Even if Manchester United see themselves as one of the biggest and strongest clubs in Europe, relying on the ability of Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney to link up and perform magic together simply isn’t enough, as the hopes of winning the Champions League might be shattered sooner than they hoped for once again.
Manchester United have a strong enough team to win the Premier League. David de Gea is an excellent goalkeeper who is forgetting about the mistakes of the past and enjoys a much better understanding with his veteran defensive line. Michael Carrick can be an excellent midfielder when he’s partnered with the right player, and it seems like Marouane Fellaini is good enough for the league and for United’s needs in it.
However, even if United have slightly improved in certain areas compared to last season, there are just too many question marks about the rest. Wings have always been a massive part of the gameplan, but it looks like by insisting on playing with two wingers David Moyes is forgetting about one of the more talented players on his squad – Shinji Kagawa, which seems like some intentional ignoring for not being a player he himself brought onto the team.
But neither were Nani, Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young. All three of them haven’t been performing well, and the need for fresh blood like Wilfried Zaha on the bench or Adnan Januzaj who had an impressive performance for United as he came off the bench in the 2-0 win over Crystal Palace might push the “old guard” out of the lineup in favor of speed, creativity and unpredictability.
It comes down to Robin van Persie, who can’t stop scoring, and Wayne Rooney, who might be the real x-factor in all of this. Manchester United players still think they were worth a lot more than the round of 16 exit they had to endure last season. Focusing so much on Nani getting red carded shifted it slightly from Wayne Rooney being benched by Alex Ferguson in what was probably the move that put the final piece of determination in Rooney to leave the club.
Rooney is the best and most versatile player Manchester United have. Maybe he’d like to play striker for the rest of his life, but being in the forward line next to Robin van Persie, playing slightly left and behind him is good enough for him, giving him the space he loves to create from a bit further away from goal, making the most of his passing ability.
For all the things Moyes is being criticized for, he has earned some badges so far: Staying on Rooney’s good side and doing a good job in convincing the want-away forward that acting all grumpy and angry isn’t worth it or beneficial for anyone. The other might be his quick reaction to Ashley Young diving, although it seems that until suspensions and maybe even red cards are going to be used, all the talks in the world from the manager aren’t going to help.