David Moyes was faced with three difficult questions when he stepped into his new office at Old Trafford. How is he going to deal with Wayne Rooney’s most recent hissy-fit, can he possibly get Anderson to go on a diet, and how is he going to fix Manchester United’s midfield?
The last of those puzzling problems is not a new predicament. The cries from United fans for a new midfielder are now almost an annual occurrence, but Sir Alex Ferguson deemed many not good enough to lace Paul Scholes’ boots.
But now Scholes has left to lead a quiet life putting in late tackles on a five-a-side pitch in Oldham, and Ferguson has hung up his hairdryer after more than 26 years in charge. David Moyes is the new man at the helm and he is desperate for a marquee signing.
Moyes’ attempts to lure Cesc Fabregas to Old Trafford have been well documented and, despite the Glaswegian’s best bunny-boiling efforts, Fabregas has kept giving him the cold shoulder. The hunt for a goalscoring midfielder is on, after a return of just 16 goals in the league last term, which equates to just 19 per cent of United’s total.
In previous seasons the Red Devils have not struggled with goals coming from their midfielders. Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs all chipped in with decent returns, while Lee Sharpe stopped dancing long enough to average a goal every six games. Some £12.25 million lad from Sporting Lisbon wasn’t bad either…
Andrei Kanchelskis wasn’t far off Ronaldo’s record in the league during his brief spell in Manchester from 1991 to 1995 and Jordi Cruyff managed to appear from outside his dad’s shadow to average a goal every 4.3 Premier League games.
Last season Frank Lampard was the King of goalscoring midfielders as he knocked in a goal every 127 minutes he was on the pitch. A massive factor in this was the greedy midfielder trying to break some club records at Chelsea but his decision to shoot rather than pass was often vindicated as he banged in 15 league goals.
- Unsurprisingly Gareth Bale wasn’t far behind, averaging a goal every 139 minutes which is why he’s now worth more in the transfer market than a decent house, a new motor and a holiday, with some change to boot.
- Theo Walcott knocked in a goal every 163 minutes and West Brom midfielder Hal Robson-Kanu found the back of the net every three hours.
Bleak reading for Moyes when you compare those figures to Manchester United’s midfielders last year, who went longer without scoring than a spotty teenager.
- Nani scored a goal every 630 minutes in the league last year, while Tom Cleverly posted a less than impressive average of a goal every 729 minutes.
- Antonio Valencia chipped in his worst return of his career with just one league goal and Ashley Young failed to find the net in 19 appearances.
David Moyes might not have to dip into the transfer kitty however, if he can get the best out of a certain Shinji Kagawa. Despite a couple of injuries and being played out of position during his first season at the Theatre of Dreams, Kagawa scored six goals in 20 league appearances – an average of a goal every 221 minutes which is a better return than Juan Mata’s at Chelsea.
Whether it is a new signing to kick-start the season or one of the current crop stepping up to the plate, United fans will be hoping for plenty of goals from midfield this season. Another drought and an over-reliance on Robin van Persie’s 30 year-old knees, might not be enough with Chelsea and City reinforcing their squads.