Alexis Sanchez: The Wonder Boy

Siddarth Thursday, September 30, 2010
Special thanks to Srinath for the excellent information and description of Alexis Sanchez, based on which the Article was written.

He is known as “El Niño Maravilla” (The Wonder Boy) in his homeland, the English media call him “the next Ronaldo”, and he has done more than enough to justify that tag. The player I’m talking about is Chilean winger Alexis Sanchez.

Currently plying his trade in the Serie A with Udinese, Alexis has been consistently linked with a move to Manchester United over the last few years, and unlike most so called “Wonder Kids”, Sanchez has been improving constantly and more than justifying the hype surrounding him. Already the main man for the Chilean national team, the 22 year old is an exceptional player.

Sanchez started his career in Chile with local club Cobreloa, and was soon signed by Udinese for $3 million, after which he was signed on loan by Chilean team Colo Colo for the 2006-07 season, the following season he was signed by River Plate on loan, and he made quite a big impression during his time with the Argentine side, including in the final of the Copa Revancha where he dribbled past 5 Boca players and then got fouled in the penalty box, earning River a penalty. He rejoined Udinese in 2008, he joined them along with fellow Chileans Isla and Corvetto and since then hasn’t looked back, a very popular figure with the Udinese fans thanks to his great dribbling skills, and he’s already a mainstay for the Italians. He along with Quagliarella and Di Natale had formed a very dangerous trio for Udinese in attack.

Alexis made his debut for the Chilean national team aged 17 against New Zealand in a friendly; he was also part of the Chilean U-20 team that performed superbly in the 2007 FIFA U-20 championship, where they managed to reach the semis. Sanchez was pivotal in Chile’s qualification for the 2010 FIFA world cup, and was one of the star performers in the World Cup, his pace and skill made him a handful for all opponents. His performances over shadowed the likes of Rooney, Messi, Ronaldo, Eto’o, etc.

Sanchez can play on either wings and also as a striker, his main attributes would be his explosive pace, impeccable technique and skill. He is known for his dribbling and great ball control, his style of play is reminiscent of Cristiano Ronaldo, and hence the comparisons between the two. His crossing and the plethora of tricks that he has up his sleeve make him a very dangerous winger. He does have an eye for goal, but he’s isn’t the most clinical in front of goal, an area he needs to improve on. He may not be physically the strongest, and this is also another area he needs to work on if he wants to make his mark on Europe.

Only 22, he has time on his side and will surely improve even more, a move to a bigger club looks likely, it would make sense if Sanchez wants to really become one of the best in the world. Manchester United have been constantly linked with him, and there is no one better to learn from than Sir Alex; Ryan Giggs and Cristiano Ronaldo can testify to that!

Sanchez has so far fulfilled the initial promise that he had shown, but he must improve further if he ever wants to be compared to the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi, etc. If he wants to further his reputation then he must move on from Udinese to a bigger team, I would love to see him play at Manchester United, he would be a prized asset for any team in Europe and his stock is constantly rising.

If he continues to improve like he has, it won’t too far in the future when people will be calling other emerging talents “the next Alexis Sanchez’!

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Match preview: Valencia vs Manchester United

Siddarth Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Date: 29th September 2010
Time: 19:45 BST
Venue: Mestella

Manchester United travel to the Mestella to face La Liga leaders Valencia in a crucial Champions league encounter, this following United’s disappointing draw with Rangers in the 1st game of the campaign, United come into this game not in the best of form, with the defense struggling off late.

United had a unimpressive 2-2 draw against Bolton at the Reebok on Sunday, and the defense was again shown up, there were lapses in concentration on occasions and they were totally bullied in the air by Elmander and Kevin Davies. Even though we came back from behind two times, it is unfortunate to see us concede two goals against Bolton.

Last time in the opening week of the Champions League, Sir Alex made 10 changes to the team  for the game against Rangers, but they were unable to break down a resilient Rangers team who were bent upon getting a point from the fixture, Valencia will be tougher opposition for sure, even though they are missing David Villa and David Silva, who were sold in the Summer, they are unbeaten in the La Liga and lead the table with 13 points from 5 games so far, Juan Mata has been in scintillating form off late and he’s so far been more than an able replacement for Silva. He’s going to be the main man for Valencia.

United will be missing Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes through injury, they didn’t travel with the squad to Valencia. Michael Carrick makes a return from injury and even Bebe made the trip to Spain. With Rooney out for 3 weeks, the onus is now even more on Berbatov to continue his good form, Michael Owen who’s been in good from off late, with 3 goals in 2 appearances so far will also play a key role in the coming few weeks.

This will be a tough fixture for United, and the defense will be tested for sure by a very tough opposition, lapses in the defense will surely be punished! Hopefully Rio Ferdinand’s return should bolster the backline, so Sir Alex’s starting lineup should be interesting, with Owen in fine form, he might start alongside Berbatov in a 4-4-2, or Sir Alex may opt for a 4-5-1 with Berba as the lone striker and, Anderson-Gibson-Carrick/Fletcher in midfield.

It should be tight game, and a draw seems the most likely result, but if United do even perform at 90% of their best they can beat Valencia, the performance of the defenders will be key, they are sure to be under severe scrutiny!

Goalkeepers: Van der Sar, Kuszczak, Amos. Defenders: Smalling, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, O'Shea, Evans, Rafael, Brown. Midfielders: Anderson, Bebe, Nani, Carrick, Gibson, Fletcher, Park. Forwards: Hernandez, Berbatov, Macheda, Owen.

Possible starting XI:
Kuszczak; Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Nani, Anderson, Fletcher, Gibson, Park; Berbatov.

Predicted Score: 1-1

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Van Der Gea in Goal?

Siddarth Monday, September 27, 2010
Sir Alex’s scouting mission to watch Valencia wasn’t all about the Spanish outfit it seems, photographed with United’s goalkeeping coach Eric Steele, it is believed Fergie was also scouting Atletico Madrid’s wonder kid David De Gea, who at the tender age of 19 is already their no. 1 GK and keeping out another excellent goalkeeping prospect in Sergio Asenjo.

De Gea is the latest in a long list of exceptionally talented goalkeepers that Spain boast, including the likes of Pepe Reina, Victor Valdes, Sergio Asenjo, Gorka Iraizoz, Diego Lopez and of course the best of them all Iker Casillas. De Gea has had a meteoric rise from being Atletico’s no. 4 GK at the beginning of last season to the regular no. 1 by this season.


He's no walk in the Park!

Siddarth Sunday, September 26, 2010
He may not be the most highly rated player at Manchester United, but he’s a national icon back in South Korea, the most successful Asian footballer in England, and the first Asian to captain Manchester United, he’s also one of the most under rated players at the club.

Having joined United from PSV Eindhoven in 2005 in a 4 million deal; it was reportedly he had been scouted by United for over a year on a mind boggling 100 different occasions before Sir Alex finally signed the Korean. Park was a big success with the PSV fans who often sang about him from the stands yet his signing was considered to be a publicity deal to market United in Asia. But Park isn’t content with just being a passenger and since has more than proved his worth.


Ritchie De Laet signs for Sheffield

Siddarth Saturday, September 25, 2010
Sheffield United have signed Manchester United’s Ritchie De Laet on a 1 month loan to bolster their injury hit defense.

The Blades are missing defenders Rob Kozluk and Chris Morgan through injuries, so De Laet arrival should provide cover for the defense. His versatility is a boon as he can play anywhere in defense, with Right back being his best position.

Having lost Chris Morgan with a hamstring injury and Rob Kozluk to injuries already, Blades boss Gary Speed moved to cover the gap, confirming that Ritchie is in contention for a start this weekend’s trip to Leeds "We need versatile cover in case of further disruption and Ritchie will go straight into our squad at Leeds on Saturday.” he told “I have seen him play loads of times, he's a good, solid player and I'm very pleased to get him here."


Match Preview: Bolton vs Manchester United

Siddarth Friday, September 24, 2010
Date: 26th September 2010
Time: 12:00 BST; 5:30 IST
Venue: Reebok Stadium

Manchester United make the short trip to the Reebok this Weekend to face Bolton Wanderers as we try to close in on Chelsea, who play their first decent opposition of the season in Manchester City on Saturday. Currently placed 3rd on the table, we are 4 points adrift of Chelsea, but also unbeaten so far.

The team will be on a high after last week’s victory over the Scousers, the 3-2 score line does flatter to deceive as Liverpool barely created any chances and scored off a penalty and set piece. Berbatov, Nani and Scholesy are in excellent form, and we should hopefully build on last week’s performance and go on to get all 3 points against Bolton.


Frustration to Brilliance: Nani's story so far

When one mentions Nani now, any United fan will say “our best winger at the moment” and one word to describe his game would be “Brilliant”, rewind to January 2010, fans might have said “Nani has potential to be good, but not the right attitude”, and one word to describe his game would have been “Frustrating”.

The transistion that Nani has made has been just amazing, he went from being the bad boy of Manchester United, to simply World class in a short period of a few months, it begun after he was injured for about a month, during which rumors started spreading about him being offered dirt cheap to every club in the world!

He returned to action against Burnley on the 17th of January 2010, his first start since October 2009, he put in a good performance, he might not have set the game alight but he did show glimpses of his ability, including a sublime overhead kick, after he chested a cross. And this turned out to be just the start, next game was against Hull at Old Trafford, and here the new Nani slowly started emerging. With great Passing and excellent crosses, he was a huge threat throughout the game, the biggest noticeable improvement was his decision making.  He went on to provide 2 assists for Rooney and also created two more good chances that Park and Owen squandered.

One could see Nani’s confidence was building, but still doubts over his consistency lingered, we all had seen Nani perform well before, but could he continue to do so?

He produced another strong performance against Manchester City in the Carling Cup Semi’s as United upturned a 2-1 deficit to go on and win 4-3 on aggregate. The expectation was building up, Nani was on a roll, it seemed like he would explode any game, and that was exactly what happened, and he couldn’t have found a better stage to do so, At the Emirates, he produced possibly the best performance of his career so far. 32 minutes into the game, Nani created a moment of magic as he squeezed past two Arsenal players before feinting past another, and then chipping it over Almunia, only for Almunia to help it into the goal as he tried to push it over the bar. And then he provided the assist for Rooney’s goal as United hit Arsenal on the classic counter attack after defending a corner, Rooney passed to Nani and he ran almost the entire length of the pitch with the ball before passing back to Rooney, who slotted it past a helpless Almunia. Nani was dominant in that game as he kept charging at Arsenal defenders; He went on to be the Man of the Match in the 3-1 victory.

This man of the match performance set the tone for the rest of the Season, as he became one our best performers in the second half of the season. Since his comeback in Jan 2010, Nani started in 18 games and played in 2 more games as a substitute, during which he scored 5 goals and provided 6 assists.  This is was the first time since he had joined United that Nani has performed so well on a consistent basis.
What was different with Nani? Well for one he seemed a much more mature player, always smiling, he was clearly enjoying his football. In terms of his playing style, his crossing was better, and he seemed to have saved the party tricks for when they were actually needed, and most importantly Nani had finally realized there is nothing wrong with putting in an early cross, it wasn’t necessary that he try to dribble past his opponents every time he got a chance. This new Nani was clearly the player United had spent all that money to get from Sporting Lisbon; he was finally realizing his true potential.

Nani has continued his great form into this season and has been excellent so far, already having provided 3 assists in 4 starts and also scoring 1 goal. His contribution is going to be even more vital now following Valencia’s horrible Injury, as he’s our only good and established winger left, with Giggsy too old to play on the wings every week.

As we continue into the season, Nani continues to improve continually and hopefully we see this new avatar of Nani continue to maraud down the wings for a long time to come!

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Match Preview: Scunthorpe United vs Manchester United

Siddarth Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Competition: Carling Cup 3rd Round
Date: 22nd September 2010
Time: 19:45 BST or 01:30 IST
Venue: Glanford Park

The Carling Cup has taken a new dimension, it has been rejuvenated since many managers started using the tournament as a chance to blood youngsters into the competitive football, and Sir Alex isn't one to be left behind, as the youngsters went on to win the Carling Cup last season. The excitement at being able to watch the latest batch of young reds in a competitive game is just immense!

The 3rd round draw pitted us against Scunthorpe United at their home turf, Glanford Park. The championship team is a tough fixture given the game is away from home and it’ll be a great experience and a tough test for the youngsters when they come out to face the Irons on Wednesday.


Our New King?!

19th September 2010, it’s a date that most united fans and also quite a lot Liverpool fans won’t forget very soon, it was the day Berbatov produced his best performance till date in a Manchester United jersey. Berbatov had transcended to a surreal level before 72000 fans at Old Trafford in 90 minutes of football.

In my match preview I had predicted that Berbatov would be United’s key player, but even I didn’t imagine how true it would turn out to be, Berba couldn’t have picked a better fixture to score his first United hat trick, he was just dazzling.

Berba’s first goal was a header off a Giggs corner, surprisingly it was a free header for which he didn’t have to jump either, Fernando Torres’s marking was woeful as he seemed more interested in giving Berba a bear hug and he paid the price!


Player Ratings: Manchester United vs Liverpool

Siddarth Sunday, September 19, 2010
Score at Half Time: 1-0

Final Score:3-2

Manchester United: Dimitar Berbatov (42, 59, 84)
Liverpool: Steven Gerrard (64, 70)


Match Preview: Manchester United vs Liverpool: A Liverpool fan's match preview

Siddarth Saturday, September 18, 2010
This is the second part in our look ahead to the Manchester United vs Liverpool match.
Part 1 was all Manchester United, now it’s all about Liverpool.

Who better to do a preview on Liverpool than a Scouser, so I hunted out my good friend Srinath for his views on Liverpool post-Rafa, their transfer activity this summer and also his predictions on the game.


Match Preview: Manchester United vs Liverpool.

This is the first part of two part match preview.

The Biggest game of the year for me is this fixture, the animosity and rivalry with Liverpool is an inborn trait that every Manchester United fan must have! This is the game that fires me up every season, no better way to enjoy a Sunday than beating the Scousers at Old Trafford.

United’s record at home against Liverpool is pretty good. In the last 8 games against Liverpool here we have won 6 out of them and lost 2. The last time this fixture ended in a draw was way back in March 2000, this fixture has always produced results and also lots of goals. So it could turn out to be an exciting affair. Last time they came to Old Trafford, we came from behind to win 2-1, courtesy goals from Wayne Rooney and Ji-Sung Park.


Why Bebe?!?

Siddarth Friday, September 17, 2010
In a previous article on the blog, I had mentioned how much the Press loved Bebe, and well yesterday’s game against Aston Villa Reserves was a chance for them to continue to do so. And on cue they provided us with an encore!

Even though the reserves did lose that game 4-1, the performances of 3 players did stand out, namely, De Laet, Obertan and Bebe. Surprisingly, the papers decided to catch hold of only Bebe’s performance, and declare it a flop even though he was one of the better players on the day and incredulously decided to pin the blame for the loss on him.


A One Club Man and a Legend

Siddarth Thursday, September 16, 2010
He ticks all the boxes when it comes to being a perfect fan's player, most City and Liverpool fans hate his very breath, and he gladly reciprocates this love! One of the longest serving players at the club, he’s been playing for us since his debut in September 1992 against Torpedo Moscow.

Well if you haven’t guess yet, I’m talking about Gary Neville, probably one of a rare bunch of players, a ‘One Club Man’, he’s also one the most vociferous fans at the club, not one to shy away from displaying his affection for the Red of United.


Oliver Norwood joins Carlise

Carlisle have moved in to sign Oliver Norwood from Manchester United. He joins Carlisle United on a one month loan deal. They moved for him after it was revealed that their team captain Paul Thirlwell was out injured for four months.

Norwood, already an Northern Ireland International,has been labelled the 'the next Beckham', following his own admission that he would like to be like Beckahm and hoped to achieve what he did at United, and also given his exceptional talents with set pieces. He joins fellow United loanee James Chester at the club.

Oliver Norwood has been tipped to have a great future at Old Trafford by Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington, he expects big things from the lad. “The lad is a genius,” said Worthington. “He is going to be a very good player. What he can do with the ball from free-kicks is remarkable. You always know that eight or nine times out of 10, he is going to score when he places the ball for a free-kick.”

Speaking after completing the signing, United manager Greg Abbott said: "Olly is another good one with an excellent background, and his cap at international level shows how highly thought of he is.

"Technically he is excellent and this will give him a good opportunity to get in and around first team football."

Norwood could make his debut against Brighton as a straight replacement for Thirlwell this weekend.

Wings – Valencia = Problems!!

Siddarth Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Tuesday couldn’t have ended on a sourer note for us United fans, first a disappointing performance from the team and then confirmation of what everyone feared, Valencia’s season was most likely over!!

He unfortunately caught his toe in the turf while trying to get past Kirk Broadfoot, and seemed to have dislocated his ankle in the process, the pain was immediately clear to see on his face! And this also sadly means that United will have to play for most of this season at least without Antonio, However this also offers Nani a chance to play as right winger regularly, but the worry begins when we start look for options down the left flank?

Giggsy for one can’t play there every game, especially as a winger, he might be able to put in a shift there once in a while but every week is too much to ask of him though. That leaves United with Park Ji-Sung, Gabriel Obertan and Bebe, there has been a lot of noise about getting Cleverley back from loan, but is Cleverley really best suited for the wings? And its very unlikely we'll recall him just after loaning him out 2 weeks ago.

From the players most likely to step in at the moment, we have

Park, He isn’t the best option if one needs to break down stubborn defenses or teams that are making sure they don’t lose the game at least. His work ethic and closing down make him an ideal player to play against the bigger teams in open, free flowing games. He has great movement and does chip in with important goals in the big games. But in difficult situations, he does lack the creativity and the ability to do produce a stunning moment of magic and break the deadlock.

Bebe, who is still a mystery to many of us, having watched him against England U-21’s and Macedonia U-21’s it was clear that he is very talented but needs to improve a lot of facets of his game before he can really make an impact. Given space to run at players he can wreak havoc, with his great pace and ball control, his crosses are pretty decent too, He has a good physical presence but doesn’t seem to be able to use it to his advantage, clearly showing when he was playing as the lone striker against England U-21’s. But with time and training under Fergie’s watchful eye, by next year I’m sure we’ll have an excellent player.
And finally Obertan, a player I really like, He was very erratic and inconsistent last season and also plagued with Injuries, but this year in the Pre-Season he was impressive and looked to be on the right track until he got injured, and has since been off the radar, he seems to have finally returned to training recently, and this might be his chance to stake a claim at a first team place.

Obertan has great potential, it is clear to see, with his brilliant ball control and the ease with which he gets past opposition players is a joy to watch. But he needs to work on his final ball and also his positional play, hopefully Obertan takes this chance and rises to the occasion, moments like the one against Wolfsburg are the ones worth waiting for! Hope it’s not a very long wait though!!

I hope Valencia recovers soon, and comes back as good he was now. Even though I know it’ll be very difficult to find someone good enough to step in for him immediately, I’m hoping that one these players can help ease the pain of losing Tony for the season.

Valencia ain't no Ronaldo!!

Siddarth Monday, September 13, 2010
Most fans really didn’t expect much from Antonio Valencia when he joined United. The tag Of ‘Ronaldo’s replacement’ put extra pressure on him much to his amusement and of many others, as he and Ronaldo were two totally different wingers and as usual some in the media expected Valencia to flop completely!

Much to their chagrin, Valencia settled in almost immediately, proving that although he may not be Cristiano Ronaldo, he was still a handful down the right wing as well as forming a great understanding with Wayne Rooney assisting most of Rooney’s headed goals last season with immaculate crossing, the kind that had not been seen at Old Trafford since Beckham left the club.

Valencia is pretty much an out and out winger; he sticks to the right side of midfield and constantly runs at the opposition left back. Also occasionally making runs inwards off the last defender and using his pace to get one on one with the GK, Valencia is basically a classic Winger. Given a bit of space, Valencia can whip in brilliant crosses, very difficult for any defender to manage and if he’s given enough space and time to cross, the opposition will most likely regret it. Valencia had one facet to his game that Ronaldo most certainly didn’t have, a great work ethic defensively, he can regularly be seen helping out in defense when possible and this is something that endeared him to the fans even more.

Valencia statistics for his first season at united speak for themselves, he started in 29 premiership games and made 5 sub appearances, he scored 5 goals and provided 7 assists. Also in the Champions League he made 6 starts and 2 sub appearances, going on score 2 goals and create 3 more. Valencia put in a great shift in the first half of the season, playing in almost every game till January, and alongside Rooney, was our best player in the team.

By the end of the 2009/10 season, Valencia did seem to run out of steam, it was expected given that he had played almost continuous football for the first half of the season, and put in several great performances over the season, and also due of an ankle injury that required surgery during the summer.

Valencia might not be Cristiano Ronaldo but his performances as a right winger has ensured that we’ll be missing Cristiano Ronaldo that little bit less. The Ecuadorian should be vital to United’s domestic and European crusades this season and hopefully Valencia can perform an encore of last season’s form.

Match Preview:

Manchester United vs Glasgow Rangers

Date: 14 September 2010
Venue: Old Trafford
Time: 19:45 BST or 01:15 IST

The so called 'Battle of Britain' is going to be an important fixture for United. United’s run up to the game has been far from ideal following a shock 3-3 draw with Everton, conceding 2 goals in the last few minutes of the game. Plus next weekend we have to face Liverpool so an good performance in this game is vital.

The Champions League is Sir Alex’s main target this season and he will be looking to ensure that the team doesn’t mess up like they did against Everton; errors like those even in a single game can be costly to United’s European campaign this season.

United should go into the game as favorites and a victory should be expected. Sir Alex rested Rooney, Valencia, Ferdinand, Darron Gibson, Hernandez and Park against Everton, with only Park making a substitute appearance. So a few changes can be expected, most notable Paul Scholes, who himself has admitted that he can’t play more than 1 game every week. Johnny Evans should make way for Rio Ferdinand, while Ryan Giggs should be replaced by Valencia. Whether Wayne Rooney starts is the big question, given it is a home game, it’s very likely that we’ll see Rooney play.

On the injury front, United have Carrick out for 3 weeks with an Achilles injury, Anderson picked up a knock against Stockport reserves and is doubtful, while Gabriel Obertan has just returned to training. Rest of the squad seems fit and ready.

Rangers come into this game following a 2-1 win over Hamilton on Saturday, and should be pumped up to make an impression at Old Trafford. They can certainly expect the support of their vocal away fans who are expected to pour into Manchester for the game.

I’m predicting a 2-1 win for United, with Rooney scoring at least one.

Line Up:
Kuszczak; Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Valencia, Fletcher, Gibson, Nani; Rooney, Berbatov

Bebe’s a Press favorite already!

There hasn’t been a transfer in recent years to United that the press has loved as much as us signing Bebe, They have been circling around Bebe like a bunch of vultures waiting for the young Portuguese to fail so they can finally have a chance at saying “HA! You got it wrong Fergie!!”

His transfer to United was one of the most unexpected deals of the summer, a player who hardly any fan or member of the English press had heard of prior to him signing for United,slowly his past and other news about him kept emerging, and also how he had been playing in a division 3 club in Portugal four weeks prior to the transfer, and finally Sir Alex’s admittance that he had never seen Bebe play.

That was all the press needed to jump at the youngster, they started with rumors circulating that he wasn’t impressing in training in his first few days at the club (Shocking, considering that he’s lived his whole life at a homeless shelter and Old Trafford was a such a small step up from where was previously), and then this was soon followed by his nonappearance fin a reserves fixture that the press took to be a rejection of the player’s ability by the manager! And then more comedy as some papers made more noise over nothing when he missed the next reserve’s fixture not realizing that Bebe was actually away on duty with the Portugal U-21 team.

Bebe’s career might have gotten an inauspicious start at United thanks to the press but his performances with Portugal U-21’s did shut quite a few of them up. His display showed that he was clearly very talented and Fergie had done right by trusting his scouts. Bebe has a great change of pace and is very quick for a guy of his physique, one on one he showed that he could get past his marker with ease, but at the same time he needs to work on the tactical side of his game, his positioning and movement needs to improve but given space to run into he is a handful for any defender. With time Bebe will surely be a good player at least.

Having being included in the Champions League squad for the season, he’s sure to get some action soon, this week’s fixture against Rangers might be a bit too soon for the lad, but the League Cup fixture against Scunthorpe seems a perfect chance for him kick start his United career.

Bebe still has a long way to go before he can establish himself in the club but so far he looks a very promising player and much to the disappointment to his “friends” in the press, he might just come good and follow in the steps of Ronaldo and Nani to become a success at United.

Finding his Successor might not be so easy

Siddarth Saturday, September 11, 2010
Edwin van der Sar is easily the oldest professional footballer playing at the highest level, and surprisingly is still just as good as he was 5 years ago, actually he’s better than he was when he first joined United. Now almost 40, he’s still playing every week for United and he isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. He is one of the most technically gifted GK’s around, just as comfortable with the ball at his feet as he is with it in his hands and is still considered one of the best GK’s in England and also Europe.

Edwin’s career has spanned an incredible 22 years so far, beginning in Holland at Ajax, from where he moved to Juventus and then Fulham before signing for United. He’s played an incredible 575 league games over his career and also scored 1 goal during his time at Ajax. Since his move to United, van der Sar has been pivotal in United’s return to the top, including a hat trick of Premier League titles, a Champions League title and the Club World Championship. He’s been the Dutch no. 1 since his debut in 1995 and has since amassed 130 caps for them before retiring from international duty in 2008.

Edwin joined United from Fulham in the summer of 2005 and United were finally able to find a worthy successor to the great Peter Schmeichel, after going through 6 years of trial and error with various GK’s, we had finally found a GK worthy of the no. 1 spot at United.

Edwin is an ideal role model for youngsters and is an excellent professional; he seems to have saved his best for the last and has easily been the best GK at United this decade. As he nears the end of his career at United, he will surely be in United’s annals as one of the best GK’s to play for Manchester United.

Most people now think about how are we going to replace Paul Scholes or Ryan Giggs but the big question many haven’t considered is “How will we replace Edwin van der Sar?”

His current understudy in the team is Tomasz Kuszczak and not many people are convinced that Tomasz is good enough to succeed Edwin. From what I have seen Tomasz is excellent at shot stopping and has great reflexes but his seeming susceptibility at collecting dangerous crosses in a crowded penalty box is a worry, but given that Tomasz hasn’t seen much first team action, one can only assume that he’ll improve with experience.
Once Edwin does hang up his boots and retire from the club, hopefully we won’t see a repeat of the start of this decade with United trying Gk’s out like they were a pair of sneakers, which unfortunately last longer than some GK’s have at United.

I’m sure many will name the likes of Neuer, Akinfeev, Lloris, De Gea, Adler, Asenjo, and etc. but can any of them really take over from Edwin?


I started writing on Football just a few months back and it went from a being something i did to pass time to a passion, and this blog, after much persuasion from friends, will hopefully help me continue to build on my passion and hopefully the readers too can enjoy my writing.

The title of the blog speaks for itself, I'm a student studying in Bangalore, India and this blog is my take on everything Manchester United, the greatest Football team in the world.

Having followed United since i was 11/12, i try my best to keep updated on everything that happens in and around Old Trafford. I follow the United Reserves and Youth team closely, so i would hope to write a lot on the youngsters coming through our famed academy.

I hope you readers will enjoy my writing and continue to visit the blog regularly.
Copyright 2010 Bangalore To Old Trafford