Now that the transfer window is closed for the beginning of the season, I wanted to post some long delayed thoughts on Manchester United’s summer signings. The reason I waited till the window shut down was to make sure I did not miss any late signings (though I was quite sure that there won’t be a repeat of last year’s tension) and gave my thoughts on the entire squad as it will be for the rest of the season.
Also I won’t be talking about the departures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez. Both of them parted ways from United for different reasons and while I don’t agree with the latter’s reasoning behind his moving on, I have since come to grips with a Man Utd squad minus both of them. Plus, I won’t be talking about any of the people that remain in the squad because we already know what they are capable of. Rather I wanted to cool my nerves (and that of other United fans like me) by talking about the potential in our signings along with some really cool videos of them in action.
Michael Owen (Free from Newcastle Untied)
Imagine waking up very late on a summer’s day only to find you have quite a few missed calls from your father and sister. You return the calls hoping that nothing is wrong and you are told that some footballer named Michael Owen is at Manchester tying up a deal with Manchester United. You are so stunned beyond belief that you visit every site in the whole goddamn world to make sure it is not a joke. (And by God it was not.)
The above paragraph pretty much summed up what I felt when I first heard about this most shocking of all deals I have seen Sir Alex pull off. Just a few days before Owen put pen to paper, he was being linked to Stoke City, and it looked like he was moving from one failure to another. And just like that Sir Alex had swooped to complete one of the transfers of the summer and, in doing so, resurrected the careers of one of England’s most storied strikers.
While I certainly don’t think Michael will be able to produce the kind of goal he scored against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup R16, he is still one of the best goal poachers in the country. What’s more, nearly everyone has something good to say about him as a person and how a move to one of those smaller clubs would have been the last nail in the coffin of a great Liverpool career (something that fortunately did not happen). I certainly was (and still am) a very big fan of Owen from his Liverpool days and the past 4 years have been very hard on him playing in a very poor Newcastle side amidst some really bad injuries. So when you put all that together, this move could not have come at a better time in his career. He is going to be playing for one of the best clubs in the world during World Cup year, with probably the best club medical team in the world (which should curb his injuries to a minimum) and with England’s No. 1 striker (Wayne Rooney), which is going to further his chances of making England’s final World Cup 2010 squad.
But enough of that, we all want to know how he will perform in the Red of United. And, from what I’ve seen of him in said red shirt (and from before when he wore a red we all very much hate), I am confident of him producing the goods. And, by that, I mean we can all expect a minimum of 15 to 20 goals from him this season in a very substitute-oriented role. With the kind of service he is going to be having from Carrick, Scholes, Rooney, Berbatov, Nani, Valencia and Obertan, all he needs to do is make his kind of runs (the kind which he showcased against Wigan in the 5-0 drubbing), and he has just guaranteed himself a ticket to South Africa next year.
Luis Antonio Valencia (From Wigan Athletic for 16 million pounds)
This capture was not nearly as surprising as Owen’s because we always knew it was going to happen when Ronaldo vacated the right-winger spot. Still, it would be worthwhile to see what he brings to the table at Man Utd, along with a video showcasing his talents playing for both Wigan and Ecuador.
So far, what I’ve seen of him at United has been pretty underwhelming. And that is a big understatement. For someone who has been playing in the EPL for the past two years, I expected him to get some basics right, but it has looked like he is a cat amongst lions. However, I don’t think he has quite gotten used to life at a club as big as United. The fact that he doesn’t know the language is also a factor and from what I read at the ROM blog, he has only Anderson for company outside of football, which is a bad thing to happen for a new boy. In time, I think he will be a very good signing and take his game to the next level playing for us.
Looking at his video (and I have seen him in action for Wigan quite a lot so this is just a small sample), we can take note of a lot of positives. And don’t expect him to be the next Ronaldo; that is just an insult to both their widely different abilities. He looks to be very strongly built which means he will use that upper-body strength to good use to get past players easily and will also be very effective in the air, making those long balls from Van Der Sar to the wings possible. By now, we pretty much know that he is one of the best crossers in the EPL; so with Owen, Rooney, Berbatov and Macheda latching onto his balls, our source of goals is going to change from when Ronaldo was here. Finally, he isn’t one to shirk off his defensive duties and tracks back after every possession, so Rooney no longer needs to be deployed wide left, which is going to make for a much more lethal Wazza up front.
Gabriel Obertan (From Bordeaux for 3 million pounds)
First of all, I haven’t seen enough of this guy to make long-winding statements about his usefulness to us. However, I am going to let this video do the talking and show that Sir Alex could have produced one of the coups of the summer, and made one of his best young buys in a long time. By the way, watching this video was the final proof I needed to confirm Sir Alex’s statement that we don’t need any more players.
A few things to note from the video: He has very good dribbling skills and is fast like hell and can play on either wing. That pretty much screams to me like he is a perfect match for us because we have always been about fluidity and the ability of a winger to switch sides is critical to that (Ronaldo was best at it). Like Valencia, he is no pushover and demonstrates some good upper-body strength in getting past players which is a necessity in the EPL. In a way he reminds me of youngsters our rivals have – Theo Walcott at Arsenal and Aaron Lennon at Spurs – and much more certainly of a little known footballer called Thierry Henry. He is also going be receiving tutelage from the best manager in the league which is going to make a big difference. It wouldn’t surprise me in a few years if he is where Ronaldo is at right now, top of the world. Yes, it is a very bold statement but we are allowed one of those once in a while and this boy certainly has the potential. I cannot wait to see him in action in October when he returns from injury.
Owen Hargreaves (From “injury” for free)
I promise I will keep this one short. The main reason why I believe Sir Alex did not plunge into the transfer market with the remains of Ronaldo’s 80 million (and whatever newspapers say, it has nothing to do with the Glazers’ debts) is because of the progress (we all hope) Hargreaves has made in his rehabilitation from a dual knee surgery. Insider thoughts from ManUtd.com pretty much confirms this fact and I cannot argue much. We all know what he is capable of and if anyone wants their memory refreshed, watch the videos of the 2008 Champions League semi-finals and finals to remember how much important he was in our European conquest that year. The sooner he returns (fully fit), the better.
In addition, we also have the likes of Adam Ljajic, Zoran Tosic (both of whom have skills but need to really develop on the physical side) and Mame Biram Diouf who looks to be an interesting proposition when he returns in the January transfer window. I don’t see a lot of reason to argue with Sir Alex’s assessment that he has got all the players he needs to go for an unprecedented fourth consecutive Barclays Premier League title (19th overall topping the scousers), a third consecutive Champions League final appearance (with the trophy to add certainly) and a few more trophies to the cabinet.
Let’s prove all the doubters wrong again (remember when Van Nistelrooy left in 2006, we weren’t given a chance, but we have won 3 consecutive league titles since then) and show that the Manchester United bus always moves forward no matter what happens.