Matteo Darmian – Manchester United’s next star in the making

Matteo Darmian to Manchester United

What will Matteo Darmian bring to Manchester United?

The majority of Manchester United fans have reacted in two ways to the signing of Matteo Darmian. Many are just happily admitting never having watched the Italian so are unaware of how good a signing he really is, whilst the others, perhaps after watching him only a few times, blindly claim he’s world class without knowing much about him. The reality is, his exploits in Serie A and for Italy have shown him to be one of the most exciting and complete full-backs in world football and many Italian pundits would support that evaluation.

The 25 year-old full-back has been scouted by Napoli, Roma, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester United in the last 18 months with most of them chasing his signature, just epitomising that elite clubs believe he has the ability to take a step up and play at the very highest level – a real testament of his talent.

What makes Matteo Darmian such a highly-rated player?

Attacking Prowess

Darmian has developed a reputation in Italy for marauding up and down the flanks due to his phenomenal pace and agility despite being almost 6ft tall. In the modern era of football, full-backs are expected to be equally adept at attacking duties as they are of their defensive ones; Darmian embodies that perfect balance between the two. Last season Darmian scored 4 goals and provided 4 assists in all competitions, far superior to Antonio Valencia’s tally of 2 assists whilst even bettering supposed targets Nathaniel Clyne’s 2 goals and Seamus Coleman’s 2 assists. The Italian youngster has proven to be pivotal for the attacking output of the Torino side, in the attacking third, he made more key passes than Clyne, Coleman, Valencia and Alves last season and created a goal-scoring chance every 65 minutes last season bettered only by arguably the best attacking full-back in the world Dani Alves (62 minutes per chance). Stylistically likened to AC Milan legend Paolo Maldini because of the combination of his surging runs forward, positional awareness and pinpoint crossing ability with both feet; Matteo Darmian has the potential be a great attacking asset for Manchester United.

Versatility

For a relatively young player, he has been deployed in many positions for both club and country, as he has the footballing maturity which surpasses his years and the pace and ball-playing ability to be effective in more than one position. Unlike the frustratingly one-footed Antonio Valencia, Darmian is capable of passing and crossing with his left and right foot, which has meant that he has played both as a left-back and as a right-back for Torino in a back 4. Even when the formation changes, he is incredibly versatile and easily adaptable to the requirements of different positions as he has been very effective as a wing-back in a midfield of 4 or 5 men and even as a centre-back in a back 3. We all know Van Gaal craves ‘multi-functional’ players in his squad and given Manchester United’s dire injury record, Matteo Darmian to Manchester United may be a match made in heaven.

Defensive Composure

Sometimes with full-backs with such attacking excellence, they can often neglect their defensive duties and bomb forward without any positional awareness. Darmian’s defensive capabilities make him a sizeable upgrade to Antonio Valencia, who last season showed his uncomfortableness as a winger in an unnatural position, lacking the composure and assuredness of a natural defender. Darmian is not a robust or an aggressive tackler by any stretch but his reading of the game has made him one of the most composed defenders in Italy. Aged 22 in the 2012/13 season, he averaged more tackles per game than anyone in the Top 5 leagues in Europe which shows that even though he isn’t the most physically imposing player, he is more than capable of fulfilling his defensive duties. Although he enjoys his attacking bursts, his speed and positional awareness makes him adept at tracking back and preventing opposition counter-attacks; he has the balance Van Gaal loves his full-backs to have. Last season, he made the 3rd highest amount of tackles in Serie A and he won an impressive 57% of aerial duels, better than any of the aforementioned right-backs, this aerial dominance will be a welcome addition to United considering the lack of an aerial ability and presence were flaws pointed out by Louis Van Gaal himself. In terms of individual duels which include tackles, take ons, aerial duels and tackling success, his 51% success rate was higher than Clyne, Valencia and Alves. He really is a well-rounded defender with a great engine capable of juggling his defensive and attacking responsibilities to perfection.

His calm, composed style has earned him many plaudits from avid watchers of Serie A and Italy. In fact, his confident, stylish performances in the 2014/15 season earned him a place in the 2014/15 Serie A Team of the Year. Even for his country his exploits were whole-heartedly appreciated as Darmian won the ‘Il Pallone Azzurro’ – The Italian National team Player of the Year award because he was the stand out performer in a mediocre Italian showing at the World Cup in 2014 in which he made his competitive debut.

Manchester United fans were perhaps confused to see Liverpool given a clear run to buy Nathaniel Clyne earlier this summer with United not submitting any official bids. Even now there are some with very little knowledge of Matteo Darmian’s ability that claim Seamus Coleman may have been the better option. Nevertheless, those who have watched Darmian on a consistent basis would know that Matteo Darmian is perhaps already a step above the aforementioned duo, the best full-back in Serie A; he is incredibly great value for money at the price of £12-14m (€20m). Fans were unaware of how good Ander Herrera was at the start of last season, but by the end of it, almost unanimously he was dubbed Manchester United’s signing of the season, Darmian has the talent to surprise the fans again. Given his supreme talent and his potential to improve even further, Manchester United may well have filled their right-back position for the foreseeable future.

By Hesham Bilal-Hafiz (@hesham786)

Who is Andreas Pereira?

Who is Andreas Pereira?

Who is Andreas Pereira

With players of the talent of Angel Di Maria, Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney and now Memphis Depay at the club it is hard to see where the little Brazilian would fit in at Manchester United. A club who’s spending has only begun this summer. Or at least that’s what many fans hope. Yet even with that spending if one player is going to make the step up from the Under 21 side to the first team this season it will be Andreas Pereira.

THE SEASON AHEAD FOR PEREIRA

The little Brazilian has had a long yet very successful campaign, in particular on an individual level for both club and country. He has received high praise including from teammate Marouane Fellaini who said “Andreas is a big talent. I think the club did everything to sign him up to a contract because a lot of teams wanted him. He has to continue like that, to work hard and to keep going and try to win his place.” The 19 year old played a massive role in helping the red devils win the under 21 league title. Playing a central role in terms of position and involvement. The playmaker also made his debut this season in the disappointing 4-0 defeat to the MK Dons. He made his premier league debut at Old Trafford against top four hopefuls Tottenham. For Brazil he helped them reach the under 20 world cup final. Scoring a wonderful individual goal in the final against Serbian teammate Vanja Milinkovic as Brazil lost 2-1 in the final. All of this has got Manchester United fans salivating like a dog waiting for his bone. It is an opportunity that the player himself is also looking forward too. He said this after signing a new contract this season. Ending fears he would leave to join former Manchester United players Patrice Evra and Paul Pogba at Juventus. “I am pleased to have signed my new contract,” the youngster told ManUtd.com. “I would like to thank the manager for giving me the opportunity to join the first-team squad. I made my Premier League debut against Tottenham Hotspur and to play at Old Trafford in front of so many fans was a dream come true.” If last season is anything to go by that “dream” will be become a reality on a regular basis.

PEREIRA’S STYLE OF PLAY

He is a very versatile play in terms of what position he can play. For the Manchester United under 21 side he played primarily centrally while for Brazil in the under 20 World Cup this summer he came in a lot from the left. While playing centrally he often drifts like a ghost out to both wings making him very difficult to mark. In this drifting he often drops deep giving him the opportunity to play killer passes often exploiting the space between centre and full back. When looking at young players you can’t help but compare them to already established players. When he drops deep he plays the offensive side of Michael Carrick’s game to great effect. He spreads the ball to either side of the pitch with ease and is willing to drop a few yards back to create the space to receive the ball. Periera seems to have little issue with taking one step back in order to take two forward.

You cannot ignore that goal in the under 20 world cup. If Lionel Messi had scored it he would be talking about it for weeks. The confidence to take on the first man, he desire to not go down after the first tackle, the bravery to push the ball forward and drive between the other defenders was simply a sight to behold. If that was not enough he turns back inside to curl a shot into the back of the net. A bit of a footballing master class fans often see in a deeper role. A role in which he seems to prefer. He is a very different player to anything Manchester United have at the moment. Personally if I had to compare him to anybody it would be Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara. Let’s just hope he is not as injury prone as the former Barcelona man.

Whatever happens next season for the Brazilian it is clear that he is a very talented footballer who would give the team a different type of threat. Unique threats can change a game as teams have to make special allowances to deal with it. Marouane Fellaini is a great example of that. Chelsea had to put Kurt Zouma in midfield to deal with the Belgian. With so many young players in the squad such as Luke Shaw, Paddy Mc Nair and James Wilson the boy will not look out of place on the senior game. Whether that is at the Theatre of Dreams or elsewhere on loan is another question. None the less he is ready to make an impact in the premier league and play his part in one of the greatest footballing stories ever told.

Manchester United Quiz – Week 1

Manchester United Quiz Week 1

Manchester United Quiz

How will you do in the Manchester United Quiz that separates the real United fans from the plastics? We’re joking of course. But how well do you know United? This week in our first United Stand Fan Quiz we’re looking at goals and forwards. You have 60 seconds to answer 10 questions so compose yourself, take your time and focus.

Are you a ten out of ten Manchester United hot shot in the making like Wayne Rooney? Or are you a one out of ten flop like David Bellion? Who was he? Exactly

Enter the quiz by clicking below to get started. You only get one chance at the quiz and at the conclusion of the quiz you can see where you rank on our leaderboard and what questions you got right. Good Luck!

And remember you only have 60 seconds to answer the 10 questions


[WpProQuiz 1]
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Manchester United Transfers – How would YOU spend 150 million?

Manchester United Transfers

Manchester United Transfers Special – How would YOU spend 150 million?

You’re Manchester United’s Manager, you’ve got 150 million pounds to spend. Who would YOU buy?

This Sunday at 9pm LIVE on The United Stand Youtube channel we’re putting YOU to the test. The United Stand prides itself on being the only Manchester United Fan Channel that is 100% about the fans and this Sunday will be no different. As usual we want the voice of those who matter most – Manchester United fans – and as an extra incentive we’ve got a fantastic prize to give away to the viewer who uses the 150 million the best.

So how does it work? Well it’s quite simple, you’re in charge of Manchester United transfers budget for the summer and you’ve got 150 million to spend. Mark has put together a realistic pricelist below – none of this nonsense you get on transfer value sites where Otamendi is valued at 15 million – and you can spend the money as you please. You could spend the lot on Gareth Bale and Sergio Ramos, or you could spread it out and bring in Leno, Fabinho, Hummels, Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger, Felipe Anderson & Higuain. The choice is YOURS. The main thing is you can’t go over 150 million.

UNLESS. You can justify realistic sales to get more money in. For example, selling De Gea will get you another 20 million. Selling Jonny Evans will cost you 10 million. Because let’s be honest you’re going to have to pay someone to take him. That’s a joke by the way. So you could go for Ronaldo (70mil), Muller (40mil) & Harry Kane (60mil) and then sell De Gea for 20 million. Giving you a net spend of 150 million. The main thing is not to have a net spend of more than 150 million.

So how do you enter? Well get commenting below & give us your ideas because we will be taking note of any comments on the website. However, the best way is to watch The United Stand 150 million Transfer Special on Sunday LIVE at 9pm – Click here to go direct to the video. Anna will be presenting the show as usual and grilling our panellists on how they’d spend the money. But it’s YOU who matters most. You’ll be able to join in our LIVE comment box and Mark will be reading out your thoughts and suggestions LIVE on air – if you’ve got an issue with any of Mark’s valuations that will be the time to air them.

Then once the show is over the video comments section will open and you can comment on the video’s comments section and give us YOUR thoughts on how you’d use the money. The video will be up on our United Stand YouTube Channel permanently and we’ll pick a winner LIVE on our Tuesday Transfer Roundup show at 9pm.

So get your pen, paper and a calculator and get spending.

Below is a list of players United have been linked to. Feel free to use your own players but remember to be realistic in price and likelihood.

Gareth Bale 100 million
Cristiano Ronaldo 70mil
Harry Kane 60mil
Sergio Ramos 40mil
Karim Benzema 45mil
Tomas Muller 40mil
Edison Cavani 40mil
Arturo Vidal 35 mil
Gonzalo Higuain 30mil
Arda Turan 30mil
Nicolas Otamendi 30mil
Matts Hummels 30mil
Hugo Lloris 30mil
Seamus Coleman 30mil
Felipe Anderson 25mil
Morgan Schneiderlin 25mil
Carlos Bacca 22mil
Ilkay Gundogan 20mil
Gregory Van Der Wiel 20mil
Alexandre Lacazette 20mil
Bernd Leno 15mil
Fabinho 15mil
Bastian Schweinsteiger 10mil

Schweinsteiger v Schneiderlin – Who should Manchester United Sign

Schweinsteiger v Schneiderlin

Schweinsteiger v Schneiderlin – Who should be Man United’s Central Midfield Signing?

A German enforcer or a French orchestrator? Man United fans have littered social media debating which of Morgan Schneiderlin or Bastian Schweinsteiger, two high class central-midfield players, would be the best signing to reinforce our squad in that area.

Firstly, Bastian Schweinsteiger, a name any football fan would recognise, he’s won every possible accolade with his club and he’s won the World Cup for his country, it seems like he has accomplished everything he can and has been around football for an eternity. Renowned for being a midfield general, robust and never shy of a tackle, his midfield intelligence makes him a player that still has several years at a very high level still left in his reliable German engine. German national coach Joachim Low called him “the brain”, not only does it show that he is pivotal to their team, it shows that he has the vision in his range of passing and that he is a superb reader of the game from his central midfield position. Van Gaal loves ‘multi-functional’ players and Schweinsteiger would provide versatility in the middle, as he is equally adept in the deep-lying defensive midfield position as the box-to-box midfield role.

Compared to Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger has proven to be more efficient in providing his team with the goals and has more of an attacking threat, even whilst playing deep. Last season, despite playing over 800 minutes less than Schneiderlin, he played 7 more (26) key passes, provided 3 more assists (4) than the Frenchman (1) and scored one more goal (5 to Schneiderlin’s 4). Even in 2013/14, the German notched up 8 goals and assists combined whilst Schneiderlin only managed 3 combined despite playing 900 minutes less. With an eye for a pass, a thunderous long-range shot and a wicked set-piece delivery in him, Schweinsteiger provides the greater attacking threat from the midfield. Perhaps the biggest thing Van Gaal has been attracted to, is the German’s leadership qualities, recently given the captaincy for the World Champions, he is a natural leader whose sheer presence alone demands respect. United have lacked steel and leadership ever since Roy Keane’s departure and he could provide our midfield with exactly that with all of his Champions League experience as an added bonus too.

Morgan Schneiderlin is the glue that holds Southampton together; in a Busquets-esque manner he dictates play for the Saints, doing the dirty work in the middle, his efforts often going unnoticed but never underappreciated by his teammates. Speaking on Sky Sports after Southampton’s win at Old Trafford, Gary Neville said: “I think he [Schneiderlin] could play at any of the top clubs in the league, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United or Arsenal – he’s showed his quality this season.” Testaments like that have become the norm from pundits after several stellar Premier League seasons from Schneiderlin. The Frenchman is a rare hybrid of elegance and grit, two characteristics which have made him perfect for the Premier League. As Ander Herrera has proven this year, someone who isn’t lauded as a star name can still be the most effective signing for a club in the face of star names and Schneiderlin could emulate that success despite not being a star name like Schweinsteiger. He has played both as central midfielder and as a defensive midfielder so he cannot be accused of being one-dimensional and is versatile just like the Bayern Munich stalwart.

When compared to Schweinsteiger, it is clear that the Saints’ midfielder is the more defensively astute. Last season, the German international won 24 tackles and Michael Carrick won 19 but Schneiderlin won an impressive 79 tackles in all games, even in the 2013/2014 season Schneiderlin won 51 more tackles than Schweinsteiger. In the 2014/15 season, Carrick (31) and Schweinsteiger (28) made 59 interceptions combined but Schneiderlin on his own managed to make 63 interceptions. In fact, he was won 519 tackles and interceptions combined since the 2012/13 season – the highest number by any Premier League player. These statistics show why the Southampton man is held in such high regard. He is a tenacious midfielder who breaks up play with consummate ease providing resolute cover for the defence; a role Michael Carrick has championed for United over the years. Praise for his defensive abilities shouldn’t mask his deep-lying playmaking abilities, sublime passing range and in-game intelligence; he would add dynamism and defensive solidity to any team.
Schweinsteiger is like a three-quarter full bottle of vintage red wine, when full it was one of the most valuable in its own specialist area, even though now it’s not what it once was, the real connoisseurs would still whole-heartedly appreciate whatever is left of it. Schneiderlin is like a bottle of champagne, known for being chilled, never disappoints in adding a touch of class, suitable for special occasions and often overlooked in its valuableness for what it contributes.

All in all, both of the central midfielders would add quality and composure to the Manchester United midfield. If Van Gaal wants a world class all-round central-midfielder for the short-term, Bastian Schweinsteiger may well be the man for the job. However, as I believe United should be aiming for longevity and quality simultaneously, I think we should look no further than Morgan Schneiderlin as the heir to Michael Carrick’s throne. He is proven in the Premier League doing the work of an unsung hero in Southampton’s midfield with a distinct stylishness and determinedness; he without doubt has all the qualities to be the defensive midfielder for an elite side in Europe. Despite being one of the most effective defensive midfielders in the Premier League for the last 3 seasons, the Frenchman has his prime years ahead of him and would be a great coup.

Manchester United fans shouldn’t be too fussed either way as both these players would represent fantastic signings irrelevant to transfer fees and age.

By Hesham Bilal-Hafiz (@hesham786)

Manchester United Transfer Battles – YOU Decide!

Manchester United Transfer Battles

Manchester United Transfer Battles – You Decide

Manchester United Transfer news is a bit like Radamel Falcao in front of goal, lots of hype but no finish. But goals are coming. And by goals I mean transfers, not Falcao’s guaranteed resurgence at Chelsea next season.

Manchester United have been linked with everyone over the last few weeks. From Morgan Schneiderlin to Morgan Freeman, we’ve been linked with them all. And whilst a large amount of those players mentioned will be total nonsense, it’s fair to say some won’t be.

That’s where our Transfer Battles show comes in.

On our weekly LIVE show on Sunday at 9pm we want YOUR input as usual. Because this week we’ll be looking at all the transfer deals where there’s a potential battle. Whether it’s Otamendi or Hummels, Gundogan v Schweinsteiger or Roberto Firmino v Felipe Anderson, we want YOU to pick YOUR winner.

Below we’ve broken seven potential Manchester United transfer deals down in to battles. Some involve a choice between two potential transfer targets and some involve the choice between getting rid of a current United player for a new one. We’ve even thrown in a pie in the sky battle just for a bit of fun.

So cast YOUR votes below and join in the LIVE debate with our LIVE comment box Sunday at 9pm on this link.

As always it promises to be another lively debate on the Manchester United Fan Channel that is all about YOU!

Who would YOU sign at Right Back?

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Who would you prefer up front?

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Who would you pick from these attack minded Brazilian's

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Who should be our New Sweeper Keeper?

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Who should be our Rock at the back

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Who would be YOUR German United Signing?

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Who would be YOUR dream signing?

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Manchester United Transfers – My Top 5

Manchester United Transfer News

Manchester United Transfers – My Top 5

Manchester United transfers are slim on the ground but the silly season of Manchester United transfer rumours started weeks ago. With the signing of Memphis Depay and the departure of Colombian striker Radamel Falcao we have some concrete deals to look at but with regards others? As I said it is the silly season. And I have a confession to make, the transfer window is not even open yet and already I am sick of it. Like so many football fans I am tired of the false hope that newspapers and social media gives us. But that is the list I am going to work off for this piece.

The other thing I find frustrating about the window and especially being a fan of this great club is that we are linked with everybody. Therefore very few fans actually sit down and think “Why would I want this right back over another?” and even if they do that we very seldom question how they will fit into a squad. We as fans just say if he’s a good player he will do great.

In my own opinion Manchester United need six new players if they are to compete with the new European champions F.C Barcelona. It’s not about buying the six best players available it’s about so much more. Louis Van Gaal will need to consider the incoming players personalities, the language they speak, do they have premier league experience and their ages just to name a few things. So here are the six players I would like to see at Manchester United next season. It is a mix of who I think might be available and out of that who the best options would be. I am doing this under the assumption that the following players will have left the club either on a permanent or temporarily basis. David De Gea, Rafael Da Silva, Jonny Evans, Anders Lindegaard, Javier Hernandez, Nick Powell, Nani, Andreas Pereira and Jesse Lingard.

Hugo lloris

Many of us came to the conclusion that when Manchester United signed Victor Valdes it was a sign that David De Gea would be on his way to Real Madrid in the summer. As the days go by this looks more and more likely to happen. I can’t help but think Valdes was promised the number one shirt for the season coming. It is very difficult do judge Valdes even on his time at Barcelona as so often Barcelona won games so comfortably that the goalkeeper will often not have to make many saves of notice. One thing Lloris has going for him is that he has plenty of Premier League experience after three years in London. David De Gea has many positive attributes but one mark you could put against him is that he does not shout at his defence a lot. He does not command his box the same way Edwin Van Der Sar and Peter Schmeichel did. As Tottenham and France captain Lloris has such qualities in abundance. The only reason I have gone for Hugo over Lloris over Peter Cech is because I do not believe Cech will get off his line as quickly as his French counterpart. Something that is important in a side that often plays a highline the way United do.

Nathaniel Clyne

Currently Manchester United have a young side, too young if anything, but with player like Van Persie, Rooney, Di Maria, Valencia and Young all in their late 20’s at least as well as the players I would sign. The Manchester United team could become a lot older very quickly so I decided I had to axe one potential older signing and that was Dani Alves – now extended his contract at Barcelona so out of the picture anyway. The second option I’m going to put off the table is Dani Carvajal. This is because I don’t think it will work signing two La Liga defenders at once and expect them to adapt to the Premier League. This is part of the balance I referred to earlier. With that out of the way it became a straight fight between Clyne and Seamus Coleman. I have gone for Clyne because I believe he is the more defensively responsible defender. Which bodes well with the very attacking Shaw. Clyne is well able to attack but even at such a young age he does not forget his defensive duties. He is very consistent and you are always guaranteed a 7 out of 10 from him. Mind you if we do sign Coleman I would have zero complaints.

Nicolás Otamendi

A few weeks ago I knew very little about the player but after a bit of research and the unlikelihood of Matt Hummels signing for the red side of Manchester I do believe he would be our best bet. Even if he is a little pricy. I would also point out the majority of his experience is of the Portuguese league. The performances of Eliaquim Mangala at Manchester City should not fill me with confidence about Otamendi’s ability to adapt to the English game. Otamendi is being dubbed as the new Vidic. If that is the case let’s hope it does not take him a long time to adapt. On the other side the Argentine has being one of La Liga’s most consistent performers. Also the prospect of a partnership for both club and country with Markus Rojo will be an exciting prospect for everybody. I strongly believe this transfer will be a massive risk, but one worth taking.

Morgan Schneiderlin

I do believe that Morgan Schneiderlin is a must buy for Manchester United. At £25 million, the club will have a proven Premier League performer who is gradually working his way into the scene with the French national side. Since the World Cup he has played a part in the majority of his countries games. Schneiderlin will be able to slot into the role of Carrick seamlessly. He moves the ball very well in terms of accuracy and forward motion. He would be an upgrade on Blind who seems to have adapted to the Premier League better as a left back. I do believe Scheiderlin would fall into the category of squad player along with the likes of Valencia, Jones and the already mentioned Blind.

Bastian Schweinsteiger

The last two decisions I have to make will depend a lot on each other. A lot of this is to do with leadership qualities. Something in which Manchester United are lacking. Schweinsteiger is the obvious leader of the two players under question for me – I did consider Ilkay Gundogan. He also is a warrior, who leaves nothing off the pitch. Schweinsteiger also has a very close relationship with Louis Van Gaal. Like I said the other option I looked at was Ilkay Gundogan who is a more subtle and creative footballer. There is a false perception in the footballing world that Ilkay Gundogan has poor fitness levels but despite one horrific injury he has a very good appearance ratio for Dortmund. He is also the much younger option. Overall I would have to side with the Schweinsteiger party this summer.

Karim Benzema

I would prefer Thomas Muller for many reasons. He can play in many positions. Rooney would be left up front without any drama from the press and like Schweinsteiger has a very close relationship with Louis Van Gaal. He is a more winner with great self – belief. Sadly the chances of Bayern selling two players to United are very small. So I have sided with Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema. I do not believe Benzema is one of Europe’s most underrated strikers. He is the most underrated striker. Players such as Bale, Ronaldo and Rodriguez seem to steal the majority of the headlines. He is a very classy finisher and would add a much needed ruthlessness to the Manchester United forward line. A certain Angel Di Maria was often responsible for his goals in the Spanish capital and the possibility of seeing that partnership in the Premier League gets tails wagging to say the least.

Wayne Rooney – Where’s he gone?

Where's the real Wayne Rooney gone?

Where’s the real Wayne Rooney gone?

With more pressing needs, such as tactics, team selections and an overall lack of cohesion in United’s play, Wayne Rooney has slipped somewhat under the radar of many United fans this season. Played out of position, the only realistic candidate to captain the side and unquestionable effort and desire week in week out in a United shirt are three major get out of jail cards in Rooney’s favour. But should we have expected more from his inaugural season as Manchester United’s captain?

It’s a compliment to the player Rooney is that the question is being asked at all. Van Gaal himself has struggled in his first year in charge at United and if Louis is struggling to implement his philosophy on the team then surely it’s to be expected that his leader on the pitch will struggle too? Of course the flipside to that coin is Rooney looked a far better player last season under the disaster that was David Moyes’s tenure than he has under Van Gaal. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a Manchester United fan putting Rooney in their top five players of the season. An unthinkable scenario considering Rooney has played nearly every game. The question therefore has to be does captaincy actually suit Rooney? The responsibility seems to have tamed him too much.

If Rooney truly is the right man to lead the team, Van Gaal needs to seriously look at why the role has impacted so badly on his natural passion and determination for the game? Looking back to the start of the season, some criticised Rooney when he publicly berated a young Tyler Blackett in the disappointing loss at Leicester but surely that was an example of a passionate and frustrated captain United desperately need? Why has that fire been extinguished by Van Gaal? And then there was the sending off against West Ham. Petulant yes and not acceptable from the figurehead of the team. But remember a certain Mr Keane? United’s most successful captain of all time was known to lose his cool throughout his entire career. Aggression and passion are two of the most desirable traits in a Manchester United captain and coming in to the season Rooney had both in abundance. For some reason they’ve gone missing and without them Rooney’s natural game has suffered immensely.

To be a successful captain it’s a given that you’ve got to be performing on the pitch. Think Vidic, the rock solid leader at the back, Robson, captain marvel from the midfield, or Cantona, the maestro conducting things from the attack. If a captain is to lead they must first perform. Too many times this season Rooney has struggled to perform to the standards we expect. In his defence, there’s only been one or two bad performances and any player can be afforded that in a season. The issue is the far too many average performances and lack of standout games. Of course, Rooney has spent a number of games playing out of position and for this he should be commended. He hasn’t performed fantastically as a midfielder but as captain of the side he’s took on the instruction from the manager and tried his best without making a fuss. We reappear at the root of the problem though, a captain must be performing well to lead.

The solution for next season is Rooney must play where he’s most impactive, higher up the pitch. Rooney is simply not a midfielder. Or to clarify, Rooney is not a midfielder of the quality Manchester United require. Comparisons to Paul Scholes are fantasy and whilst I’m sure Rooney could chisel out a career as a midfielder at a Hull City or Aston Villa, the question has to be why are we trying to mould a twenty nine year old top class forward in his prime in to a mediocre midfielder? Not only that, why are we doing it to our captain and effectively blunting his performance and impact? Rooney is our best forward, he’s our captain and he should not only be the first name on the pitch, it should be an absolute priority that he’s played in his preferred position where he performs best and where he can do what he does naturally.

There’s no need to sound the alarm bells yet. If Van Gaal deserves time to mould his team then it’s only right that Rooney deserves time to come to terms with what is arguably the pinnacle of any footballers career? Next season Rooney needs to come back wiser for the experience of this year though. Pumped up to quite literally lead from the front.

Manchester United 1999 vs Manchester United 2008

Manchester United 1999 v Manchester United 2008

Manchester United 1999 vs Manchester United 2008 – Battle of the Champions

Manchester United may have missed out on the Champions League this year – thanks Mr Moyes – but to celebrate Champions League Final weekend we’ve got a Manchester United debate to end all debates. Manchester United Champions League Winners 1999 v Manchester United Champions League Winners 2008. Who wins? You will decide.

This Sunday at 9pm LIVE on our Youtube Channel – The United Stand – we’ll be opening up the debate on what promises to be the most heated debate we’ve ever had on The United Stand. Two fantastic sides! Both treble winners – well the 2008 side would have been if it hadn’t been for a dodgy ref in the FA Cup tie at home to Portsmouth – Both managed by Sir Alex. Both brimming with World Class talent. It really is too close to call. But you will have to call it. A draw will not be allowed in this tie, a winner must prevail.

Some will say the 1999 Treble side was light years ahead with the midfield dynasty of Beckham, Scholes, Keane and Giggs. Others will state the 2008 side was Sir Alex’s best ever. With Ronaldo, Tevez and Rooney leading the line it’s hard to disagree. Whichever way you’re leaning we’ve got ten categories below that will test any United fan.

So cast your votes in our polls below and tune in LIVE at 9pm on Sunday here – The United Stand Youtube Channel – The LIVE comment box will be open and YOUR input will be crucial. The United Stand is 100% about the fans and YOUR voice will be heard on this one.
Manchester United Tracksuit top

ENTER OUR PRIZE GIVEAWAY!!! To celebrate what will be the biggest United Fan Debate we’ve ever had on Sunday night, we’re also giving away a classic Manchester United 1985 Tracksuit top. Look the business in this classy piece of United history. All you need to do is subscribe FREE to our Youtube Channel here – The United Stand Youtube Channel – and tune in on Sunday night where we’ll be announcing the winner LIVE on air.

So get voting below, enter our competition and join us and join in LIVE at 9pm on Sunday night. Live link to the video is here – United 99 v United 08 Fan Debate Show – we’ll aslo be tweeting it out on our twitter page @UnitedStandMUFC. In the meantime, get voting!

Who was the Best Captain?

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Who was the Best Star Player?

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Who was the Better Scholes?

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Best Centre Back Pairing?

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The Biggest Imposter?

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Best Goal?

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Best Strike force?

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Better Goalkeeper?

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Better Opposition in the Final?

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The BIG one! Which was the Better side?

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Morgan Schneiderlin not the solution Manchester United

Morgan Schneiderlin Manchester United

Why Morgan Schneiderlin is not the solution at Manchester United

With Arsenal winning the FA Cup final the English football season has run it’s course. All of England’s footballing giants will have to sit back in envy as Juventus take on Barcelona in the Champions League final. This of course includes Manchester United. In my own opinion Louis Van Gaal achieved the bare minimum this season to avoid criticism. He achieved what he was hired for by reaching the top four while at the same time having to deal with a near cruel amount of injuries. On the other hand it has to be mentioned that the football was painful to watch at times. On top of this the short cup runs made the season a frustrating one for the Stretford End.

So often in football the solution to a problem is to throw money at it. Manchester United as a fan base and management brag the Red Devils are the biggest club in the world. To do this the club needs to be winning titles at both home and abroad. So where will those hard earned pounds be going this summer. In the last few days reports suggest that much of it will be spent on the Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin, who is valued between £20 and £25 million pounds. The first question is, is he worth that much? The second, is he the quality Manchester United need to compete with Arsenal, Chelsea and Europe’s biggest clubs?

In a one line answer I would say yes but it depends how you look at it. Morgan Schneiderlin is easily worth this kind of money and we all know Manchester United have the money for a player who had a near 90 per cent pass rate in the Premier League. In January speaking on Sky Sports, Gary Neville said: ‘I think he (Schneiderlin) could play at any of the top clubs in the league, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United or Arsenal – he’s showed his quality this season. This was after Southampton beat Manchester United 0-1 at Old Trafford, with Dusan Tadic netting the winner. The French international has proved himself to be one of the best midfielders in the Premier League. I do believe he could slot into the Carrick role perfectly. Statistics are not everything but in a season where Daly Blind has come into criticism for not passing the ball forward enough in the absence of Michael Carrick. Manchester United fans will be delighted to hear 76 per cent of his passes were forward moving.

Going back to that Gary Neville quote I would like to emphasize three words “in the league” The Premier League is the best league in the world and has the most quality as a whole. But recent seasons would suggest at the very top England’s team are not of the same quality as the rest of Europe. So is buying players from your own league which is weaker than Spain, Germany and arguably Italy, going to help you catch up? This is where my point seems a little contradictory but bare with me here till the end. The French national team is not blessed with many top class centre midfielders, yet Morgan has only played nine times for his country at senior level. I would argue with anybody to say he is in the top 5 defensive midfielders in the premier league. Like Carrick he is the modern ball playing holding midfielder. So if Louis Van Gaal decided to move for the man who started his career at RC Strasbourg I would welcome him with restrained optimism. He is not the player that will turn United into champions at home or abroad but what he will do is give depth to a squad that is crying out for it. However, if he is the only midfielder the club sign in the summer I would fear United would be left wanting in Europe as soon as the knockout stages began.

I do believe he would fit into the category of Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia and Marouane Fellaini. They will be brilliant against the bottom 15 or 16 sides domestically but against the top teams they will look average. If Schneiderlin is to be a success at United, I strongly believe the club will also need to sign a centre midfielder with plenty of European experience. For example a Bastian Schweinsteiger or İlkay Gündoğan. At 33 it is unrealistic to expect Michael Carrick to play Chelsea on a Saturday and Real Madrid on the Tuesday when we get to the business end of the season. The club needs the highest of quality if it wishes to compete at home and abroad.
He picked up both the Players’ Player and Fans’ Player of the Year awards at Southampton’s end of season awards in 2013. Despite this, if Morgan is going to get his wish of playing in a successful Champions league team he may have to accept that we will not be first choice at first. After a couple of years playing with Michael Carrick at United and Paul Pobga for France £25 million may look like a bargain in a couple of years times. That is of course if he continues to improve at the rate he has at Southampton.

So I’d welcome Morgan to United. He has the potential to become a valuable asset to the squad. United need something else as well though. Get to work Mr Woodward.

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