Man Utd: New look attack, same old story

By Online Editorial

Manchester United’s attack may have lost half of its goals, but one man who won’t be losing any sleep at the prospect of a new frontline is Sir Alex Ferguson.

With respect to every club in the Premier League bar Manchester United, it’s unlikely that any of them would be able to lose the calibre of players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez and still be favourites to win a title.

Manchester United are not just any other club though; they are a club that have been guided by a managerial genius ever since Sir Alex Ferguson arrived at Old Trafford in November 1986. Now richer, more successful and even more famous than ever before, United are about to embark on a season without two players who accounted for nearly 50% of the club’s Premier League goals during the last two years.

But you can rest assured Sir Alex won’t be one bit phased. He has bought and sold some of the world’s most gifted, famous and controversial footballers during his tenure in Manchester, yet you can count on one hand – even wearing a boxing glove – the amount of mistakes he’s made in the transfer market.

Without Ronaldo and Tevez, United have drifted to 3.3 (from an initial 2.32) to retain the title, but with Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen and Dimitar Berbatov at the club, plus the emerging talents of Danny Wellbeck and Federico Macheda, then this team still has plenty of goals to offer.

But it’s the £16m capture of winger Antonio Valencia that will prove pivotal to United’s attack this season – not because he is a Ronaldo-esque player who will score a bag full of goals, but because he is an old-fashioned winger that will allow Ferguson to play two out-and-out strikers.

Of course, with so much talent at his disposal, Sir Alex won’t always play two strikers in a 4-4-2 formation, but when he does it is likely to be Valencia on the right, Rooney more to the left, and any two from Owen, Berbatov, Wellbeck and Macheda in attack. Owen and Berbatov are obviously going to be first choice, but with so many games to play in a typical Manchester United season, the importance of Wellbeck and Macheda can’t be underestimated.

Whilst those latter two players don’t feature in Betfair’s Top Goalscorer market, both Owen and Berbatov certainly catch the eye at 18.0 and 30.0 respectively.

An injury-free, and regularly playing Michael Owen can’t fail to score goals for a team that will supply him with countless chances. His lightning pace may have gone, but his sometimes untraceable movement and clinical finishing ability still stand him out as one of the most feared strikers in the Premier League. I hope he stays injury-free, because at 6.6 in the Top English Goalscorer market, he could be an absolute steal.

Berbatov will almost certainly be used more frequently than he was last season, and like Owen, has an incredible ability to score goals. He often looks as though he doesn’t care, but give him the ball at his feet and he is like Eric Cantona all over again – creating and scoring goals with ease.

The big question mark is to what position Wayne Rooney will be employed in for the majority of the season. He is a self-confessed lover of playing as a striker, but he is so genuine and hard-working that whenever he plays in the ‘hole’ or on the left side of the attack, he is equally affective. And with Ryan Giggs not getting any younger, and Nani showing only slow signs of developing into a top winger, Rooney might find himself playing on the left more times than he would ideally like.

If I’m right, then Rooney’s odds of 17.0 to be this season’s Top Goalscorer and 5.4 to be the Top English Goalscorer make little appeal.

Reproduced with permission from © The Sporting Exchange Limited


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