The Real Footie Analyst

Manchester United: Premier League 2011-12 preview

Manchester United were crowned champions for a record 19th time and it’s easy to see why. They are by far the most consistent team in the league and their winning mentality is instilled by a resolute Sir Alex Ferguson at every opportunity. United may have lost key personnel in Paul Scholes, Edwin van Der Sar and Gary Neville, but their departures won’t be that badly missed as Fergie has gone out and made some good signings that will only make them stronger, and even harder to beat. They have a big squad and it’s Sir Alex Ferguson’s incredible knack and skill of knowing when to rest players or drop them to help them regain their form that separates him from the rest. He may not be a tactical genius but when it comes to man-management or motivating a team to hit back after a demoralising defeat, then there is no better. Sir Bobby Charlton said this week that Fergie will be hard to replace, and I’m afraid he is spot on.

United are spoilt for choice in terms of attacking selection. Ashley Young adds a whole new dimesnsion to their attack and will push the likes of Nani and Valencia for a starting place in an already congested midfield. Giggs will surely play more of a backup role or move into the centre to allow them to play at a high tempo and hit teams on the counter-attack. But, regardless of what Fergie does he has so many more options which gives United the edge over their rivals. With Phil Jones coming in Fergie has now shored up his defence and if you watched the Charity Shield he and Jonny Evans looked very assured and comfortable when coming on for Vidic and Ferdinand. Another option Fergie now has is to use Chris Smalling at right-back after he put in a stellar performance against City last Sunday.

Up front Rooney and Hernandez pick themselves with Berbatov providing back-up. Their partnership seemed to blossom towards the end of last season as their understanding grew with Rooney often dropping deep to pull for one or two defenders out to track him which in turn opens up a channel for Chicharito to run into – Anderson and Carrick will look to feed into that channel and exploit naive defending. Ashley Young will undoubtedly contribute at least ten goals from his wider and deeper positions, and that may just be enough for United to go on and lift a record 20th title.

Key Player: Ashley Young

Prediction: Champions

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