The Class of ’16

Man Utd future

Throughout its history Manchester United have had a tradition of integrating the youth and creating their own stars through their academy. Whether it is the Busby Babes, to Fergie’s fledglings, there have been some amazing stars coming through United’s academy. Although nowhere near the quality that was produced through the Class of ’92”, well not as far as we know. But this group of players could turn out to become not the next Class of ’92” but the first “Class of ‘16”. This could be the best batch of homegrown and youth players since that historic class.

James Weir looks much like Paul Scholes did at the time. A smaller build with a great touch who is very skilled distributing the ball. Although it is very unlikely that there will ever be another as good as Paul Scholes was, James Weir shows a lot of promise, and has the ability to step into a midfield full of class and take over the centre of the park for years to come.

Cameron Borthwick-Jackson could honestly have been the left back of the future, if only it weren’t for Luke Shaw being less than two years older than him occupying the same position. This is why I strongly believe that he, Cameron B-J, should be tested as both a midfield partner for James Weir or a central partnership for Axel Tuanzabe.

Axel Tuanzabe looks to be the most promising player this class has to offer. Although being a first year scholar he was already the captain of the U-18 side and looks to be a quality defender to marshal the defense.

Timothy Fosu-Mensah. What a player. His first start in the first team he looked the more comfortable of the two center-halves (the other being Daley Blind) at said position. He doesn’t look set for much more first team action barring injury to either Blind or Smalling, but is the ideal partner for the later.

Donald Love is a good squad player who prefers on the right, the Scottish defender is unlikely to become a week in week out player as he has many players ahead of him in all positions he can play. He can play anywhere along the back line and as a holding midfielder, although he prefers to play as a right back. He looks a reliable squad utility player, but cannot be seen as much more than that with the talent ahead of him in the pecking order.

Guillermo Varela is the right back of the future for Manchester United. He has pace, he is a great attacking threat, and is above average defensively which may only get better each time he plays and trains. He and Luke Shaw look like the fullbacks of the future and could be one of the best sets of fullbacks United have had in the premiership era.

Marcus Rashford you beauty. I don’t know how to describe him. 2 goals a piece in both his Europa League debut as well as his Premier League debut, against Arsenal nonetheless. He has a great combination of speed, skill, a good shot, and always just seems to be at the right place at the right time. He can play as both the lone striker, as a winger, or even with another striker up top.

 

Now there are other players who have now been working with the first team for a while, or were just bought and brought into the first team.

Memphis Depay was bought this past summer to replace the uninspired Angel Di Maria. After a horrid start to the campaign he looks as if he is finally finding his feet at Manchester United. He is the inverted winger who can also play in the middle but playing on the left and cutting in onto his right foot is his preferred style.

With Anthony Martial nobody has found his best position thus far. It could be argued that his best position is that also occupied by Memphis on the left wing, but he has also played well on the right wing and as the number 9. I think he excels on a wing where he can take on players in space.

Adnan Januzaj has been given very few chances by Louis van Gaal after excelling under David Moyes you can only wonder what he must do to be able to get his chance. With all the attacking injuries you think he would get a shot at his preferred number 10 role or at least as an inverted right winger, but LvG tends to still believe that he is a striker out and out, which he is not.

Andreas Pereira is a great talent who is very young but isn’t sure where he will play in the future. He looks like another project of LvG to change from a winger/number 10 to a center midfielder or a holding midfielder much like that of what he did with Bastian Schweinstiger.

Luke Shaw is the left back of the future for United. He will be the left back for years to come. Amazing pace, great skill, and smart defensively he is the definition of a modern fullback. He combines amazingly with Memphis on the left flank, and the two of them look like their friendship off the field helps on the field.

Manchester United Player Ratings-Post January Window

Man United Player Ratings

Here are my player ratings thus far in the 2015/16 seasons for United. Think I made a mistake? Comment below with what you think should be changed.

*Note: If a player is not on this list it has been determined that he has not played enough yet due to call ups or being injured*

Wayne Rooney:

Before 2016: 5: Although Wayne Rooney did not produce much, and many may disagree with this rating, he was still a vital part of the squad and attracted a lot of attention on the pitch.

After the New Year: 9: Wayne Rooney has been brilliant since the New Year. 7 goals in 7 with 2 assists, it is hard to see any issue with the way Wazza has been playing.

Antony Martial: 8

Martial has been a revelation in the side this year I have to give him a rating of 8. He has been consistently one of our best players this year going forward, and works hard defensively, for this reason I give him an 8

Juan Mata: 6

Juan Mata has had a particularly poor season by his standards, and has only recently started to improve his form. With not much to show he earns a 6.

Memphis Depay: 5

Man United Player Ratings
Дмитрий Голубовичsoccer.ru / CC BY-SA 3.0

The supposed attacking genius is having a similar struggle adapting to the premiership as Angel Di Maria had. He has shown glimpses of his quality and potential, but in the end he has been relatively poor all season long with a total of 5 goals.

Andreas Pereira: 7

Pereira when given the chance to play has been brilliant all year long. His lone goal, a brilliant free kick, gives us a glimpse of the potential he has.

Adnan Januzaj: 7

When given the chance, like Pereira, Januzaj has been shining. But also like Pereira, Januzaj typically is overlooked by van Gaal even recently since being recalled from loan.

Jesse Lingard: 7

Since becoming a first team regular, Jesse has faded in and out much like you would expect from somebody his age, but adds to the talented squad of youngsters for the future quite well.

Ashley Young: 6

Although not his fault it is quite obvious Young is not a fullback by trade, and is responsible for goals when he plays, such as Vardy’s record breaker earlier this year.

Antonio Valencia: 6

Before his injury he was played inconsistently and as a full back, not his natural position. His form dipped in and out while playing in place of Darmian.

Ander Herrera: 8

When Herrera has been played he has been brilliant. There is a reason that the Stretford End will sing his name time and time again. He has a chance to become one of United’s favorite players in recent memory and, as long as he is allowed to stay, will surely be so.

Bastian Schweinsteiger: 6

Bastian has been a good quality signing, for the price paid. Although he has been a good signing, he has not lived up to his world class past, and looks a little past his prime. Here’s to a few more years from the Deutscher Fußball Meister

Michael Carrick: 7

When Carrick plays, he shows his age but makes up for his lack of pace with his vision. He is never scared to play risky defense splitting balls, and is the rock of the team when played with a mobile partner in the midfield.

Morgan Schneiderlin: 7

Morgan has played very well, living up to the high expectations that were set for him before he completed his switch. Showing his physicality and ball playing ability, he works extremely well with anybody he is partnered with and continues to play well.

Marouane Fellaini: 3

This may be a little harsh but this is my opinion. Fellaini is not technically sound, his only use for the team is for winning aerial duels, which he only wins around 45% of those. For a man who is known as an aerial threat to only win 45% is terrible and if Fellaini wants to stay a United player he is going to have to change that.

Luke Shaw: 9

Before his freak injury it was indisputable that Shaw was one of if not our best player. His bombing runs forward paired with his impeccable defensive ability makes him the best left back in the premiership. Here’s to Luke coming back soon.

Cameron Borthwick-Jackson: 8

Filling in for both Shaw and Rojo, CBJ has played spectacularly. Even to the point that I personally have called for his switch to a holding midfielder so when Shaw gets back he still is in the team. His balls into the box from the left have been wonderful and he has paid dividends for the faith we have all instilled into him.

Matteo Darmian: 6

At the beginning of the year it looked as if Darmian was the best right back since the Nevilles. Since then his form has dropped off, paired with injuries and being tossed to the left side of the back four. Hopefully he can turn it around.

Guillermo Varela: 7

Oh how reminiscent. Varela looks much like Rafael Da Silva did his first few seasons. Varela is the exact type of fullback we need at United, and in my eyes needs to be first choice. Pair Varela and Shaw and you have to speedy full backs capable going forward and steady coming back.

Marcos Rojo: 5

A mediocre start ruined by injury, there isn’t a large sample to base Marcos’ play off of. The few games he has played in he has been relatively poor, especially for his standard.

Daley Blind: 6

Daley Blind is not a center-half. In the Premiership you need to have a physical prowess about you in order to play there. Blind is a wonderful holding mid, and a good left back as well, but it is unfair to him and to us United supporters.

Phil Jones: 6

Due to injury and being brought in and out of the squad, Phil Jones has not been able to patch together a run of playtime where he may establish his form. It’s not hard to see why he still is behind Blind in the pecking order.

Chris Smalling: 9

What a revelation we have seen from Smalling. He is fulfilling the world class potential Sir Alex saw in him. He has stepped out of the shadow of Rio and Nemanja and is now one of if not the best center backs in the premiership and maybe the world.

Paddy McNair: 5

Being played out of position and inconsistently McNair hasn’t had a chance to establish himself in the squad.

Sergio Romero: 6

A reliable back-up option didn’t look the most comfortable in net at the beginning of the season. De Gea has since taken over and Romero has been the first name on the substitutes sheet.

David De Gea: 9

The best goalkeeper in the league. The second if not best in the world. David has shown why he is widely considered for those two titles. Once he started playing he has been brilliant. It will be a shock if he doesn’t win our player of the year.

Louis Van Gaal Talked Out Of Quitting Yet Again

According to Jamie Jackson at The Guardian, Louis Van Gaal tried again (a third time reportedly) to resign his position as manager of Manchester United but was rebuffed by Ed Woodward. Woodward would like him to see out this season, at least, as he does not want to make a managerial change mid season. The meeting ended with Woodward asking Van Gaal to reconsider as he spoke with his family on his trip back to the Netherlands to celebrate his daughters birthday. Another meeting is planned for today for Woodward to receive Van Gaal’s answer.

The madness of this story is simple: if it is true and Van Gaal has tried to resign once, much less THREE times, we should allow him to move on. His resignation is his admittance that things aren’t working and it would be best for the club if he moves on. Woodward may be grasping at straws to try and keep the beleaguered manager for a few more months as the football only seems to get worse each time United take the pitch, but that is exactly what it appears he is doing. If there are other moves being made (ie., Jose Mourinho or Pep Guardiola) that cannot come to fruition until the summer, this would show how little confidence Woodward has in Ryan Giggs, the man originally slated to take over from Louis Van Gaal at the end of his contract.

Whatever is happening, Woodward and the club look like daft fools grasping at things that are not there.

 

Van Gaal’s Press Conference: Southampton

Van Gaal's Press Conference: Southampton

After last week’s 0-1 away win at Liverpool, United will be looking to continue 2016’s improved run of form. Before our next game against Southampton, some big topics were covered by Van Gaal in his weekly press conference.

Injuries

The first news to break early this afternoon was that Ashley Young has sustained a serious groin injury after the match with Liverpool, and will need to undergo major surgery that will keep him out for “a very long time”. During this season, Young featured early on at left and right wing, but, more importantly for us right now, has also featured at left back and right back, leaving us with only one first team player to play there – Darmian.

Van Gaal also confirmed that Phil Jones and Bastian Schweinsteiger are also set to miss our upcoming game against Southampton, while more positively, Adnan Januzaj is back to full fitness and is eligible to play.

Full-Back

As a result of Young’s injury, which leaves very few options at full back, Van Gaal was questioned whether he had left his squad too small this season. “No, that is not true, I think when you see how unlucky we have been in the full-back position. I have started with Valencia, Shaw, Rojo, Darmian and Young, sometimes, and they are all injured – only Darmian is now back.”

With only Darmian as a first team regular at full back, Van Gaal was subsequently asked about youth players filling that position comfortably for the rest of the season, to which he responded, “you have seen how I have used youngsters like Borthwick-Jackson and Varela who are doing great but the level of Manchester United is high. To give a high performance every week normally is very difficult for youngsters, which is why we have to look always in this transfer period for replacements.”

Transfers

Our full back positions need strengthening, and Van Gaal was asked about his likelihood of dipping into the transfer market in what remains of this month. “The difficulty is that we ask for a level and the clubs do not want to sell in this period and that is our problem. We are looking, but it is not so easy. Nobody can understand that because [they think] it is easy and it is not so.” From both these comments and the ones around our young full backs, it would not be surprising to see us exploring the market for another full back, but the question is whether we would be panic buying, overspending, or generally not getting the level of quality the summer transfer window offers.

Rooney

After Wayne Rooney’s recent form, Van Gaal was questioned on his influence on the team’s performances. “It is a fact that since Rooney is scoring we have won our games, or at least we draw against Newcastle United away. There is a parallel and I have said that always that he is not only important as a player but as a captain, so I am very happy with him.”

Liverpool

At half time during our 0-1 win over Liverpool, reports began to emerge of a very heated debate in the changing room in order to raise performance levels. Asked on Rooney’s part in that, Van Gaal said “not only Wayne Rooney is doing that, there are several players doing that and that is what I want because the players are self responsible and it is not only the manager which is why I have made this approach to the players. Responsibility for the result and commitment for the result is very important and that they are showing.”

Difficult Period

December 2015 culminated in one of our worst runs of form for 40 years and set new unwanted records for the club. Since the turn of the New Year, we have seen improvements in our record. Asked on whether the difficult period had come to an end, Van Gaal responded, “it is not interesting for me, it is only interesting for the players. The players play the game and have the resistance in the game, so I think the pressure is a little bit gone, but it would return if we lost against Southampton. It is always the same pressure for Manchester United – we have to win. Our fans are always expecting us to win, especially at home.”

Let’s hope we can do exactly that against Southampton, which you can catch at 3:00pm on Saturday 23rd January.

Rooney’s Resurgence: Is The Old Wayne Back?

Wayne Rooney first Manchester Derby

Wayne Rooney is back! He has played excellent ever since van Gaal has relaxed his “philosophy” on how the team should play. Rooney excels when he is allowed to pick up the ball deep and come in for crosses, or take those long strikes that always seem destined for the back of the net.

Rooney scores a brilliantbackheel
Rooney scores a brilliantbackheel

His two-goal display, a penalty and a cracker from the edge of the penalty area, have shown this resurgence. He has now scored in three straight games. This New Year is certainly showing a new Rooney. With four goals in those three games he is closing in on his tally of six goals last calendar year, showing he is finally back to finding his scoring touch and that he is indeed still good enough to lead the attack.

 

 

Why Fellaini needs to go.

Marouane Fellaini needs to go. United supporters are getting beyond frustrated with him, and although he has not had a good game in what seems like a lifetime, we still stand by him. Just because we stand by him does not mean he gets to stay. He loses us games. He is poor, technically speaking.

We have all made this motion when Fellaini misses
We have all made this motion when Fellaini misses

His first touch is awful. His only attacking contribution is with his head, and he can’t even win a ball in the air and put it on target. He missed an absolute perfect opportunity for somebody of his size from a perfect cross. Defensively he is a liability. His errand passes, poor tracking back, and continuously losing his man consistently costs us.

The Beauty in our Youth

This year LVG has had many youth players join the first team, most recently the talented midfielder James Weir. United look set for the future with youngsters being given first team experience, whether they’ve been kept on the substitutes bench or not. These have so far included:

  • Adnan Januzaj

    Shaw and Memphis have become close
    Shaw and Memphis have become close
  • Andreas Pereira
  • Anthony Martial
  • Axel Tuanzebe
  • Cameron Borthwick-Jackson
  • Guiellermo Varela
  • James Weir
  • James Wilson
  • Jesse Lingard
  • Luke Shaw
  • Marcus Rashford
  • Memphis Depay
  • Nick Powell
  • Paddy McNair

    Varela overlaps Januzaj
    Varela overlaps Januzaj
  • Sean Goss
  • Tyler Blackett

Note: All players on this list have a first team number.

Bastian Schweinsteiger Injured for Newcastle Game

Louis van Gaal has confirmed Bastian Schweinsteiger will miss the trip to Newcastle due to the injury he picked up against Sheffield United.

Speaking to MUTV this afternoon van Gaal said:

“Bastian is injured, that we know,”

“We have seen that because he could not move.”

According to the Dutchman other players also need to be assessed ahead of the trip to the North East, he said,

“That is difficult, because it is so close to the match against Sheffield United,” he said. “We have to recover. Yesterday we recovered but we have to see if the players are still overloaded or not. Until this moment, the players have not arrived so we have to wait and see.

“After I know all the data, I can line up. That is why it is always difficult in a period when we have to play a lot of matches. You have to wait to see how the players are recovering of the load in the match.”

 

 

Martial Wins Player Of The Month

Anthony Martial Player of the Month

Anthony Martial has won the Manchester United player of the month for December, with an impressive 69% of the votes.

Martial, who signed in the summer has been a bright spark in a dull season and his goals against Wolfsburg and Norwich helped him stand out amongst the rest.

The French striker has been playing left wing for the majority of time at United, however the start of December saw him move upfront with Rooney out injured.

Chris Smalling, who’s also had an impressive season came second with Daley Blind, an unsung hero at CB, taking fourth spot.

At just 21 yrs old Martial is proving to be an excellent signing and even those who want Louis van Gaal out would have to admit signing the Frenchman has been his greatest achievement at the club.