With the World Cup into its final week, the semi-finalists settled and 28 teams on their way home Rant looks at how Manchester United’s players fared at the tournament. Amid the inevitable festival of football, refereeing controversies and English failure – one memory abides: cheap plastic horns blown with the side of the mouth!
Chicharito began the tournament as a little known and completely inexperienced back-up striker in Mexico’s flexible attacking front-three. The former Chivas Guadalajara forward ended his stint in South Africa as first choice with his reputation hugely enhanced. Two superbly taken goals against France in Group A and then Argentina in the last 16 offer United supporters a glimpse of the striker’s touch, pace and natural finishing ability. May still head out on loan for the new season but clearly has a bright future with nine goals in 17 international games to date.
United’s Rolls-Royce defensive midfielder spent the past year offering up his best Lada impression, with the red tops incredulous at the former West Ham United player’s inclusion in Fabio Capello’s squad. Yet the 28-year-old left South Africa with his reputation enhanced, contributing precisely no minutes of playing time amid England’s monumental disaster of a tournament. Such is Carrick’s new standing that 100 per cent of Sunday Time’s columnists asked to choose a starting XI for England’s friendly against Hungary in August chose the Geordie midfielder. Who’d have thunk it?
The winger completed the past season in great form, promising to lead Portugal to a successful tournament alongside former United great Ronaldo. But a training ground collar bone injury – suffered while performing a bizarre overhead kick – forced the former Sporting player out of the squad and back home to Manchester. Nani claimed he’d be back in a week, the tabloids cried conspiracy. In the end neither was true and the Portuguese will return in time for pre-season.
United’s Serbian rock suffered the ignominy of a first round exit for the second World Cup in a row. This time Serbia at least gained some points, beating Germany thanks to a dubious Miroslav Klose red card, although Vidic gave away a penalty with an needless punch of the ball. Solid in defence and looking fit, Vidic offered no clues to his United future with the former Spartak Moscow defender’s agent known to be hawking the player around Europe this summer. Has hinted at retirement from international football.
The South Korean captain should remain satisfied with his country’s performance in Africa, after qualifying for the last 16. Not as inventive as the 2002 squad but full of endeavor, Park’s Korea beat both Greece and Nigeria before losing heavily to Argentia. The extra-time loss to Uruguay hurt, with Korean dominating the late stages of the match but Park’s contribution central to the Korean cause. At 29 Park has said he will continue international football until the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Newly appointed captain, Evra began the tournament seeking to replicate France’s run to the final in 2006. The United left-back ended the World Cup on the sidelines, with former great Lilian Thuram calling for a lifetime ban after Evra instigated a squad boycott of training. Evra later apologised for the incident, which included all 23 players, and will seek assurances on his international future from new manager Laurent Blanc. With the media and FFF seeking scapegoats it is conceivable Evra will never play for France again.
Appointed captain in the wake of John Terry’s affair with Wayne Bridge’s former girlfriend, Ferdinand broke down on the eve of the tournament as he has so frequently for United over the past 18 months. The 32-year-old defender will miss the start of United’s season following the knee injury caused by an Emile Heskey training ground challenge just days before England’s opening Group D match against USA. Will return to the fold but neither Capello nor Sir Alex Ferguson can rely on his fitness again.
A hugely disappointing tournament for United’s 34-goal striker, with no goals scored and the critics knives not only sharpened but plunged deep. Rooney claims fitness but no goals since a March injury against Bayern Munich tell a story of broken confidence and rusty performances. Rooney will take a long holiday before returning to the United camp in late pre-season. Rooney’s regret at performing so poorly is tempered only by the knowledge his neither his teammates nor coach offered him any support.
The CSKA Moscow winger began the tournament as a United player – on paper at least – and ended it with a disappointing group stage exit, one cameo substitute appearance and an £8 million transfer to Russia. Pre-tournament Radomir Antic had spoken of Tosic as Serbia’s secret weapon. The former Luton Town midfielder failed to back up the statement as Tosic largely disappointed.