Date: 11th July 2011 at 9:17pm
Written by:

Paul Scholes

Who will step up now the Ginger One is gone?

For many months now it’s been the opinion of many Manchester United fans that we need to sign a top class central midfielder. In that same period I have been reluctant to agree however in recent times I’m now more swayed towards the idea. Will we sign a top class central midfielder? It remains to be seen.

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.



26 responses to “Manchester United’s Midfield Conundrum”

  1. sam says:

    God bless u. Carrick is not a footballer, he’s not worthy 2 put on the red army jersey. He is a flop, he should be sold 4 free.

  2. Saeed says:

    Good article,
    Firstly the kids at MU, surely if they were good enough, they would have played in the first team?
    Ronaldo went straight into the first team,(and scored with a free kick on debut) My point is, if SAF thought these kids, including Ravel were good enough, they would have played.

    Rooney cannot play in the Scholes role.He lacks consistent vision, ie game in game out.He gets flustered when under pressure and loses his childish temper too often.Yes he can ping a long ball when it doesnt matter and thread a pass once in a while in a game, but he’s no maestro.

    To buy Sneijder will break the wage structure,ie Rooney will start to cry if someone is being paid more than him…again. I don’t really see Sneijder taking a wage cut to play for MU, as he will do due to UK tax laws.

    Nasri will either go to city or complete his contract and leave for free. Modric wants to stay in London, so its chelski.

    So whats the answer? I dunno!Buy cheap players and hope for the best, like Obetan and Bebe? surely not.
    Can these players mentioned, Young,Jones,Rooney,Carrick(joke) really compete against Barca midfield? No I dont think so.

    Watching the final, Barca players trusted each other, no matter if 1,2 or 3 MU players were marking a player, he would get the ball, knowing he wont lose it. This MU midfield is the worst for a while, theres no secret in that. Yes MU won the Prem, but because other teams were rubbish. MU had a comfortable run in Champs League. In the final every time Barca attacked MU buckled. The midfield was in disarray and no ball was played forward or crossed for the strikers.

    Scholes summed it up perfectly… MU are a million miles behind Barca.

    • jake says:

      ronaldo’s debut was against bolton (remember it well) and he did not score a free kick

  3. Kezman says:

    what is our probm we should get w/sld 4rm ni/ml okay let sell crk and brbt get sld and get nersi okay we need to will pls up manu we need men not boy

  4. chris says:

    nice article. united need one more central midfielder to fill that role while united have 4 different competitions. i’d prefer to bring cheaper player such as arturo vidal who plays well for chile at copa america.i think he could be the-last-missing puzzle for cetral midfielder needed.he has quality and he is young. however, i also think of bringing another quality players for wing-backs such as lahm or marcelo.

  5. Oliver says:

    I would have loved to see Thiago Alcantara sign for us, but that doesn’t look possible any more. I think Sneijder would be too expensive, considering he’s 27 and he hasn’t always played well at the big clubs (e.g. Real Madrid). Anderson definitely deserves an extended run in the first eleven, he is out most talented CM by far.

    Ryan (first commenter) seems to know what he’s on about, and I do agree about Rooney, he does indeed have all the abilities to be a superb Scholes replacement (I’ve been saying this for a couple of years now, but people have laughed off the idea). However, in my honest opinion, he is of more use to the team up front with Hernandez. He’s a fantastic player, one of the best 5 in the world, I would say, and having him up top is crucial for me, unfortunately, especially if Berbatov leaves this summer.

    Eden Hazard would indeed be a good signing.

  6. toshe says:

    i really hope you are wrong,cos i hate to see us strugeling in the midfield,we need some dirigent cos none of them is a midfield maestro they are hard workers yes ,but no maestro

  7. dessie says:

    we have the best youth players in the country , maybe evn in europe. we should a stick with them and they will take us to the next ten fifteen years of greatness.

  8. @LONERANGE says:

    I can’t find a fault In any of this. However I will say one thing. We need to sell Carrick. @LONERANGE

  9. Saeed says:

    Jake, I meant OT debut and he scored with a free kick

    What ever the details, my point was these kids at MU are not picked for the first team as they are not good enough. At Ronaldo’s young age he was put in the first team immediately.

    Instead of picking on minor details, read what I am saying.