players who need a quick resurgence otherwise, in my opinion, they should leave the club.
Patrice Evra’s goals and assists are invaluable, but the Frenchmen has had a disappointing season when it comes to his main job: defending. A lot is spoken about the centre-half changes, but Evra is the defender who has been skinned all too often this season.
He seems lazy in defence, and is often out of position, which exposes the center-halves (who take most of the blame). Although he has had an incredible Manchester United career, he seems less than a quarter of the defender we once knew.
An ideal replacement at left-back would be Porto’s Alex Sandro, but we don’t have to look far with Alexander Buttner waiting in the wings. The Dutchman, on the rare occasions he has played, has been far more consistent than the French veteran.
Nani is probably the most skilful player in the world, but what he does with his skill leaves much to be desired. He could have been as good as Crisitano Ronaldo, yet Nani can barely get a cross away or get a corner past the first defender.
It comes with great frustration for any fan, who once believed that the repetition of Portuguese stars would make United a daunting prospect. However, Nani has failed drastically to perform with the extraordinary talent he has, with millions around the world sharing this same opinion.
Even though he has been injured for most of the season, United fans don't have that same glee to see him back in the starting line-up. However, on a sympathetic degree, Nani did experience a career-changing game against Real Madrid last month – he might even have been United’s best player on the night. The rest proceeded as we all know, and it still might be a career-changing game, just for the wrong reasons now.
With Wilfried Zaha on the squad list for next season, he is a replacement who may even go on to replace Cristiano Ronaldo.
Another winger, less skilful than Nani but with great crossing ability and devastating pace. All that energy has been missed this season, as Valencia has failed to step-up at crucial moments. In the previous years, he has been one of the club’s most consistent players, running up and down the wing like a determined man with an element of control.
He isn’t as skilful, but makes up for it with his pace, defence and willpower: all which has been missing this season. The dominance of Manchester United wingers has taken a deep fall, as they have failed to live up to expectations. Colombia international James Rodriguez could be brought in as a replacement.
He might have been injured for the majority of his Manchester United career, but despite that Anderson hasn’t really sparked any potential light.
He could have been an integral part of the team, like a ball-winning and box-to-box midfielder the team clearly lacks. That hasn’t been a close assumption, with Anderson spending far too much time in the treatment room, and on the pitch, he gives the ball away too often.
Having him on the team is irrelevant, and with Financial Fairplay coming into place, Anderson is a United player who doesn’t need to broaden the payroll. An ideal replacement would be Kevin Strootman, who could do the job the Brazilian never did.
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