Manchester United - after Ronaldo
Four in a Row?
In August 2009 Manchester United football club started their defence of the Premier League title they have won for the last three years. If they manage to be first passed the winning post in May, it will be a record fourth title in a row. However, this year they are without Christiano Ronaldo who has made a fabulous start with his new club Real Madrid. Who can fill Ronaldo's boots?
Who is going to score the goals?
Manchester United started the season with 5 wins and a loss in the first 6 games they have played in the Premier League. In the process they have been scoring goals. Ronaldo leaving meant that someone else or several other players would have to take up the goal scoring mantle. Rooney has just done that with 6 goals in as many games. This season Rooney has relished his new role playing alongside another striker, whether it be Berbatov or the rejuvinated Michael Owen, Rooney is playing the best football for a long time. Both striker pairings score goals and what with the two wingers Nani and Valencia capable of a few goals, plus a healthy contribution from Fletcher, Scholes, Anderson and of course the evergreen Ryan Giggs, I don't think Manchester United will be short of goals this season.
Sir Alex Ferguson could have easily spent the 80 million euros he got from Real Madrid on a couple of world class names such as Ribery or Villa. However, he has faith in new signings Valencia, Owen and Obertan. Valencia has shown remarkable skills in his first few games. He is fast, a skillful dribbler and has a good shot on him. Owen has been a remarkable goalscorer and he has shown his goal poaching skills by scoring the winning goals in the two matches he has been involved in. We have yet to see Obertan as he has been injured but by all accounts he is a fine player and will sell tickets.
Berbatov has looked much quicker and sharper than he did last year and he has a great understanding with Rooney. Nani and Anderson need to improve a lot this year. They are still young and have the keenness to learn so they are invaluable members of the squad. The revelation this season has been Ryan Giggs. He is playing better now than he ever was. He is such a clever player that despite his age he can change his game to suit his team. Against Manchester City in United's 4-3 win, Ryan was outstanding. Fletcher too has been excellent this season and he now is one of the first players to be penciled into the first team squad each week by Sir Alex. Of course Scholes is still crafting his way through games. Another golden oldie. We must not forget Park either, he never stops working and can score goals too.
In defence United are usually very strong, however, this season so far there have been niggling mistakes. Evra, Vidic, O'Shea and Evans are as strong as ever, but the injury to Van der Sar has made the defence a little jittery. They don't have the same confidence in Foster as they have him. Also Rio Ferdinand seems to have suffered the loss of Van der Sar more than the others and against Manchester City he made two school boyish mistakes. Both mistakes because he did not communicate properly with Foster. Two of City's goals came directly from those mistakes. Sir Alex Ferguson must a little worried that Ferdinand's back problems are effecting his confidence.
Can Manchester United win the title again?
For any football team to win four league titles in a row would be something of an acheivment, for Manchester United to do it after the loss of Ronaldo would be immense. United have won the Premier League title three times in a row 3 times and this year they are not only going for an unprecedented fourth title in a row but also trying be champions for a record breaking 19 times in their history. Can they do it? I think it depends on their defense. They will score goals and they will make make chances. They have the attacking and midfield players to take those chances and in the wings they have Danny Welbeck, Gibson and Macheda hungry to step into someones shoes. However, their defence looks a little shaky. If Van der Sar comes back quickly from injury he will instill a lot of confidence in the defence. If not, then United may be too far off the pace to catch the leaders up by the time he comes back.
Contenders for the title?
Well in my opinion there is only one contender to Manchester United's crown and that is Chelsea. I don't think Liverpool or Arsenal are good enough this year. Certainly no other team outside those four has a realistic chance. Not even Manchester City for all their big spending. So I'm going for Manchester to do it again and give Sir Alex Ferguson another championship medal.
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