So, Hargreaves is making fitness videos before making his move to Leicester (or whoever Eriksson is managing next month) and Scholes has gone to that great United cloud in the sky with Neville, Blackmore and Crerand – destined to now be only seen next to Gary Pallister on MUTV discussing United’s chances against that week’s opposition.
RedMancunia wrote on this very website that we currently have four central midfielders. Of those four Fletcher seems to have been struck down by some debilitating and genuinely worrying bug and Carrick plays marvellously for weeks on end only to be struck down by an equally debilitating bug in the big games – nerves – and Gibson… well, anyone remember Liam Miller?
Then there are those who are touting Cleverley as Scholes’ replacement and I can see a real chance of this happening. Ferguson has already hinted that we may be replacing from within and, as much as I want Sneijder in the 7 shirt, promoting from within is more akin to some of the great United teams of the past and, indeed, this current mercurial Barcelona team. This is a young man who has been taught the United way. He’s breathed and lived it and, more importantly, he knows the Premier League and the Premier League knows him after a very successful loan spell with Wigan.
However, my concern is that we’re all talking of Scholes’ replacement. He is irreplaceable. As was Cantona, Keane, Robson and as will be Giggs. You don’t buy like for these for the simple reason that they are one-offs. Sheringham was no match for Cantona but he won a Champions’ League and the same can be said for Keane’s ‘replacement’, Carrick, and Robson’s ‘replacement’, Keane himself. Cleverly can’t be the new Scholes –he can only be the new Cleverley.
Still, in saying this, is it his time? Is he old and mature enough to step up to the central midfield shaped plate at Old Trafford? Is Pogba? Ravel Morrison? All three of these players may need a season of Premier League and cup competition toe dipping to settle in before having a full season of Premier and Champions’ League football thrown at them.
Then there’s the fanciful ideas that Rooney could do it, Phil Jones has been signed as a midfielder, Ashley Young could play centrally and deep. One of my friends even claims Berbatov could drop back (personally, I’d love to see this but know, deep down, that it would never work).
After we’ve looked at in-house options then comes the transfer speculation. Nasri looks like he’s chasing the pound signs at Man. City, Modric, understandably, fancies staying in London and Sneijder isn’t on Fergie’s radar ‘at this moment in time’. Other names have been bandied about and it would be typical Ferguson to pluck out someone like Steven Defour on the last day of the transfer window. Deep down, I don’t think that the Sneijder deal is dead in the water yet. That’s still got legs, I’m sure.
So that’s everyone covered right? Pogba, Cleverly, Morrison, Modric, Berba, Rooney, Nasri, Jones, Young, Defour, Gibson, Sneijder… Oh wait, there’s one more. The forgotten man in this discussion. The dreadlocked, laid back Brazilian who nobody seems to want to admit could be the man for the job – Anderson Luís de Abreu Oliveira; ‘Anderson’. In a recent Independent interview the man himself said he fancies he could be player of the year next season.
Anderson has a wickedly blessed left foot, he’s got a composure on the ball that rivals Scholes’ own and he’s got a shot that Scholes would be delighted with. Why, then, hasn’t he proven himself over the past four years? I think it’s for a number of reasons, Giggs and Scholes being two of them, along with the 2009 form of Fletcher and injury problems for himself in 2010. I felt, however, that we gained a little glimpse as to what he’s capable of last season and next season he’s going to be ready to step up. Next year will be Anderson’s year. Trust me!