Manchester United: Who stays, who goes?

Posted by Nick Miller

After another defeat left Manchester United stagnating in mid-table at the weekend, David Moyes was once again a target for criticism as he continues to struggle to get the best out of a group of players that won the Premier League title last season.

There is, however, only so much that Moyes can do sitting in the Old Trafford hotseat. His players must shoulder some of the blame and it is clear that among the unquestionable talent at the club, there is also plenty of deadwood.

Reports on Monday suggested Moyes could be ready to wield the axe, so who would escape with their United careers intact and who would be moved on to pastures new?

DAVID DE GEA

One of the best young keepers in Europe, talk that Sir Alex Ferguson was thinking of ditching the Spaniard not long after buying him looks even sillier now than it did at the time.

VERDICT: Keep him

ANDERS LINDEGAARD

A capable enough back-up. Peter Schmeichel he ain't, but United fans have little cause to feel overly-nervous when De Gea is indisposed.

Rafael and Fabio Manchester United awards
GettyImagesRafael and Fabio: The twins weren't separated at birth, but they should be now.

VERDICT: Keep him

RAFAEL

The only really bad thing about Rafael is that David Moyes seems to have a slightly troubling mistrust of him. Niggling injuries have been a problem this season, but even when fit he isn't always the automatic first choice he should be.

VERDICT: Keep him

FABIO

Failing to make a significant impact at QPR suggests a player is not of the required standard for Manchester United. The only reason to keep him around is if they need a spare for Rafael in team photographs.

VERDICT: Let him go

PATRICE EVRA

Tricky one. There is talk that Monaco and PSG are queueing up to throw huge bags of cash at Evra when his contract expires in the summer, so the decision may be taken from United. However, if it is Moyes' call, it probably depends on which left-back he signs in January/next summer. If it's Leighton Baines, he will clearly be a direct replacement for the Frenchman, but at only four years his junior, perhaps isn't the best long-term option. A better choice might be to go big for Luke Shaw (who won't be cheap, but he'll be worth it) and keep Evra around on a year-to-year deal to guide the youngster through.

VERDICT: Keep him

ALEXANDER BUTTNER

No. Just... no. His ineptitude is somehow enhanced by his puppy-like enthusiasm for running around, but while that might be entertaining for the rest of us, it isn't especially good for United.

VERDICT: Let him go

CHRIS SMALLING

Worth keeping, but there is a vague sense that given the rate of his development so far, Smalling's career might be one of the bigger disappointments in English football of recent years, given his initial promise and reputation.

VERDICT: Keep him

RIO FERDINAND

Alas, it's time. Time is cruel, and it (along with other assorted factors) has taken his England career, and the day has come for it to claim his place at United too.

VERDICT: Let him go

JONNY EVANS

It's weird that a few years ago Evans looked nailed on for that move to Sunderland, but it now seems he might be one of the more unlikely United lifers of recent years.

VERDICT: Keep him

NEmanja Vidic bloodied lipGettyImagesIt has been suggested Nemanja Vidic could move on, but he remains an influential presence for Man Utd.

NEMANJA VIDIC

There must be a temptation to cut the 32-year-old Vidic loose in order to give the younger bucks in the United defence precedence, but his performances are still good enough, and such a move could be too hasty.

VERDICT: Keep him

PHIL JONES

While there should be no question about whether United should keep Jones, there is about where he will play. At present he is probably their best option in midfield (or at least in a certain midfield role), but he is a natural centre-back and will probably eventually settle there

VERDICT: Keep him

TOM CLEVERLEY

Simply not good enough. Whether that's entirely his fault given the roles he has sometimes been asked to play is probably moot, but Cleverley has seemingly become so cowed that he seems terrified of playing a forward pass.

VERDICT: Let him go

MICHAEL CARRICK

While he can still be a divisive figure among United fans, Carrick is obviously not a bad player, he just probably isn't good enough for United to build their midfield around. He should be kept, but not as a first-choice.

VERDICT: Keep him

RYAN GIGGS

It's not especially practical to say whether United should get rid of Giggs or not, because his status is such that it will be his decision. However, he's worth keeping around in his role as a player-coach, just as long as the team doesn't rely on his presence.

VERDICT: Keep him

DARREN FLETCHER

Who knows? Few are really sure if he will ever actually return from his gastric condition, but even if he does, will he be the same player? Unfortunately the answer is no, and sentiment should be set aside in favour of practicality.

VERDICT: Let him go

Ashley Young, Tom Cleverley and Anderson
GettyImagesAshley Young, Tom Cleverley and Anderson have done little to suggest they deserve to survive an Old Trafford cull.

ANDERSON

No. No. No. No. No. Absolutely not. Overweight, unreliable, consistently disappointing because of the occasional moments when he shows why Sir Alex Ferguson spent so much money on him. If Anderson was going to prove himself worthy of a place in the United side, he would've done it by now.

VERDICT: Let him go

MAROUANE FELLAINI

Much like Moyes, Fellaini has been quickly judged on his first few months in a United shirt, but one suspects he will eventually become a useful signing for them. If only they would buy someone a little more creative to play with him.

VERDICT: Keep him

ASHLEY YOUNG

The unfortunate combination of being both not good enough, and an occasional embarrassment to the club with his diving. It says plenty that he was publicly criticised by his manager for such simulation, then did it again a few weeks later.

VERDICT: Let him go.

ADNAN JANUZAJ

Albeit from relatively scant early evidence, Januzaj would appear to be the future of United. Currently a winger, most seem to think that he will end up in the middle, and the team will be built around him.

VERDICT: Keep him

SHINJI KAGAWA

A cause celebre for many United fans, Kagawa has thus far failed to show his undoubted talent. United have better options in his favoured No. 10 role both now (Wayne Rooney) and in the future (Januzaj), so it might be a prudent idea to sell Kagawa now while his value is still high. He may eventually end up as the great 'What could have been?', but he hasn't shown much evidence so far that he's worth the trouble.

VERDICT: Let him go

ANTONIO VALENCIA

While he has shown a few more glimpses of his best form recently, he too often looks like a 'trier', an ordinary player who will put in a solid shift. Alas, United need more than that.

VERDICT: Let him go

NANI

If you believed the gossip pages, United have been on the verge of selling Nani for about the last four years. It's understandable, given how frustrating he can be, but when used properly (i.e. on the right) he can still be hugely effective. Worth keeping.

VERDICT: Keep him

WILFRIED ZAHA

That he was finally given a chance in a competitive game against Newcastle shows that Moyes a) is desperate or b) has recognised Zaha's promise. Whichever, he is quick, raw and very direct, and of course should be persisted with.

VERDICT: Keep him

Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Robin van Persie Man UtdGettyImagesRobin van Persie's injury offers chances to others.

WAYNE ROONEY

Now we have a quandary. Really, if United were going to sell him, they should have done it in the last transfer window, when he was two years away from being a free agent, and thus more valuable. If he is sold next summer with only a year left, they will get a relative pittance. Of course when on form Rooney is a brilliant player, but that form could disappear in an instant, and that's before we consider the 'baggage' he has, as well as fitness issues and the knowledge that another transfer request could be just around the corner. Could well be more trouble than he's worth.

VERDICT: On the brink

ROBIN VAN PERSIE

He may only have one or two seasons at the very top left, but those seasons are worth having. Of course, he should be kept.

VERDICT: Keep him

DANNY WELBECK

What's perhaps more important than Welbeck's ability to play a number of roles and be deployed as a forward workhorse, is that he is perfectly willing and indeed eager to do those things. A genuine team player, he's very much worth keeping around.

VERDICT: Keep him

JAVIER HERNANDEZ

Again, if he's happy to be a first reserve, Hernandez is handy to have. As long as he's happy, keep him, but if he agitates for a move and someone is willing to pay well for, then that's a different matter.

VERDICT: Keep him

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