Sunday, April 11, 2010

free verse post-Europe

Man United's departure from Europe was always inevitable, but it somehow remains suprising.
With a squad comparatively thin to Europe's better sides, few picked United to triumph over Inter, Chelsea, or Barcelona abroad, much less past the London side domestically.

But as the both campaigns progressed, United stayed in contention without always playing their best, and seemed likely to progress past Bayern after a swashbuckling first half.

But if the Reds' slight Brazilian right-back wasn't sent off, visions of the Manchester side prevailing against Barcelona or an even more complete Inter side were never founded.

Because ultimately, a perhaps forced disinclination to purchase resulted in a predictably incomplete United side. This imbalance forced, and was worsened by tactical misinterpretations and player form, two of many factors fulfilling United's destiny this season as European bystanders.

Filling the void

One obvious theme became popular before, and throughout, this season: How will Man United fill the gap left by their most effective player, Cristiano Ronaldo.

However, a more subtle vacuum of creativity existed through the side's core, not on the wings, which were supplanted principally by Antonio Valencia's growth, as well as some good luck towards Nani's still unpredictable displays.

Through the core of the side, back from defense where their first choice starters were often injured, into midfield, United clung to Darren Fletcher's brilliant form throughout the season to often--but not always--mask an underlying deficiency.

With Wesley Sneijder on the market, manger Alex Ferguson couldn't--or wouldn't--be tempted to buy, despite lacking an attacking, central midfielder who could redeem some of the spontaneity of Ronaldo's appreciable offensive arsenal.

Scholes was never expected to feature everyday, Carrick was. But the younger Englishman's continued dismal form from last season continued consistently throughout this year, causing his gaffer to pull out the shoe-horn on a number of occasions.

An ever-changing starting line-up featured anyone from Carrick, Scholes, Giggs, or even Park, as attacking support for a striking line-up that increasingly consisted of only Wayne Rooney.

However, neither of the former three have enough defensive knack to allow the 4-4-2, United's best formation, and Park sucks too much at playing with the ball to fit into that role at all.

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