Awful to world class to awful again – that’s how Manchester United’s season has unfolded, with lots of mini peaks and troughs along the route. You really don’t know what you are going to get from them any more. They spanked City and pulled Liverpool’s pants down on their own patch before being played off the park by Everton and losing at home to West Brom.
It all smacks of inconsistency. The quality is largely there but the problem is maintaining momentum week on week.
To that end, we have all waxed lyrical about the virtues of Michael Carrick this season and never has his absence been more keenly felt than in Manchester United’s last three games. Daley Blind has real quality as a defender but he’s little more than a midfield caretaker in the absence of Carrick.
At 34 Carrick perhaps has another year at the top and his latest injury has again illustrated a grave paucity of quality in the engine room.
Memphis Depay is the exciting signing that every Manchester United fan wanted. But unless the club spends big on its midfield this summer then the Old Trafford giants may well encounter similar problems next time out.
It’s never easy to replace someone as quietly imperious as Carrick of course. While casual observers don’t quite understand what all the fuss is about, weekly watchers of Manchester United know that he makes the team tick. He also brings the sort of solidity and passing range that noone else in the team offers.
Louis van Gaal will doubtless be looking to bring in another centre back and full back this summer. But he must surely be acutely aware of the need for reinforcements in the engine room as a matter of priority.