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Squad Depth at Old Trafford

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I have to wake up early on weekends to watch United. Some people stay up late, some get to watch United in prime time and the luckiest of all get to go to the matches on Saturday at 3. For me it can be an arduous affair to watch United. 5 a.m. is not an uncommon start time here in the Western part of Canada. So this past weekend I actually enjoyed being able to sleep in. Not having to force myself out of bed on a Saturday or Sunday morning at an unnatural time. Not having to make a coffee run so that I am awake enough to truly enjoy the experience of cheering my team on. Not having to go back to sleep basking in the glow of a big win or hiding out in despair under my covers after a devastating loss.

 

Now that the first weekend without United is over I must say I am ready for it all to start back up again. But sadly I will have to wait a couple more months. Now that my head is clear though and the bitter disappointment has started to subside I decided to revue United's depth of squad by position so as to better understand where reinforcements are needed.

GOALKEEPERS

- Van Der Sar, Kuszczak, Zieler

 

Despite his age no keeper has shown safer hands in the last 3 or 4 years than VDS. He did battle through some injuries this season though and Kuszczak and the departed Ben Foster were tasked with backing up the Dutchman. Zieler is a youngster from Germany who has been on the fringe of the first team for a while. Kuszczak has shown he can be a very good back-up but can he be the number 1 for extended periods of time if VDS is out injured? I think another keeper is required. One who will take the gloves from VDS and become United's number 1.

 

Depth Rating: C+

 

FULL BACKS

- Evra, Neville, O'Shea, Brown, R. Da Silva, F. Da Silva, De Laet

Evra is one of the best in the world, maybe the best, and certainly the most consistent left full back United have had since the days of Dennis Irwin. He rarely misses a game and provides United with quality at the back and going forward. On the opposite flank we have seen Brown when healthy, O'Shea at times when healthy and this past season Neville and one of the Da Silvas. No one has yet lock down their spot as the first choice number 1 at right full back. But there is a lot of quality and the developing Brazilians give me great confidence in the full back positions moving forward. De Laet may go out on loan next season but he looks to be one for the future as well.

 

Depth Rating: B+/A-

 

CENTER HALVES

- Ferdinand, Vidic, Evans, Brown, O'Shea, Smalling

Rio and Vida are two of the world's best when healthy and on top of their games. The question is will Vida stick around and can Rio regain full fitness? Johnny Evans has shown he can be a good deputy for Rio and always looks assured when paired with Vida. Brown and O'Shea provide cover with Wes being a very good central defender who can't seem to stay healthy. I never worry when Wes Brown is playing though. Smalling looks a good prospect and adds depth for next season. If Rio is back to full strength next season we look very strong at the back.

 

Depth Rating: A-

 

WINGERS

- Nani, Valencia, Park, Obertan, Giggs, Cleverly, Welbeck, Tpsic

At this point the development of Nani helps make what could have been a weak spot look a little stronger. Park provides cover and big game experience and Giggs can slot in on the wings as need be. How will Obertan develop next season and will Cleverly return from loan and fight for a first team spot? Is Welbeck better suited as a striker or a winger? Those questions need to be addressed as I would like to not have to use Giggsy on the wings if possible and Park is a player I like but wouldn't mind if we upgraded. Tosic is on his way out.

 

Depth Rating: B-

 

Central Midfielders

- Fletcher, Scholes, Giggs, Gibson, Carrick, Hargreaves, Anderson

 

One of the areas where we look the strongest. But injuries this season took their tole as Fletch and Scholes didn't get much rest late in the season. Will Anderson return to something like the form that caught Fergie's eye when he was with Porto? Is there really a rift between the manager and Hargo? Can Hargreaves himself return to full fitness and form? A lot of question marks and older legs in the center of midfield. Carrick needs to re-find his form as well and Gibson has to take another step as he still looks a little out of his depth at times. This one is tough to judge. It looks good on paper but the depth is still very dependent on "ifs".

 

Depth Rating: B (Too many question marks for a higher rating)

 

STRIKERS

- Rooney, Berbatov, Owen, Diouf, Macheda, Welbeck, Hernandez

 

With Rooney you know what we get. Works his socks off for the team and this year added a more lethal streak. A finisher and a creator there is no one I would rather have leading the line for United. It drops off substantially after Rooney though. Owen is a decent 4th or 5th option to have on the bench and start occasionally as he showed against City, Wolfsburg, and Villa in the Carling Cup final he still is a wonderful finisher. Berbatov still can't seem to shake off his critics and his form was patchy at best. The Blackburn match still doesn't sit well. Diouf has great pace but needs time to develop his finishing and to get used to the higher quality of the Premier League. Macheda and Welbecek should be pushing for more first team starts next season. And I have no idea what we can expect from Hernandez. If I had my way the 4 youngsters would get more opportunities next season and Berba and Owen would be flogged or let go with one more striker coming in. At this point though depth is a question mark up front until we know what we can expect from Macheda and Hernandez in particular.

 

Depth Rating: C

 

OVERAL

With one or two signing I see this as one of the strongest squads in the Premier League. A keeper and a central midfielder would be top of my list. Milner or Rodwell, or both if Hargo and Ando both move on, would do the trick. If Berba stays I don't see another striker coming to the club. There would be too many players fighting for too few places.

 

Depth Rating: B++