The pre-season tour of America is now fully underway after United opened their fixtures against New England Revolution on July 13 but considering we will have to wait until July 20 before we get to see the Reds in action again, I thought I’d take some time to pen down a few thoughts about the summer, transfers et al, and how United are beginning to shape up for the up and coming 20th season of the Premier League.
When we went into the game against New England Revolution, we only had 6 days to train in comparison to the 10 we had in the previous tour and SAF was worried that the lack of preparation might mean that match fitness hadn’t reached optimum levels, a fear that was proven wrong as the players all turned up on the day, looking sharp and ready to play. United produced a dominant display from the first minute and looked every part the Champions of England for the entirity of the game but special mentions have to be given to 2 individuals especially. Note: New England Revolution were quite dire opposition so although United looked so dominant, it should be taken with a pinch of salt as opponents will get more difficult as the tour progresses.
Ashley Young played his first minutes in a United shirt and for the time he was on the pitch, I thought he was our best attacking player showing a variety of crosses, corners and passes combined with quick feet and agility that we knew he had in his locker from his Aston Villa days. When you put the assets of Nani, Valencia, Park and Young into one squad, you realise that the dynamism and variety that our wingers now possess is going to be such a dangerous force going forward next season. Pairing that up with Vidic and Hernandez, who are such vipers in the air, a consistent crosser of the ball is something that we have craved and no longer will we have to see corners fall at the first man. Young may have been considered an un-necessary purchase considering our midfield gaps but now that he has had some game time, most fans have realised just what an asset he could turn out to be next season.
Federico Macheda gets my second special mention from the match; he has had a topsy turvy time at United despite still only being 19. His instant claim-to-fame with 2 goals in his first 2 matches gave him a meteoric rise that any young player would have struggled to maintain and after a poor loan spell at Sampdoria last season, some may have expected him to fall at the wayside. He has, however, grabbed the horns of his 45 minute display against New England Revolution and used it to once again show his prowess by notching 2 goals, although it could of been 4 in reality. With Bolton sniffing at the heels of a loan move for Welbeck and Diouf looking consistently flat, you have to imagine that if Macheda keeps up this sort of form in the pre-season then he could come into the squad as the 4th choice striker, which would be an achievement for a player many thought could crumble. I look forward to seeing if the young Italian is ready to step up and provide the consistent performances he’ll need if we wants to kick-start his United career.
As far as the rest of the squad is concerned, an amicable performance from Lindegaard between the sticks gives SAF food for thought ahead of choosing who he wants to start the season in goal for United. Although De Gea has been bought as the long term replacement, he might choose to use the older Lindegaard as a means to give De Gea more time to settle in at the club. The Dane joined last season and was always seen as the replacement for consistent flopper Tomasz Kuszczak but it would be nice to consider that United have 2 solid options in goal seeing as we are trying to replace the irreplaceable.
Chris Smalling, David De Gea, Phil Jones, Tom Cleverley and Javier Hernandez will all soon be joining up with the rest of the squad but will not take any part in the match in Seattle. We will all be excited to see our new goalkeeper get some game time and we might even see new signing Phil Jones get a run out in the middle of midfield, considering he was a bit of a midfield general when he played there last season for Blackburn. Superstar Hernandez will feel right at home in America considering his fantastic Gold Cup campaign not so long ago but SAF will use him sparingly to ensure that he is primed and ready to explode onto the new Premier League season. It would be a fair man’s bet to lay down some money on Hernandez to score 20 in the league next season if he continues to score goals with such ease and in my opinion, United have found their new Van Nistelrooy.
As far as a midfield signing is concerned, SAF is remaining very tight lipped about a potential move for Inter Milan star Wesley Sneijder but as far as transfer speculation goes, it is looking more and more likely that Sneijder is the suited replacement for Scholes but as to whether United can secure his signing is another matter. Rumours suggest that wage concerns are the main problem but Nike are apparently willing to get involved in a deal, in much the same fashion as they have done in the past with Ronaldinho, and part pay his wages to make sure that he moves to Old Trafford. The summer is still in its early stages though so don’t expect any real movement to happen any time soon, this could turn into another deadline day drama of the scale of Berbatov. Cringe.