Some seasons ago, Keane would anchor the central midfield, and push the play forward. This meant that they didn’t have to rely excessively on their wings to create chances and produce goals. So even if Beckham or Giggs had a bad game, United would win (with a reduced margin).
When United won the league in 2003, Scholes had 18 goals (I think) against his name, that’s one in two games. And most of the goals came in games in which Ruud van Nistelrooy wasn’t doing well, around Christmas time. I think he even got a hat-trick at Tyneside, and that year, the Toons finished 3rd!
With the drop in form of Keane and Scholes, the pressure shifts to the wings. Ronaldo and Giggsey. Ruud doesn’t get the service he used to, hence fewer goals. Even this season, Ruud has to drop back to win balls. Rooney is playing like a LCAM, not unlike Ronaldinho for Barcelona, and not as a proper striker.
The way out? If Keane is moving out in the summer, then some very influential player is needed in the centre of midfield. That’s why United are keen on Ballack. In fact, United’s class of the 90s is aging now. So, Fergie has to find replacements fast. Park has come in for Giggs. In the next couple of years, we will find him taking the left wing more frequently. I think Fergie will persist with Scholes for some time, but if he doesn’t find form, then he will have to go too.
But hang on…
United have another generation of youngsters now. Rooney and Ronaldo, being the most prominent. And then there is Miller, who was brought in as a “future Beckham”. Guiseppe Rossi and Gerard Pique who debuted against Sunderland. Not to forget Bardsley, who is in the Neville mould, and Jonathon Spector, the 18 year old American left back – he was very impressive in his few appearances last season. That’s seven players under 20!
Which is why SAF is next only to God!
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