With Manchester United being one of the most popular teams in the Premier League and the world as a whole, their squad is always put under heavy scrutiny during the off-season by both the press and the public.
Fans and the media advocate for certain players to be sold, and for certain players to be signed, and every decision that the manager makes evokes a passionate reaction from United's many fans.
However, often fans' judgment can be clouded by their passion. The media, too, builds up fans' expectations over prospective transfers, only for those dreams to be crushed when they don't come to fruition.
As a result of these and other factors, fans tend to have an entirely different idea of how the club "should" look than how it winds up looking at the end of the transfer window, even going so far as to demand transfers that would not be wise for the club.
This article will examine many of the players at Manchester United who have been identified as "talentless", "not United quality", or otherwise not worthy of remaining at the club, and determine whether or not those players deserve to be sold on a case-by-case basis, using a combination of stats, history, and tactical discussion.
Each player will receive an explanation and a verdict. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and discussion is encouraged in the comments section.
After suffering a somewhat serious injury early on in the 2012/13 season, Rooney was absent from the pitch as new signing Robin van Persie established himself as Manchester United's number one striker.
When Rooney came back from his injury, though, he performed at a world-class level playing behind the main striker in the traditional No.10 role. However, due to the brilliance of RVP, Rooney's impressive season has been considered worse than it actually was.
Over the course of the Premier League season in which he made a total of 27 appearances, including five as a substitute, he scored twelve goals and created ten more, an average of almost a goal or assist per game. Few players in the league can compete with those numbers.
Rooney scored important goals, too, such as a brace against Manchester City in the memorable 3-2 win, and a brilliant run followed by a calm finish against Fulham that proved to be the only goal of the match. He has also proven his skills with fantastic goals such as his screamer against Norwich.
Although he has been disappointed recently with his status as 'second fiddle' to RVP, the idea of selling such a class player is absolutely ridiculous.
Verdict: Keep at all costs
Welbeck is generally considered to be a centre forward, and for a forward who plays in a vast majority of a season's games, his paltry two goal return (one in the Premier League) simply doesn't cut it at any team, much less Manchester United, a team loaded with quality players who go into matches expecting to score that many goals every week. Because of this, Welbeck has been severely criticised for his performances.
However, Welbeck has rarely been deployed as a striker. Breaking down his starting position in the 18 games that he started in the Premier League and the Champions League this year, Welbeck was placed on the left wing eight times, on the right wing four times, as an attacking midfielder four times, and as a striker only twice.
One would think that as a winger he could redeem himself with a high assist count, but he only got four this season. Welbeck's performances have not been up to scratch this year, that is clear.
There are many reasons to keep Welbeck, however. Firstly, Welbeck is still 22, an age at which a player needs to prove that they are worthy of cementing their place in a team, but also an age at which a player can still improve dramatically.
Also, Welbeck is Manchester born and bred, and his attitude fits into the mould of a United player. He showed his goal scoring potential in the 2011/12 season when he scored twelve goals in all competitions, and he showed his ability to conduct effective link-up play and contribute defensively to the team effort this past season.
It would be wrong to let go of a player possessing the talent that Welbeck has, despite his admittedly poor showings this past season. He can still be a quality player for United at whatever position he winds up playing in the future.
Verdict: Allow him more time to show his class; keep him
With Darren Fletcher out on a long-term injury due to illness and Paul Scholes being unable to play every game, there was an opening in the United starting XI for a central midfielder to pair with Michael Carrick.
Luckily for Manchester United, their highest-rated academy player, who already had experience in playing top-flight football, was a central midfielder dying to play for the first team. Cleverley knew that he had to make the most of his opportunity to stake a first team place.
By the end of the season, the results were inconclusive. Cleverley played adequately for United in his box-to-box role, showing lots of energy and contributing to the team effort by being open for a pass and distributing the ball forward. Despite this, however, he never truly shined on the pitch.
His goal against Newcastle was superb, and his goal against Sunderland was very good, but those were his only league goals, and his passing and crossing were not much more than adequate. He did what he had to do to keep starting, but little else.
Cleverley isn't a brilliant player, but he is a workhorse. He contributes to the team effort, and his passion for the game is strong, even for a United player. While he may not be the world class player that is desired, he is a good squad player who should stay for a long time. At 23, there's still time to develop, too.
Verdict: He's good enough and could get better; keep him
When Anderson was signed before the 2007/08 season for a fee of £15million, great things were expected of him. Six years later, Manchester United fans are still wondering when those great things will come.
Despite some good initial performances, he hasn't come remotely close to reaching his potential, and his role in the United squad has diminished to the point that he started only nine games in the 2012/13 Premier League season. In addition, from those nine games, he only scored one goal and made one assist.
Anderson seems to be remaining at the club only because he was signed for so much. United would have to take a financial loss in selling him, and theoretically, he has the potential to justify his transfer fee.
However, the chance of that happening has diminished from slim to almost zero. He shows flashes of quality, but the rest of the time his play is inadequate. He doesn't possess the attitude of a United player either, and is frequently described as lacklustre in training.
Verdict: Get rid of him, finally
Nani is an immensely talented player. He has the capacity to score ridiculous long shots, and can perform complex skills better than anyone else at United (Wilfried Zaha may contest this race).
However, despite being one of the best players on the team in the 2010/11 season, since then his form has deteriorated. This past season he appeared in 11 Premier League games, and got one goal and two assists. He also scored in the FA Cup against Chelsea in a game where Sir Alex Ferguson harshly criticised his showboating.
It has become increasingly clear that Nani has grown apart from Manchester United. His performances have worsened and his starting place has been taken. His red card against Real Madrid in the Champions League was arguably a yellow card offence, but he was a bigger detriment to the team this past season than he was an asset, particularly with his high wages.
Nani's talent is undeniable, but with interest for him appearing from other teams, it is time for him to go.
Verdict: Sell him
Young has the ability to play spectacularly, and if one doubts that statement they should watch the 8-2 victory against Arsenal in the 2011/12 season. The issue with Young is that those performances have been few and far between since signing for the Red Devils.
This past season, one in which United's wingers didn't have good years, Young was no exception. In the league he participated in 19 games and never scored, with three assists. For a player who likes to cut inside and have shots on goal, that is awful.
Young's game isn't entirely focused on cutting inside, though. Throughout the course of the season, Young showed some flashes of brilliant play, an example being his assist for Rooney to score United's first goal against Manchester City in the memorable 3-2 win. Again, though, those moments did not happen very often.
Do his performances justify him being a player who starts for United? No. But unless United make a marquee signing on the left wing, it would be stupid to sell him.
Verdict: Keep him, unless United render him obsolete with Bale or Ronaldo
Valencia had the best season of his career in the 2011/12 season. Because of that, expectations were high for the 2012/13 season where Manchester United fans hoped he could maintain his fantastic level of play. He even got to wear the famous number seven on his back, identifying him as one of United's first choice wingers.
In the beginning of the season, it appeared that Valencia would tally up an impressive assist total again as he provided a few great assists for Van Persie. However, after getting three assists in his first seven league games, he only got two more in the rest of the season, also scoring one goal.
As the season progressed, his one-dimensional game became less effective as defenders realised that he was never going to cut inside.
With some training on his weak foot, though, he can be the great player that he was before so long as he can learn to cope with the high expectations that naturally come with being a starter for Manchester United.
Verdict: Keep him
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