The Manchester United Fans' Season Preview: Please Fergie, Buy Some Steel And Silk

The summer overhaul is nearly complete and Manchester United will now be looking to replicate last season's title success. As long as Darren Gibson isn't shirking responsibility they've got every chance.
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The summer overhaul is nearly complete and Manchester United will now be looking to replicate last season's title success. As long as Darren Gibson isn't shirking responsibility they've got every chance...

Pre season: Good, bad or ugly?

Resoundingly good. Five games, five wins and 20 goals scored in the United States. But pre-season means nothing, doesn’t it? And the MLS quality was surprisingly poor after United encountered more testing encounters last year (albeit with a weaker squad). Nevertheless Ji-Sung Park’s composure is bordering on ice cool (three goals), Rooney banged in four and even Michael Owen, occasionally so inactive that you could be playing the footballing equivalent of Where’s Wally? dinked in a winner against Barcelona. Ashley Young was enterprising and one can only conclude that the reason United never scored from one of his corners was because the ‘finishers’ were shocked that the ball evaded the first man.

The other acquisitions this year – Phil Jones, David de Gea and Anders Lindegaard all impressed, and there’d be no complaints if the cheaper-yet-older ‘keeper Lindegaard was preferred to De Gea when United line-up at the Hawthorns on August 14. However Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley were the brightest sparks; both have clearly benefitted from their loan spells at Sunderland and Wigan respectively, while Welbeck in particular is going some way to dispelling doubts over what was once a first touch so heavy he appeared to wear a police tag on his ankle.

Hopes for the season:

Difficult to surpass last season’s feat considering that Fergie signed a Fulham reserve, an unknown Mexican and an unfootballing vagrant yet still made a mockery of all and sundry to regain the Premier League title. The nineteenth title. United are reenergised with younger players coming in and older squad players going out, so retaining the league, after last season’s minor miracle achievement, is a more realistic prospect than the previous campaign. But succeeding in Europe should be the priority – three triumphs for a club of United’s side is paltry – however the right signings are yet to be made just to compete with, let alone beat, Barcelona.

Fears for the season:

The obvious one is for the bells to chime at midnight on August 31 and it is confirmed that United, inexplicably, have not signed a midfielder. They need two (silk and steel) otherwise winning in Europe is a write-off and on the domestic front there would be a reliance on an uninspiring roster who are prone to wilting against the toughest opponents. And it’s a grand task for United to repeat their home form of last season (18 wins from 19) while improving on the road (five wins from 19), and relying on Chelsea to implode and not recover for two months.

Absolute bare minimum you’ll accept

Since the squad is stronger, winning a twentieth English league title would be a terrific achievement. Paradoxically, there’d be no complaints if United finished second should they not sufficiently strengthen the group in August.

Fixture you’re most looking forward to?

Liverpool. Even though City have superseded them in the geographical-rivals-and-rivals-for-honours stakes, Liverpool-United’s the biggest game in English football and has been for decades. The historical enmity of the cities and the clubs’ dominance of English football for four consecutive decades sustains its unchallenged berth as the most anticipated fixture in the country. To paraphrase Sonny Corleone in The Godfather: “They hate us so we hate ‘em back.”

Got the right manager?

Absolutely. However… Some say he needs an assistant to tell him that a player like Mesut Ozil would improve his squad rather than being ‘too left-footed’… And that he should overcome his midfield Kryptonite, after over two years of being complacent about it.

By Christmas you’ll be…

In the top three amidst the merry-go-round of swapping top spot at the halfway point.

United are name-checked in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.Spike, the villain-cum-anti-hero, lists the club as one of the reasons why he doesn’t want to destroy the world.

Player you’d most like to sign?

Bastian Schweinsteiger. Box-to-box. Defensive. Attacking. World-class. Ticks all the boxes and is exactly what United are yearning for. It would have been prudent to save the £36.5m on Jones and Young just to bid for him.

Which player should we look out for?

Ravel Morrison, but he’s as enigmatic as Joey Barton is philosophical. Arguably superior than Josh McEachran, if he can stay on the rails, heed the advice of his peers and be grateful for his phenomenal talent, then he could easily be England’s talisman at the 2014 World Cup. Otherwise, Paul Pogba’s a special player who has crucially beefed up his slender, 6 ft 1 in frame over the summer.

Which player would you love to ditch?

Darron Gibson. Fergie’s done well chopping away at the deadwood in the close-season but it’s a pity that Gibson and Tomasz Kuszczak are still loitering around. Both have never been good enough for the club but Gibson is such an unadventurous footballer and responsibility-shirker that you wonder what wowed the scouts in Norn Iron in the first place.

Opposition hate figure?

Steven Gerrard. The hypocrisy, the diving and the selfishness of the man are breathtaking – as is the thick slice of slack he is cut whenever hopeless for club or country, or when becoming needlessly violent over someone understandably refusing a request for a bit of Phil Collins. It was wonderful bidding ‘cheerio’ when he got sent off at Old Trafford in the cup last season.

Tell us something we don’t know about your club?

United are name-checked in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.Spike, the villain-cum-anti-hero, lists the club as one of the reasons why he doesn’t want to destroy the world.

What won’t happen this season?

Old Trafford chanting ‘Who the f*cking hell are you?’ rather than ‘Who are ya?’ There’s a certain criteria you should heed by as a supporter of your club, and too many don’t at United.

Favourite chant?

Funny thing is, while it was absolutely the right decision to sell Wes Brown and John O’Shea, it continued a trend of selling players with the best chants at the club (Christiano Ronaldo previously). Although *braces self for unashamed boast* Dimitar Berbatov’s chant was innovated by yours truly, Nemanja Vidic’s to Dean Martin’s Volare is a personal favourite (‘He comes from Serbia/ He’ll f****** murder ya’). It’s so good that the unimaginative souls at Wolves copied it verbatim for Nenad Milijas.

Where will you finish?

Second. Unless the midfield is sorted with some steel and silk. In which case, first.

Any other news?

According to the wisdom of David Gill, those who oppose the leeching Glazers, who have taken out hundreds of millions of the club in interest, fees, debt repayments, personal loans and expenses, (saddling the club with over £500m worth of debt) and hiked ticket prices are ‘anti-people’. Whatever that means.

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