Darron Gibson, man-of-the-moment against Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United, is one of the best emerging players at the club now. Another product of Manchester United’s highly rewarding youth set up but at 22 Gibson can no longer be considered a youngster. The Irishman must now progress or end up on the United scrap heap.
Gibson is now at an age when he needs to play regularly. Despite recent goals, the player made his début more than fours years ago, just after his 18th birthday as a second-half substitute in the Carling Cup victory over Barnet, October 2005. Yet, the Derry-born midfielder has made just 19 appearances for the club in the intervening years.
Inconsistency has been a problem, despite the recent goals. Stand-out performances against Spurs and the Hammers came after a shocker at home to Besiktas in the Champions League.
“He is not playing the amount of football he would wish for but he has very good competition in Paul Scholes, Anderson, Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher,” said Sir Alex Ferguson of the player the manager singled-out for big things prior to the season’s start.
“But he has never let it get to him in terms of being unsettled. His performances in training are excellent and he comes in knowing it has been worthwhile.
“Sometimes you can’t hold a young man back and that time is approaching for Darron now. He is becoming a good, powerful midfield player.”
Gibson played every game in United’s charge to Carling Cup victory last season. It was his big opportunity and, appearing in the final, a first medal at the club. The reward was a new three-year contract for the Republic of Ireland international that will keep Gibson at the club until 2012. The new contract is a measure of the faith Ferguson has in the player despite the irregular first team starts.
Gibson’s performance in the Champions League loss to Besiktas last month placed into question his long-term future at the club. But in scoring twice against Spurs, and again in the win over West Ham, the Irishman has offered renewed hope. What made his performance even more impressive against Spurs was that the Londoners more or less fielded their first string midfield.
“It was a good team performance following last week. We bounced back and the young lads did well,” said Gibson after the Carling Cup victory last Wednesday.
“We didn’t go out to try and prove anything. Sometimes you have bad days and today was a good day.”
Ferguson was clearly happy with Gibson’s performance, praising the player’s “tremendous power in his shooting.” Indeed, Gibson is likely to start United’s match against Aston Villa on Saturday – it will be his fourth in a row.
Now Gibson must take the next step and begin to take matches by the scruff of the neck himself. Failure to do just that is a criticism often levelled at Gibson’s major rival for a first team spot, Michael Carrick.