Louis van Gaal says he will inform his Manchester United players which of them are free to leave the club after tonight's friendly against Liverpool, but I think he will have made his mind up a long time ago.
The papers have been full of speculation as to which names will be for the chop, so here’s my pick of four players who need to go, and one who should have a stay of execution.
I just think he is too inconsistent for a top club. He has the ability but it just appears that he doesn’t want it badly enough. He wants to do a few stepovers and a few backheels but that isn’t how you win things, is it? When he is at it he has been very pleasing on the eye but his big performances are too few and far between.
I saw him come on as a sub coming on for Portugal before anyone knew him, and instantly you thought, ‘this boy has got something’. But as you do with those types of players, you wonder if he can put it together and have a career at the top level and he has never managed to do that.
It was a bit bizarre that he got a new contract last season. For starters he was never a David Moyes player and I thought he had had enough time at Manchester United to prove his worth, without managing to do so. Perhaps they were protecting his value so they could sell him this year and they will get good money because there is always someone willing to try and get the best out of him.
JAVIER HERNANDEZ: OUT
It’s time for him to go. In terms of being top class he falls just short. He is very enthusiastic and works very hard but he suffered last year because Manchester United didn’t create the chances that they usually do. If he plays in a team that creates chances and you get him in the box, he will always score goals.
For his sake, I think he needs to find regular football. He isn’t quite what United are looking for and there is no shame in that. He will leave with the blessing of the United supporters after trying his heart out. His efforts have been fantastic.
He made a big impact in his first season but he never really kicked on, and regressed if anything. He is so reliant on other players and doesn’t have enough on his own to truly be a world class player.
SHINJI KAGAWA: OUT
Where do you fit him in? He is ever so talented, and did fantastically well at Borussia Dortmund, but where is his place in the side? He hasn’t taken to the tempo of the Premier League in truth and I think he is expendable because United have too many players like him, and they are better than him too.
If Van Gaal is going to play one playmaker behind two strikers then it is going to be Juan Mata. They spent all that money on him and need to play him in his best position, and that will mean that there’s no space for Kagawa. Van Gaal knows he has better options.
Some United fans feel he was never given a decent run in his favourite position, while others believe he never took the chances which came to him. I think it’s a combination of the two, but either way I would be amazed if there weren’t a queue of clubs in Germany waiting to sign him given the impact he had with Dortmund. Given his marketability in Asia I think he is an attractive prospect and you’ll get a good price, and that’s another reason they will sell him.
He just doesn’t get what it takes. Although he isn’t a big talker in the media, you get the impression he is the kind of player who likes to point the finger at someone else and attribute blame. Ultimately it is his career – he needs to get on with things but he hasn’t done that. There are too many other things that turn his head.
I don’t think he is helping himself off the pitch. But take all that away and get down to the nub of the matter: he just doesn’t have the ability. As a No. 6 or 8 in midfield he just comes up short. There are clubs in the Premier League where he could play, but Manchester United is not one of them.
I’ve seen him have very good games, but he just doesn’t have the consistency or quality to deserve a place in the United squad, as Van Gaal goes about swinging the axe to perform necessary surgery on his squad.
MAROUANE FELLAINI: IN
He is not a popular figure amongst the United support but Fellaini has never had the luxury of playing in a United team that has been playing well or full of confidence. He got off to an awkward start when he joined them and David Moyes failed to get the best out of him, despite having done so at Everton.
Under Van Gaal, I still think there could be a role for Fellaini. He has got the kind of game that will cause even the best teams in Europe problems, if he is used in the right fashion. If United are playing 3-5-2 then he might have a chance of playing just in behind the front two. Whether he plays well or not, he will always bring you a physical presence that unsettles defenders. He is always a handful.
He would be hard done by if he is culled from Old Trafford after only a year and he deserves another chance to impress; he’ll be desperate to. The best football he has played has been in the Premier League and I think it’s the perfect environment for him: he can thrive in a long-ball system or with the ball on the deck.
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