A veritable catch-22 is apparent on the horizon for David Moyes at Manchester United. Wayne Rooney’s contract situation notwithstanding, there is the small issue of United’s old guard of Michael Carrick, Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, Ryan Giggs and Nemanja Vidic being all out of contract in 2014.
With the Old Trafford outfit’s policy of offering only one-year rolling contracts to players over the age of 30, there is certainly no reason for alarm just yet. But the conundrum that Moyes is faced with, is deciding which of these players have run out of fuel, and which of them can still make a worthwhile contribution.
All of them have been venerable servants to the Red Devils. The evergreen Giggs continues to make worthwhile contributions like the recent midfield master-class against Real Sociedad. He also encapsulates the Manchester United ethos and culture, having seen it all in a gilded 24-year career.
Carrick is virtually irreplaceable in the Manchester United midfield, considering the alternatives that United have in central midfield aren’t exactly world-beaters.
Evra has been a model of consistency for almost the entirety of his United career. Aside from a drop in form in 2011 and early 2012, he has for the most part kept up his high standards. Add that to the lack of a replacement and his popularity in the Manchester United dressing room, it is clear that he is vital to the United cause. The fact that these three gentlemen need to stay on is a given.
So now we come to the more interesting cases of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand. Following an indian summer of sorts in Sir Alex Ferguson’s last season, Ferdinand has had a torrid time in the United jersey under Moyes.
An inept and tired display against Manchester City was followed by the embarrassment of being nutmegged by Saido Berahino for his brilliant goal for West Brom at Old Trafford. He has looked out of form and out of sorts.
Vidic has been the same, his season being pock-marked by a number of uncharacteristic mistakes and being bullied by battering rams like Jozy Altidore.
The fact that Ferdinand and Vidic will never regain the exalted defensive standards that they set at their pomp is abundantly clear. However, they still have a lot to offer. While Rio may have lost a yard of pace and Vidic his old murderous strength, they have enough class and experience to adapt their games. Their experience is vital to the bunch of young defenders United have in the form of Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.
However, if Moyes intends to keep them, he needs to use them in the right way. It’s important to use them wisely and sparingly and pair them with younger partners rather than together.
Ultimately, Manchester United have always been about evolution rather than revolution. At the same time, it is highly doubtful about United’s ability to afford a revolution with the millstone of the Glazer’s debt hanging on them. So ultimately, evolution is the watchword for Moyes and he needs his golden oldies for the process.
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