Date: 15th July 2011 at 4:49pm
Written by:

Dimitar Berbatov

Will the Bulgarian be first choice this season?

One area of the field United are going to be well resourced in next season will be the attack. Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted he has six strikers to choose from next season. So out of these six who will be hitters and who won’t?

Wayne Rooney – The obvious first choice. When fit Rooney’s name will always be one of the first on the team sheet. A talisman for United, he will be fighting to remain a favourite with the fans next season after causing upset at the club last season over a possible move to rivals Manchester City. A strong finish to last season for Rooney boosted the club to win the Premier League title and reach the Champions League final. His mesmerising overhead kick winner in the Manchester Derby in February will be one to remember for years to come.

Javier Hernandez – It has taken only one season for Chicharito to establish himself as a massive favourite at Old Trafford, and deservedly so he has become one. No one expected much from the unknown Mexican, especially in his first season, but when called upon he grabbed the goals leading to him becoming first choice striker towards the end of the season. It is expected he will retain his first team role next season as looks to top his twenty goal tally from last season, and if his continuing improvement throughout last season is anything to go by he’ll pass it with ease.

Dimitar Berbatov – A strange season for Berbatov has left him in a strange place in the club. Being the Premier League top scorer was not enough to keep his first team place as he saw Hernandez start to get the nod ahead of him, leaving Berbatov to get most of his chances from coming on off the bench. The marksman had received criticism since joining United for not always looking interested, or not always putting the hard work in and rarely breaking into runs. However he challenged his critics with prolific goal scoring form early in the season, yet Chicharito’s efforts were eventually favoured. Berbatov’s season ended in further disappointment when he was not even named among the substitutes for the Champions League final clash with Barcelona, spelling the possible end to his United career. A variety of speculation surrounding Berbatov has now been ended with the news he will be staying. However Berbatov will now have to prove his worth to United next season whilst playing second choice to Hernandez, something he had not been used to until now.

Michael Owen – One of England’s best ever strikers. Or at least he was. It is a massive shame to see the problems Owen has been troubled with in the past seasons. When he does play he still shows he is the natural finisher he always has been and has grabbed a few goals for United, not forgetting the vital last second winner against City. Owen was a good acquisition on a pay-as-you-play deal for United and if he can beat injury and fitness problems he could spend his last seasons at United as a scores-a-goal-when-needed striker. It will be interesting to see if he can regain fitness in the next season to challenge Berbatov for third choice striker.

Federico Macheda – Remember Macheda’s debut? A stretched United team were 2-1 down to Aston Villa when he came on off the bench. Ronaldo equalised and the teams entered stoppage time at 2-2 looking to share the points. Then after just 30 minutes senior playing time Macheda made a name for himself after receiving Giggs’ pass on the edge of the box, he turned on his first touch and then curled a beautiful shot into the back of the Villa net. Unfortunately this explosive start built young Macheda up too much and was quickly dismissed by many when he did not continue as he began. Macheda had an unsuccessful loan spell at Italian side Sampdoria last season in which the team were relegated. However he has returned to United and looks to be given a chance after netting two goals in the first pre-season friendly against New England Revolution. Only being 19 years old, Macheda may have the chance to start again at United after peaking too early and having to endure a difficult time since.

Danny Welbeck – The twenty year old has returned from an impressive loan spell at Sunderland. The quick footed forward has shown bright potential during his appearances for United and during his loan spells at Preston and Sunderland. He has also shown traits which could possibly see him double up as a pacey winger or attacking midfielder. Bolton Wanderers have shown interest in him recently and it would not be surprising if he spent another season out on loan to gain experience in the hope he can return to contribute in the United forward.

With a lot of variety in United’s attackers Ferguson will not be short of choice next season. With Rooney and Hernandez presumably set to start the season as United’s strike partnership, Berbatov will have to work hard to get back in the frame whilst Owen will have to battle fitness to get his chances. Hopefully Macheda and Welbeck can strengthen and prove themselves over the next couple of seasons with a view to replacing the aging Berbatov and Owen in the future.

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