Manchester United v Aston Villa Player Ratings Poll

Manchester United v Aston Villa player ratings

Manchester United v Aston Villa Player Ratings – YOU Decide

A fantastic three points away from home for Manchester United v Aston Villa. But who were the United players that stood out for you?

The United Stand is all about YOU! So to get YOU even more involved in our channel and website we want YOUR votes in our Manchester United v Aston Villa player ratings poll. Simply pick your three best performing Manchester United players from the list below and we’ll use your votes in our Sunday Review show LIVE at 9pm on The United Stand Youtube Channel

And if you feel like discussing the game more with fellow reds click here and go over The United Stand Forum and discuss everything United

Who was YOUR Men of the Match (Three votes allowed)

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Manchester United’s Title Challenge Dilemma

Why the remaining month of the transfer window is pivotal to Manchester United’s title challenge?

Manchester United’s title challenge could be decided in August. In the next 4 weeks, Manchester United could be the most active team in the transfer window because even though the Premier League season draws closer, there are still more questions than answers with the team’s make up. With many fans and manager alike suggesting that there are more positions that need to be strengthened and the question marks over the futures of several first-team figures including David De Gea, the departure and arrivals’ lounge could become extremely busy in the coming days.

Firstly, the Angel Di Maria saga has reached its conclusion after his moody teenager like antics when he went AWOL refusing to travel to the Man United US training camp failing to inform his manager of his whereabouts. Di Maria failed to be a consistent performer and consequently was labelled a ‘flop’ by many for not living up to his £59.7m price tag even falling behind Ashley Young in the pecking order for the second half of the season. Although he didn’t have the greatest season, Di Maria has indisputable quality but did not have the temperament or the will power to succeed in the toughest league in world football. A genuinely world class player like Di Maria would leave a void for any club he leaves, so at Manchester United it is no different, his void will need to be filled with a high quality replacement. Van Gaal talked about wanting to add a player with pace and creativity, Di Maria embodied that description but unfortunately even though he may have lived in Manchester for nearly a year, neither his head nor his heart ever seemed to be in Manchester, leaving Van Gaal to find an alternative with similar quality and additional work ethic. Barcelona forward Pedro Rodriguez seems to be the man for the job. Pedro has 161 goals and assists (98 goals and 63 assists) in 318 appearances at Barcelona meaning he averages a goal or assists every 2 games; he would provide incredible consistency to the team unlike Di Maria’s erratic form. Blessed with fantastic pace, two-footed and like most Spaniards he has exquisite touch and ball control. Nevertheless, the most significant upgrade on Di Maria would be his work ethic, he is renowned in the Barcelona ranks as one of the most hard-working players who would run himself ragged for the team’s sake. Pedro’s arrival is a necessity, as United are lacking creative players with pace and he will add another dimension to the depleted Manchester United attack.

Defensive instability

Perhaps the most pressing questions that need to be answered in the coming weeks are the ones concerning the defence. The majority of the Manchester United fans see the defence as the weakest component of the team even with the addition of Matteo Darmian. In pre-season, the full-backs were one of the biggest positives; Luke Shaw showed why Manchester United splashed big money on him, flying up and down the wing with menace, looking much fitter and stronger than last season. Matteo Darmian, was arguably the best performer, his defence composure and energetic attacking bursts suggest he will be a real upgrade to the makeshift right-back Antonio Valencia. However, genuine concerns remain over the centre-backs. Van Gaal has hinted using Daley Blind as a left-sided CB with his preference of a left-footer playing on the left-side of defence and has started there in every pre-season game. Despite glimpses of Blind showing positional awareness and his ability to build up play at the back, the games against PSG and Barcelona showed why a centre-back is a must if Manchester United are to win the league. The flaws were highlighted for all to see by Ibrahimović and Suarez in the games against PSG and Barcelona. In these games the Daley Blind and Phil Jones partnership looked shambolic at times, showing indecisive communication which gifted the opposition chances and the pair looked worryingly weak and immobile when faced with both the small quick attackers and the larger, more physical forwards. This care is further compounded by the fact that Manchester United have a set of defenders who spend just as much time on the injury tables as they do on the pitch. Last season, statistically United was the most injury-prone team, forced to play Paddy McNair, Tyler Blackett and even Michael Carrick in defence at times. So not only is the quality questionable, the durability and reliability in terms of fitness is a huge cause for concern. Rafael already has been through the exit door; Van Gaal clearly wasn’t convinced he had the temperament or the tactical nous to balance his attacking and defensive full-back duties. Another player whose future at Old Trafford is in jeopardy is Jonny Evans. Despite a reasonably successful 2012/13 campaign, Jonny Evans is a player that most Red Devils feel doesn’t have sufficient quality to be at the heart of the defence and last season epitomised exactly why. He looked nervous on the ball, rushed when playing the ball out and his positioning was frustratingly sloppy. Given that Van Gaal didn’t play him in pre-season speaks volumes, the Dutchman doesn’t rate him and he will be shown the door this month if a suitor can be found.

David De Gea without doubt saved the defence’s blushes at times last season making incredible, match-winning saves, and in fact may have clouded the extent of the problem that the club faces at the back in the eyes of the management. The media say that the manager is not looking for a centre-back; however a commanding central defender to provide much needed composure and leadership at the back is needed to assure defensive stability. Solid defences are essential for a title challenge. Chelsea had the best back 5 in the league last season; their ability to close the usually nerve-wracking 1 goal leads down to secure 3 points on numerous occasions was a key component for them to win the league and it is that defensive assuredness Manchester United need to establish in order to truly challenge for the Premier League crown. As Sergio Ramos looks like an increasingly unlikely target with his saga likely to result in a bumper new contract, Nicolas Otamendi could be a fantastic alternative he has a £35m (€50m) buy-out clause and is an incredibly strong defender who was arguably the best in La Liga last season. If Ed Woodward can land someone in that ilk for the heart of the defence in the coming weeks, it would go a long way in helping Van Gaal and Manchester United compete for the league title.

The Goalkeeping Dilemma

Is he staying or is he going? United fans are resigned to losing David De Gea given his long term ambition to return to his home in Madrid, but the question still looms, will Ed Woodward’s tough negotiating stance keep him at Old Trafford for one more season. Right now, there aren’t many if any better goalkeepers in world football than David De Gea, he was comfortably Manchester United’s best player last season and Woodward is right in standing firm for an astronomical fee for a goalkeeper in his final year of the contract, as he is worth that and more to the club. It seems like Sergio Ramos was being used as leverage by Manchester United in De Gea negotiations, but now as the defender looks set to stay as Real Madrid captain, Woodward may well bring another Real star like Gareth Bale into negotiations but he would be equally unlikely to move. Given that De Gea would be playing for the Spanish no.1 jersey for Euro 2016 this season perhaps Woodward and Van Gaal may be tempted just to keep De Gea at any price this summer. However, If De Gea’s head is already in Madrid which seems to be the case, the best option may be to hold out for a fee circa £25m to £30m in order to get enough for a top class replacement. Victor Valdes may well have been a tailor made replacement but his refusal to follow the ‘philosophy’ and play for the reserve team means he has no future at the club and another keeper will have to be bought. Free transfer Sergio Romero, the no.2 goalkeeper at Sampdoria and Monaco, never convinced neutrals with his handling or shotstopping as the Argentine no.1 at the World Cup, so it would be anxious times at Old Trafford if he is genuinely seen as the heir to De Gea’s throne. Jasper Cillessen (£25m), Hugo Lloris (£25-30m), Jan Oblak (£20-25m) and Bernd Leno (£13m – buyout clause) have all been mentioned as potential replacements for De Gea. 3 of them have potential, but only one is ready made replacement that will require no adjustment period, and that is Hugo Lloris, and for that reason he is perhaps the best option. Lloris has proven top quality in the Premier League, he is a brilliant shot-stopper, has fantastic distribution and his sweeper-keeper ability makes him perfect for Manchester United’s defensive high line. Whoever Van Gaal and Frans Hoek opt for, they’ll have to be physically ready for the high intensity, physical English game hence why many have lingering doubts whether the Dutch goalkeeper Jasper Cilllessen’s wiry figure could cope with such demands. Every title challenge requires a high quality shotstopper to save key points during a season, Courtois did that last year and Van Der Saar did it for United in the past, a top class goalie is a necessity if Manchester United are to make it 21 league titles.

Another Striker: Essential or Luxury?

With Radamel Falcao and Robin Van Persie already gone, it seems that Manchester United are a striker short. Although Wayne Rooney has seemingly been guaranteed a role as central striker, the only other two striker options are Javier Hernandez (who may not be content with a bench role) and James Wilson. Perhaps Van Gaal is satisfied with those 3 striker options and is happy to supplement them with versatile forwards like Memphis Depay, Adnan Januzaj and Pedro Rodriguez if necessary. However an opinion many United fans share is that another striker is worth buying, but is a striker of high quality available? Players like Alexandre Lacazette, Mauro Icardi and maybe even Zlatan Ibrahimovic would be available at the right price, all of which could be potentially great signings, however the marquee names that Van Gaal would prefer like Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller and Edison Cavani all appear unattainable. The Dutchman teased a surprise signing in a US press conference, whether that surprise is a striker signing is yet to be seen. Going by the reported £150m summer warchest, there is £75-80m left to spend, then a further £75m available from Adidas sponsorship and £45m from the sale of Angel Di Maria. Manchester United have astronomical sums of money at their disposal and given that over £885,000 a week has now been cleared off the wage bill, the money is certainly there to make a surprise big money signing. If a marquee name can be bought in the final weeks, it could transform United from a team playing onlooker to Manchester City and Chelsea’s title challenge to a team being favourites to win the league.

Given the potential loss of two world class players this month in Angel Di Maria and David De Gea, if Manchester United can buy two players of top quality to fill their voids, then it would go a long way into assuring a title challenge is possible. It would be concerning if both are replaced with insufficient quality and the defensive issues are not addressed. However, if Woodward can land a top draw centre-back and perhaps another quality striker with the big money that he has available, a title challenge wouldn’t only be possible, a title challenge would be inevitable.

By Hesham Bilal-Hafiz (@hesham786)

Why are Manchester United Bad at Selling?

Why are Manchester United bad sellers?

Manchester United right back Rafael has been sold to Olympique Lyon for 2.5 million. Or to put it another way. Highly experienced Manchester United right back , only recently turned 25, with a contract that doesn’t expire until next summer, three premier league winners medals in his cabinet, and I repeat, only just 25 years of age. Sold for 2.5 million! Ridiculous isn’t it?

Manchester United are well known for selling players on the cheap but enough is enough. The fees we receive for our players is bordering on the insane. Yes the club is extremely wealthy but I don’t recall free tickets or United tops being randomly handed out to the people who fund that wealth – the fans – so why are we giving our players away for next to nothing? Rather than giving hand outs to other clubs how about getting a decent price for our players and giving back to the fans for a change.

Hull’s right back is 3 times better than Rafael?

Staying with Rafael, let’s compare his sale to that of Hull City full back James Chester – coincidentally another Manchester United youth product. Chester joined West Bromwich Albion from Hull City for 8 million pounds last month and it doesn’t take a genius to establish – a Liverpool fan would do – that Chester isn’t anywhere near the same level as Rafael. So why the huge difference in price?

Contract length? No, both Rafael and Chester’s contracts expire at the same time next summer. Age? No, Chester is actually a year older than Rafael. Wages? Rafael was reportedly on 60k a week at United. Admittedly a large sum but for Manchester United far from crippling – to put it in to context Jonny Evans robs the club of 65k a week.

The fact is there is no logical explanation for Manchester United’s neglectful approach to selling players and the Rafael/James Chester deal highlights that perfectly. Maybe it’s incompetence, maybe there’s something more sinister going? But something is definitely amiss.

Manchester United is about making money

“So what?” may be the response of some fans. Well one thing Manchester United have always been exceptional at is selling their brand to their followers at premium prices. Whether it’s the latest Manchester United home kit or your very own Manchester United toilet brush – for cleaning off our latest win over the scousers from your toilet pan – United price high because they know they’ll sell high in huge volumes. Those in charge can go on about sponsorship deals funding the club way more than ticket sales etc but the reality is if you don’t have fans you don’t get sponsors. So why are United so obsessed in bleeding their fans dry but are more than happy to hand out gifts to other clubs for next to nothing?

As many United fans will know, it’s not just the Rafael deal. United have been offloading players for way below market value for years. This year alone we’ve reportedly let Nani (4.25 mil), Robin Van Persie (4.5 mil), Zaha (6 mil) & Rafael (2.5 mil) go for a combined total of just under 17.5 million. 17.5 million! It defies belief! Yes with Nani and RVP there were large wages to take in to account but it doesn’t excuse the fact you can buy one of the best forwards in the world, an established international in his prime, a 25 year old experienced right back and a young English player with bags of potential for half the price of Benteke! It’s not acceptable and it’s awful business sense.

I’m sure if the club were of a mind to explain these deals – I wouldn’t hold your breath on that one – they’d say there were valid reasons for accepting these deals and the club always works hard to achieve the best price possible for Manchester United football club. If fans want to believe that then that’s their right. But ask yourself this. If Arsenal were offered Rafael, Nani, RVP and Zaha tomorrow for 30 million we all know they, like every other club in the Premier League & Europe’s top leagues, would snap our hands off. Because 30 million is an absolute steal for all that talent. And we got barely half of that.

Manchester United are happy to sell to rivals

Some might say that the selling market is restricted when you can’t sell to rivals in the Premier League. If fans are still falling for that nonsense then they’d do well to look back at the Welbeck to Arsenal deal last August, or the fact that Zaha went to Crystal Palace, or that we just sold Cleverley to Everton. If a player isn’t good enough in the manager’s eyes then it clearly doesn’t matter where we sell them.

The harsh truth is United are terrible at selling. Something that may not concern a lot of fans but something that concerns me when the club is so happy to charge us fans top dollar.

Comment below or on the forum and give us YOUR thoughts.

Manchester United Season Preview Fan Polls 2015/16

Manchester United Season Preview

Manchester United Season Preview Fan Poll 2015/2016

Manchester United’s season kicks off next Saturday at Old Trafford against Spurs. What can we expect from the season ahead? Has it been a successful summer in the transfer market or do we go in to the season with the same uncertainty as last year?

On Sunday night LIVE at 9pm The United Stand will be previewing the season ahead, and as usual we want YOUR input. So how do you get involved? Well first of all tune in to the show LIVE on our United Stand Youtube Channel Sunday at 9pm. And secondly, we want YOU to cast your votes in the Manchester United season preview polls below

As always your votes will count and dictate how the show goes and give a real Manchester United view on how fans are feeling going in to the season ahead. Where do you think Manchester United will finish this season? Can we win the league or would you be happy with top four again? What are our chances in Europe, presuming we get through the Champions league qualifier? And who will be the player that shines the most in an Adidas Manchester United kit this season? Cast YOUR votes below and have YOUR say on the show Sunday night at 9pm

Mark and the panelists will be having their say as always but The United Stand is about gaging real United fan opinion and regulars viewers will know that this is the channel where United fans have their voice heard. So join us and join in LIVE on Sunday at 9pm

Finalyy, to those who’ve been messaging us about the format for the new season, we’ll still be doing LIVE reaction videos on The United Stand Youtube Channel the second every Manchester United game has finished. As well as our flagship Sunday night LIVE at 9pm review show and Thursday night LIVE at 9pm preview show. With European football hopefully in the bag we’ll also be continuing with our Tuesday night LIVE at 9pm show. So plenty to get involved with on the Manchester United Fan channel that’s all about YOU!

Now cast YOUR votes and see you on Sunday LIVE at 9pm for our Manchester United Season Preview Show

Where will United finish this season?

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How far will United go in Europe?

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Who will be United's Star player this season?

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Are confident LVG can deliver the title in his tenure?

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As of now, has it been a good summer of ins and outs for United?

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What's most important to YOU this season?

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Ed Woodward of Wall Street

Ed Woodward of Wall Street

Ed Woodward – The Woody of Wall Street

It’s that time of year folks! The transfer window’s open and clubs are ready to splash the cash in the biggest, most expensive form of legal human trafficking you’ve ever seen.

If you’re Liverpool, then you may choose to shop in the Championship for the likes of Bogdan from Bolton, or buy the player everyone but you, your friend, or your other friend have heard of, Joe Gomez.

Manchester City are apparently pleased they’ve just spent £49M on a 20-year-old hippy-crack, truant. Proving that money can buy you a quick headline, but can’t buy you happiness, history or … Fabian Delph apparently.

So with Southampton once again looking to sell off half their team, replacing it for the price of a Freddo bar, and Newcastle, surprisingly investing (I know weird right?) How have Manchester United faired?

Now, dear old Ed Woodward, CEO of Manchester United, has had a bit of bad press in recent times. In the reign of David Moyes he was labeled a ‘failure’ and ‘inept’ because somehow he managed to pay £28.5M for Fellaini, which in hind sight was, give-or-take a few million here or there, about £28.5M too much.

Juan Mata was brought in to try and save the car-crash of a season we all had to endure under Moyes. But after a hefty outlay, all United and Ed had to show for their efforts was a few bruised egos after a certain scouser (I don’t name names) fell over a banana skin one day, handing the Premier League back to our noisy neighbours.

Ed was beaten, bruised, flogged in the streets, chastised, ostracized, victimized, and, some people even made some mean memes of him. But he licked his wounds like a tough alley cat, and started to get to work with his new partner in crime, Louis (Van Gaal).

The dynamic duo quickly established who they wanted to bring in and set about aquiring Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind, Angel Di Maria, Radamel Falcao in a spending spree so lavish, it would have only been made more expensive if they’d paid off Sepp Blatter to f*** off out of FIFA and asked Mario Balotelli to organize a firework party for their troubles.

At that point, Ed looked to be a hero, a man of the people. ‘He signs who he wants’ was the cry of many a United fan. What a difference a year made. But for all the spending, it didn’t quite work. Di Maria was expected to reinvigorate the team, but instead performed like a lame horse stumbling towards the final furlong, and as for Falcao, the so-called ‘deadly striker’, he was about as prolific in front of goal as Joe Allen.

So, the doubts crept in again, and up to the start of this summer, United fans around the world were once again wondering ‘Will we sign anyone good this summer? Please let us sign someone good this summer!’

Most United fans if they’re honest were having wet dreams over the idea of Bale coming to United, or a reunion with Ronaldo, a man who ‘loves United’ so much he begged to leave for Madrid. But Bastian Schweinsteiger, did anyone see that coming? Anyone? Surely Woody couldn’t do that could he? Could Woody do it? Yes he woody well could!

I’ll openly admit, I was skeptical of Woodward’s skills, but when Bastian Schweinsteiger was announced to sign for United, all I can say is I lost about 5% of my body mass. Don’t ask me how, it just happened. I am now a #Believer.

Now there’s talk of a statue, a knighthood, his own television programme, the Stretford end being named ‘The Ed Woodward Stand’.

Which, when you look at all the evidence goes to prove one thing folks. Doubt Ed Woodward at your peril. Madrid, the Woody of Wall Street is coming for you, and he’s taking your Ramos.

by The Drawty Devil

Manchester United Striker Options

Manchester United Striker Options

The Manchester United Striker Hunt – Who should Ed Woodward target?

With the departures of Radamel Falcao and Robin Van Persie and upwards of £75m still left to spend, Manchester United are almost certainly in the market for a top striker to guarantee 20+ goals a season, the question is, who will that player be?
Emerging strikers

Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette (£30-35m) name was up in bright lights last season after a sensational season, finishing Ligue 1’s top goalscorer with an impressive tally of 27 goals in 33 league games. He is blessed with jet-heeled pace, can play anywhere across the front line of attack, he loves to dribble past defenders and has proven himself to be a clinical finisher. Even though only 5ft 9, he is still physically strong almost built in the ilk of Alexis Sanchez, he is more than capable of handling the physicality of the Premier League. However, the 24-year old never scored more than 15 league goals in a season until last year, taking out last season’s stats; he only has scored 28 goals in 125 appearances. So given the touted £30-35m price tag he may be a risk; it is yet unknown whether he is a one-season wonder or just a late bloomer who is hitting his peak?

Harry Kane (£50m+) is a similar story, in August 2014, you would probably never have heard his name if you weren’t a Spurs fan, come May 2015, the whole of Europe knew of his name. He boasted one the best records in Europe, he scored 30 goals and notched up 5 assists in 39 starts, an outstanding return. Aged 21, if he can be hitting those figures, especially playing in the most competitive league in the world it seems he has huge potential. Nevertheless, after having a signed a 5 year-contract only this season, he would demand an astronomical fee of beyond £50m, which is extortionate for a player who has had one stand out season. Then again, he could be a gamble worth taking just like signing an 18-year old Wayne Rooney for £27m was over a decade ago.

Marquee names

If you ask Manchester United fans which striker they want, the Bayern Munich duo of Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski (£40-50m)would feature very high on most lists. Lewandowski is renowned for being a powerful, deadly finisher; he has scored 115 goals and made 33 assists in 205 appearances, making him one of the best no.9s in world football. As someone who has got 20+ goals a season for the last 3 seasons, he would be a striker who could guarantee Manchester United consistency. Thomas Muller (£50-60m) has often been deployed as a right-sided midfielder or as a number 10 for Bayern and has still managed to rack up 121 goals 69 assists in just over 300 games, a record which puts him in the ‘world class’ bracket by many. Internationally he is used as a striker and has 27 goals in 63 games (including 10 goals in 12 world cup games), there are no doubts both are phenomenal players that would be marquee signings. Considering Bayern CEO Rummenigge said no more Bayern Munich players would move to Manchester United, both would be incredibly likely to pull off unless Di Maria was involved in the negotiations.

Some fans call him overrated, but Edinson Cavani (£35-50m) has been one of the most prolific strikers in Europe. He is the 4th highest goal-scorer over the last 5 seasons with 112 goals, considering he scored 31 goals playing from wide left last season for PSG just shows what a goal-machine he really is. He is a powerhouse, strong in the air and with his feet, when he has played for PSG and Napoli up front he has been lethal, but reports of late suggest Cavani is ‘untransferable’, so United may have to look elsewhere but he would certainly be a great signing. Karim Benzema (£30-40m) is a name that always seems to go under the radar when it comes to praise for Real Madrid attackers. He has only failed to score 20 goals in a season once in the last 5 seasons, bagging 120 goals and 66 assists in 251 games. Aged 27, he is in his prime, he has been a pivotal part of Los Blancos’ success over the last 5 years, he would a dream signing for any elite European team. As someone who is capable of building up play superbly, holding up the ball effectively and a real predator in the box, he is the perfect combination of what Manchester United need in a striker. With tensions already high with the De Gea-Ramos stand-offf, it is unlikely that both Florentino Perez and Rafael Benitez would want to sell such a key asset of their team.
Versatile forwards

If there are not sufficient out-and-out quality strikers available, perhaps Van Gaal should stretch his search to a more versatile forward who can play all across the attack like Memphis Depay. One player that would fit that bill is Marco Reus (£40-50m) from Borussia Dortmund; he has played both as an attacking midfielder as well as further forward for the German club and is considered one of the most exciting players in world football. His record of 86 goals and 51 assists in 207 is a return which encapsulates why he is considered as an elite player. Reus has got a thunderous long shot in his repertoire, this long-range threat coupled with exquisite vision for a pass as well his composure when in on goal, makes him a real asset to any attacking team. Dortmund have a tendency to sell one star player every year, so even though he has signed a contract extension until 2019, at the right price he could well make a move.

Another player that would set the Premier League alight if he arrived is Antoine Griezmann (£35-40m) from Athletico Madrid. Renowned for having sensational technical ability, having the skill and guile to play on the both flanks as well as centrally and being lightening quick, Griezmann has been attracting attention from the European elite like PSG and Chelsea. After scoring 52 in 201 games for Real Soceidad it was last season with Atheltico when he was the 3rd highest scorer in La Liga with 22 goals in 32 appearances that showed the world exactly what he’s capable of doing. Given that he only moved in 2014 and that Arda Turan has been sold to Barcelona it is questionable whether he will be sold, but considering the Madrid club have signed Luciano Vietto and Jackson Martinez, two striking options, again there is potential for a sale at the right price. With Angel Di Maria looking likely to leave this summer, both Reus and Griezmann could be options to simultaneously fill his boots and the striker position as multi-faceted, versatile forwards.

Wildcard hotshots

One name which is often overlooked is that of Mauro Icardi (£20-25m) of Inter Milan. 21 year-old Paulo Dybala (38 goals in 128) got a £32m transfer to Juventus and was rated as one of the best young strikers in Europe after his first full season in Serie A in which he scored 13 goals and got 10 assists for Palmero. However, Icardi who is just 1 year older boasts a superior record, last season he scored 22 goals and got 6 assists in 33 goals and overall has 42 goals in 97 appearances. Icardi is a real old-fashioned no.9, he makes intelligent runs in behind to latch on to through balls, he has the predatory striking instincts to be a top class striker for a Champions League team. Whether Ed Woodward is fixated on a big name striker, for the sake of appeasing sponsors and fans, is yet to be seen but if he wants a striker capable of scoring 15-20 goals a season, Icardi could be the man.

Another player which can prized out of Borussia Dortmund is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£20-25m), for the FIFA fanatics out there, he may be most well-known for being one of the fastest players in the world (95 Pace on FIFA 15). Perfect anywhere in a front 3, the player nicknamed ‘The African Neymar’ has scored 42 goals in 95 games and has been a real shining light in the Dortmund team since the departure of Mario Götze and Robert Lewandowski. His frightening quick speed makes him incredibly difficult to mark without the ball and makes him lethal when running at back-tracking defenders, shoehorned in a team with a top class midfield; he could be a real asset.

It will be intriguing to see who Ed Woodward eventually buys to fill the striking vacancy, most of the strikers above would be brilliant signings that really could hit the ground running and add 15-20+ goals to the team next season. All the strikers fit the age mould, they have got impressive goal-scoring records and most have the attributes that would suit Manchester United down to a tee. The striker signing undoubtedly will be the most left-field, unpredictable transfer, whoever they do opt for, hopefully they will be the right man for job.

By Hesham Bilal-Hafiz

Sergio Ramos to join Manchester United?

Sergio Ramos joins Manchester United

Sergio Ramos to Manchester United?

Is Sergio Ramos joining Manchester United? A couple of weeks ago the deal looked highly likely and those in the know in Spain state nothing’s changed, Ramos still wants the move to Manchester. But despite United’s amazing success in the transfer window so far this summer, is this a step too far? A fight we can’t win? One thing’s for certain. If Sergio Ramos does sign it will be the biggest blow Real Madrid and Spanish football has felt in decades.

When it comes to player acquisition Real Madrid are the biggest club in the world. Forget finances, fanbases, history, when it comes to getting a player Real Madrid are the undisputed champions. Yes Barcelona give them a run for their money but let’s not fool ourselves that English clubs ever have. If Madrid want a player they get them. Whether that’s through underhand tactics, geography, history, status or anything else, the last twenty years have shown that when Real Madrid come knocking, that door will be opened one way or another.

Which is why this Manchester United transfer window is so interesting. I’ve said before that winter is coming for Real Madrid and Barcelona. The new TV deal will bring so much money in to the Premier League that within a couple of years even smaller Premier League sides such as Stoke and Liverpool will be able to offer the big wages Madrid are paying. But the problems don’t stop there. So greedy have the two Spanish giants become, tying up their own domestic TV deals and neglecting the rest, that they’ve turned La Liga in to the new Scottish Premier League in the sun. Where the same two teams win the league year in year out and the product becomes irreversibly unattractive to potential suitors. The bottom line is the Premier League is the most entertaining brand in world Football and it’s only going to get stronger. Winter is coming and Madrid are going to be left in the cold.

If Sergio Ramos does sign for United it will be the first big nail in the Madrid coffin. Why? Because Real Madrid don’t want to sell Ramos. They can dress it up how they like if the deal actually does happen but if you listen to what’s happening now there’s no escaping the fact that Madrid don’t want him to go. So to be just in this position where we’re seriously unsettling Ramos is a huge shift in power towards United in their quest to be number one. Madrid will be furious, they’re used to being able to dictate things how they choose, and for that alone I congratulate Woodward and Van Gaal for orchestrating this pressure so perfectly.

Of course the deal may not happen? Casillas has left the Bernabeu and the rumour is Sergio Ramos will take over the captaincy. That plus the offer of a new contract should be enough to entice Ramos to stay. But what if it isn’t? What if Ramos is set on leaving? Then we’re in to unprecedented territory. One where Spain’s best defender wants to leave Spain’s biggest club to join Manchester United. Normally it’s United losing their best players to Madrid. So how will this deal play out when the boot is on the other foot?

Much depends on David De Gea. He is the player United have in this game of chess that must be used wisely. Madrid want De Gea and De Gea – naively in my view – wants Madrid. But the tables have turned. If Ramos truly wants to come to United then it’s a very simple situation. No Ramos no De Gea.

It truly is a fascinating tussle and one that’s outcome will say a lot about where Manchester United are in world football and where they’re going. If United do take Ramos this summer then Real Madrid will have to accept winter is coming sooner than they expected and give up ground they’ve held uncontested for so long. If Ramos stays then Madrid should take this as a warning to their inevitable downfall. United aren’t going away and the Madrid empire is crumbling from both sides.

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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


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