United kicked off their pre-season tour of the US last Wednesday with a 4-1 victory over the New England Revolution in Boston. After a goalless first-half – and the customary doom that follows on United message-boards across the land, United found their shooting boots in the second. Goals from Michael Owen and Park Ji-Sung were supplemented by a brace from Kiko Macheda. The nineteen-year-old (yes, he’s still a teenager) Italian didn’t have the best of times at Sampdoria during his half-season loan with i Blucerchiati and found himself getting as much game time as he probably would have if he’d have stayed with the Reds, as the Genoan outfit were embarrassingly relegated. His post-match interview made for great hearing when he described how playing for Sampdoria made him realise just how hard he has to work if he is to make it at “the greatest club in the World”.
Back here in the UK, the reserves’ pre-season campaign has also got underway with away trips to Curzon Ashton and Shrewsbury Town. Ravel Morrison impressed in the 3-1 victory over Curzon, while Darron Gibson did quite the opposite as he captained the side to a 2-1 defeat in Shropshire. Gibson’s absence from the US tour squad and relegation to playing with the reserves surely signals that the midfielder’s days at the club are numbered. His prospective move to Sunderland was shelved for a combination of reasons; namely wage demands – Sunderland supposedly unwilling to meet Gibson’s reported £50,000 p/w wage demands – and the fact that the Black Cats have signed better central-midfielders in this transfer window, meaning Gibson would have a similar bit part role on Wearside as he has now.
The Wesley Sneijder talk refuses to go away with conflicting stories coming from every supposed “in-the-know” source involved with both Manchester United and Internazionale. What we know for a fact is that United are interested in the Dutch playmaker and have inquired as to his availability but the potential fee, as well as Sneijder’s wage demands, are a stumbling block. In the meantime, Sneijder’s captain at Inter, Lucio has told reporters that the 27-year-old won’t be going anywhere and with no word coming out of either club elsewhere, the outcome looks to be one that United fans are all too aware of over the past few seasons: “We tried to get the lad, but he didn’t want to come/wanted to go elsewhere delete as applicable.”
Of course, one is about as clued up as your average twitter ‘wum’ so expect Sneijder to have signed within 24 hours of this article’s publishing (see Phil Jones from last month). If Sneijder doesn’t join it could fall on Anderson to become the midfield’s focal-point and see Ashley Young play the advanced central role that could have been reserved for the Dutchman. That would mean a lone-striker role for Rooney, or see him play the advanced role and Young shifted to the wing to replace either Antonio Valencia or Nani.
The midfield does need addressing with Darren Fletcher once again suffering from a mystery illness and even when fit reverting to pre-Roma 7-1 form. I hear Owen Hargreaves is on a free…