After a lackluster start to the season, Wayne Rooney came into form working in the trequartista role he played for most of his career before leading the line 2 seasons ago. A big reason for his reinvigorated play was the emergence of Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez. While I feel that most overrate him right now, there is no denying he is a great poacher in front of the net. Dimitar Berbatov started the season as the best player in the league...and even though it could be argued he never really suffered a severe dip in form, he was replaced as the first choice striker by Hernandez.
In the midfield, Paul Scholes has retired. Ryan Giggs is playing more centrally now but can still be placed on the left wing if needed. Michael Carrick had a strong season, while a virus kept Darren Fletcher out for half of the season. Anderson showed flashes of the brilliant upside he has, but also showed maddening inconsistency. Ji Sung Park, Nani, and Antonio Valencia played well on the wings.
After rumors of his season being over, Rio Ferdinand came back for the run in and formed the best defensive partnership in the Prem with Nemenja Vidic. Patrice Evra had a lackluster season by his high standards, while the twins patrolled right back with very good results. Chris Smalling was an underrated signing and performed brilliantly, while Jonny Evans regressed a bit.
Edwin Van Der Sar has retired. Anders Lindegaard was brought in, but with the backup keeper role more in mind than becoming the #1.
Where does all of that lead us coming into the new year? Finding a new keeper is the number one priority. The press seem to think we have Atletico's David De Gea wrapped up but he hasn't committed to anything yet. The popular theory is he is switching agents, and the new one wants the commission.
Other transfer targets include Ashley Young, Wesley Sneijder, Luka Modric, Jack Rodwell, and Samir Nasri.
Young looks to be on his way. I've been a fan of his for a while, and would love to see him get some time on the left for United. Liverpool are also interested though.
United have been linked with every creative midfielder for the past 3 years, so its no surprise that Sneijder, Modric, and Nasri are linked with us but this summer it does seem like the club wants to splash the cash. To me, Nasri is the most intriguing option as he is the youngest and only has a year on his contract. I can't see Arsenal selling one of their best players to United...but I guess stranger things have happened. Tottenham, who are notoriously tough negotiators, have already said Modric isn't for sale. Sneijder has been linked with us forever, but questions remain about his wages and character. Tom Cleverley will also return from loan and can play anywhere in the midfield.
It looks like we've signed Phil Jones from Blackburn. I haven't seen much of him, but at 19 years old he was impressive in his start against United last season. He can play center back, right back, or defensive midfield. Sounds like Jack Rodwell but younger.
Leaving the club could be a lot of players. Berbatov, Nani, Carrick, O'Shea, Evans, Kuszcak, Wes Brown, and Darren Gibson.
Berbatov and Carrick are linked with moves back to Spurs. Berba is also linked to every big European club needing a striker.
Nani has been linked to Italy. Some people think it would be nuts to sell him, but this blurb from an article on Soccernet sums up my feelings:
When you combine goals scored and assists, Nani had his most successful season for Manchester United but was on the bench in the Champions League final. His club's most effective player then, on statistics alone, yet he may well end up elsewhere for next season. If you ignore Glazernomics - sell him for £20 million and replace him with the cheaper Ashley Young - getting rid of the player makes sense. Nani, and there are other examples, is a kind of toxic player that does a side more harm than good.
Nani, a man with a statue in honour of his own existence in his house, scores or assists about thirty goals a season yet hinders his side in a number of ways. His sorry performance against Liverpool (when he cried), started a loss of form to epitomise United's failings.
Jamie Carragher's tackle was a disgrace, which didn't get the ban, and further ban, it deserved, but Nani embodied a new United, who could now be bullied. From the first championship winning side in 1993 until the day Cristiano Ronaldo was sold, United had a swagger that came from the knowledge of technical superiority, but also innate physicality. They could handle a stramash. But their midfield this season, where the game was lost to Barcelona, was so callow at times it was almost non-existent.
Nani's decision-making is clearly not up to scratch. His effectiveness has increased with experience but, for a player of 24, his choices are still teenage. Cristiano Ronaldo often shoots when he should pass, but Ronaldo is an excellent finisher. Nani, on the other hand, takes no account of his limitations and shoots simply because he wants to. He lacks the intelligence to consistently change games. That he was accommodated for so many games this season encouraged a complacency and, when there are such a large amount of young players developing at Old Trafford, he cannot be considered a senior player.
That is why Nani, with defects of indecision and ego, is toxic to Manchester United. Whether Ashley Young is a suitable replacement is academic, because he can't be any worse.
Brown, Gibson, O'Shea, and Kuszcak will all leave for more playing time if United get any bids for them.
United are also touring the US this summer.