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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hooligan Guest Article: Manchester United Season Preview by Kurt Retenauer

            Summers off for European clubs are always an interesting one; sometimes exciting, sometimes nerve wracking, and sometimes heart breaking for the supporters. Certainly Real Madrid has a reason to smile, with the acquisition of Ronaldo and Kaka, among others. They’re on a one way train to the best team in Europe, on paper and in my opinion, in ability. Manchester City could be making a run for the top (as much as it pains me to say it) with Mark Hughes in the throne, and of course the acquisitions of Robinho, Tevez, and Toure, among others. But, what about Manchester United? 

            It seemed as if a divide had surfaced over the Red Devils during the latter part of last season, as well as their fans. With Cristiano Ronaldo expressing interest in leaving the club, he found himself in a position that no player wants to be in while on a team. It’s reported that disagreements and arguments were bountiful in the locker room and behind closed doors between Ronaldo and his teammates. His performance in his final days at Manchester caused many to question his passion for playing for the club, especially after the rumor spread of his desired transfer. While it’s arguable as to how hard he played in the late season, Manchester fans were surely not easy on him. Many, but surely not all, began to call him soft; and upon his transfer to Real Madrid, many found themselves thinking, “Good riddance.”

            But, whether Manchester was glad/sad to see him go, it was finished. Ronaldo, among others, were gone, and Sir Alex was left with the task of rebuilding one of Europe’s finest clubs. And, certainly, players were signed. Michael Owen, a striker, formerly of Newcastle United, was signed to Manchester United to play along side Wayne Rooney as Manchester United’s offensive attack. Michael Owen’s presence and ability was surely felt in the Asia Tour, scoring two goals in his first two games as a Red Devil.

            As Ronaldo is now missing in Manchester’s midfield, signee’s Zoran Tosic and Antonio Valencia seek to fill the gaps. Alongside Giggs, Scholes, Park, and Carrick, among others, Tosic and Valencia hope to fill the gaps of Manchester’s midfield. Another contender would be striker/winger Gabriel Obertan, a signee from Bordeaux, formerly on loan to Lorient for 15 appearances. As Manchester United seeks to fill its gaps, they may need a versatile player. This is where players like Obertan come in, as Obertan could be an essential player to Manchester United this upcoming season.

            But one thing that chief executive David Gill wanted to stress this year was a dependence on the young players of the Red Devils. "We’re not in the market for paying a lot of money for players who are 27, 28 or 29. We don’t think it’s good value," said David Gill in an interview with the Daily Telegraph. David Gill has high hopes for Federico Macheda, the 18 soon to be 19 year-old striker, as well as the native forward Danny Welbeck. Certainly these young players will be of essence to the club, as the fresh, quick legs of the two players will become a key element to Manchested United’s attack.

            Whether it be the “new face” of Manchester United, or just a reform/rebuilding year, seasoned Manchester players such as Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs, and keeper Edwin Van der Sar will be in the driver’s seat this season, showing the “young guns” the way. The mix of both seasoned veterans and young, fresh legs should give Manchester United the boost to be competitive and gunning for the top spot this year. Regardless of any personal feelings of Cristiano Ronaldo, his contributions to Manchester United were undeniably fantastic, and will certainly be missed. However, with the current squad, it’s surely going to be an exciting, and hopefully successful year for the Red Devils. Who knows, maybe they’ll find themselves back in the Champions League Final? Only this time, Ronaldo won’t be playing alongside his former Red Devils. But just maybe, he’ll find himself squaring off against them. 

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