Date: 1st June 2011 at 9:29am
Written by:

Darren Fletcher

Will Darren be Super next season?

With the parade umbrellas packed away, and the post season analysis pretty much done and dusted, it’s already time for Manchester United to look to next season.

Other teams may have basked that little bit longer in the glory of a nineteenth title, but at Old Trafford we do things a little differently. It’s a case of job done, good work- now let’s prepare for next season.

With the retirement of the greatest midfielder of his generation TM along with the best goalkeeper, and every player who’s had a good game being linked with Old Trafford, there’s certainly going to be some changes during the Summer.

While it’s obvious Sir Alex Ferguson needs to spend some money a more pressing priority may be to look at some of the players who’ve underachieved somewhat during 2010/11.

There are three United stars- and I use the word ‘star’ lightly who’ve simply failed to perform at the top level for much of the season. Although I’m almost scared to name them as they are three of the best players at the club, I feel it’s time to be honest and give a candid assessment of what I believe all three players need to address in the coming months.

The names Patrice Evra, Darren Fletcher and Nani would usually be the first ones on not just United’s team sheet but practically any in world football.

Over the past few years each one of them has turned in many a match winning or awe inspiring performance and is teetering on the brink of being a United legend- some may even argue one or two of them are already there.

However the season which has just ended has seen something happen to the trio, something that worries me quite a lot as we look to fend off yet another attack from our big spending rivals.

Let’s start with Nani, who it has to be said has had a great season and easily his best in a United shirt. Nine goals and 14 assists in the Premier League is a wonderful return for any player and many felt he was unlucky not to be awarded the PFA Young player of the year or even be nominated in the senior category.

So why does he need to ‘pull his socks up’ I hear you cry. Well allow me to elucidate. Nani’s last assist was on April 9th his last goal came in February. In ten games he’s failed to set up one goal and in 18 he’s failed to find the net. Admittedly some of these appearances have been as a substitute but this poor form cannot  and should not be ignored.

People will point to Jamie Carragher’s terrible challenge at Anfield as something of a watershed from which Nani has never looked the same since and while there may be some truth to that suggestion, it doesn’t make his lack of impact any easier to swallow.

If you’d have told me that Nani wouldn’t be starting the Champions League final a few months ago, I’d have told you that was insane, yet practically no one batted an eye lid when his name was left off the starting XI.

I truly believe Nani’s one of the most gifted players in the world and have always been a massive fan even when some were doubting him. I feel it’s time to be brutally honest and admit that Nani needs to regain his mojo and quick- there’s been talk of him already being considered surplus to requirements. I’d hate to see Nani leave but I’d hate to see his anonymity in a red shirt continue.

In the case of Patrice Evra- criticising the man almost feels blasphemous to me as he’s one of my favourite United players of all time. Again though it’s time to be frank – he’s had a very disappointing season by his standards. I’m not just talking about the Champions League final where he seemed to make numerous errors and was the far weaker of United’s two full backs, but throughout the course of the entire campaign.

It seemed to take Evra several months to fully get over the whole France world cup debacle and then when he finally did, it wasn’t long before he went off the boil again.

Before the season I could count on practically one hand the number of bad games Evra had produced in a United shirt -now I’d need a calculator.

For a player I’ve long argued is the world’s greatest left back, Evra needs to regain his consistency next season and soon, otherwise Sir Alex may even try Fabio on the left which some Reds have suggested could be the answer to a now problematic area.

Finally we come to Fletcher, who injuries aside has had his poorest season in five years. Other than Spurs at home I cannot recall Fletcher really having a stormer which used to be his trademark. In fact the Scotland Captain seems to have become a shadow of himself and this was before the ‘mystery virus’ robbed him of several weeks of football.

I like many other Reds admire Fletcher- not least for the way he’s turned his career around since the ‘Fergie’s love child’ days, but if he’s to play any part in future United successes he needs to find the performance levels of 2009/10 not 2005/06.

So there you have it, three players I’m sure we all love who have in one way or another struggled at times this season. Am I being overly harsh or critical?

If I am I make no apologies, I’m not trying to stick the knife in with any of them and believe me I don’t want to see any leave. I just feel it’s time to be honest and raise the issue of how three of United’s most important players have let a little to be desired of late and why that needs to be acknowledged.

Feel free to comment, suggest or abuse below.



12 responses to “The Three United Stars Who Need To Pull Their Socks Up Next Season”

  1. Pitter says:

    Pls i want to know who post this article, this absolutely nonsence.

  2. Laurence says:

    I whole-heartedly agree with you. Evra, for me, has had a poor season by his standards. Granted, this is due to the high standard he has set himself during previous seasons. It seemed like he just never quiet got going. I don’t see him going anywhere and hopefully after a good summer rest he’ll re-focus and get his game back.

    As for Fletcher, i think it fair to say this season has been a very difficult one for him with illness and injury (and yet another CL final being missed!). Again, i think a summer to re-fresh, get some baulk back and pre-season will help him tremendously. He’ll be fine and a very important player for us next year.

    And Nani, this boy just seems to struggle on the left and be great on the right. He is also hot and cold and i don’t know when, if ever, this will change. Sometimes with such brilliance, technique and skill comes inconsistancy as the things these players try are so difficult to do. I would be surprised if he goes but if we do actually go after Sanchez then maybe he will. I think we have enough players to add to the squad without selling players and making it more difficult.

  3. timbo says:

    Your only legitimate gripe was with Evra, who did actually put in a poor season.

    Fletcher is over-rated and contributes nothing other than drive and tireless energy, which are traits Fergie values to the detriment of the kind of class the side needs to really overcome top quality sides like Barca. United’s midfield has been very pedestrian over recent years, with nothing like the world class performers required to match the forwards and backs involved with the side. That’s why United invariably get rolled in the engine room by the better sides and rely on one dimensional play via the wings to try and score, with the midfielders doing little more than acting in a holding capacity or spreading the ball out wide. Scholes was the exception of course, but his aging legs could only turn up every second or third game. Yes, Fletcher had a poor season by the standards of previous years, but so what? It’s an indictment of United’s direction in recent years that he’s been a regular starter, when he’s at best a quality bench player.

    Finally, Nani. The reason he had a poor second half is pretty simple. He plays much better on the right side of the pitch, but Fergie’s preference for the percentage play and low error rate of Valencia saw the Portuguese player supplanted by the Ecuadorian as soon as he returned to fitness from the horrendous leg injury suffered early in the season. Nani, as everyone knows, can be as frustrating to watch as he is exhilarating, but with the kind of rare talent at his disposal he should be given his head and allowed to develop with the same latitude given to Ronaldo when he first arrived. He had an excellent first half to the season in his favoured position, embarrassing some of the best left backs in the business. Unfortunately, Fergie has become very conservative in recent years and doesn’t seem willing to persevere with youthful naivety in the way he used to in years gone by.

    • Justin Mottershead says:

      That’s a very good point about Nani being much better on the right. The strange things is when he starts on the right and drifts over to the left and cuts in he plays well.

      However starting on the left seems to affect his performance, I can’t see Fergie dropping Valencia though, so I think Nani may be forced to get used to life either on the left or as second choice right winger- which I cannot imagine him being happy with for long.

    • jose says:

      Nani is 24 now. No room for the excuse of young and naive. He is talented but should show a little more experience in his play.

  4. Bread says:

    Shhh you moron, thats the most sense of any article about united I’ve read all season. And I love all three of those players to. Well, Nani’s pushing it, but has the talent to be outstanding.

  5. Zeus says:

    We just resigned Owen, bummer 🙁
    I think Evra went off the boil just prior to the champions league match in Munich last year. Since then it has been evident that getting past him is no longer ‘difficult’.
    Fletcher, Nani, Anderson I would add need to have a stormer next season. Nani and Anderson are younger, but Fletcher is now at peak performance age.
    A lot of player at Utd need to step up, but we also need a manager who understands that playing a converted winger and a labored Carrick against the best three midfielders in modern football, is not a cunning plan.
    Utd have 4 players who have left (Neville, VDS, Scholes and Hargreaves), Cleverly seems a certain addition in midfield. As well we could see the end for Brown, and one other player possibly at Utd. Means we will need to replace at-least 4 from the squad. Now how many players next season will need to step up?

  6. Laurence says:

    Bit harsh there Timbo. Give fletch his due, he has worked extremely hard at getting his game to a decent level. Every good side needs a Fletch and i think we have missed him greatly this past season. I agree the overall quality in our midfield needs improving and has done for a few seasons but you can’t have a team of great passers if no-one wants to put there foot in and win the ungly side of the game in the middle. Look at Saturday!

    • Cellinis says:

      I’m surprised. If I had one criticism of Fletcher, it would be that he doesn’t get ugly enough. Neither does Carrick. Both can pass a ball though.

      We need a replacement for Roy & we need it pretty quickly (just like we’ve needed it for ever since Roy left and Hargreaves got injured). A Modric/Sneijder/etc will not hurt either, but we certainly need somebody to help the back four.

  7. Naman says:

    Evra has had a really bad season, love his loyalty but not enough to happily watch as he becomes a liability.. all the best to him though to turn this rutt around!!

  8. lamar says:

    i was happy when valencia came back. i imagined him and nani destroying teams! eee nope. nani lost it. he needs to play on the right. he’s a different player.

    evra is not the same saint patrice evra we sent over to the world cup. fletcher needs to step up. we need to fortify our midfield. BAD

    did you see how barcelona toyed us through the middle? they couldn’t get past park nor valencia for a minute. they took the game to the middle and destroyed us. that’s why we need a brick wall… fletcher used to be that wall…

  9. Obidyke says:

    I think the person dat posted dis article is making some senses.nani need 2 improve bcos if united sign ashley young it will be a bit difficult 4 nani.and 4 flech,he was affected by injuries & sickness but evra needs 2 bd a bit defensive than attacking or may be we shoukd turn him 2 bale who play 4rm d left attacking side.