Sport Soccer

Tuesday 23 January 2018

The treble chasers of 2011

EDWIN VAN DER SAR: At 40, the Dutch goalkeeper is enjoying some of the best form of his career and United fans have vociferously attempted to persuade him to postpone his plans to retire this summer. That prospect has been ruled out. 9

RAFAEL DA SILVA: Still only 20, the Brazilian defender has already made 70 senior appearances for United. Although still betrayed by rash challenges on occasion, his improvement this season has been dramatic and he is now first choice. 7

RIO FERDINAND: Would have been a 10 out of 10 in his pomp, but injuries have caught up with the 32-year-old and Ferguson is now forced to use him selectively. Immense against Chelsea during the Champions League quarter-finals, though. 8

NEMANJA VIDIC: The United captain is arguably the leading defender in the Premier League and Ferguson's team suffer terribly without him. Has held together an inexperienced back four at times this season when others have been sidelined. 9

PATRICE EVRA: Would have earned a billing alongside Ashley Cole as the world's best left-back last season, but the French defender has struggled this season and appears to be suffering a hangover after captaining France during their World Cup nightmare. 7

ANTONIO VALENCIA: Only recently back from a six-month ankle injury, the Ecuadorean is an unspectacular winger, but his return has coincided with Wayne Rooney's form upsurge. Valencia's crosses often lead to Rooney chances. 7

MICHAEL CARRICK: The England midfielder has suffered a difficult two years, but recent weeks have seen a return to form. His confidence is now flowing again, and vision and penetrating passes have come back into his game. 7

RYAN GIGGS: At 37, the Giggs of 2011 is a more impressive performer than the 1999 version. No longer possesses the pace of old, but his ability to dictate games from midfield and control the tempo of games is unsurpassed. 9

NANI: Eighteen months ago, the Portuguese winger appeared destined for the exit door, but his game has improve dramatically since then and his threat, both as a creator and as a goalscorer, has made him one of United's top performers this season. 8

WAYNE ROONEY: Having endured a turbulent 12 months on and off the pitch, Rooney has rediscovered his goal touch and ability to influence the biggest games in recent weeks. Keeping him at the club last October was crucial for the future of this United team. 9

JAVIER HERNANDEZ: Has earned comparisons to 1999 hero Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after marking debut season in England with 18 goals so far. The Mexican has pace, mercurial movement and a predatory goal touch that has seen him edge Dimitar Berbatov from the team. 9


Irish Independent

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