Five underrated Red Devils who could save Man Utd’s season
Manchester United’s perceived poor quality squad players have often been used as a stick to beat the Old Trafford outfit with. Much-maligned buys such as Marouane Fellaini and Ashley Young are considered by some to be surplus.
However, in a season when the Red Devils’ star players have failed to shine en masse, oft forgotten lesser lights have been the ones to stand up and contribute vital goals, and a never-say-die mentality.
Here, Coral highlights United’s undervalued talents that deserve their share of the praise. If the red half of Manchester (11/4 with Coral to lift the FA Cup) are to achieve their aims, Louis van Gaal will need to count on these players just as much, if not more, as his superstar signings.
Effective and tidy are the words that first spring to mind when trying to define Blind’s style. This may not sound inspiring but, the deft Dutchman has often been left to mop up United’s midfield alone and, so far, the 25-year-old has done a stellar job.
Blind may not be a tenacious tackler or a dazzling dribbler, but he does not need to be. A great reader of the game, the ex-Ajax star has taken ownership of the Red Devils’ midfield in an understated way that could still shape their season.
Important equalisers against West Bromwich Albion and West Ham United also show Blind can be counted on to contribute further forward when required.
Fellaini’s plus points are often used as a way to diminish his talents, but Old Trafford has slowly warmed to the big Belgium international.
A major distraction at set pieces and a goal-threat in his own right, Fellaini’s physical presence will be an important element of United’s play during the run-in.
Able to battle, win balls and provide an outlet up top against teams sitting back, and also useful for causing chaos during free kicks and corners against leakier backlines, Fellaini is a unique asset.
With games against light-weight Arsenal and often porous Liverpool in the pipeline, the bullish Belgian can prove his worth.
Fans have been clamouring for Athletic Bilbao buy Herrera to be given a spot in Van Gaal’s starting XI and, when trusted, the silky skilled Spaniard has taken his chances.
Benched due to Van Gaal’s insistence in shoehorning all of Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Radamel Falcao and Angel Di Maria into one team, Herrera has had limited chances to impress.
After finally being given a run of games, however, the intelligent playmaker has shown he is capable of operating in the box-to-box role the Red Devils have been craving. If his presence and performances can keep skipper Rooney operating as a striker and far away from midfield, so much the better.
Popping up with goals against Swansea City and Preston North End illustrate just how Herrera may become a more regular match winner if given the nod.
Often more composed on the ball this campaign than experienced compatriot Jonny Evans, academy graduate McNair has proven United (5/6 for a top four finish) are still in touch with their roots.
The 19-year-old did remarkably well when thrust into the fray ahead of older peers such as Tom Thorpe and Tyler Blackett, to cover for a spate of first team injuries.
With just one wobbly appearance under his belt, McNair has looked assured beyond his years. Now most of his contemporaries are fit again, the technically excellent youngster will have limited opportunities.
However McNair’s promising ability to maturely plug several gaps, including centre back, right back and even defensive midfield, could yet be crucial.
A stunning strike against Newcastle United may have rescued a vital three points for the Red Devils and surprised pundits, but Young has been grafting away like this all season, when fit.
The former Aston Villa attacker’s adaptability has curried favour with Van Gaal, and seen the 29-year-old provide cover for several positions down the left flank.
Buoyed by the Dutch coach’s confidence in him, Young has been impressing with his ability to put in a shift for the side, as well as providing game changing goals and assists. The width the wingman brings certainly helps to break down stubborn clubs and, if he keep saving points, could preserve the Red Devils’ top four spot.