Football

Manchester United: 5 players who must improve or leave

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Anderson and Young could both face exits. (©GettyImages)
Anderson and Young could both face exits. (©GettyImages).

Manchester United's quite stunning and wholly professional 5-0 demolition of Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday evening that secured their progression into the last 16 of the Champions League must have come as an extraordinarily satisfying result for both boss David Moyes and the hoards of Red Devils enthusiasts around the world.

However impressive the victory was, though, it is hugely crucial to remember that this was just one game and Manchester United simply cannot afford to rest on their laurels and naively assume that their rather underwhelming start to the new campaign will be magically transformed from here on in.

Moyes' side's lacklustre beginning to the 2013/14 season has been characterised by a real dearth in quality in certain areas of the pitch, with a number of players evidently failing to impress when given the chance.

Here, GMS looks at five players (two of which who enjoyed improved fortunes in Germany this week) who must look to improve their inconsistent form on a permanent basis or potentially face the Old Trafford axe:

Tom Cleverley 

Manchester United seem desperate to persevere with Cleverley, but he is becoming a tremendous source of frustration for an ever-growing number of the club's supporters.

While no-one can doubt his work ethic, his rather pedestrian ability and lack of effective impact sees him consistently struggle to leave a sufficient mark on games.

Cleverley is likely to be given more time than most to progress and prove his worth to Moyes, but the tide is gradually turning against him.

Shinji Kagawa

Kagawa is a rather curious example whose inclusion in such a list slightly bends the rules somewhat. This is because his future at the club would appear to lie not in his own hands, but rather in those of Moyes.

Often deployed to rather limited effect on the left-hand side midfield, the Japan international is fully at home in the classic 'No.10' role where he can really influence proceedings with his passing ability and deft touch.

Last night's devastating destruction of Leverkusen showed exactly what Kagawa is capable of is played in his proper position. He has the skill and the willing, it is up to Moyes to find an appropriate system to accommodate him or let him flourish elsewhere.

Nani

Nani scored Manchester United's fifth in Leverkusen with a delectable chip, but that should not mask the fact that his repeatedly inconsistent displays have resulted in doubts about his future.

Last night's goal was a glorious snapshot of what Nani is truly capable of when he puts his mind to it. He will need to demonstrate more of the same if he is to secure his long-term future at the club, regardless of what his recent contract extension might appear to suggest.

Ashley Young

While Manchester United fans generally seem to accept that Nani's often hidden talent merits a place in the squad, most appear to have totally given up on England international Young. 

In addition to totally failing to provide a consistent wide threat for United, the former Aston Villa star has received a plethora of criticism from his own fanbase after a succession of unsavoury diving incidents.

Anderson

Brazilian Anderson is perhaps the player featured on this particular list who is most in danger of being sold. Although expectation was high upon his arrival from Portuguese champions Porto in 2007, he has never managed to establish himself as a dependable first-team regular.

Despite essentially receiving a fresh start at Old Trafford under Moyes, Anderson has evidently shown desperately little sign of improvement this season and would surely need to defy the odds and produce a series of pretty spectacular performances in order to avoid being show the exit door.

Topics:
Football
Premier League
Shinji Kagawa
Ashley Young
Manchester United
Nani
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