It seems that this summer, James Milner’s signature will be one of the most sort after in the Premier League. The player has scored 5 league goals, 9 in all competitions, and has impressed for club and country on the right and in the middle of the midfield. However, as good as James Milner has been for Aston Villa, is Milner really what Ferguson needs at Old Trafford next season?
The Telegraph and Daily Mail have reported that Sir Alex Ferguson is keeping a close eye on the contract negotiations being conducted between the Milner’s camp and Aston Villa, and could make a move this summer. Ferguson allegedly has an £80m war chest, and will readily spend the money on the England international.
Milner is a fantastic player, with a great engine, and is technically sound. However, a look at the Manchester United squad suggests that Manchester United are already well equipped in central midfield. Next season, Owen Hargreaves is expected to return as the midfield enforcer, whilst United already have a player very similar to James Milner in Darren Fletcher. Like Milner, Fletcher is a box to box midfield player who doesn’t sit in front of the defence, or play an attacking role. Fletcher and Milner are all-action players, and so it could be difficult to incorporate them in the same midfield. Further when one considers that Carrick is also still at the club, along with Paul Scholes for at least another season, is a big bid for Milner going to boost United’s title credentials?
Milner has in his locker that flexibility that will see the boy almost certainly travel to South Africa with England this summer. However, Milner has proven himself most effective in a central role, and Ferguson would surely not entertain the notion of buying Milner and pushing him out to the wings? Milner is nowhere near as effective as Valencia or Nani on the wing, and so is only likely to be purchased if Ferguson seeks to reconstruct his central midfield. If Ferguson does decide that his midfield needs to be re-worked, surely attacking midfielders will be his primary target, rather than another box to box type such as the aforementioned Darren Fletcher , or Park Ji Sung?
Manchester United arguably need to bring goals to the club this summer. Whilst the club has not exactly struggled to score this season, the 26 Premier League goals Wayne Rooney scored has masked the lack of potency elsewhere in the side. The next highest goal scorer in the team is Dimitar Berbatov with 12 league goals, and thereafter, it is Antonio Valencia with 5.
In Manchester United’s vintage teams, the likes of Scholes, Giggs, Beckham and Keane could be counted upon for at least 25 goals a season in the league alone, whilst in attack Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer were all playing in the same squad. Later, Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez (sorry) and Ruud Van Nistelrooy were all player playing in a dangerous Manchester United squad. However, if you took Wayne Rooney out of the current United fold, you would struggle to see where the goals would come from.
Whilst James Milner is a solid and at times inspirational figure for Aston Villa, he is not a player who will score prolifically. His 5 league goals is no better than Antonio Valencia’s, and although he would arguably get more opportunities to score at Old Trafford, Manchester United need an attacking threat. A more mobile striker than Dimitar Berbatov would be helpful, as would a left winger to replace the aging Ryan Giggs and inconsistent Nani.
Perhaps United fans would like to see the diminutive England midfielder at the club, as would the vast majority of Premier League teams. However, in this economic climate, United need to spend wisely, and arguably, another box to box midfield player is not going to dramatically improve the squad next season.
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