Currently in Manchester United’s first team, we have only 3 natural central midfielders; Anderson, Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher. Over the summer we have lost Paul Scholes to retirement. Owen Hargreaves was released due to his long term knee injury and it also looks most probable that Darron Gibson will be sold this summer after being left out of the US tour squad. I concede that Owen Hargreaves only made the 1 appearance however the three players that we shall be without in 2011/12 made a total of 54 appearances last season. That seems to be a very large amount of appearances to replace.
Common sense tells you that is is nigh on impossible for a team like Manchester United, involved in 4 different competitions next season, to go through a whole season with only 3 natural central midfielders and this is why I am hopeful that we will sign at least 1 central midfielder however I will not be too disappointed if we did not.
Even though there are only 3 natural central midfielders in the Manchester United team, there is quite an abundance of players who may be able to make a name for themselves playing in this position.
Firstly, I start with Tom Cleverley. He possesses all of the technical attributes to play as a centre midfielder at Manchester United and possibly to be Paul Scholes’ replacement. He is a wonderful player and possesses a great first touch as well as being a very good passer of the ball.
He has just had a full, successful season out on loan to Wigan Athletic and was a very important player for their first team and their fight to avoid relegation, albeit playing predominantly as an attacking midfielder/wideman. For the coming season he has been promised game time by Sir Alex Ferguson and I can only see this happening as a central midfielder. Tom Cleverley has always preferred to play centrally anyway and I really do think it is in the centre where he will make his mark at Manchester United.
Phil Jones is also a player who can play in the centre of the park, though in a more defensive role. It doesn’t look too likely that Nemanja Vidic or Rio Ferdinand will lose their place as the first choice centre backs next season and with Chris Smalling excelling in the first team last season, it isn’t too far-fetched to think that Phil Jones could possibly cover for the midfield. Some fans have been crying out for us to sign a midfield destroyer (maybe since Roy Keane’s departure) and I think that Phil Jones might one day take up that role regularly.
Ryan Giggs is another who has the ability to play in a central midfield position for Manchester United. He did in fact play there in the Champions League final as well as in some other big games towards the back end of last season. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Park Ji-Sung playing in that position either. His energy is something that could be desired in the middle.
An alternative to signing a top class central midfielder may be to develop our own. Maybe two of Manchester United’s FA Youth Cup winning team may be bedded into the first team next season? French youngster Paul Pogba seems to possess enough physicality as well as ability to play for the first team next season. Ravel Morrison may also be in with a shout having made a substitute appearance in the Carling Cup last term.
Ashley Young is also one I feel may excel in a central position. Last season for Aston Villa he made more appearances centrally than out on the left. Wayne Rooney may also be a player who could be considered to play as a central midfielder. He started playing in an attacking midfield role for Manchester United towards the end of last season, could he play in an even deeper role next season? He certainly seems to possess the passing range of Paul Scholes but it would be a crying shame if he wasn’t used as a striker, especially after hitting the back of the net 34 times in 2009/10 season.
I for one will not be surprised if Sir Alex Ferguson comes out in the next few days and says “I’m happy with my squad” or something similar. We have a lot of players who can step in and fill a ‘void’ if the circumstances warrant it and a lot of players who have the potential to play the position for Manchester United for years to come. Although I would like us to sign someone, should we be concerned if we do not sign anyone to play as a central midfielder this summer? I don’t think so.
Do you agree? Would you like Manchester United to sign a natural central midfielder? If so, who would you like us to sign? Feel free to comment below.