As is the Sir Alex Ferguson way, Manchester United did the majority of their business earlier on in the transfer window, refusing to get drawn into the spectacle that is deadline day.
David De Gea
Perhaps the most important area to rectify first for Fergie was replacing the retiring Edwin Van Der Sar. The legendary Dutchman was easily the most successful Red’s keeper since Peter Schmeichel, after a string of erratic goalkeepers; Van Der Sar expertly marshalled the backline, inspiring the defenders in front of him through his confidence and professionalism. Ferguson chose to splash out £17.8 on Atletico Madrid’s highly-rated Spanish stopper David De Gea.
The 20 year old made his debut at the tender age of 18 in 2009, and finished the season as the side’s number 1. De Gea didn’t miss a single La Liga game during 2010/2011 season earning rave reviews for his performances.
The young keeper started his career in England nervously and was at fault for Edin Dzeko’s long range strike in the Community Shield at Wembley. Another soft goal followed at the Hawthorn’s as Shane Long’s shot trickled underneath the keepers grasp; cue the media outburst ludicrously branding the Spanish under-21 keeper the new Massiamo Taibi.
The former Atletico number one has to some extent put his poor start behind him. During the 8-2 drubbing of an abject Arsenal side, the keeper pulled off some important saves as well as parrying a Robin Van Persie penalty. Perhaps most evident was the manner in which he was mobbed by his team-mates upon the penalty save, the belief in the Spaniard is clearly there, its up to him to fulfil his undoubted potential.
Sir Alex Ferguson splashed £16m on Aston Villa’s wing wizard Ashley Young, despite United already boasting the likes of Nani, Antonio Valencia and Ji Sung Park. The 26 year-old was bought in to add further dynamism to the front line. Although primarily a winger, the former Watford prodigy is also able to operate behind a front man.
As seen in the Community Shield final against Manchester City, United’s flexible front four of Welbeck, Rooney, Nani and Young interchanged to great effect, harking back to the fluidityof the front three of Tevez, Ronaldo and Rooney in the 2008/2009 season.
Young has carried on his impressive form for Villa and England, effortlessly slotting into United’s style of play, linking particularly well with a revitalised Rooney. Young picked up the Man of the Match award on his first Premier League outing in the red shirt, providing the decisive cross-come shot which gave Fergie’s men a 2-1 victory at West Brom. Young officially got off the mark for his new side in the 8-2 demolition of Arsenal, bagging himself two impressive goals to cap a memorable performance.
Seen by many as a future England captain, 19 year old Jones was signed from Blackburn Rovers for £16.5m. A fully fledged Under-21 international, the centre-back is equally adept at playing as a defensive midfielder as seen during his time at Ewood Park.
Strong, determined and composed on the ball many clubs were after the highly-rated teenager. With doubts over Rio Ferdinand’s fitness and form, Jones is seen as the natural successor and has been bought in to deputise for the former England captain. Ferguson was particularly impressed by the imposing centre backs leadership skills and commitment levels when he came on during Rovers 7-1 mauling at the hands of United.
Jones has taken everything in his stride thus far looking assured at the heart of the United defence during the last two games, playing with the kind of calmness that is remarkable for one so young. Capello has often spoken of his admiration for United’s new centre-half, which has been reflected in his squad selection for the upcoming Euro 2012 qualification double header.
Loanee star’s returning…
Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the season so far for any United fan is the ease at which Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck have slotted into life at Old Trafford. After spending a year in Wigan and Sunderland respectively, many clubs were after the pair, thinking Fergie may want them to gain further first team experience elsewhere.
The shrewd Scot saw the duo as key to the way he wanted this United side to play, you only have to look at the fact that a top-class central midfielder wasn’t purchased during the summer to see the faith he places in 22 year-old Cleverley.
Off the back of an impressive season at Wigan, the Basingstoke born player has continued in a similar manner this season, providing the cross for Welbeck’s header against Spurs along with putting in typically creative and composed performances at the heart of the Red Devil’s midfield. The lack of a Paul Scholes in the middle of the pitch has been softened by the ball playing ability of the youngster.
Welbeck has also impressed, linking well with the rest of the United’s attacking players. The striker started along side Rooney in all of United’s games thus far, scoring a crucial header against Spurs before setting up Anderson with a clever back-heel. Anderson returned the favour in the next game, by creating the 21 year-old’s headed goal against Arsenal.
The Manchester born player’s confidence has been growing with every game, keeping a fit Chichairto out of the starting line-up against Arsenal, only for the youngster to limp with a torn hamstring which will keep him out of action for up to 5 weeks.
Although failing in capturing the world-class central midfielder they so clearly desired, Ferguson has expertly integrated the youngsters who have returned as well as the likes of Young and Jones into an already dominant side, sowing the seeds of the next great United side.
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