Monday, 18 January 2010

Midfielders overworked

Gareth Barry could do with a rest. That much is clear from Saturday - although it has been suggested for a while. Barry has already started 24 games so far this season. Compare that to Manchester United's central midfielders: Michael Carrick 20, Darren Fletcher 19, Anderson 17, Paul Scholes 16, Ryan Giggs 13 and Darron Gibson 8. (Nigel de Jong has started 18, Stephen Ireland 16.)

This is why we need Patrick Vieira fit as quickly as possible - although the manager says that this is still a few games away:
“It is better for us, and for him, that he [Vieira] can go and be ready in a week or 10 days,” he said.

“It is better that we do not take risks in this situation. I would like it that when Patrick does come back he can play until the end of the season.”
Of course, the squad is full of midfielders. But Stephen Ireland has struggled for form and fitness all season, Vincent Kompany is currently needed at centre-back, and Michael Johnson will seemingly miss most of 2010 with a knee ligament injury.

So Barry's going to have to struggle on for a while yet. Him and de Jong will have to play at Eastlands tomorrow night. At Glanford Park on Sunday I would like to see something makeshift - how does an Ireland/Zabaleta combination sound, providing we can play Richards at right-back with an all Belgian centre-back pairing? Or another arrangement of the same players: Kompany and Ireland in midfield, with a Garrido/Boyata/Richards/Zabaleta back four.

If Vieira is fit in ten days he should be able to play in the home game against Portsmouth on Sunday 31st. But we will need Vieira and Ireland available to lighten Barry and de Jongs' workload in February - we already have five games within 21 days and if we win at Scunthorpe it will be six.