Players that need to step up or step away from Old Trafford

Our loss to the hands of Stoke City blew away any optimism that was brewing due to the win against Cardiff and the signing of Spanish playmaking maestro Juan Mata. The record signing has had two solid if not spectacular games in the famous red jersey producing two assists in two games averaging an assist every 87 minutes.

Before the Stoke defeat it seemed as if Mata had really breathed life into the United team uplifting spirits, however the defeat at Stoke revealed Mata’s signing is more of a cosmetic makeover and will not sure up the structural cracks that have become prevalent to all at Old Trafford.

This bad situation is only being made worse due to a lot of players not stepping up to the plate and shouldering the burden or performing to what is expected of them in a Manchester United shirt. In this article I will be highlighting a few that need to step up or step away from Old Trafford.

Tom Cleverley: 

Tom’s sideways passing has become his signature trait and that is NOT a good thing. His passes provided no penetration into opposing defence’s and most of the forward passes in the final third that Tom attempts do not reach their target.

I don’t doubt his talent as he has progressed through the United academy which is famous for producing midfield masters such as Scholes and Nicky Butt etc. However I do doubt if at 22 he was ready for his debut. Despite being a fairly regular starter never has he consistently shown true quality that merits so many starts.

Perhaps he is just a show piece to the other youth players and the world that we can still nurture and promote players to the first team. At this moment in time I do not think he contains the solution to our midfield problems and I would rather play the more experienced Fletcher over him to shift the limelight away from the young Englishman. I would give him a spell away from the first team to play with the reserves so he can get some regular football and regain the lost confidence. A loan move wouldn’t do him much harm either.

Nani

Oh where has our other less appreciated Portuguese sweetheart gone? I remember the days when he used to make any Premiership full back look a fool with a perfect roulette or when he used to make a keeper look out of his depth with an outrageous goal from who knows how many yards out.

His minute to assist ratio still remains one of the highest in Premiership history to this day and his bag of tricks is I think still the biggest and most entertaining in the league!

Nani on his day can still torment any defender (you can tell I am a Nani fan) however those days are becoming fewer and father away. He reminded the United faithful of his presence with a stunning chipped finish over the Bayer Leverkusen keeper in the Champions League clash. No other wide player we possess, with the exception of Januzaj perhaps would have the audacity to attempt and even fewer would have the ability to execute it. He has now reached a crucial stage in his career at 27 where he must perform like he did at Bayer week in week out or he could just remain the inconsistent winger who had so much but gave us only glimpses.

Unfortunately injuries have also recently kept the winger out of the side, and he has been ruled out a further month due to a hamstring problem. However he has signed a new five-year deal which will keep him at Old Trafford till 2018. Thus we can expect to see more of the Flair infused winger in the latter stages of the season and for years to come.

Patrice Evra

First of all let me get this straight. I respect Evra and all he has done for the club. He has been an immense and consistent servant to the club who over his Man Utd career has made the left-back position his and only his. He also has a knack of causing havoc in the box through set pieces by clever movement despite having a small frame of 5″8.

However as a left-back he has repeatedly over the course of the season looked a weak cog and a liability (not the only one) in our defence. recently he allowed Peter Odemwingie to chest the ball down and set himself up for a shot which could have been disastrous had Odemwingie’s chest control been better. This is not an isolated incident either, unfortunately. Defensive errors are becoming far too common, and in such a tight season such as ours where goals aren’t exactly flowing though the other end defensive errors can not and should not be made. Thus I think the French full-back should leave at the end of the season whilst he is still remembered by many in a bright light.

This is of course unless he raises his game another level and can become tighter defensive unit which at the age of 32 does not look hugely likely. A new left-back will be needed as I don’t think Buttner is yet ready (if at all) to handle the pressures and responsibilities of a Man Utd first team regular. Luke Shaw looks impressive and is a viable option in the summer and shows great potential, whoever steps in as First choice LB will have huge shoes to fill.

Shinji Kagawa

The play-a-maker (yes that is an @evilkagawa reference) has not been able to play-a-make from the left flank as he has proven time and time again. Shinji Kagawa and Manchester United seemed a perfect fit when he was bought. United needed a creative no.10 as Rooney was playing up top. This was before the surprise acquisition of Robin van Persie who filled in Rooney’s roles up top which resulted in Rooney taking Kagawa’s role.

This had a knock on effect of Kagawa being introduced to a completely new unrecognized position, the bench. When he plays in the central role Kagawa has shown more than glimpses of a creative and clever no.10 who can unlock any defence. He has also shown his ability to roam the pitch and link up play very well. His hat-trick performance against Norwich showed what a player he can be when used correctly however his exclusive central role is taken by Wayne Rooney. This has resulted in upsetting the team as either Rooney or Robin van Persie have had to sit out or play out of position.

It is unfortunate as the team is built around Rooney and Shinji simply does not get enough game time in his exclusive no.10 role. I feel for the former Bundesliga Player of the Year. He is truly gifted undoubtedly however it looks like the romance between United and Kagawa that once seemed so perfect is fading away. Unless a radical change of system which accommodates 3 fluid floating midfielders behind RVP is brought, Kagawa back to Dortmund seems more and more likely. The 24 year old may not be able to win over the manager as his lack of appearances has shown however he and his famous parody @evilkagawa account have certainly won over the hearts of many Man Utd fans!

Other Noteworthy Mentions

Ashley Young: His performances overall have been disappointing however in recent times he has started to amend with a couple of goals. The one against Cardiff was a low well hit strike which hinted at the type of player he can be when he is not busy rolling on the floor.

However for me he does not do enough. His crosses lack quality although he still can deliver a rasping ball in. His diving antics have also put me off him as a player.  I can accept Tom Cleverley not playing well, however I cannot accept a full England international who is blatantly cheating. That is something that one associates with Chelsea’s Mourinho and not us. We may lose however we must not cheat.

Javier Hernandez: The little Mexican is a much loved figure at Old Trafford however he is playing fourth fiddle behind Welbeck somehow, who stays off this list only due to his recent ability to put 6 goals in 6 matches whilst Robin and Rooney were out. The Mexican is the most clinical finisher naturally however due to lack of game time even this his signature trait is beginning to fade away.

Now 25 the Mexican must decide if he must settle at Manchester United and basically bench-warm for the majority of his career. The other option for him would be to move away and find a team that can accommodate his abilities on a regular basis.

Follow Rafqazi on Twitter, and check out his personal blog here.

  • Zac Lazari

    Yeh for sure Tom Cleverley is joke footballer right..Utd have shown we are just pathetic nowadays

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    Old Trafford Faithful is a Manchester United blog that aims to bring you all the latest club news as quick as possible, whilst bringing fantastic opinion pieces to the table. We created the site back in 2012, and it has already gone a long way in such a short space of time. Read more about Old Trafford Faithful here.