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What does the season hold for United’s Youth?

Rafael & Fabio Da Silva

In truth their fate brings to mind that of the Dark Lord ‘He who shalt not be named’ and ‘The Boy Who Lived’. One cannot survive while the other lives and likewise, it seems when one brother is in form and injury free, the other can’t get a look in and is found languishing on the sidelines. I’ve long held the suspicion that Fabio was a decent right-back and was featuring at left-back out of necessity rather than it being a specialist position where his best attributes come to the fore. In my opinion from what I’d seen of him, his left foot wasn’t all that great in a crossing sense and I did find it strange that many were so adamant that he was a left back and that is that.

Last season put that that myth to rest and he more than came into his own on the opposite flank.

One of them will definitely have a great season next year, which one I’m not too sure but for them both to have an excellent season, its going to take the usurping of Evra at left-back for that to happen, it’s possible but in my opinion unlikely as they’re both not what I consider natural left-backs, but both are first team right-backs next year in any case. Fabio’s coming of age performance v Barca cemented this notion and don’t rule out a regular call up for Brazil. by the end of next season

Areas of Improvement: Positioning, Reckless tackles, Ambidextrous Crossing, More impact in the final third, Showcasing more of their flair .


Is it make or break next season? I’m not too sure, it depends on what expectations Fergie has of him, the signings we may possibly make in the midfield area and if so, whether Anderson finally finds himself a role in which he feels comfortable and better suited to his attributes.

In my opinion anyone who thinks Anderson will suddenly blossom into the PFA player of the year next season, ‘Do a Nani’, is expecting too much. Midfielders tend to take longer to mature than wingers, and are in their prime after the age of 25, whereas wingers can explode onto the scene even in their teens.

United’s first concern with Anderson should be getting an entire season out of him without injuries and niggles. Resting him when he need to be rested and supplying him with a regular run in the first team is crucial in developing him and judging once and for all whether he has what it takes to play for this club. He also needs to undergo an intense fitness regime in order to become more of a dynamo in the midfield.

Another season like this and it wouldn’t surprise me if Fergie did offload him, its time he showed serious progress, if not breaking through into the first team at least prove to the United faithful he can hack an entire season and be a reliable player when needed.

Areas of Improvement: Positioning, Stamina, General Fitness, Shooting, Set Pieces, Heading.

David De Gea

An expensive goalkeeping acquisition, in United’s case they don’t always tend to go well. That said, something tells me that the backroom staff have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to recruit the perfect keeper in terms of compatibility with United’s style and a like for like replacement for Van der Sar.

From what I’ve seen of him in La Liga and the Under 21?s, he is cool, calm and collected… just the right sort of personality for this current United side. We don’t really need a Schmeichelesque keeper anymore, as we’re not as loose at the back. Therefore a shot stopper in the Casillas mould isn’t what we need but rather a keeper who stays in the shadows, can concentrate for long periods and do the simple stuff without fluffing it under intense pressure. Hence why I genuinely believe De Gea was first choice even if Neuer was available.

On the floor he seems pretty decent, but then again any keeper playing behind Spain won’t be caught hitting the ball very long – that said, the fact he comes from the nation of Casillas and Reina bodes well and he isn’t no Valdes in that department trust me.

Areas of Improvement: Will have to up his aerial game in order to keep successfully in the EPL, Shot-stopping from long range.

Chris Smalling

I rate this lad extremely highly, in my opinion by far the most standout english talent at the recent U21?s and probably the best young defender at the tournament bar none. His ability to bring the ball out of defence and just keep the game moving forward under pressure is amazing, and its something which even the likes of Ferdinand are guilty of not doing enough of at International Level. and especially in the Barcelona final at Wembley where VDS was forced to kick the ball long on repeated occasions due to our defenders lacking the mobility and class in possession to take it to the catalans (granted abit of help from the midfield wouldn’t go amiss either).

Positionally he can get caught out when playing with less senior partners, but when alongside a Rio or a Vidic, he tends to excel and for this reason alone I really think he can cement himself as a first team regular as early as next year. Displacing one of Ferdinand or Vidic takes some herculean defending, but this lad is capable of those feats and many underestimate his talent, or shy away from just how much they’re taken aback by his performances in his short career to date.

Areas of Improvement: Positioning, Leadership, Long Range Passing, General Strength & Aggression

Continued on Page TWO

Phil Jones

Another new acquisition and one which has encountered a fair bit of debate as to where he will feature and what impact he will be expected to have next season.

To be honest it is difficult to see him having an immediate impact especially in the defensive positions due to the level of competition in those areas. In my opinion he’ll be used more as a utility man, coming off the bench for tiring legs and filling in against lesser opposition, injuries etc whilst he acclimatises to life at United. As for potentially filling in at defensive midfield, its one thing to do this for Blackburn Rovers where the technical level demanded from that level is not particularly high but for him to displace Carrick as the defensive mid or even complement him in a midfield trio (with a more creative player ahead) is asking possibly too much. He will definitely be given a chance to make a name for himself in that role and it probably is his best chance of finding an immediate route into the United first team but its placing a heavy burden on him to expect him to excel.

If he could give us something akin to Hargreaves in that role, that would be awesome though, we can all agree on that.

Areas of Improvement: Weight of pass, Movement off the ball, General standard of his technical game.

Daniel Welbeck

I’ll confess that I find it hard to envisage Welbeck making an immediate impact on this United team and have doubts as to whether he can make it for this club in the long term. That said, the role of Striker is one which is very difficult and especially as Welbeck seems to be more of a potential ’9? rather than a ’10?, his development will more likely take longer as his game will be built on strength, great hold up play and ability to score goals in the box.

This lad has a knack for goal-scoring, it can’t be denied and as long as he continues to do this, I couldn’t care less if his general play is not particularly lively or eye-catching but what does concern me is his languid style. Not that I have a dislike for this style, far from it but as we’ve seen with Berbatov, its a style that doesn’t perhaps suit United especially for when we wish to play at our best. Hernandez’ immediate impact for the first team has made that all too clear and its a shame that Macheda who possesses the fiery nature/swashbuckling style doesn’t have the same level of natural talent as Danny. There are signs that Welbeck can track back and put in a shift when needed, he can get across the pitch well, one hopes once he matures, his aggression will come to the fore and he can be a big player for us in the future. Next season, he will just seek to keep his name in Ferguson’s thoughts and score some important goals when called upon.

Areas of Improvement: Movement off the ball, Aggression, More purpose on the ball, Crossing (for when he’s employed out wide)

Tom Cleverley

He wasn’t very good at the recent Under 21?s, which was a shame considering what a joy he’s been to watch for Wigan on loan. In my opinion he was hampered at international level, not down to a lack of talent but moronic management from ‘Geeet Staaack EEIN’ Three Lions on your Shirt Pschyo Stu. Played on the right, his lack of pace was exploited and he couldn’t really get forward and take players on, as we know he can at premiership level. His ability to come off the flank and strike with his right was also curtailed by this disastrous tactical move.

Cleverley next season will hope that in the limited time he is given, it is in the right positions (Left Mid or AM) and then he will have to make the most of it, as I fear Fergie’s patience with regards to the likes of him, Evans, Anderson and Welbeck isn’t likely to be as much as the new signings and Smalling.

Can he make an impact? I hope so, there’s little glimpes of him where he just looks the part whenever he’s passing and moving in tight areas and he can pull out audiacious passes under pressure but then there are many games where he can just come across as pretty limited and the fact that he can’t even hold on to a first team place in the U21 team does beg the question of whether or not he’s United quality.

I wish him the best, as I do like his style of play and can see something in him.

Areas of Improvement: Aggression, Dribbling (with tricks), Crossing/Shooting with both feet, Heading, Positional Play (if he wants to make an impact centrally).


In conclusion, expect the twins to continue to make a strong impact on the first team, expect a big debut season from De Gea (as he’ll either fly or die), expect Jones to steadily find his own ‘niche’ role within the United first team set up without really troubling the back line, Smalling to put Ferdinands position under threat.

As for Welbeck, I expect a few goals here and there but don’t see him breaking into the first team set up as a regular and as for Cleverley, he’ll either make a strong impact in terms of either goals or controlling the game sort of performances, showing everyone what he is made of, or he’ll struggle to get games and leave the club in search of regular first team football.

Finally I reckon Anderson, if fit for the entire season will finally lay the foundations to excel for the season after and if not (remains injury prone), I can’t see him staying at the club for much longer.

Article courtesy of Rae M at the excellent The Busby Way

Article title: What does the season hold for United’s Youth?

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