Looking Beyond 12/13: Attacking Midfield

Title number 20.

It is a special season. So many goodbyes; so many tear-filled moments and so many shockingly bad decisions wrapped up in a way that can only happen with football. Its been a season of conflicting emotions for us United fans. The fact that Sir SAF won’t be here next season makes it a weird feeling but the show must go on.


My oh my, that was an amazing game of football. But, I’m going to concentrate on the strengths they showed at West Brom and not on the weaknesses. Looking at the match, we are sure to be left wondering why we drew a match we were supposed to win. I don’t care about the result but it matters to me how they played and it looks exciting to welcome Moyes at United for the next season.

Shinji Kagawa

Kagawa, the Ninjawa, the Shin-man, had an exciting first half at West Brom. I loved the way he played and his positioning throughout the game. Fact remains that he is a brilliant player for us in the hole. Taking a look at Kagawa’s first season, I see multiple strengths for the future. He is a much stronger player when we counter-attack at pace. His positioning, body balance and passing are his strengths helped by his agility. The weakness I perceive is the lack of body strength to fight for the ball; that is n0t necessarily a weakness that can’t be converted into strength.

With Moyes, I am quite sure we will have a strong midfield built around Kagawa. This would mean that we might possibly see a fast-flowing attack pivoted with Kagawa in the hole. What I am happy about is the supporting midfielders at United; Cleverley, Anderson, Carrick and hopefully Fletcher would enhance the ability of Kagawa to shine in the position.

What we can expect: Very quick counter-attacking football very similar to one played offensively at West Brom  yesterday. We might see more incisive passing near and in the penalty box.



He is an enigma. Nobody knows how he shall play when he is in the team sheet. He baffles us as he baffles many other fans around the world. What is he? What does he do for us on the pitch?

I churned through all those unexplainable questions in my head while I watched West Brom versus United. Anderson is not a simple midfielder he is different just like he is well… different. His strength I found was in driving forward, pressing opponents high up the pitch and forcing things to happen. The video linked above shows all of his strong points: positional awareness, good ball skill and a killer through ball. What it doesn’t show is that as the going gets tougher and tougher, he gets sloppier and sloppier. Its like his breathing and performance are linked together and are inversely proportional.

Even then, I find it really good to watch him play especially the way he picks out through balls; long ones at that. No one in the team does that as often as Anderson. I don’t know if he has an eye for it or likes playing those passes. Even then, I love the way he does that.

What can we expect: Strong midfield runs past the opposing midfielder. Gorgeous through balls to the striker running the channel or the striker behind the last man. All of this is if he stays at United for the next season.

Tom Cleverley

The worker ant is an important part of an ant colony. It just works and works. That is an imperfect analogy but it somehow fits him. It fits what Cleverley does for us. To describe his football; it is hard-working and omnipresent. He tries to be everywhere in the midfield, a box-to-box midfielder who can run, run and keep running. With that strong running, he is a simple passer of the ball. He gets the ball on target, makes up the distance to get the return pass and keeps moving on.

The weakness from him is something very similar to Kagawa; a lack of physical presence. In my opinion, he makes up for his lack of physical presence by being a constant harassment on the opposition.

What to expect: Cleverley’s role might be dictated by the opposition be it attacking or defensive. He can’t get too defensive and he’ll be steamrolled by physically strong oppositions which means he will be played in a role that would require constant tracking back and forward.

Here ends the first part of the whole post. I’ll continue it next time with more thoughts on what we can expect from our squad next season.


1) Describe what you see in our midfielders? Specific qualities, skills?

2) How do you think Moyes might use the above three players?

3) What sort of weaknesses do you perceive when the three play?



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