A season that had everything!
What a season! So many emotions in play, from start to end. The sloppy defense at the start of the season, while our attacking force carried us game after game. The amount of amazing comebacks, the late winners, the De Gea saves, the Ferguson celebrations. The awful refereeing in Champions League knock-out stages, the following drop in form. The attacking displays against the hammers, Villa and West Brom. Looking back, the season has been everything I associate with Manchester United football club. Talents breaking through the ranks, the reserves and academies doing well in their leagues, progress in European tournaments, winning the league and a mixture between experienced players, youth players, wonderkids and squad players.
For the rating part, I will be making a point out of judging the players based on what their role in the club and squad is when giving them the individual ratings. I feel it is unfair to judge say Vidic who has been injured for a long time the same way you would judge Evans who has played most of the season. I am also of the opinion that you can’t compare Michael Carrick and Nick Powell because Powell is a youngster working his way through, while Carrick is expected to carry the team with his experience and ability. I hope that this reflects in the ratings.
I will write about all the players listed as “First team players” on http://www.manutd.com/ , except the ones that have been on loan deals with other clubs. The rating system is going to be a grade from 0.5-10.0 . It will be a divided post, where I categorize the players by the expectations I had to them before the season, starting with “top performer”. Seing as I find a solid 30+ players in our squad, I will do one category today and the remining ones at a later point. Let’s get going.
So some of the players that have been dominating for us in the past seasons, such as the two top class defenders in the picture, naturally have higher expectations attached to them when running out on the pitch in the lovely, red jersey. They have performed at a top level before, either at United or for other clubs. I will rate them with that in mind.
The French international has been the first name on the team sheet for seven seasons now. Ever since he kicked Gabriel Heinze off the first team with his stunning offensive raids and good link-up play going forward, he has been a starter for us. Being the vice captain and all, wearing the captain armband for a long period last season, I expected him to play most of the games for us this season as well.
I was a bit disappointed in Evra in the last two seasons. And that was not because he didn’t try, but he looked clumsy at times and most of the goals we conceded came from the left back side. He either wasn’t there when they countered, or got dribbled or played around for goals. With the loan out for Fabio and purchase of Büttner, Evra seemed to have found his old self again. He has had a very good season this year, even if he sometimes looks out of position defensively. He scored 4 goals and made 5 assists in the league this year. Only Leighton Baines comes close to those stats as a back player in the league. Rated 8.0
The Japanese magician came from huge success at Dortmund. I was delighted to see us linked with him, and when the deal came through I celebrated with a beer. 17 goals and 10 assists for Dortmund in the 2011/2012 season, playing in the CAM role. Everything went through Shinji, and he was the core of a very exciting BVB team making progress in Europe.
He started very promising for us, playing a very quick 1-touch kind of football, relying on team mates’ movement and ability to finish his passes. Unfortunately an injury set him out for months, and did struggle with his form for a little while. Another key point when it comes to Shinji is his versatility. The fans have said it, Jurgen Klopp recently said it, and Shinji has said it himself. His favorite and best position is behind the striker. Rooney has held that spot for most of the season, and Shinji has had to play out left.
In the final games of the season, when given 90 minutes, we all saw what he is capable of. He can totally run the game for us if given the ball, and makes good use of both Van Persies’ smart movement and Chicharitos’ speed. He managed to get himself 6 goals and 3 assists in 20 league games. That should total approximatelly 0.5 goals/assists per game, which is very solid.
So although Kagawa was injured and played out of position for most of the season, he has showed us flashes of brilliance. He delivers a very good number in terms of goals and assists, and seems to shine when given the opportunity behind the striker(s). Rated 7.5
The Ecuadorean right winger turbo player. Player of the season in the club last year, and a player that I had massive expectations for this season. First of all, I was delighted and surprised to see a so called “classic winger” dominate as hard as Tony did for us last season. He beat players, made amazing crosses and was involved in everything. That being both in defense and going forward. A hard worker like himself became a fan favorite, was given the number 7 and was a given when setting up your expected team before the games.
This has been a very mediocre season for Valencia. And I am being kind in my selection of words. 5 assists and 1 goal in 30 games is far below the expected numbers for a winger in the club that just won the league. He got selected despite of his lack of quality in the crosses, passing and dribbling (this season) because there weren’t anyone to rival his spot. Nani and Young have been injured for most of the season, and worst case scenario, Tony brings a lot of defensive ability even if not in form. We saw glimpses of the old Valencia at the end of the season, and I expect him to rest it out during the summer and come back with a bang next season. I still feel like he wouldn’t have been picked a lot with form like that if we had alternatives. Rated 6.0, debatable if it should be lower.
The Manchester United talisman. The drive, the engine, the genius. He has consistently been a top performer ever since he came from Everton in 2004. That is 9 seasons at the top level as a 27 year old, which for me is VERY impressive. He has played in a free role out wide and done very well for us when we had Tevez and Ronaldo, he played behind Van Nistelrooy when he first came here, he played as a lone striker, and he played as a support striker for Berbatov. All of this with extraordinary ability and consistency through out every season.
This season has been a fairly good one for Wayne. He has looked sloppy, had a lower passing percentage than he has had earlier seasons, but has figured both behind Van Persie and in midfield at times. 12 goals and 10 assists in 27 league games, which is 0.81 goals or assists per game. Very, very good. And while the media circus is going on, and I too am very disappointed in the transfer request, I am only judging his performances on the pitch in this post. And Rooney did okay. For any other player, 12 games and 10 assists in 27 league games is amazing. For Rooney it is good, or okay. My personal expectations for Rooney is for him to perform like Messi or Ronaldo. They have always been. Ever since we signed him. But he doesn’t seem to have the same mental strength, and has the tendency to get injured now and then. He has lost bits of his pace and calmed down a bit, so he isn’t the same explosive guy we got to know at first. But damn does he know how to control the flow of the game. Give Wayne the ball, and watch the team play wonderful football.
Rooney rated 8.0
The ex-West Ham junior striker. He’s been a red since we snatched him from Leeds in 2002. 11 seasons of world class defending, if you ask me. Formed the best centreback partnership in the world two or three seasons back when him and Vidic both were fit at the same time. Rio is somewhat of a rare player. Very technically gifted, calm, tall, quick and with leader qualities. Sounds Brazilian, right? The best English CB of his generation in my opinion.
He started the season very rusty. A lot of people called for him to retire at the end. He looked a bit sloppy, a bit off his game. He was directly involved with conceded goals. About a month or two in, something must’ve clicked for him. He suddenly became the old Rio, just now in partnership with anyone. Evans, Smalling, Jones? Bring it on. He looked a steady figure in the top games, and almost single handedly controlled the team with his shouting and dictating from the back. Whenever you see a player always talking, shouting and pointing – that’s a leader. Bringing the experience to a back five with De Gea, Rafael, Evans/Jones/Smalling together with Evra has been essential to us winning the league, make no mistake about it. He rightfully got a spot on the PFA team on the season, and gets a good rating from me too. Rated 8.0
The Serbian wall of pain. The doombringer, the machine. He is truly the definition on captain fantastic. I am sure Nemanja would’ve rather thrown himself infront of a car (and ruined the car) than concede a goal he could stop. He has been the best CB in the world ever since his second season with us in 2007. As mentioned in the Ferdinand paragraph, he formed the best partnership I’ve seen in years in our back four, and has been essential for the success of this club since he came. A leader type, especially in the way he acts, and a no-nonsense kind of guy. Every summer, the newspapers come up with bullshit about his wife wanting to move to Barcelona because of the weather in Manchester. A couple days after, Nemanja kills the rumor in an interview. I love it.
Unfortunately he has been injured for most of the season. He looked a bit rusty when he first came back, but picked up his game quickly. He actually managed to reach 19 league games, scoring a goal in the process. By the end on the season, he was back to his old self. Throwing himself in front of shots, crushing everyone in the air, tackling anyone off the ball and making smart plays going forward. A very solid 7.5 for Nemanja, despite only playing 19 league games.
The long time unsung hero in the Manchester United midfield. Was an attacking midfielder at West Ham and Spurs, and played in a fantastic 2-man midfield with Scholes for a couple of seasons. I have no idea why some of us has had to defend this guy every summer when people wanted him sold, but that was still the case. I guess players that are just solid and does the job they are given by the managed, does not get all the credit they deserve.
This season, when Scholes has been injured for most of it, and Cleverley and Anderson has been very inconsistent, Carrick has stepped forward and become something like a star player for us. Everyone notices his smart passing, decision making and brilliant positioning. Fantastic! He even got himself a (DAAAMN CATCHY) chant. Voted player of the year by the club, on PFA team of the season and looks better than ever. Was outstanding in all games but one or two that I can remember, and DESERVES a 9.5 rating. I look forward to see him next season if we buy a midfielder that can fend off for him. He is just going to look even better.
Robin Van Persie
What can I say that hasn’t already been said? We bought perhaps the best striker in the world, only rivaled by Falcao, in the summer transfer window. The most talked about transfer of the summer, and with good reason. He scored in his debut, and I can’t even count on both my hands’ fingers how many games he won us by scoring the deciding goal. We bought an ex-captain of Arsenal, and while his role is a bit further up the pitch for us, he very often takes games by the neck and decides the outcome with his will to win. We bought a winner, and he finally got his league trophy.
26 league goals and 8 assists in 38 games. 0.9 goal/assists per game. Oh (Robin Van Peeersiie) my lord. Got a well deserved golden boot, got another team of the season spot, and was nominated to player of the year. A brilliant season for Robin, who is going to be even more hungry for trophies next year. He had a very unfortunate dry spell and drop in form around the Real Madrid games, but picked it up very well in the end of the season.
Congratulations on your first major trophy, and a well deserved 9.0 rating.
Running down the wing. A living legend and a very important part of our club. The Welsh wizard has been a key player for us since the early 90s, breaking through as a teenager. Many of the older United fans I’ve spoken with has told me he revolutionized the way wingers dribble, run and move. From the videos I have watched from the old days, it just looks like Giggsy was a professional footballer surrounded by old boys-players. It was like he could dribble them at will and create goals when he wanted. He still has some of the qualities, but has developed into a more experienced player that relies on routine, vision and passing ability when he is on.
A lot of fans have been angry when they have seen Giggs paired centrally in the midfield. We don’t win games with him in there, and I agree with those who say he is better out left or behind a striker. When he has been given such a role, or in the right midfielder spot like he did against Real Madrid. Wow, how good he was. He looked way better than say Ronaldo who ran around without really doing much. Giggs dominated. As a 39-year old attacking player, he keeps surprising. The effect he has on games when given time on the ball and space to run into, is fantastic. He will be a very important part of the transition to David Moyes, both on and off the pitch. For a rotation player, he has done his job VERY WELL this season. I rate Ryan Giggs 8.0. Maybe a little too much heart in that, as I was considering 7.5, but I feel like he deserves it. It isn’t his fault when picked for the CM spot, and he is always a threat as a LM/CAM.
Now for the final 3 players, they have all struggled a lot with injuries. I find it hard to judge them when they obviously have been lacking match fitness due to injuries. Therefore I can not really rate them properly. I will write a bit about them though, so hold tight.
The legend. He made a comeback last season, and was fantastic for us. This season has been filled with injuries and inconsistent performances. He still had the ability to open up games with his incredible passing, but there was no doubt that this year was the right year for him to retire. I hope he stays within the club as a coach. Imagine learning how to strike a ball with Scholesy? How to shoot from afar, and how to move without the ball? We should put a group of players under his supervision for the next season and see them become fantastic passers of the game. Perhaps someone else should learn them the tackling part though. Thank you for everything, Paul Scholes.
He got three league games and a couple cup games for us. He looks to have lost some of the speed on the ball, but still has the clever positioning and hard working Man United mentality. I was delighted to see him score aganst QPR. He deserves it. I don’t know much about the illness he is struggling with, but rumor has it that he is back in full training. I would love nothing more than seeing Darren as a squad rotation player next season.
So I was unsure if I should put him with the injuried once or not. He actually got 19 league games this season, but they have been very well spread out. Like two games, injured for three, two games, injured again. I feel sorry for Young. He gets a lot of shit for not being good enough, but is clearly a very talented and hard working player for us. The price tag when we signed him was huge, and he hasn’t justified it yet. But I am not one of those who wants to get rid of him already. At times last season, and a few times this season, he has been on the pitch when we have played beautiful attacking football. With Young on, Evra plays better. They combine very well, and Young has a very good decision making for a winger. His problem seems to be that he has a tendency to fade out of games, which he will need to work on if he wants to be a starter for us. I hope he can go the entire next season without injuries so that we get to see what he can do.
Evra : 8.0
Van Persie 9.0
1. Any player ratings you straight up disagree with? Why?
2. Any players that should’ve been expected top performers, that I have put in other categories to come?
3. The layout. Does it work? It felt kind of long to write, so I am hoping it doesn’t appear like that to the reader. I was debating whether I should go for just Name, picture, rating and a few words, or the one I just did.
Next post; End of season squad ratings, part two, youngsters making a break through