Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Premier League Greatest Teams – Manchester United 07/08

Manchester United in the late noughties were a truly incredible football team. They had stars in the team from front to back, and they won a lot of trophies. Sir Alex Ferguson was starting to edge towards the end of his managerial career, but that didn’t stop him from continuing to dominate.

Story of the season

The summer started with plenty of transfer activity, as it often does at Manchester United. Kieran Richardson departed for Sunderland, Alan Smith headed off to Newcastle, Gabriel Heinze and Guiseppe Rossi headed off to Spain while club legend Ole Gunnar Solksjaer decided to hang up his boots.

As for incomings, United spent a fair amount of cash, raiding the Portuguese market once more. Portuguese star Nani joined from Sporting and Brazilian midfielder Anderson arrived from Porto for a combined £30m.

Meanwhile, Owen Hargreaves, goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak, Manucho, Rodrigo Possebon and Davide Petrucci also arrived.

The Premier League season didn’t get off to the best of starts in all honest, United failed to win any of their three opening games – leaving fans worried. Draws with Reading and Portsmouth in the opening two games wasn’t great, but the loss to away to Manchester City in the third week would have left a very sour taste in the mouth.

They did eventually get their first win of the season in week four when Tottenham Hotspur visited Old Trafford. United picked up a solid 1-0 with the goal coming from new arrival Nani.

The win set off a streak of eight consecutive victories for United, lighting the touch paper on the season. United didn’t lose again until late November when Bolton nicked a 1-0 win at the Reebok Stadium.

United did lose a few games throughout the season, there’s a few losses sprinkled throughout the season but ultimately, they won the league without losing top spot for the last ten weeks. Although a loss to Chelsea, the league runners up, three games before the end of the season had nerves on edge a little.

Chelsea would become familiar foes for United this season, they faced each other again in the Champions League final a few weeks later. It was another hard fought affair with nothing to separate the two sides across 120 minutes of football – it took a penalty shoot-out for United to win, aided by that infamous John Terry slip.

Neither of the two domestic cups produced much for United but that didn’t matter – they did the mother of all doubles, the Premier League AND Champions League. It was a fantastic season for all involved at Old Trafford, and some outstanding players helped it to happen.

The Manchester United Team

This team, as I mentioned earlier, was packed to the brim with some of the best footballers on the planet at that time. I’ll just let the lineup speak for itself…

You’ve got one of the greatest goalkeepers in Premier League history between the sticks in Edwin Van Der Sar. The central defensive pairing of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic is, in my opinion, the best in Premier League history.

In midfield, you’ve got one of the greatest ball playing midfielders the game has ever seen in Michael Carrick. Alongside him there’s Paul Scholes – one of England’s best ever midfield maestros with one of the most intelligent players I’ve seen in Owen Hargreaves making up a fantastic trio.

As if all that wasn’t enough, the staple of this United team was the forward three. With Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo either side of Carlos Tevez, even the best defences in the history of football would have been worried playing this United team.

During the season, the standout star of the United team was without a doubt Cristiano Ronaldo. He scored a remarkable 42 goals in 49 appearances in all competitions that season, 31 of which came in the Premier League. For his incredible season, Ronaldo won the Ballon D’Or in 2008, the first of five wins.

In summary

The 2007/07 Manchester United team was, for me, one of the greatest football teams in the history of the Premier League. With stars throughout the team (and Wes Brown), they were a joy to watch.

A few of the teams I’ve written about in this series over the course of the week I was either too young to remember or only just starting to understand, so I didn’t have too many memories of them.

This team is different though – this season is one of the first that I remember from start to finish. During the season I turned nine years old and I HATED Manchester United, as most people from my neck of the woods do. We Geordies know how to hold a grudge…

Looking back on it now, it’s rare to see a team with so many superstars right the way through it. Even the bench had stars left and right with the likes of Nani, Anderson, Ryan Giggs and the legendary Chris Eagles all playing backup – hence the quality of the first team.

What Man United fans would do to have those days back eh?

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