It’s just over 9 weeks since Sergio Aguero’s late winner over a pathetic QPR side who were already on the beach after their survival was confirmed due to results elsewhere. Just over 9 weeks since City had their first Premiership title bought for them, courtesy of oil money and an attention-seeking Sheikh. Just over 9 weeks since Phil Jones’ haunted expression perfectly captured the sense of disbelief that permeated the red half of Manchester.
Now we get to do it all again. The United pre-season tour stars on Wednesday and, my word, it’s a weird squad that we’re taking. Understandably so, as players that were involved in the Euros or will be involved in the Olympics don’t travel, but it still looks remarkably threadbare considering that we’ll be facing Barcelona with this set of players towards the end of the tour.
Threadbare or exciting, depending on how highly you rate our kids.
Lindegaard, Amos, Johnstone, Ferdinand, Veseli, Vermijl, Wootton, Blackett; Valencia, Anderson, Carrick, Scholes, Powell, Kagawa, Bebe, Tunnicliffe, Lingard, Brady, Petrucci; Berbatov, Chicharito, Macheda.
This means that we can actually name a team on tour that does not have a single senior appearance for Manchester United between them.
Whilst it’s encouraging to see all of these youngsters being given the chance to press for first team squad places, it casts fairly worrying doubts about our strength in depth. In addition, the likes of Bebe and Berbatov will be able to stake some sort of claim for a return to first team duty, however unlikely it may seem that either will play any sort of significant role next season. It’s also a big tour for Anderson, who will need to stand out and start the season strongly if he’s to remain at the club beyond August.
We’re shockingly short at the back, but when you consider the quantity and caliber of players unavailable for the tour, this isn’t that worrying. Vidic should be available to us around the first month of the season, and with Smalling, Jones and Evans not named, we should be absolutely fine come the season. Without Evra we’re light at left-back, but Leighton Baines seems to be the long-touted answer to that particular problem.
The main attraction of the tour will be the first appearance of Shinji Kagawa, the reigning Bundesliga player of the year, who joined from Dortmund in the summer. Hopefully he will perform better after his move than the previous winner of that award, Nuri Sahin, who barely made a dent in the Real Madrid side last season. Even aside from that there is potential for players to excite. Federico Macheda tends to shine on these pre-season trips, and Davide Petrucci is a superb young player who, if he’s going to make it at all, will do so soon.
So whilst the squad looks strange, it makes sense and could even give one or two lads a leg up into the first team squad this season.
Don’t forget to follow on Twitter @FiveCantonas