Manchester United have always been one of the top teams in Europe harbouring some world class talent like Bobby Charlton, Eric Cantona, George Best, Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Scholes - to name a few.
Last year saw Manchester United win the English Premier League title for the 20th time in what was Sir Alex Ferguson’s final year in charge of the club. This was mainly down to some individual brilliance by Robin van Persie and some excellent management and tactics displayed by Ferguson.
The likes of De Gea, Rafael, Ferdinand and Carrick all had excellent seasons, however they aren’t exactly ‘one of the best players in the world’ in their respective positions.
Players such as Young, Anderson, Welbeck and Valencia continue to find themselves in the team of champions even though they aren’t top players. Then there are other players like Smalling and Jones that are still developing and aren’t completely ready to play for a team that is supposedly ‘one of the favourites’ to win the Champions League.
Let us analyze the players further.
Since De Gea arrived to Manchester United two seasons ago, he has been severely criticised for several high profile errors. Although he vastly improved last season, De Gea still has to put in a consistent level of performance for at least a couple of years more to reach the level of a world-class goalkeeper like Buffon or Cech.
Lindegaard has only managed to play when De Gea under-performs and has not impressed whenever he is called upon.
Phil Jones and Smalling have shown promise however they have not yet cemented their place in the England national team and find themselves behind Gary Cahill and Phil Jageilka in the pecking order.
Jonny Evans is miles away from being one of the world’s top center backs despite improving a lot over the past few years. Rafael had an excellent season last year but did not manage to cement his place in the Brazil team and isn’t quite world class yet.
Ferdinand, Vidic and Evra have all been world-class at some point of time, however they are well past their prime and find themselves on the wrong side of the 30s. Ferdinand has lost a lot of pace and continues to be troubled with back problems.
Young has been poor ever since he came to Old Trafford and should not be playing for a champions league club while Valencia’s performances have been so inconsistent that even he didn’t deem himself worthy of wearing the legendary no.7 jersey at United.
Nani was earlier dubbed as the ‘new Ronaldo’ however he hasn’t even come close to filling the shoes of his compatriot and has delivered some frustratingly inconsistent performances. Young Wilfred Zaha is yet to play in the Premier League.
Carrick was a stand out performer for United last season and was nominated for the PFA Player of the Year award. He is probably the closest midfielder to embrace the title of being world-class. Unfortunately he still rarely finds his name mentioned along the likes of Xavi or Pirlo who have achieved a lot more in their successful careers.
Cleverley is extremely over-rated and hasn’t done enough to prove he is worth playing for a top club while Anderson is another mediocre player who would probably find it hard even make it into the Hull City eleven.
Ryan Giggs is a Premier League legend however is well past his prime at the age of 39 and only continues to play for the team so often because of the mediocre competition.
Kagawa can be one of finest creative players in the world if he plays in his preferred attacking midfield position. Unfortunately has not been used in his favoured position, which has restricted him from utilising his true talents to the full and has failed to make an impact since his arrival.
Welbeck netted just one league goal last season showing he cannot be depended on to score goals – the basic quality required by a striker.
Javier Hernandez may have impressed by scoring crucial late goals during his time at Old Trafford but often find himself spending too much time on the bench rather than on the field showing his talents.
Rooney has excelled for United in his nine years at the club, gaining a reputation of being one of the world’s best players. Scoring an impressive 197 goals in 404 appearances for Manchester United, Rooney offers so much more than goals for the club possessing great work ethic along with the ability to pick the right pass which has resulted in him adopting a slightly deeper role in recent times.
Robin van Persie has won the Golden Boot for two seasons in a row and netted 30 goals for United last year following an impressive season at Arsenal. With his clinical finishing and excellent movement, Van Persie has been hailed as the best out and out striker in the world.
Hence barring Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and maybe Michael Carrick, United do not have any world-class players.
Personally, I do feel that it was down to some excellent management on the part of Sir Alex Ferguson who has shown that he is a master tactician by winning the League with such a relatively weak team when compared to the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City.
With David Moyes now in charge of the club, Manchester United may find it hard to continue to be a dominant force in Europe.
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