The UNITED preview . . .

Let me first say how outrageously excited I am for the new season!!

Suffice to say I think I was the first person to order the new home kit and have placed and order for the away kit!

I even went to go watch United’s C team in action in Shanghai just to warm up and to get a quick look at the new boys!

Now if you’re a football fan, settle in, this is going to be a long one! What is my view of My United this season?

So first to the big things, yes Robin Van Persie is signed sealed and you have the tracking number for his delivery. Does this transfer make me happy, in theory yes. In practice I think that its a lot of money for a guy who possibly peaked at the end of last season. He was majestic and magical last year and I just don’t think he can get close (and that’s if he somehow manages to stay injury free).

In fact I’d go as far as to say that the return of Nemanja Vidic is more important to Uniteds trophy hunt than the signing of RVP. Having said that he is tremendously talented and lets be fair we need someone to chip in with a few goals!

So up front we have Wayne Rooney, who if we are honest has not hit quite the heights everyone has hoped. He is, for me, the hardest worker in this side and embodies what it is to be a United player but as good as he gets (and he has been magnificent in recent times) his talent promises to exceed superlatives and I’m not sure we have seen that from him just yet, certainly not consistently! I think this season with RVP, as a partner, may just be that one!

Then as cover we have Danny Welbeck who seems to get better and better every year, I cant imagine he is too happy about the RVP deal, and the Little Pea who showed so much promise in his first season but since then hasn’t really fulfilled all expectations – I have no doubt he too will be back this season and show his worth.

Bebe and Macheda both wait in the wings but unless they score more goals in the mid week fixtures than RVP did last year I don’t think they will get much of a look-in, unless of course RVP gets injured, as he does. Although Bebe and Macheda (to a lesser degree) impressed on tour (more than they have before which isn’t too tough) there is plenty of cover upfront! Berbie is another stuck in the United wilderness and even though I think he is probably the most naturally talented out of ALL of them, his slightly slack sometimes lazy approach has left him, possibly unfairly, out in the cold. Where he will fit in this season? Your guess is as good as mine. Oh yes, and then there’s Michael Owen – no comment (but he was really good a decade ago!)

It almost feels like the Springbok selectors trying to choose loose forwards, two spots and a million talents! We really should have NO issues scoring goals this season, unless . . .

Midfield remains a problem! We have not managed to sign anything really of significance except for the only-just post pubescent Nick Powell. I have seen barely anything of him except him missing an absolute sitter in Shanghai so I shall reserve judgment. The other mid field purchase Shinji Kagawa looks fast, slick and focused. The Ji Sung Park version 2.0 if you will. I am very excited to see what he can do combined with some youth and experience around him.

On the wings, depending on form Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia as well as Nani can all be devastatingly good on their day and very average off it – Valencia probably has the slight edge here as he has been more consistent than the other two. Thankfully the ever green (yes I know its horribly clichéd) Ryan Giggs is sticking around for another year and his influence on the team as well as on the pitch is absolutely invaluable! He is simply a class above the rest and always has been but his ability to evolve his game to suite his aging legs has been exceptional!

In the center of midfield there are the injury prone Tom Cleverly and Anderson who started last season like Xavi and Iniesta. My bold pick of the year is that these two stay fit and hit their best hurling United clear at the top of the table come mid-season. They are, for me, two of United’s biggest talents and if they click like they did in the first few games of last season, we could be in for something stellar! I unfortunately think they will not only not be at 100% the whole season and they won’t get the game time needed to get there with players like Shinji and my all-time favorite Paul Scholes around and about.

Scholes can pass and strike a football like no man on the planet, he has a football brain designed by the gods and he can execute like a sniper, he is a true United legend and again he may have aged but as soon as he re-entered the United fold last year he assumed complete control of the midfield.

So again, on paper we should have enough talented cover to either hold and press, out right attack or defend the midfield with absolutely no problem, on paper that is!

So where do I think our Achilles heal may lie, right here in defense!

With Michael Carrick (I call him the most boring footballer in the world) having filled in for most of the pre-season tour in defense our troubles have started early this season! Like last season we may be make shifting the back four for the better part of 20 games with already Evans, Jones and Smalling all out injured and with Rio looking sort of like a pensioner with a Zimmer frame and Patrice Evra, who I have rated as one of the best fullbacks in the game over the last 5 or 6 years, seriously starting to struggle, I’m a little concerned to say the least.

I don’t even think Nemanja ‘Chuck Norris’ Vidic can hold this defense together.

If Evans and Smalling come right we should be OK as both have shown they have come a very long way over the last 18 months but I still do not feel close to as comfortable as I have with pairings like Bruce and Pallister and Rio and Vidic of a few seasons ago. Even Wes Brown and John O’Shea felt a little more stable! Jones on the other hand I think will develop into a world class defender or midfielder even, but again he needs to stay on the pitch long enough to do so.

It looks as if a lot of responsibility will be put on the young shoulders of Rafael who I hope has been whipped into shape over the pre-season. Last year he was too cocky, too rambunctious and was caught out of position making stupid decisions far too often. He is young and he must be given some time and leeway but at this level that is sadly not going to happen!

There is not much more to say about Vidic other than he is world class, his absence quite possible cost United at least one trophy last season and his reintroduction will rejuvenate the defense. He has more heart than most complete football teams and the fact that he was injured last season may just mean that he remains at United instead of being the target of big money from around the world! Even with a limping Rio they are a great defensive unit but I still believe that we will see a new United central defensive partnership emerge this year and one for the ages. I have a very funny feeling Carrick in central defense may just be a stroke of genius!

Between the sticks I feel progressively more confident with De Gea even though he looks like he stuck pubic hair to his chin. He has grown and continues to grow as a United keeper which at his young age must be seriously tough to handle. He is also being pushed a very talented Lindegaard and I think between them they will keep a solid session in goal this year, especially if we can guarantee a slightly more stable back four!

So that’s the entire team. What do I think of the season ahead, the ups and downs and the many many games to come and many trophies to be potentially won?

I think if MOST importantly this teams stays relatively injury free they will get very close to winning the league. City are of course very strong and Chelsea remain a great threat, especially because I think Torres will have a blinder season. Arsenal are never to be written off and Liverpool are a wild card under new management. I do however have a very strong feeling barring injury and without getting cocky that United may just have a monster season and win by 5 or 6 clear points!

The FA cup is always a gamble and can never be predicted, if we get to the latter rounds we should make it at least to the semis and then its anyone’s game from there. The league cup is not a priority but depending on how the season goes it may be that we start saying ‘a trophy is a trophy’. If we do though I fear there is SERIOUS cause for alarm. Again like the FA Cup but not as precious, we will try get to the later rounds and then see. With the amount of talent we have though we should have no problem getting through the early stages with a second string team.

Now the big one, the Champions League. We should make it to the quarters and then depending on the draw we will have to see. I think though we have enough experience to get through almost anyone and then the semis will be tough. If Alex stops playing the very flat defensive pattern in the CH league that i feel cost us the last few years I think with the strike power we have we will get a long way to lifting the trophy.

So all there is left to say is bring on the new season and COOOOMMMMEEE ONNNNN UNNNIIIITTEEEDDD!