Dan continues his review of Manchester United’s player performances in our End of Season Report part two. In this instalment he is focusing on the performances of our midfielders.
If you missed part one, have a read of it here
Carrick (CDM) – 7.75 – The underrated rock. Carrick has rarely gotten the credit he deserves, but this year others are seeing what most fans have known all along, seeing it more by his absence than his presence. Carrick’s position and ball movement has no equal on this team and everything good starts with him. One of the slower players, he allows the team to play quicker. It’s no surprise that United’s best run of games came with Carrick in full fitness and even less surprise that without him to end the season, only one of the six games ended in victory. As he grows older and his injuries last longer, it’s more imperative than ever to find a suitable replacement.
Herrera (CM) – 7.5 – This was probably my favourite signing of the summer. After missing out on him last summer, I began to pay more attention to him and I really enjoyed his play. He started the season really well until suffering a rib injury. Once fit, it was frustrating and confusing to see him on the bench game after game. One of the things United were missing in that time was fight and Herrera is a feisty guy. He played well when given the chance and finally got himself reinserted in the starting 11. With Carrick at the base, it allowed Herrera to roam, with reason and within Van Gaal’s liking, and he continuously found pockets of space and was always one to get stuck in. Now on Van Gaal’s good side, Herrera looks set to be a vital piece of the puzzle.
Mata (LM) – 7.25 – Another curious case for much of the early part of the season as Mata is one of, if not the one, the most creative player on the books. When teams lock up and defend, it’s Mata who holds the key. Once installed in the starting line-up, even out of position, he could no longer be ignored. His understanding with Herrera borders on telepathic. I can only imagine what he’ll be able to do when played in his natural number 10 role.
Di Maria (RM/LM) – 6 – Cast aside by Madrid, this was a great pickup. Coming into the season, the current wingers hadn’t performed for some time. Di Maria’s pace and creativity was a perfect fit for a side lacking in that, especially from wide areas. He got off to a great start, notching goals and assists. Soon though, he started to fade. Maybe it was the physicality of the league, or the off the field issues, but something wasn’t right. When things went down for him, he seemed like he didn’t care, that he wanted to be somewhere else, didn’t want to try and make things right again. He probably should have been taking out earlier than he was, and even that was mainly due to his suspension. Luckily he wasn’t thrown right back in when he returned as both Mata and Young did enough to keep the number 7 on the bench. Di Maria is clearly a quality player, but he puts in the effort of someone who doesn’t want to be here.
Young (LM) – 8 – Who would’ve thought Young would be a candidate for player of the season at the start of the year? Not many. He started out as a left wing back and made the position his own. When the system changed, Young kicked on and kept putting in displays reminiscent of his earlier days. Being able to keep last year’s man of the match in the Champions League Final is quite an accomplishment.
Fellaini (CAM) – 7.25 – Another outcast turned saviour, for the most part. When Van Gaal took over, many thought Fellaini would be on his way out. When the transfer window closed and Fellaini on the books, he set out to prove his doubters wrong. While many fans didn’t and don’t like the long ball method, it’s hard to doubt the results. I wouldn’t use it as a first choice, but sometimes it needs to be done and Fellaini did the job he was asked to do. Though, with more players sure to come in and Champions League games on the horizon, Fellaini will have to add more quality to his play to be counted on again.
Januzaj (LM/RM) – 6 – I’ll probably be called out most on this ranking since all I see is everyone wanting the poor kid gone. But he’s still one of my favourite players. Sometimes he’s the only one willing to go after players and attack. Sure he gives the ball away a little too much and is still a bit weak and gets muscled off the ball, but he is clearly bigger than he was and he knows he needs to continue working on it. He’s still young and has a lot to learn, but if he should be allowed to leave, it should only be on loan for a season at most. The thing is, Januzaj basically does what Di Maria does, although with a worse end product currently, but is still inexperienced. He definitely needs more experience before the promise of last season can be fulfilled.
Thank You For Reading
Read Part Three Here