Premier League Preview Number 2: Manchester United

14 August 2009

Manchester United

Biggest Ins: If Michael Owen can stay healthy, he will be the biggest signing of all the Premier League this summer. Luis Antonio Valencia looks to be the man brought in to replace Cristiano Ronaldo on the right. Gabriel Obertan should provider cover up front.

Biggest Outs: It’s all about Cristiano Ronaldo. As much as I hate his antics on the pitch, he is the second best player in the world (I still think Messi is number one).

Easiest Month: The four game stretch between the last game of December and before the last game of the January. In that four game stretch, they host Wigan before a trip to Birmingham City. This period ends with home ties against Burnley and Hull City.

Toughest Month: The four game stretch between the middle of October and the middle of November. In that time period, Manchester United travel to Liverpool and Chelsea. Between those games, United host Blackburn and Everton. It’s possible to only have four points in that run. It’s also possible United could get seven.

Five Questions About Manchester United This Season
1) How does Manchester United replace Cristiano Ronaldo? The simple answer is Ferguson can’t. I think they went the right route by getting someone that doesn’t play anywhere near the same style as Ronaldo with Valencia.
2) Will Michael Owen stay healthy? As I mentioned above: if Owen is healthy for the entire season, he is the pick-up of the summer. With Owen, does he start, or is he someone that comes off the bench in the final half hour when a goal is needed? I could see him start about fifteen games, coming off the bench in about twenty. That is if he is healthy.
3) How does Edwin Van der Sar’s injury affect Manchester United early in the season? Thomas Kuszczak and Ben Foster were shaky in their five appearances last season. While they got off to a slow start last season and ended fine, I don’t think they can afford to do so this season.
4) Who starts on the left side of midfield? Nine different players started on the left side last season. I feel that this is the season where Nani takes that position and makes it his.
5) Can Berbatov and Rooney form the partnership up front needed to make up the goals Ronaldo scored? I think Berbatov has been found out in the Premier League. If Berbatov doesn’t get off to a strong start, I could see Owen replacing him on a game in game out basis.

My Ultimate Reality: While it was coming from a mile away, I still think this could be a year of minor adjustments at Manchester United. With a major center piece gone, Manchester United almost have to form a new identity. I know it’s a cop out: but because of the fact Ronaldo is gone, I think that’s why they don’t win the title. I see a few more draws in United’s future, a couple of key losses, and a second place finish.


LS August 14, 2009 at 10:31 AM  

How does United replace Ronaldo? They don't and that's exactly how it sounds. They will not play the same way this year. Everything will not be dependent on Ronaldo. I actually thought the over-reliance on CR9 was starting to hold the team back. Rooney should have a better season playing as a striker and not a wide-left attacker.

The injury to VDS is worrying but I think Foster can step up despite his shaky showing in the Community Shield.

Don't look for Obertan to play much except in Carling Cup. He was bought with an eye to the future. I'd actually keep an eye on Zoran Tosic who had time last year to settle in England and impressed in his reserve team outings.

The area that concerns me is the back four. Neville is past his peak, Brown is fragile/injury-prone, Evra is great going forward...full-stop, and the rest are lacking in experience. If there's a weak point on the squad - this is it.

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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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