Date: 23rd February 2011 at 3:54am
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Is it time for Mame to make his stay at Ewood permanent?

Is it time for Mame to make his stay at Ewood permanent?

I recently wrote an article on this very site, asking for some sober reflection following the Crawley Town game, and suggesting a trio of United ‘flops’ I felt should be given another chance.

While my suggestions of at least one more season for Darron Gibson, Jonny Evans- I realise he didn’t play against Crawley but you know where I’m coming from- and Bebe were met with a mixture of incredulity and contempt, I promised to suggest the players I felt should be given the old Spanish archer by Sir Alex -El bow, in case you don’t know what on earth I’m on about.

True to my word here’s the players I should be sold in the Summer and the reasons I feel their departure from Old Trafford would be beneficial.

Mame Diouf– Do we really need to recall the Senegalese striker from Blackburn? Yes he’s done well there, but let’s be totally realistic Diouf is a long way from the United first team and even if his record of three goals in 21 games for the Ewood Park outfit was far greater, it’s doubtful he’d get a game next season.

At 23 years-old he’s still young, although he’s not quite at the age where you feel another loan spell may be beneficial. With Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov, Chicharito and probably the returning Danny Welbeck- and let’s not forget Macheda- in front of him in the pecking order it’s arguably best for both Diouf and United if he moves away from Old Trafford permanently in the Summer.

Michael Owen– While we’re on the subject of surplus strikers, the name that invariably springs to mind is that of Michael James Owen. I feel for Owen I really do, it’s not his fault that he’s had injury problems which have blighted his Old Trafford career. Were it not for the hamstring knock he picked up in the Carling Cup final then he may well have helped United win that coveted 19th last year.

Owen’s 31 years-old now and it’s doubtful that he’d really be needed next season with all the aforementioned strikers at Sir Alex’s disposal. I think it may be time for him to move on and spend what could be the final year of his playing career enjoying first team football somewhere rather than warming the bench- if he’s lucky, at Old Trafford.

Tomasz Kuszczak – The Polish ‘keeper’s been at Old Trafford for over four years now and although for most of that time he’s been in the shadow of Van Der Sar, he has had enough opportunities to stake a claim as the Dutchman’s successor. The problem is, Kuszczak’s no nearer to being United’s first choice than he was when he arrived, even with VDS’s retirement, it’s likely he still won’t be Sir Alex’s preferred stopper.

The arrival of shouldn’t necessarily mean the end of Kuszczak’s United career, but there’s always been doubts as to whether he truly is good enough, least of all by himself. After all the fact that Ben Foster leapfrogged him in the number one stakes at the beginning of last season is hardly a sterling endorsement.

There’s been the suggestion that United will bring in another ‘big name’ ‘keeper in the Summer and you’d certainly be surprised if we didn’t. I expect we will and I think with one year left on his contract, now’s the time to sell Kuszczak on.

Owen Hargreaves– It pains me to say it as I’m a massive fan of the curly haired one, but how much longer can we wait for his comeback? The six minutes at Old Trafford against Wolves may well have been his last appearance for United, which is a crying shame as when he’s fit- or when he was fit- Hargreaves was truly one of the best midfielders I’ve ever seen. I’m not letting sentimental nostalgia cloud my memory but looking back on the 2007/08 season, there were times when Hargreaves was simply awesome. Who can forget the free kicks against Fulham and Arsenal, the stint at right back against Barcelona? The driving performances from the middle of the park? The ability to get down either wing when needed? The seemingly limitless energy?

Hargreaves was as close as I’ve seen to a perfect all round player since the days of Roy Keane, it seemed that whether defending or attacking he was almost unstoppable.

That was almost three years ago though and since then we’ve seen practically nothing from Hargreaves due to the tendonitis in his knees which has been described by Doctor Richard Steadman, who treated the midfielder- as the worst of any professional sportsman he’d ever seen.

It’s time to face hard facts with Hargreaves, although his last injury was his hamstring rather than his knees, the likelihood of him ever playing at the very top level again, is doubtful to say the least. I feel it’s now time for Hargreaves to either move on or retire, as the never ending saga of whether he’ll play again just doesn’t seem to be reaching a conclusion.

In the past Sir Alex has even alluded to the idea that Hargreaves has even suffered from a lack of confidence when attempting to come back- not that anyone could actually blame him. Nothing would make me happier than seeing Hargreaves battling all over the pitch again, but it’s time to face hard facts and accept it may be the end of his United career.

– Selling a player who’s been one of United’s most important these past few months may seem like an idea straight out of the Howard Wilkinson school of transfer policies. However allow me to explain. Carrick will have been at United for five years, come the Summer and regardless of what United win this season, he’ll have won an impressive array of silverware during his time at the club. The reason  I feel Carrick should be moved on in the Summer has a lot to do with the other players who could potentially be filling the midfield places.

At the moment, there’s Anderson, Scholes. Fletcher, Gibson and occasionally the likes of Park, Giggs and O’Shea who can also play in the middle. Most people would like to see Gibson moved on but as I stated in my last article, I he should be given on more year. Scholes may or may not retire but even if he does it’s almost a certainty that United will bring in one more midfielder if not two.

I think Anderson could be a truly great midfielder for United if he’s given a long run in the side and manages to stay fairly injury free and keeps himself in shape.  Although Fletcher’s not had the best few months of his career- in fact at times he’s looked quite frankly abysmal, I still feel he can raise his game when he needs to. You could argue that there would still be room for Carrick, alongside those two if Scholes did or didn’t retire, yet I’m not so sure.

I think Carrick can do an excellent job with neat passes from deep in midfield and mopping up lose balls, but I’m not convinced he’s as indispensable as some may feel.

If Carrick were to have a great run of form for the remainder of the season, even then I could still see the logic in moving him on at the end of the season. He’s 30 in a few months and his contract runs out in 2012 and I for one think it would be a good time to either sell him on part of a player exchange or simply recoup a small fee for him and bid him farewell. Five trophy laden years at Old Trafford is hardly unsuccessful, yet there will no doubt still be those United fans who look back at Carrick’s time in a red shirt with  less than fondness.

The Geordie has always struggled to win over all the fans at Old Trafford and something tells me he always will, but regardless of that, I think United’s midfield could benefit with someone else sitting in front of the back four next season and the time would be right for Carrick to move on.

Gabriel Obertan– Obertan may have looked impressive for the reserves and he may have shown glimpses of real ability for the first team but now’s the time to admit that on the whole he’s looked far from United class since he arrived at Old Trafford. Obertan’s time at Old Trafford has ranged from promising to embarassing, but barring a great run from now until the end of the season, it may be time to move the former Bordeux man on.

With Antonio Valencia due to return to the first team soon, then Ji-Sung Park hopefully back in a few weeks, Obertan’s United career may rest on the next few weeks, the question is will he even get the chance to show the reason Sir Alex bought him the first place? I seriously doubt it.

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