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Review 07/08

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United's Season: Player Ratings - The Attack

United scored 100 goals in the Premier League and the Champions League - and 82 of them were registered by the four gentlemen rated below.

Cristiano Ronaldo: He is a winger, I know, but his position is flexible, he's playing a free role these days and he's our main attacker. 42 goals, some of them spectacular, some of them lucky, some of them were poacher's effort but the fact is that even when he's got an off-day, Ronaldo can be expected to pop up and score - the measure of the great player. Brilliant and probably unbeatable season. A little blot is the penalty miss in the Champions League final but he played very well in the game itself and scored a fabulous goal so we forgive that one. Best player in the world, obviously. 10

Wayne Rooney: Got a lot of unjust criticism this season. He had a lot of injury problems, missed large chunks of the season and often had to play on his own up front which is not his favourite position but where he performed very well. He scored 12 goals and notched up 13 assists in 26 starts in the Premier League and scored four goals in the Champions League. Apart from the injuries, his one deficiency was that he squandered way too many chances: he could have easily got 20 league goals if his finishing had been anywhere near Ronaldo's level. The heartbeat of the team so often, his passing and vision is brilliant. Signing a proper centre-forward would take a lot of pressure off him. 7

Carlos Tevez: Great debut season. All the ownership wrangling threatened to jeopardise his move to Old Trafford but it happened in the end and though he was struggling early on, not scoring until the Chelsea game at the end of September, he became a lucky charm for United, scoring vital goals (against Chelsea, at Liverpool, Spurs, Lyon, Blackburn). His finishing was often erratic but forged a great partnership with Rooney and should only get better next season. Converted his penalty confidently in the Champions League final. 8

Louis Saha: His 5 goals make him United's fourth highest top scorer but his frustrating glass legs prevented him from playing a major part in our successes. A disappointment: I still rate him as a very fine striker when he's fit and on form but these occasions have been frustratingly rare during his time at Old Trafford which is surely over now. 5

Fraizer Campbell did very well at Hull but played only two games at United whereas Dong Fangzhuo got two opportunities to show his value - neither did enough to be rated.

United's Season: Player Ratings - The Midfield

Here is the second part of our series. Now we analyse the midfielders' displays, have a look at how the biggest department of United's squad performed this season. Please note: Ronaldo is not in this section.

Paul Scholes: The Ginger Ninja enjoyed a mixed season. He was solid but unspectacular until his injury that ruled him out for three months. He returned with a bang against Portsmouth, and produced more masterclasses, especially against Liverpool home and Roma away. But at times he was bypassed when pacy and strong midfielders took the game to United. But he fired United into the Champions League final and though he did not play particularly well there, he picked up the medal he craved since 1999. 8

Michael Carrick: A bit disappointing and injury-ravaged autumn but made up for it during the spring when he became a cornerstone of the team again. He had outstanding games against Liverpool and Arsenal at Old Trafford - and I've already praised his passing and his reading of the game. Huge defensive work combined with pulling the strings when needed. Should score more goals. 8

Owen Hargreaves: A difficult season. He was struggling with tendonitis problem and missed a lot of games. At times he was played as an emergency right-back so he did not really exert his influence on his favoured position in central midfield. Yet when he got the chance there he did not let us down. Hopefully he'll manage to stay injury-free next season and could become a vital member of the first XI. 7

Anderson: The surprise of the season. His tenacity, graft and bite amazed everyone and he's got a remarkable passing ability and good pace as well. He became a bit-part player at the end of the season after going off the boil a little, sometimes obviously lacking maturity but rammed home the penalty at the Luzhniki. Best displays were against Arsenal and Liverpool. Another one who'll surely play a much more prominent role next season, especially as Scholes will be phased out, according to Fergie. 7

Darren Fletcher: A big-game player though very few people give him credit for it. The season was difficult for him, given the embarassment of riches in his position but did remarkably well when called upon, especially against Arsenal in the FA Cup and Lyon in the Champions League. He was one of our best players at Stamford Bridge, too. His passing is still rough at times and lacks the technique to become a key player but hopefully he won't leave Old Trafford. 6

Ryan Giggs: His decline was obvious and rapid. Had great moments but this season was a story of inconsistency for Giggs. It was glorious in the end: decisive goal at Wigan, United's winning penalty against Chelsea in the European Cup final, lifting it for the second time in his illustrious career. But he will be a squad player at best next season. 6

Ji-sung Park: Missed the first half of the season through injury and though looked a bit blunt at first after his comeback he played a big part in the end. His contribution to our Champions League triumph must not be understated as he did a huge job against Roma and Barcelona. 6

Luis Nani: All in all, better than what I expected. Scored some great goals and showed he can destroy teams when he's on form but very inconsistent and lacking maturity and tactical awareness. There is plenty of room for improvement but his debut season was a highly encouraging one. 7

United's Season: Player Ratings - The Defence

Edwin van der Sar: United's number one enjoyed a solid season. He committed very few mistakes and though the rock solid defence made his job a lot more easier, he made some great saves - his performance at Middlesbrough and against Arsenal was key to our title win and of course his penalty save from Nicolas Anelka sealed Champions League glory for the Reds. 8

Tomasz Kuszczak: He is an understudy, no more, no less. As such he did well. Played in 8 Premiership games and he was involved in the Champions League, too. His best game was against Roma at Old Trafford (in the group stages) where he kept out a lively side with good saves. 7

Ben Foster: He won't get a rating but his single appearance, at Derby, was highly encouraging.

Wes Brown: Played more games than anyone in United's squad. On occasions he was poor - most notably against Liverpool at Anfield and against Arsenal at Old Trafford - but he was outstanding against Barcelona and Chelsea in the Champions League. Pacy wingers often troubled him but his crossing was improving steadily as the season went on and was rarely beaten in the air. 7

Rio Ferdinand: As close to perfection as you can get. Masterful throughout the campaign, he had the likes of Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto'o in his pocket for entire games. His best display was probably against Barcelona at Old Trafford where he produced an absolutely commanding masterpiece alongside Wes Brown. Problems with concentration and attitude are forgotten. 9

Nemanja Vidic: Outstanding all season, his partnership with Rio is flourishing. Missed some important games through injury but returned for the crucial matches against Wigan and Chelsea. Named as the weak link in the United defence by Salomon Kalou, he went on to have a blinder of a game. A bit disappointing was that he scored only one goal all season, back in September at Goodison Park. 8

Patrice Evra: Best left-back in the world right now. He had trouble with those wingers who like to dribble to the outside of the defender but in the end coped reasonably well with all, with the one notable exception of Aaron Lennon. But he dealt very well with Lionel Messi, supported the attacks brilliantly all season - though looked a bit tired at times during the spring. 8

John O'Shea: The big Irishman did not have a defining moment like last season's goal at Liverpool but provided good cover when called upon. Uncomfortable in the middle against Middlesbrough, he was usually reliable on the flanks. 6

Gerard Pique: Committed a crucial mistake at Bolton by misjudging his header but scored two goals in the Champions League and had very good games when Vidic was absent - he was very confident against Arsenal though that was a very important and very difficult game. 6

Mikael Silvestre: Played two games (and two minutes against Barcelona) after suffering cruciate ligament injury at Everton in September. Neither Roma nor Chelsea could find a way past him, he was brilliant in both games. Still, he didn't play enough to be rated.

Gary Neville: Got a hero's welcome against Roma but ten minutes in midfield isn't enough for a rating.

Jonny Evans: Had all the trouble in the world containing Michael Mifsud in the Carling Cup against Coventry. Played as a substitute against Dynamo Kiev and as a starter at AS Roma in the Champions League group stages.
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Pre Season

After wrestling the league title from Chelsea in the 2006/2007 season, and bringing the Premiership Trophy back to Old Trafford for the first time in four seasons many United fans were understandably pleased with the teams achievement, but there was still room for improvement. Had United's legs not fallen off in the Champions League Semi Final second leg and the FA Cup Final, United could have possibly been looking at a Treble.

New signings

Luis Nani:
Signed from Sporting Lisbon for £14 million, the young Portugese star came with a reputation similar to that of Cristiano Ronaldo when he signed for United in 2003. Nani was noted for his pace and attacking flair, and his ability to put in a telling cross or unleash a powerful shot. He instantly impressed United fans and staff with a couple of delightfully taken goals on the Reds pre-season tour, and laid down these foundations for what was to come of him in his debut season in Manchester.

Oliveira Anderson:
Possibly a few eyebrows were raised when United spent £17 million on a teenager who argueably had yet to prove himself and had suffered a proken leg less than 12 months previous. However SAF was quick to write off these doubts and only praise the man who he thought would develop into a fine Manchester United player. Anderson played no part in United's pre season tour and would have to wait slightly longer than Nani to make a name for himself.

Owen Hargreaves:
After looking set to sign for United in the summer of 2006, Hargreaves found himself having to wait a year longer than expected after suffering a broken leg. United however never lost interest in the midfielder and finally secured his services on a four year contract for a fee of £17 million. His versatility was also admired by many and it was anticipated he could be a top player at United.

Carlos Tevez:
After the controversy that surrounded his move to West Ham in 2006, many people thought it was not wise to chase after Carlos Tevez or Javier Mascherano, however United landed the former with Liverpool securing the services of Mascherano. Once the finer details of his contract were sorted out, it was revealed that United had secured Tevez on a two year loan deal with the option to buy him at the end. The bullish Argentine was widely acknowledged for keeping West Ham in the Premiership, and United fans were hoping he could transfer that form to fire United to back to back Championship's for the first time since 2001.


United began the season with a satisfying victory over Chelsea in the Community Shield. Edwin Van Der Sar cast aside any doubts about his form with three big penalty saves to give United a white-wash victory in the shoot out. However things were not so sweet in the league with United picking up only two points from a possible nine. United had only scored one goal and had injury problems with Wayne Rooney breaking his metatarsal, and Cristiano Ronaldo picking up a three match ban for a head-butt at Fratton Park. Carlos Tevez was still searching for his bearings at United with no goals in either of his first two games. SAF tried to remain positive and remained adament that United would come good. Owen Hargreaves made an impressive debut in an otherwise disapointing derby day at Eastlands.


In September United began to grind out results while still not hitting the heights of early season promise. It took United until late in the second half to break down Spurs when Nani announced his arrival at OT with a long range effort to beat Paul Robinson. United again beat Roy Keane's Sunderland 1-0 with a header from second half substitue Louis Saha, who would also go on to score coming off the bench against Chelsea now managed by Avram Grant. United also came out victorious against Everton, Sporting Lisbon and Birmingham beating them all by the solitary goal. Cristiano Ronaldo began to hit some form at this stage but United still had a lot yet to come. The month however was burdened by the humiliating defeat to Coventry at Old Trafford in the Carling Cup.


After grabbing all the points against Roma, United finally rediscovered their free scoring ways of the previous season by hitting four goals in four consecutive games with Wigan, Villa, Kiev and 'Boro being the victims. At this time, Wayne Rooney was in deadly form in front of goal, as well as forming a deadly strikeing partnership with Carlos Tevez, who himself looked as if he had found his top form again. Cristiano Ronaldo was not far behind, and was showing a terrific goal scoring instinct of his own with his well taken goals.


United came close to taking all the points, but had to in the end enjoy a share of the spolis with Arsenal at The Emirates with William Gallas grabbing a last minute equaliser for the Gunners, after scoring at theother end to give United the lead. United were soon however back to winning ways with victories over Kiev and Blackburn, however and unexpected defeat at the Reebok against Bolton bought United back down to earth. United would however finish the month in winning style with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a free kick in the last minute to beat his old side Sporting Lisbon. But perhaps the real down point of the month was Wayne Rooney again picking up a foot injury, which would keep him out for 3 weeks.


December would be a good month for United with 5 wins from 7, and a good month for Ronaldo who really began to show some of his top form. December was also a good month for Carlos Tevez, who bagged the winner at a tight game at Anfield. The reds sent out a young side in Rome who gave a good account of themselves and came away with a very respectable 1-1 draw, with United having already qualified for the knock-out round. However the one blemish on an otherwise good month was the defeat United suffered at Upton Park, with West Ham coming from one goal down to win 2-1


However, January was to be an even better month for United winning six games out of six played, and conceeding just one goal in the FA Cup to Spurs. The highlight however must surely have been the 6-0 drumming of Newcastle at OT, with Ronaldo scoring his first United hat-trick. He would also go on to score a further six goals in January bringing his total of goals for the month alone to nine.


February didn't start too positively for United with a draw only salvaged by Carlos Tevez's injury time equaliser, and defeat for the reds on a Derby day that marked the first game since the 50th Anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster. United did however manage to shrug off this disapointment by destroying Arsenal in the FA Cup as well as Newcastle in the league, with a well earned 1-1 draw away at Lyon in the first leg of the second round clash.


March again was another white wash in the League with United winning five out of five with probably none sweeter than the 3-0 convincing win over arch-rivals Liverpool. Cristiano Ronaldo bagged another six goals, five in the league, on his way to further boost his increasingly impressive tally this season. United also advanced to the Champions League quater final seeing off Lyon quite comfortably in the end at Old Trafford. The one down point in an otherwise great month for United was the controversial exit in the FA Cup at the hands of Portsmouth. United felt they were denied a clear penalty, when Distin cut across Ronaldo's path in the area, and United felt further dismay when they were forced to play the final 20 or so minutes with £30 million defender Rio Ferdinand in goal, after Tomasz Kuszczak was sent off.


April was all about sucess in the Champions League for United. After seeing off Roma convincingly over two legs, United were able to outwit Spanish giants Barcelona and a Paul Scholes goal early on in the second leg was enough to see Sir Alex Ferguson's men through to the Champions League final, for the first time this millenium. In the league however, United saw their lead at the top shortened with draws at 'Boro and Blackburn as well as defeat at Stamford Bridge which saw Chelsea trail United only on goal difference. A well faught win at home against Arsenal though proved to be the highlight of April in the league with United coming from a goal down to beat Arsene Wengers men.


United had come so close to greatness, but were still not there yet. A comfortable victory against West Ham in the final game of the season at Old Trafford meant that if United could win their remaining two games, they would win a League and European Cup double. At the JJB stadium in the final league game of the season United looked shakey until Ronaldo calmed United nerves with a cooly dispatched penalty, before Ryan Giggs secured the title by scoring a goal in the game he equaled Sir Bobby Charlton's record number of apperances for United. United had won the league and now prepared to face Chelsea in Moscow for the title of Kings of Europe. After a United dominated first half and Chelsea dominated second, both teams faught it out until the end of extra time. Ronaldo's goal was cancelled out by Lampard and the teams had to be seperated on penalties. After all but one penalty had been taken from the initial 10, only one man had missed and that was Crisitano Ronaldo. John Terry stepped up to take the final spot kick but as he went to strike the ball, his standing foot gave way and he put the ball wide of the post. Anderson scored the first sudden death penalty but Kalou scored his for Chelsea as well. Ryan Giggs, on his record bereaking United apperance, scored the next kick for United and put all the pressure on Nicolas Anelka of Chelsea. Van Der Sar pulled off a brilliant save diving to his right and bought the European Cup to Old Trafford for the 3rd time in the clubs history.
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United had wrapped up:
Community Shield
Champions League

Outsanding Players

Goalkeeper - There could only be one man between the sticks picked out and that is Edwin Van Der Sar. After being criticised by some towards the end of the 2006/2007 season, Edwin answered all critics by a steady season the he began and ended a hero in a penalty shoot-out against Chelsea.

Defender - Brown, Vidic and Evra have all had tremendous seasons but Rio Ferdinand has been in a world of his own this season. He has matured into one of the best if not the best center backs in the world. He has taken on more of a responsibility in being captain for large periods of time and has thrived on it.

Midfielder - Again there could only be one man, Cristiano Ronaldo. With 42 goals and countless assists, he has surpassed the expectations of everyone this season and has surely cemented his spot as the best player in the world. Others such as Anderson, Scholes and Hargreaves have had good seasons, but none have matched the consistancy or level or Ronaldo's play.

Striker - With Louis Saha being injured for virtually all of the season, this honour would go to either Wayne Rooney or Carlos Tevez. While Rooney has given his all, scored some great goals and played expertly for the team, I think Tevez in his debut season has done all that can be asked of him. He has come up with some vital goals at crucial times, and has become a real fans favourite. I have no doubts about Rooney's ability and he deserves a mention as well for his awesome desire and hard work he brings to the team, but Tevez in his debut season has shone bright.

Crucial moments
It is easy to point to a penalty save in the Champions League final, or Giggs' goal at Wigan, but there other defining moments in United's season that were of great importance.

United 1-0 Everton
Nemanja Vidic came up from the back and bulleted home his header to give United all three points at Goodison Park in September. United had not been in good form that day but Vida's late winner kept United close to the pace setters in the league at the time Arsenal.

United 4-0 Wigan
Many people thought this was the real beginning of United's season. United's football began to flow more freely and United gave everyone a tast of what was to come.

Tevez right at the death
Carlos Tevez bagged crucial goals against Spurs, Lyon and Blackburn to salvage United a draw in each game. United weren't at their best in any of those games but the little man from Argentina proved his worth by bagging these crucial goals.

United 2-1 Arsenal
1-0 down to Arsenal, United could have rolled over and given up the fight here. However they dug in and pulled the games back and eventually swung it their way with a brilliant free kick from Owen Hargreaves.

Next season

The challenge has been set now for United to compete again on all fronts. United have never retained the Champions League, and would love to join the elitle clubs in Europe that have done this. Also now being just one league title off Liverpool's record, this will surely drive United towards wanting to claim their third title in a row. The two domestic cup competitions will probably take a back seat especially with United representing Europe in the World Club Championship. But rest assured, the boss will do everything in his power to see United pick up as much silverware as possible.

Players to watch

I expect great things from Anderson next season, he has come in and shown what he can do but I feel next season he will be given more of a chance to do it on a regular basis. Also I look forward to seeing Owen Hargreaves more in his preferred midfield position, where I think he can become a top United player. Ronaldo will look to have another great, season but wether he will be able to hit the heights of this sesaon remains to be seen. Finally I think Rooney might have more of a say next year, he hasn't had his best sesason this time in terms of goal scoring but I have no doubt that he will be back on top of that next season.

Final Summary

This season a lot of people have used the word 'destiny' or 'fate' to describe United. 50 years on from the tragedy of Munich, and 40 years on from Wembley '68, United retained the Premiership and won the European Cup. After losing to City in February, United players felt they had to redeem themselves both to the fans, and to the memory of those who lost their lives in Munich. Throughout the season, United have played beautiful football the Manchester United way and have seen the sucess of this come home in the form of the Premiership title, and The Champions League.
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Red Devil said:
wonders what would happen if I deleted this thread ........................................

When I got about 2/3 of the way through I thought if my computer crashes now I will be seriously mad so I saved it in a word document :eek:
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