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With the new season just around the corner, who do you think will be the key man for United this season?

No doubt it is a collective team effort at the end of the day (a cliche nonetheless) but undeniably there is often always some player who will prove most influential, most vital and most impactful than the rest to carry the team when the chips are down. Just like what Keano had done for us for many years.

Obviously it was Cristiano Ronaldo (first time I am spelling out his name in full) for us last season with his amazing 42 goals. Minus some goals from this phenomenal record would have translated into some points dropped and thus easily cost us the title last season, taking into consideration we only nicked it by 2 and 4 points above Chelsea and Arsenal respectively.

What about this season? Will Ronaldo be the key again? Or will it be Rooney, finally coming true to his potential if Fergie restores him to his favoured central role? Or Ferdinand or...?

After somewhat careful analysis, a good read in any case, the author of the following article thinks it would be Carlos Tevez. Do you agree? Or you think it should be....?



Sunday Herald

AT FIRST glance, the glass is most definitely half-full. How could it be otherwise? Already the defending Premier League and Champions' League champions, Manchester United welcome back virtually their entire first-team squad (with the exception of Geard Pique, who made five league starts) including - crucially - Cristiano Ronaldo, the man who is likely to sweep the game's Player of the Season awards.

What's more, skipper Gary Neville, having sat out all but 10 minutes of last year, should be back to full fitness. The young midfielders Anderson and Nani, who showed tremendous promise last season, have a year of Premiership experience under their belts and, at 20 and 21 respectively, look ready to step up.

Throw in the fact that United's competitors - Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool - have hardly been pulling up trees in the transfer market and the fact that the club may yet pick up another striker before the window closes and surely the title will surely remain at Old Trafford.

Or will it? Look a little closer and you can find a gaggle of negatives to balance out those positives.

Yes, United may not have lost anyone of consequence, but they haven't added anyone either. With Louis Saha a victim of injury, lack of performance and general ennui, acquiring another forward, one who can provide something different, ought to be a priority. Dimitar Berbatov fits the bill on paper, except the Bulgarian's signing is fraught with peril and pitfalls.

For a start, he'll be expensive - very expensive - £30m plus (possibly even more; having already lost Robbie Keane, Tottenham will drive up the price as far they can). That's a lot of money for a guy who turns 28 in January and who really only established himself as a force in the Bundesliga four years ago.

Add in the fact that Berbatov's workrate and attitude have been questioned in the past (as has his penchant for wanting to move elsewhere) and it's fair to wonder how natural a fit he would be at Old Trafford. Especially since - as things stand - he would not be guaranteed a place in the starting XI.

Anderson and Nani may be a year older and more experienced but then so are Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs and, at their age, that's not a good thing. Besides, Anderson will miss most of August due to his Olympic commitments with Brazil.

Ronaldo's decision to stick around is a positive, although, according to reports, in exchange for staying through next summer, he obtained a promise from the club that they would not stand in his way if a reasonable offer came in.

In the medium-term, it could spectacularly backfire. If he suffers an injury or if his performances dip (in fact, even if they're just marginally less than the other-worldly ones turned in last season) the £60m Real Madrid were supposedly ready to put on the table this August will look mighty good in hindsight.

Indeed, some cynics are suggesting that Ronaldo's departure in twelve months' time will coincide with that of Sir Alex Ferguson himself.

Speculating on when and how Sir Alex will bow out is, of course, a haphazard pursuit but surely it's not lost on anyone that the threat is always there (and has been for the past five years).

Either way, Ronaldo won't be back before October and it remains to be seen what condition and what mindset he'll be in when he does return.

Need more negatives? Well, Carlos Queiroz, Sir Alex's number two, has left to manage Portugal. And while he may not be on Roy Keane's Christmas card list, many insiders credit the club's resurgence to his influence after returning from Real Madrid.

It's always debatable just how much of an impact assistants have, but with Sir Alex getting older you did feel Queiroz was a natural link to the Portuguese speaking players.

Edwin Van der Sar turns 38 in October, Ben Foster, his heir apparent, has been hampered by injuries and, in fact, is injured again.

Wayne Rooney - not for the first time - and Michael Carrick head into the season carrying knocks, as does Owen Hargreaves another guy who seems to spend more time on the treatment table than on the pitch (last season was again typically Haregreavesesque: solid performances in big games, just 16 Premier League starts).

Amidst all this nit-picking, there is one guy who could carry the team on his back, much like Ronaldo did for long stretches last year. A player who spent much of his holiday training on his own, determined to turn 2008-09 into "his" year.

Carlos Tevez is the quintessential strong, silent type. He left the limelight to Ronaldo and Rooney for much of last season, focusing instead on settling in to Sir Alex's system. Now he is ready to carry a bigger chunk of the load, going beyond the 18 goals he notched last season, while leaving penalties and free kicks to Ronaldo.

"I'm just here to do my part, it's not about me, it's about the team," he told an Argentine newspaper last month, showing a flair for the kind of anodyne statement managers love. Except in Tevez' case you buy into it.

"He's one of the hardest working, most committed, most professional footballers I have ever worked with," Sir Alex said last season. "And he is a phenomenal talent as well."

While some have (predictably) compared Tevez to Diego Maradona, a more apt parallel is perhaps Scholes. Tevez is a workaholic off the pitch, who is selfless and single-minded on it.

Forget the facile Latin American hothead stereotypes, the statistic of which he is most proud is the number "one", which is the number of times he was booked in the Premier League last season. By contrast, Rooney and Ronaldo had 13 yellows and one red card between them.

In many ways, you can see United becoming Tevez's team. Ronaldo likely won't be there beyond next summer. None of the midfielders - except for, perhaps one day, Anderson - seem to have the charisma, age profile and durability to grow into a long-term leadership role.

Rooney's position on the pitch is evolving and changing and is sure to be the subject of further discussion. Sir Alex indicated that "maybe" he was "playing too far away from goal" (his scoring totals have declined every season after arriving at Old Trafford) and yet his own future seems distinctly linked to Tevez.

In fact, you get the sense that, going forward, Rooney may be shifted around to accommodate Tevez.

As a partnership, the two will most likely be integral to United's future, more so than Ronaldo. And that's why the club's foremost priority must be turning Tevez' contract (which, at present, is a loan with two years remaining) into a permanent deal.

Figures of £30m have been mentioned. If United can pull it off, it could be their transfer coup of the summer. More so than Berbatov - or even hanging on to Ronaldo for another season.
 

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Its Rooney without question.....logical!

Rooney plays > United gel > Good performance > Win > Fans happy :)

Rooney doesn't play > Team out of sorts at times > Uneasy performance > Loose on various occasions > fans sad :(


versa said:
Or will it be Rooney, finally coming true to his potential if Fergie
restores him to his favoured central role?
Fergie has already stated his intention to play Rooney in his most efficent role this
season, which is obviously great news.


When you actually at a match, you can almost feel the disappointment around the
place if Rooney's left out for reasons other then injury.



Rooney's season = United's Season! (Delighted for him to get a CL winners medal!)
 

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I think that the Vidic - Ferdinand partnership will be crucial again this year, if one of them were to get injured for a long period of time I don't know whether anyone else could perform as consistently as them in the centre back role.
 

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Keano! said:
Its Rooney without question.....logical!

Rooney plays > United gel > Good performance > Win > Fans happy :)

Rooney doesn't play > Team out of sorts at times > Uneasy performance > Loose on various occasions > fans sad :(




Fergie has already stated his intention to play Rooney in his most efficent role this
season, which is obviously great news.


When you actually at a match, you can almost feel the disappointment around the
place if Rooney's left out for reasons other then injury.



Rooney's season = United's Season! (Delighted for him to get a CL winners medal!)
Couldn be said better..... Rooney is the driver of this man utd team!!!
Rooney is the key man....
Nani to shine
 

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Im sure that our defence and keeper will perform as they always do,
so the midfield and attack will be crucial. Rooney and Tevez are the key
men for me. If they can start banging in the goals and keeping fit we could
be looking at 25+ goals each. Hargreaves and Carrick are the other key men
for me and they will have a great season.
 

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i know nobody is going to say so I will

Ronaldo. If he plays anywhere like he did last season then we are in for another phenomenal season. We missed him against Juve and Portsmouth if not the goals then the fact that he is a threat which opens up space for tevez/rooney.

Just because he has acted like he has over summer dont stop him being best player in the world.

Its also big season for Rooney as he has been taking a bit of flack for not living up to early expectations. The other big player will be the one who fergie signs before deadline day as they need to be a big 20+ goals striker
 

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Speaking to some lads at the Community shield that i met when at OT previously, they are thinking that Tevez is gowing into a world class player, even though tey wernt sure about him when he was signed.
I said to them some time ago that he will be amazing for us and now i think he's absolutely crucial to our team, they agreed when we met up at Wembley and i think he woon a lot of the OT faithfull round which is obviously great news,

ARGENTINA!ARGENTINA!
Cult hero Tevez if he carries on, Love It ! :)
 

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I think Rooney and Tevez are going to be amazing this season without being in Ronaldo's shadow. Personally i think we'll see a lot from Anderson and Nani. :D
 

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Everybody here seems to be forgetting the fact that although the previous season belonged to Ronaldo and the Ferdinand-Vidic pairing, an almost priceless player for us was CARRICK. The geordie had an exceptional campaign, wearing his heart on his sleeve and putting in no-nonsense, amazingly efficient displays week in-week out. I feel the central midfield pairing of him and Scholes is gonna be the key this time around, what with Ronaldo going to miss the first couple of months and Rooney not able to quite find his feet.
 

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Even though the entire team is important there are certain players that can make the difference between a good season and a great season.

Here are the players that will determine that in my opinion.

  • Nani
  • Anderson
  • Carrick
I don't feel it is necessary to list Rooney here, simply because he will always give you close to 100% and because we have Carlos Tevez, who plays with similar tenacity.

Nay, the real players who will make the difference this season, con provide the team with a cutting edge.

Michael Carrick is almost a complete midfielder, but no quite yet.

While his passing is superb and probably the best in the country, he let's opposing players pressure him off the ball too easily. I would like to see him boss the park more, by being able to dribble out of danger or standing his ground with the ball a la Scholes.

Next Anderson. He is one of a few players that can truly bring the ball forward at pace and he will be vital.

With his ball control and strength, he can hold on to the ball, get past players and draw defenders out of position. He also has great vision and several attacking moves that led to goals began with his passes.

Nani is probably the best crosser of the ball at Man Utd and has supplied many assists last season.

He has good ball control and once he stops hogging the ball and uses his pace more, he will be a very tricky player to deal with for any opposing defender.

He also needs to mature a little bit more and think about the team ahead of himself.

As I said, everybody is important in a team, but I feel that those three players will have slightly a bit more to say than the others.

I was also tempted to name Manucho. if he can be as good as Carlos Quieroz thought he could be, we might have saved ourselves several million pounds and finally have a striker with real physical presence upfront.

He's such an unknown quantity that it would be pointless to gauge him importance at this point.
 
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Personally, I feel that if I don't go the pub for
every game and get selflessly slaughtered while
cheering United on, then we'll win absolutely nothing.
 

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-zuco- said:
Personally, I feel that if I don't go the pub for
every game and get selflessly slaughtered while
cheering United on, then we'll win absolutely nothing.
You get to get wasted and watch football, lucky you. I have to watch every game hungover from the night before, due to the difference in time zone. :( However, its a small price to pay.
 

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piazza said:
You get to get wasted and watch football, lucky you. I have to watch every game hungover from the night before, due to the difference in time zone. :( However, its a small price to pay.
NO problem just dont go to bed
 

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dublin red said:
NO problem just dont go to bed
I wouldn't but I'd rather be hungover, than sobering while awake. I hate the feeling of no longer being drunk after a long, sleepless day/night on the town.
 
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