Manchester United: Worthy Champ20ns or Not ?

manchester united squad reshuffle

I’m sure that after last year’s dramatic finish, EPL fans around the world will be disappointed that the title race is over and United has been crowned as Champions for a record 20th time. It’s  that point of the season for me where I sit down to think if just the Premier League title can justify Manchester United’s season as a success, as there is nothing much to look forward to as a United fan.

The clearance of Berbatov, Micheal Owen and Park Ji Sung at the start of the season meant Sir Alex Ferguson had lost patience with his forward line and showed he meant business with the signing of Robin Van Persie and Borussia Dortmund revelation Shinji Kagawa. United’s season started extremely well with former Gunners’ Player of the season Van Persie recreating last year’s magic, albeit for the Old Trafford outfit.

United looked formidable in all departments of the game, with Cleverly and Carrick complementing each other beautifully, Rafael maturing into a deadly attacking fullback we know he could be(remember his 20-yard screamer against QPR?) and Sir Alex declaring the current strikeforce to be better than that of Yorke, Cole, Sherringham and Solksjaer of the ‘Golden Era.’ With so much of experience on the bench in Giggs, Scholes and Ferdinand, I think that United should have been more emphatic and commanding in their play, and a failure to make the quarter finals of the Champions League and elimination from the F.A cup meant United do not have the consistency they had.

It all started to go downhill when United abandoned their usual direct style of play through the wings and tried to approach the game through the centre of the park with three strikers. Instead of employing Nani or Young, United chose to go into games with three strikers, mostly playing Danny Welbeck or Rooney through the left, alongside Kagawa or Giggs, deployed ahead of Micheal Carrick. I was surprised to see Rooney play on the left side even through the presence of natural wingers in the team like Giggs and Kagawa. This meant that Rooney’s explosive ability in the box was limited and has managed to grab only 16 goals so far, compared to the huge tally of 42 a couple of seasons back.

It is no secret that United have been lacking a confident attacking midfielder through the centre, and Kagawa has failed to fill those boots in his first season. Cleverley looked sharp, but injuries and burnout has seen him fall down the pecking order. You just can’t put a striker there, even if it’s Rooney!

Further, United have failed to make that transition in defence and are still over-reliant on the ageing Evra and Ferdinand. Phil Jones showed glimpses of talent but has yet to be taken seriously. Buttner has looked good when deployed down the left, but the fact still remains that there will be, rather, are big gaps left by Evra and Ferdinand to be filled soon. Ironically, De Gea has been the most consistent performer after Van Persie for United in the later half, so that says a lot.

Financially, United have made deals worth over 200 million for their training kit and naming rights of Carrington complex. United have also bought Wilfried Zaha with an eye on the future after losing Paul Pogba to Juventus. I think the title reiterates the quality of the club, but the team has not been its best, failing to make the right decisions at the right times this season. It’s an unprecedented 20th title well taken, but just not well deserved.