By Adam Joseph
Almost six months since the season began, the summer’s new additions are still finding their place at Old Trafford. In the fishbowl that is Manchester United and the Premier League, all six new signings were thrown in the deep end. So how have they fared so far?
Whilst it must be said that it is partially unfair to grade signings too early. It is not a final mark on their career at the club, but more of a progress report. Not all signings hit the ground running; nor are they expected to. A lot of factors are at play. Luck can determine injuries and form, whilst previous experience can determine how a player will adjust to a new team, league and culture.
There are also factors at play like adaptability, which is a personal skill. This is why clubs don’t make signings on a whim. Months and generally years of scouting are undertaken. There is no shortage of preparation when spending millions of pounds. While it might be to the fans, it is not merely simple expenditure to the club but also an investment.
The Italian International started the season brilliantly, showing great early promise through the season’s first month. Alongside Luke Shaw, the pair were being flagged early as the best full back pairing in the Premier League.
Unfortunately after Shaw broke his leg in the UEFA Champions League clash with PSV Eindhoven in September, Darmian’s form took a nosedive. He struggled through issues with fitness and form, alongside being shuffled between right and left back. Like the majority of United’s squad he has appeared as a square peg in a round hole at times.
In the last month he has worked hard on becoming more consistent, and his timing in the challenge has been impeccable at times. Since the turn of the year his displays have been increasingly better in the games against Newcastle, Liverpool, Southampton, Stoke and Chelsea. If he can sustain this, the season will have been a success.
Grade – B
After arriving to much fanfare following a brilliant final campaign at PSV Eindhoven, the Dutchman has struggled in the transition to life at Old Trafford. Bright displays in the Champions League Qualifiers aside, it’s been a very tough adjustment for the youngster.
The target of abuse among the fan base of late due to his lifestyle, car choice and fashion sense, he’s not winning himself many fans in the displays that have coincided with all of this. He has struggled to get off the bench of late, and the adjustment from the Eredivisie to the Premier League has been tough.
It’s worth noting that Memphis is younger than Jesse Lingard (ironically the player taking his first XI spot currently), and turns only 22 this weekend. Maturity takes time, and there was always going to be patience required with a player of such a young age. The talent is there, but the player is going to need to put his head down and work hard to get the most of it. Will the (rumoured) incoming Jose Mourinho be as patient though?
Grade – Incomplete
The Argentine started the season in goals as David De Gea’s contract situation hovered over the club. The minute De Gea signed his extension the Spaniard returned to the lineup, sadly too late to avoid the disaster away to Swansea.
Apart from the Carling Cup defeat to Middlesbrough, Romero has not been seen since. A likely exit if a new manager arrives this summer, and maybe even if one doesn’t.
Grade – D
It’s been a mixed transition for the German Captain. A stunning signing when he was announced, the experienced midfielder was a bargain at a mere £6.5 million pounds. He has been brilliant at times, with his range of passing, composure and method of quietly dominating games. His tackling is generally inch perfect.
But since his lack of speed was ruthlessly exposed alongside Michael Carrick by Arsenal at the Emirates, he has been brought back down. Now struggling with a mystery knee injury, it remains to be seen how much impact he will have the rest of the campaign.
Grade – B+
Announced as part of the Darmian and Schweinsteiger signings, Manchester United finally signed a tough tackling, physical defensive midfielder. The Frenchman was just what the United midfield had required for years. Despite clearly not earning Louis Van Gaal’s full trust yet, the Red Devils are much tougher to beat and score against when Schneiderlin plays.
Bizarrely he sits behind Marouane Fellaini in the pecking order at the moment; nevertheless Schneiderlin has proved to be an important part of the United squad. United do not possess another player like him in the squad, and it’s intriguing what a midfield pairing of himself alongside Ander Herrera could produce when finally unleashed.
Grade – B+
What a waste of money, they said. He will be a flop, they said. Hyperbole ran riot upon Martial’s arrival in Manchester, in a surprising deal for the club at the end of the transfer window. Who is this 19 year old Frenchman, the majority of the world wondered? Even Wayne Rooney had to ask Morgan Schneiderlin about his fellow Frenchman.
But the young forward has been a hit at Old Trafford. The perfect debut started with a goal against fierce rivals Liverpool, and Martial’s name was already written into folklore. He has exceeded all expectations, and sometimes appears to be the best player on the pitch. How good he can be when he is finally part of a good attack where he has able supply and support is truly scary.
What a bargain.
Grade – A+
It was not a perfect summer for Ed Woodward. He yet again failed to address the need for a central defender, whilst another midfielder and attacker will need to arrive in the summer. These signings will continue to integrate, and it’s likely all five outfield players will become important parts of the squad going forward.
Adam Joseph is a freelance writer from Melbourne, Australia. Manchester United fan from back when they were the only team on Australian TV and it was love at first sight. Manchester United, Oklahoma City Thunder, New England Patriots and Carlton Blues fanatic. If it’s sport related, I’ll talk about it.
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