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Angel di Maria, Danny Welbeck and Ashley Young – Stephen’s weekly column

Yet again I’m writing this the Monday after what feels like a defeat. Who’d have thunk it. After the pretty amazing pre-season we’ve had we enter the cut and thrust of the Premier League and Louis Van Gaal can’t even buy a win. Swansea and Sunderland were both awful and lucky to escape either game without getting smashed and were only match in apathy by our own, abject performances. Yesterday’s performance was Moyes-esque in its complete lack of ingenuity. It seemed as though we were playing under some sort of conditions where we weren’t allowed to attempt an incisive pass. We missed Herrera! Fletcher and Cleverley seemed to treat the centre of the field like some sort of exclusion zone they weren’t allowed to enter. It was embarrassing watching them fail to make the simplest of passes and then not even attempt something that might just create some space. It’s not just them. Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie didn’t look sharp. Both completely devoid of any movement. Are the double sessions catching up with us?

One bright spark when he came on. Was Danny Welbeck. The lad’s been at the centre of much debate since we last spoke. Talk of his imminent sale won’t go away and red’s are divided, somewhat, on whether Danny Welbeck is ‘United’ class. Personally, I believe Welbeck is EXACTLY what we need to be keeping hold of at United. If we’re to progress. I know he’s not going to be on the Ballon d’Or shortlist. But tell me how often we have anyone on that? Some say he doesn’t score many goals, but when you point out how little he’s been played as a central striker for United he scores quite a high percentage of his shots, Teddy Sheringham in 1999 only five or six goals in the league, despite 30 games, but you won’t tell me he wasn’t important to the team. I’ve seen numerous stats this week backing up how he is, actually, pretty prolific, when not played on the wing. He’s a local lad, which does enter in to my thoughts when assessing a player, as of course I want to see local players doing well. We are Manchester United and that connection with the local community is what sets us apart. Manchester derbies with no local lads in don’t have anywhere near the bite and we are very likely to see that this season. Which is a joke. Welbeck injects pace, power, the ability to hold up a ball and run in behind that RVP and Rooney simply do not have. It can be argued that Wilson is a finer finisher, but shouldn’t we be pleased we can field two academy players who are that good, rather than jettison them both if they’re not as good as Messi or Ronaldo? It’s a squad game, after all. We had 10 homegrown or English players take the field in a United shirt this weekend. We might have been poor. But in an age where success is bought, increasingly, we should be very proud of what our club does. We are different.

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So we finally signed someone. Rojo (Row-ho) I watched a good hour of videos on him last week as I’d not seen much of him, bar the World Cup. He’s solid. He’s quick. But to be honest, I’m not that impressed. He looks great going forward but seems to lack some basics in defending. I’d guess he’s going straight into the back line. Rather than playing at left wingback. So that’s a worry. What isn’t a worry, though, is that he looks WILD! We miss that sort of unhinged nutcase. Our team is too nice. So I do welcome Rojo and wish him all the best. If Louis van Gaal manages to bring in Arturo Vidal or Nigel De Jong to sit in front of him then I guess we’ll have steel in a couple of areas that’s been badly lacking for a longtime. Thug life.

I can’t not comment on Di Maria can I? His flight landed in the last hour or so, I know this as nerds have been tracking it all afternoon. Geeks. Price wise, I couldn’t care less what he’s cost. What is ‘good value’ in a market where a serial biter and a racist can go for £75m or a defender who can’t defend can go for £50 million? So he costs what he costs. I’m delighted, no really, I am. We definitely lack a player willing to go past someone, I am looking at you, Ashley Young, that was the worst performance I’ve seen since your last awful performance. Useless. Back to Di Maria. He’s a great player and will probably go straight in as one of the top five players in the league. My only reservation is that we’ve got far more pressing areas needing urgent attention. But, by the same rule, thinking long-term, I don’t know how long Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney will have at the top of their game, so maybe a bit of forward thinking isn’t a bad thing.

I was on BBC Red Wednesday’s on err Wednesday last week. You can have a listen here if you like and either myself or MUFCLatest editor Paul should be on TalkSPORT on deadline day should United do anymore late deals, to give our thoughts on them.

I’d love to give a look forward to the MK Dons game. But at the moment, with the injuries we’ve got I can’t even begin to think how we’ll line up. But I will say, if you’ve not seen much of our youth and you see the names, Varela, Janko, Pearson or Rothwell line up alongside Wilson (if fit) or Lawrence as well as Kagawa etc, then get excited. These lads are very good and I think they’ve got the potential to go far. Just hope Anderson isn’t nowhere near.

Ha, I just remembered too, I met that Mr Manchester United fella at Sunderland too, you know that chap with a United tattoo on his forehead. Defo not a full shilling that lad!

Until next time.

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