Date: 14th August 2009 at 1:51pm
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So here we go with the second part of our season preview. Whereas we have described United’s defence as the most settled and stable area of the team, quite the opposite is true regarding the midfield: it lacks balance and stability and is bound to be our achilles heel.

At first glance, it appears everything’s fine. There’s certainly no problem with the amount of talent we have in this area, but the age and fitness of the players are major concerns.

Take Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs. Both are experienced players with phenomenal ability; however, both are clearly past their prime now and will be used less and less. Scholes was poor last season and Giggs, though winning the PFA Player of the Year award, was actually good in only a handful of games. They’re getting older and now, particularly in the case of Scholes, they’re becoming liabilities.

Then there is Owen Hargreaves. He’d be first choice but for his persistent injury problems. However, it looks unlikely that he’ll ever be fully fit and injury-free again so we cannot rely on him.

We might be able to rely on Anderson this season but it cannot be known yet. He’s a huge talent but faces a huge challenge: he’s got to prove he has the brains, the temperament and the consistency to succeed. But using him as first-choice would be a considerable gamble.

I’m a huge fan of Darren Fletcher and he’ll have a massive role to play this season but he’s got his limitations, the most obvious is his lack of creativity and mediocre technique. His bite, his hassling will be invaluable but also places a huge burden on our best midfielder, Michael Carrick who’s charged with the task of providing creativity from the centre of the park.

On the flanks, we have a lot of players. But quantity, once again, doesn’t necessarily mean quality. Park Ji-Sung will have an important role to play but he’s particularly useful when there’s a lot of defending to be done, when industry is required. He won’t provide inspiration, that’s for sure.

Nani – he’s been discussed to death already. Great talent, no brains, little end product. His Community Shield showing was encouraging though. Zoran Tosic is a dark horse, lightweight, pacey but has a lot to prove. Personally I don’t think he’s quite good enough for this level.

Our best bet on the flanks is surely Antonio Valencia who excelled in pre-season. He’s quick, strong, focused, direct – he’ll be brilliant, I’m sure.

As for the others: Darron Gibson won’t get too many opportunities, he’ll be a Carling Cup player even though he can do a job in the centre of the park. Not good as a wide man though. Cleverley? No, don’t think so.

Rating: 6 of 10