It’s that time of year again, the new kit (like it or not) has been released and millions around the world are itching to get their hands on it. Fans around the world deciding on which player they want printed across the back of their shirt. Most opting for the likes of Rooney, Giggs and Hernandez etc. However, I don’t think many people will be in a rush this season getting names and numbers printed on their shirts as there could be some change in regards to the squads kit numbers.
Michael Owen has been released from the club, making the famous number 7 shirt available. Berbatov’s time at Old Trafford looks up, freeing up the coveted number 9 shirt and there is still Gary Neville’s number 2 shirt hanging up waiting for its next possessor.
Not many clubs have such history with their shirt numbers like United do and the 7 shirt is as big as it gets at Old Trafford. Just look at the players who have worn the famous number, George Best, Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Ronaldo. Now Michael Owen did leaves us with some fine memories, one in particular but he was never going to be the player that those legends were. With the striker now gone, the famous shirt is back up for grabs and will cause hours of debate on who should be handed the shirt. Because with the shirt comes great responsibility. Not only does he have to be a great player, they need to represent everything that is about United. They have to give their all in every game, they need to create, they need to score goals, they need to lead, they have to be a big personality and most importantly, they must entertain us.
So who should be handed the shirt? Should Valencia be rewarded for his fine form on the right wing? Has Nani done enough since Ronaldo’s departure to deserve the shirt? Does it go to a United youth product such as Tom Cleverley? Or does our new signing (if it happens), someone like Kagawa get handed the famous shirt? Personally, I feel that our main signing should be given the shirt. It should be a signal of intent. We have to show that our new signing, is the way of the future and is going to lead the team to success. Just look how Ronaldo grew into the responsibility of the shirt. If we are able to land Kagawa, I feel he is the perfect option as he has a real chance of becoming a fan favourite.
On to the number 9 shirt, just as famous. Players like Sir Bobby Charlton, Brian McClair and Andy Cole have all scored goals for United in the number 9 shirt. Dimitar Berbatov divided opinion among United fans but one thing that we can all agree on, is his class. For many, he has the best first touch in the game today. He can bring the ball down coming from the other side of the pitch and make it look like it’s stuck to his laces. While not known for his goal scoring exploits, he did have quite a good goal scoring record and did the number 9 shirt proud but his time does look to be up.
The number 9 shirt is almost cemented to the central striker these days and I can’t see it going to any other part of the pitch. Hernandez is so dangerous in the penalty area, would people like to see him pick up the number 9 shirt? Or would people prefer to see young, local boy Danny Welbeck be rewarded for his excellent season? Or again, will United delve into the transfer market and a new signing be given the responsibility of leading the line? For me, I would like to see Danny Welbeck handed the shirt, he is a local lad, a big strong presence, leads the line well and knows where the goal is. He has all the signs of becoming a truly great striker and I think many fans, especially those from Manchester would like to see him be rewarded with it.
Finally, on to the shirt left by Gary Neville, the number 2. Gary retired in February 2011 and his shirt has remained hanging up ever since. Gary had the the number 2 for most of his Old Trafford career and wore it with pride for both club and country. With Gary playing the majority of his career at right back, it’s expected that the next holder of his shirt also plays right back. In my opinion, we are in very good shape in defense and especially on the right. I don’t see any incoming transfers, while we have the likes of Rafael, Smalling and Jones all who would get a gig at most Premiership clubs. My feeling is that it would be out of either Rafael or Smalling, the young Brazilian is an out and out right back and loves to bomb forward and join the attack whereas Smalling is more your defensive type of full back and sees himself as a centre half in the future. So my choice would have to be the young Brazilian and in my opinion he has shown enough in recent seasons to deserve it.
At the end of the day, many of us just see it as a number and the name on the front of the shirt is more important than the one on the back, which it is. However, at Manchester United, a shirt number is sometimes more than just a number.
Do you think there will be any number changes? If so, who do you think will be wearing new numbers next season?
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