First off, what a game yesterday!! Didn’t we say it would be EASY?!!!And finally, Scholesy hits the back of the net!! Pretty sure, now that his duck has been broken, he’ll be thumping them home on a regular basis. Bodes well for what will be a crucial game this week against Benfica!!!
Having said that, I don’t think that there is any MU supporter out there who isn’t seriously worried about our central midfield. On the flanks we’re doing pretty well in terms of depth and quality with: Ronaldo, Fletcher, Giggsy and Park. And apart from these four, Ole is finally on his way back and it was his play on the right wing that originally outshone Becks. Again on the left we have further cover with Richardson and Fortune– but who do we have in central midfield??!
In the last two seasons, we have sold Veron, Nicky Butt, Djiemba Djiemba, Kleberson and now Keano has gone as well. We even sold Phil Neville to Everton, who was our makeshift defensive midfielder last season. Now we are left with Alan Smith, a striker by trade, doing his best to fill this gaping hole. Everybody is pretty impressed with Smithy in how he has been able to adapt his attacking tendencies and nobody doubts that he gives his all. But most of the experts also agree that he probably doesn’t have the experience or the equipment at this time to play in this position against the very best.
And what if Smithy got injured? Who do we have in the squad as cover? Players like O’Shea, Fletcher and Fortune (who is currently injured anyway) have played in this position and done decent jobs- but none are “specialists” and this is what we desperately need.
There has been an awful lot of talk about Michael Ballack recently, with his contract at Bayern Munich due to expire at the end of the season. No doubt, he is a class player- but he is much more in the mould of an attacking midfielder like Scholesy or Park, than he is a defensive maestro as Keano was. Assuming that Scholesy keeps fit and plays regularly, Ballack would be surplus to requirements. Another factor to consider is that he turning 30 and SAF has let it be widely known, and understandbly so, that we are building for the future and investing in youth.
Given that- who is suitable to fill this gaping hole, come January? Everyone knows that while the transfer of Ji-Sung Park was going through, SAF was hoping to snap up Essien from Lyon, but that just became impossible once Chelsea showed interest. The Sun recently reported that there had been talks with Gravesen, allegedy unhappy at Real Madrid. Viera would have been perfect, but too much history there. Gattuso is somewhat the same as Ballack in style.
At any rate, all these players are tied up for Europe– so it’s my guess that SAF will swoop for a domestic player in the Premiership, as he did for Louis Saha a couple of seasons back. Given how recent their moves were: Parker, Jenas and Carrick all have to be ruled out. Cahill just extended his contract. So my guess is that SAF will go for a temporary solution- an old hand to help Smithy along. Who? Someone like Danny Murphy at Charlton, as it happens in a truly rich vein of form. And then, come the summer, spend BIG and get the players we really want!