TEN things we have learnt from Manchester United in 2010

2010 has been a mixed year for Manchester United. At the turn of the year, Manchester United looked favorites for the Premier League title, but Chelsea’s win at Old Trafford in April effectively sealed the title for the West London club. By the end of 2010 Manchester United remain unbeaten in the league since that game and are top of the table. However, there are still question marks being raised against Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, and who would bet against Ferguson proving everybody wrong again. Here at Football Fan Cast, we have put together 10 things that 2010 has taught us about Manchester United. Read, enjoy and join in the debate below.

Strength of character

This Manchester United squad may not have the same quality of a few years ago, but the spirit and character of the players can’t be called into question. Time after time in 2010, Manchester United have taken knocks but have managed to stand up to them. A classic example was the comeback at Villa Park in November. It took a lot for United to come back that day, seasons hinge on moments like that. By May, that could be the most important point of the season for Sir Alex Ferguson’s men.

Nemanja Vidic has been captain marvel

It was a very brave decision from Sir Alex Ferguson to drop both Gary Neville and Rio Ferdiand in place of Nemanja Vidic as Manchester United captain, but what an extremely wise decision it has been. Vidic has been superb all season; playing with a new responsibility that has improved his game – if that was possible. The United captain has been a rock at the heart of the defence so far this season, and Manchester United fans are starting to witness the passion the Serb has for Manchester United.

Rafael looks set to be a Manchester right back for years to come

The development of young Rafael Da Silva has been a testament to the Manchester United coaching system and Sir Alex Ferguson’s man management skills. The young defender could easily have blamed himself for Manchester United’s quarter final exit of the 2009/2010 Champions League, but he got back up and has played himself back into the squad. However, he has done more than that. He has been an ever present this season, he has developed going forward and is a much better defender now. The Brazilian has allowed Manchester United to have a solid back five for most of the season – a key reason why Manchester United have remained undefeated this season.

Nani is ready to be a world beater

Finally the penny has dropped with Nani. The Portuguese winger is a fantastic talent and is now starting to show his worth to the Manchester United team. He is without doubt their best chance of winning the Premier League this season, if his form continues, Manchester United may have also have European success. Nani has added both goals and assists to his game this season, no longer is he the frustrating winger who can’t cross the ball. It is good to see Nani pulling out of the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo.

What is the point of Dimitar Berbatov?

The man for the…. small occasion. Why pay a club £30m for a player that is not trusted to play in the big games of a season. Dimitar Berbatov’s form this season has been excellent, but who has he scored his goals against? The vast majority have been netted against teams in the bottom half of the table. His performance’s against Manchester City and Aston Villa were diabolical, and if he hasn’t the drive to play well in these games, what is the point in having him? Coming off the back of goalscoring form, Sir Alex Ferguson picked Wayne Rooney ahead of Berbatov for the clash with Arsenal. No doubt he will do this when Chelsea and Manchester City come to Old Trafford.
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Manchester United have lost the fear factor
Having thrown away points against Fulham, Everton, Bolton and West Brom in the Premier League and Rangers in the Champions League are clubs now finding it easier to play against Manchester United. In all of these games, the defensive unit has looked fragile (not the back four but the whole team) and Manchester United could have had the title sown up by now. The reality is the Manchester United squad isn’t as good as it once was, and Wayne Rooney was not in any form during these games. Maybe with Rooney on form, teams will be less inclined to attack Manchester United?

Manchester United MUST replace Edwin van der Sar with a top quality goalkeeper

Over the past year, Thomas Kuszczak has proven himself incapable of holding down the Manchester United’s number one jersey. The Pole is a decwent under study but no way should Sir Alex Ferguson install him as van der Sar’s replacement. He looks nervous playing in front of huge crowds, and very suspect when dealing with crosses. Manchester United need to invest in a top quality goalkeeper if they are to have a smooth transition after van der Sar.

Champions League success is not beyond this squad

If Manchester United had held on against Bayern Munich who knows what could have happened. They would have had a relatively easy semi final against Lyon and would have been expected to challenge in a third Champions League final in a row. However, it didn’t happen, but this squad is not a million miles away from another final. The squad knows how to win away European matches, something that is vital. Old Trafford is still on the the hardest places to come and get a victory so added together there is no reason why Manchester United will not challenge in 2011.

Manchester United need Wayne Rooney to fire

Manchester United have got away with Wayne Rooney’s form being off during the first part of the 2010 season but it can’t happen again if Manchester United are to challenge for success in 2011. All through 2010, we were waiting for the goals to dry up for Rooney, and until that Champions League clash with Bayern Munich it didn’t look like they would dry up. Manchester United need Rooney to fire if they are to be successful on all fronts. They do not have a striker that can score in the biggest of games and Rooney’s all round play scares the life out of defenders. 2010 was a mixed year for Rooney and Manchester United – if Rooney hadn’t got injured in Munich who knows how successful 2010 could have been.

Antonio Valencia is the most underrated player in the Premier League

Look what happens when Wayne Rooney finds a team mate who can consistently put a ball on his head – he scores ten headed goals. Valencia is by no means a one trick pony. He has blistering pace, trickery as well as all the skills of a combative central midfielder. Valencia came to Manchester United as a replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo and it took time for Manchester United fans to see what Valencia was about. However, he has is growing into a real star for Manchester United, and his return in 2011 will no doubt please Manchester United fans, Sir Alex Ferguson and Wayne Rooney.

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