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The lack of wing play at Manchester United today

A comparison between old wingers at Manchester united to the ones available today.

Adnan Januzaj and Cristiano Ronaldo

Adnan Januzaj and Cristiano Ronaldo

Its been a few weeks since the departure of David Moyes and I have still not overcome that feeling in my gut. “That” feeling told me that we had lost an honest, sincere man who was clearly out of his depth at Manchester United. Nevertheless, given today’s day and age and that fact that we move on ( quicker than the proverbial taxi that slides in no sooner than the one before it has scooted off ), I carried out an analysis of Manchester United’s game against Norwich and arrived at a conclusion that I am sure a lot of us have arrived at… and after today’s defeat to Sunderland, my questions are beginning to draw more definite answers.

Manchester United have always been traditionally known for wing-play, but not the type of wild and aimless hoicks into the box that have characterized their game of late. United’s wingers have more often than not borne blistering pace or a bag of tricks under their sleeve or an ability to deliver with pin-point quality and accuracy. Let us examine some of United’s most successful wingers and try to validate the above mentioned points :

1) Andrei Kanchelskis: Possessing searing pace and a terrific delivery, Kanchelskis provided United with the cutting edge by using his pace to run into space beyond the full-backs and set the strikers up with his accurate balls into and across the box.

2) Ryan Giggs: Few wingers have had an impact as great as the elegant Welshman at Manchester United. Giggs was known for his immaculate poise , dribbling abilities and terrific turn of pace that often tied up opposing defenders in knots.

3) Cristiano Ronaldo: The Portuguese had everyone Old Trafford marvel at his block-buster pace, magical tricks and scoring ability. His free-kicks and two-footedness have often left fans wondering about what could have been if he would’nt have left for Real Madrid.

4) George Best: Perhaps the most charismatic winger to have ever graced Manchester United. Amazing dribbling abilities, silk like movement across the pitch and an eye for goal made Best arguably one of the greatest players of his generation.

5) David Beckham: Not as talented as some of his compatriots, Beckham sealed his spot amongst United’s greatest with the help of his hard-working ethics, magnificently accurate crosses, unbelievable free-kicks and an eye for a spectacular goal.

The current crop of United wingers constitute an eye-sore. Aim-less crosses, lack of confidence and an inability to affect a game have reduced the once shining legacy to shambles.

1) Ashley Young: With his ineffective step-overs and a habit of taking a tumble when touched, Young has failed to live up to his potential after arriving from Aston Villa. While his dribbling does not help him beat a man, fans have also begun grumbling at his erratic deliveries into the box…or sometimes the lack of it.

2) Antonio Valencia: His first three seasons at Old Trafford were magnificent. Marauding down the right and scaring full-backs witless marked Valencia at his best. His form has suffered a dip ever since he broke his ankle and he hasn’t been delivering with the same consistency that saw him once win the Sir Matt Busby Award for the Player of the Season.

3) Nani: The Portuguese has failed to step out of the shadows of Cristiano Ronaldo and has been largely dubbed “Inconsistent” by the Old Trafford faithful. Though he possesses twinkling toes and a decent change of pace, Nani has flitted in and out of the side failing to cement his place in the starting eleven due to his erratic performances.

4) Adnan Januzaj: The young Belgian has been a beacon of hope in a miserable season for United. Beautiful balance and the fearlessness of youth characterizes this bundle of talent who clearly has his best years ahead of him.

Something that has struck me is the way in which United’s game pans out so one-dimensionally when the ball is pushed out wide. Reluctance to take on the full-back and side-ways passes back to the mid-field create a sense of predictability for the opposition. I agree with a majority of the United fans who believe that the mid-field needs a over-haul. I also believe that just “winging-it” will not cut it for the dethroned Champions who will not be singing “Ryan Giggs… Ryan Giggs running down the wing” anytime soon.

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