Scouting the Opposition: A Look at Manchester United with Chudi Onwuazor

Prior to each match, New England Soccer Today will invite a reporter from the other side to provide insight regarding the Revolution’s next opponent.

This week, The Busby Way editor Chudi Onwuazor shared his thoughts on the state of Manchester United and what the New England Revolution can expect when they face them at Gillette Stadium in an international exhibition on Wednesday night.

Wayne Rooney leads a cast of stars when Manchester United faces the New England Revolution Wednesday night at 8 p.m. at Gillette Stadium. (Photo by CHRIS ADUAMA/aduama.com)

Manchester United is bringing a very strong squad for the match. With this being their first preseason match, based on past preseasons what do you expect their strategy to be with their line-up? Would you expect most players to see around 45 minutes?

Chudi: Right about now it’s all about fitness rather than results. Being one of Europe’s more successful clubs United tend to have longer seasons than most so getting everyone in shape for what will be a long hard season is paramount.

I expect [manager] Sir Alex [Ferguson] to mix youth with experience whilst ensuring everyone gets a decent run out so for example you may see [Ryan] Giggs as well as Mame Biram Diouf. United aim to entertain and the US market is one that the club values and appreciates so I doubt the club with field a team of fringe players.

As of today, given the available squad, what do you see as Manchester United’s best XI?

Chudi: Picking United’s best team is like picking the lottery numbers as we have so many variations depending on who we are playing. Using the squad that has travelled I would go with:

Andres Lindegaard; Rafael Da Silva, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra; Nani, Ryan Giggs, Michael Carrick, Ji-Sung Park; Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov

New signing Ashley Young is still an unknown quantity in a United shirt whilst other new signings Phil Jones and David De Gea are being given an extended break. Javier Hernandez is also being given a rest after winning the Gold Cup with Mexico and Antonio Valencia is on international duty.

Everyone knows the big name players at United, but who are some of the lesser knowns that should be exciting to watch in preseason?

Chudi: Of course everyone wants to see how the new signings do but for me I want to see the likes of [Danny] Welbeck, [Tom] Cleverley and [Federico] Macheda. All showed massive development as players on last summer’s tour and with another year under their belts I expect them all to continue showing why they deserve to be at the club.

Sir Alex earmarked Welbeck and Cleverley as players who would be seeing some playing time at the club this season rather than being sent on loan so now would be as good a time as ever to display what they bring to the table.

Who are United’s summer transfers so far?

Chudi: So far we have signed Phil Jones from Blackburn, a very promising defender that is rugged but can also play football. Another positive with him is that he is competent playing as a defensive midfielder.

We have also signed Ashley Young from Aston Villa, wasn’t massively excited when we were linked with him but after looking at it we have signed a very dangerous player! Great from set pieces (something we have lacked sorely), fast and tricky I can see Young giving defenders nightmares this season.

And finally we signed a future Spanish #1 in David De Gea. Having just won the Euro u21 championships, that is another trophy in his cabinet to go with the Europa League, UEFA Super Cup and European u17 championship trophies he already has.

It’s very possibly De Gea could be our number one for the next 20 years and it doesn’t hurt that he has already been likened to the man whose place he has taken, Edwin van der Sar!

Do you see any weaknesses in the current squad?

The one glaring problem in our team is the center of midfield. Having been blessed with players like Bryan Robson, Roy Keane (greatest player ever!), Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt, the players we have now despite being good don’t quite match up.

Last season saw two things though, Anderson began to show the promise that made us splash out on him and Darren Fletcher’s usual high standards dipped partly due to a stomach virus that saw him lose an alarming amount of weight.

If Anderson can continue to display his ability and do this away from home as well and Fletcher can get back to his brilliant best we won’t be in as much trouble as people think we are.

We have been linked with a number of central midfielders and as of now it looks like Wesley Sneijder may be the man to come into the center of midfield and do a job, there won’t be too much complaining from us if he is!

Chudi Onwuazor’s coverage of Manchester United can be seen at http://thebusbyway.com/Follow Chudi on twitter @thebusbyway

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About Sean Donahue

Sean Donahue has been covering the New England Revolution since 2002 for various publications. He has covered four MLS Cups, in addition to covering various international matches, including World Cup Qualifying and the CONCACAF Gold Cup. He has done freelance work for the AP and ESPN Boston. Sean hosted Revolution Recap, a weekly radio program covering the New England Revolution and U.S. Men's National Team from 2005-2008. He is a member of the North American Soccer Reporters. Sean can be reached at nesoccertoday@gmail.com or followed on twitter @SeanLDonahue