End of season squad ratings, final part

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Benched, out of favor, backup, yet to make it players.

Having worked through the players I expected to be top performers in the first post, and having DirectionalVector do a rating of the players we had high expectations of breaking through this season in the second post, we’ve finally come to the end post. I am having a hard time giving it a title, but have ended up with something like a “squad rotation/backup/new players/injury prone” players post. I think a title like “bench players” or “out of favor” fits the idea of the post pretty well. Taking a look at the remaining players, they all fit different categories. I will rate most of them as if I had low to no expectations before this season, so keep that in mind.

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Anders Lindegaard

Often categorized as the best benched keeper in the Premier League. Would probably be the first choise in 16 or 17 of the 20 Premier League clubs to be honest. Had a very good season last year, but the signing of De Gea kind of made it obvious that as soon as David found his feet in Manchester and started performing consistently, made it obvious that Lindegaard was going to be a second choise. He got his 10th game of the season in the league versus West Bromwich Albion, and has been pretty solid when given the chance.  A lot of people seem to forget how hard it is for a player to be match fit when he has to go months between each appearance. No matter how hard you work out in training, or how psyched you are, mastering the tempo of the game, be that in goal or other positions, takes time. If I were to rate him only for how well he fits the role as a second keeper in a top club, I’d end up at around 9. He glows of attitude and will to win, he seems happy, he praises team mates and doesn’t complain. This is a post about his season though, and it has been okay. He wasn’t as good as last year, but it was good enough. Remember Roy Carroll? Tomas Kuczczack? Lindegaard is way better.

This is a 7.0  season for Lindegaard in my opinion. Did a good job when needed, but was very clumsy in the final game of the season, where he barely stopped a single shot.

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Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez

The little pea. A true fan favorite that deserves all the praise coming his way. Had an “off season” last year, where he scored 12 goals in 36 games, and looked tired from playing a lot of games both for Mexico and United the year before. He was kind of sloppy in his touch, and looked very “Huntelaar”-esque in the sense that he could score goals, but looked uncomfortable on the ball.

A well deserved holiday in the summer followed, and Chicharito looked very sharp as the season started. He has scored 18 goals in 36 games this season, and fans have been backing Chicharito to get more playing time. What took me by surprise in the fall, was that he looked to have developed the other aspects of his game. He looked comfortable on the ball going forward, was better at passing, delivered a few assists and actually took defenders for a run out wide to open up space for Van Persie in the middle. Brilliant. It might seem like some people forgot that he was only 23 (now 24), and still had the ability to develop. And man has he done that! He looks a real contender for the striker spot for us, showing his brilliant co-operation with the likes of Kagawa and Van Persie up front. He scores when he wants, but takes responsibility for creating chances as well now. If I were to rate him purely on being a backup striker, he would get a 10, because in my eyes, he is the best backup striker in the world.

For this season, we’re not too far off. Chicharito has had an amazing season, and is one of the few players that manage to perform instantly despite having sat weeks on the bench. I am struggling to find superlatives to describe how impressive Hernandez is, and how good his performances are. When I find myself in times of trouble, Chicharito scores for me. Deserves a rating of 9.0 for me. A massive season.

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Luis Nani

A very controversial player among the United supporters on the internets. Some people love him, some people hate him. I feel like he is getting unfair criticism at times, even though I too find him frustrating. Having struggled a lot with injuries for the past one and a half seasons, I feel like it is kind of hard to criticise him for lacking match fitness. How is that his fault? We can go as far back as 2008/2009 and talk about how on and off he was, and how good he looked when he had a good day. Nani is in my opinion the most talented player in our squad. I know some people are going to raise their eyebrows, but for me he has all the talent in the world. Pretty similar to Anderson, but I think Nani has proved that he can keep that level for longer parts. He was the player of the season in 2009/2010 for me, and was absolutely world class for 85% of the season. He carried the team after Ronaldo leaving, and was amazing in his right midfield position. The way he played games with Phillip Lahm against Bayern in the Champions League is the best performance I have seen by a winger in this club in the past ten years. It was magical. The issue lays in the injury problems. Can we even trust him to be fit for a season? I don’t know.

I am having a hard time rating him this season, as he has barely played. He looked very, very good in a few of the games he played in the end of the season. He was good against Chelsea and Arsenal, and got injured against City (if I remember correctly) after playing well. He was also fantastic against Real Madrid before the sending off.  People saying that Nani is out of favor in Fergusons’ book, take a look above at the teams he was picked to play against this season. The four best opponents we have played. The only reason he has not played more, has been injuries. He would be on the “expected to be a top performer”-list if he wasn’t injured as much.

I think Nani fits the new play style we were trying out this season very well when in form. An attacking formation with  Welbeck, Kagawa, Nani and Van Persie would offer a lot of fantastic attacking plays.

The more I think about it, the more he fits in with Young, Scholes and Fletcher in the “injured too much, can’t rate”. If I had to rate him based on his performances, I remember 5 very good ones and about the same in pretty bad ones. Rated 6.0 (but I don’t feel like we should give him a rating at all to be honest).

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Anderson Oliveira

The most exciting midfielder in the club. He is 25 years old, and has not reached 100 appearances for us in his 6 years in the club. We did the math in a reddit thread a while back, and I think we did end up in 15.5 games a season as the average for Anderson, and that is his main issue. He looks fantastic on the ball going forward, has a great left foot to hit the easy and the impossible balls. He can pass players, he can nudge them off the ball and he can take responsibility in creating the attack. We play our best attacking football with Ando on the pitch. The problem for Anderson seems to be his constant cycle of being fit and playing well, being injured and out of football for a while, coming back unfit and being able to play 45 minutes of football before going missing. Then repeat. I am of the opinion that there is no reason for us to sell him. We have him on a contract and I can’t think of anyone that would pay more money for Anderson than we would need to spend for a replacement. He looks like a top notch midfielder in form, but we see that about 5 games a season. On one hand, being injured a lot is partly up to diet and exercise, but it can also be a very unlucky situation. I feel like there is a combination of both here, if one were to take the Bebe interview seriously. “Anderson feels like he has already made it, loves food and enjoys life at Manchester”, or something like that.

This season has been very Anderson-like for Anderson. He has been okay, gotten good, played well, gotten injured. Come back, played well for 20-30 minutes, gotten tired and faded out. Subbed off. Repeat. Bottom line is that we can not put our faith in Anderson to fill the midfield spot next to Carrick, because he doesn’t seem to be fit when we need him. He can be a fantastic squad player though, with the potential to still break through and claim a spot. And that is where I feel like we should put him.

For this season, I rate Anderson 6.5, with a feeling that I am being generous. All in all a very average season for the Brazilian magician.

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Nick Powell

For anyone frequently visiting the /r/reddevils subreddit, my fondness of Nick Powell should not come as a surprise. I was delighted when we got him ahead of Arsenal (they got Walcott and the Ox, I was bitter), and he looked very good in the pre season matches. He looks like a modern version of Frank Lampard, that is brilliant at offensive movement, is calm on the ball and is a great finisher for a player his age. Coming from Crewe Alexandra as the player of the year, young player of the year and with the goal of the season, he was an already well known talent among the people who follow lower leagues in England. He played very good in the matches he was involved in at the start of the season, and scored with his first shot in the game against Wigan (we won 4-0) after being subbed on with 20 minutes left. His most impressive performance was for us against Chelsea in the Carling Cup, where he was dominating the Chelsea midfield. And no, that was not a U-21 midfield in any way. Chelsea played a very strong team against our youngsters, and we were very close at beating them. We substituted on youngsters at the end of the games, and Chelsea put on Mata and Hazard. They beat us, but players like Nick Powell and Michael Keane impressed us a lot. Keane was offered a loan deal to Leicester (where he did amazing), while Powell disappeared off the radar for a while.

He had to play as a striker for the reserves team for the rest of the season, and I am personally a bit disappointed that he wasn’t involved more often. Even at Andersons’ worst period for us, where he barely lasted half a game, Powell was nowhere to be seen. Not even on the bench. And I understand the need for a good finisher to play for the reserves, but I am certain Powell would’ve done very well if tested more often in the first team. Young talents need to play at the highest level to become top class. I hope to see this happen next season.

The rating for Powell is a bit weird, as he got 2 league games and a couple cup and champions league group stage games for us. He was very good for the reserves, despite me expecting him to be a regular on the bench for the first team. For the reserves I’d rate him 8.0, but I think Fallark or Volandil should have the final say in this one.

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Alexander Büttner

The second half of the bromantic relationship with Robin Van Persie. He seems to have settled very well. I was one of those who didn’t quite understand the signing of Büttner in the summer. He was wanted by Southampton, and I found it weird that we would fight for players that were on their way to a bottom half team. Fabio was loaned out for first team experience, and Büttner looked like another Richie De Laet signing – which is to provide depth in defense. His debut against Wigan was absolutely amazing. A fantastic goal and  great assist can attest to that.  All of our attacking play came through the left, and Büttner was the player that drove the team forward. Brilliant. He got 5 league games for us, scoring two goals and getting one assist. He looks like a real attacking threat on the ball with his determination, technique, speed and “I don’t give a fuck”-approach to having the ball. He is a very exciting player to watch, and many supporters seem to want to try him on the left wing position.

The reason for this is that he is absolutely clueless in defense. Seen in many games this season, but was perhaps most obvious in the final game against West Brom. Don’t quote me on this, but I am pretty sure that 4 of their goals came from Büttners’ side, and he was barely in position a single time. At the same time, he was a real threat going forward, scoring a goal and creating a handful of chances. He is for me a very weird player, that looks a great wing back, but the space he leaves behind, or the positioning when we are being pressured are such weak points that opponent teams seem to abuse very easily.

For the rating on Büttner, I’d give him a 8.0 as an attacking player, but a 5.0 as a defender. That averages a 6.0, which I feel is fair. He had a couple of very good games for us, but the last one, fresh in mind, makes me feel like he was worse than he actually was. I feel okay by giving him the six, but he needs to seriously work on his defensive play if he wants to make a serious attempt on claming the LB position. Fabio is already miles ahead when it comes to defending, and a very potent attacking defender as well.

TL;DR numbers;

Lindegaard: 7.0

Chicharito: 9.0

Nani: 6.0

Anderson: 6.5

Powell: 8.0 for the reserves, too few games for the first team.

Büttner: 6.0

 

End note


Thank you for following this 3-part series of posting ratings on our team. It took a lot of work, so we had to devide it up between me and DirectionalVector (hooray he’s back!). I’d love to hear your ratings for these players, as it can create some very interesting discussion. Other than that, I’d like to reach out and say that (almost) anyone is welcome to PM me or directionalvector about getting a writer spot with the blog. It is a blog by r/reddevils users, for r/reddevils users.

Rdzzl

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