Saturday, October 9, 2010

Darron Gibson stats

One thing which can be said about Darron Gibson is that he has progressed so much over the last year, comparisons Fletcher in being a late bloomer though are somewhat far off the mark. For one, Fletcher was much the brighter prospect when he was a youth team player. At one point, SAF was considering giving him his first-team debut when he was still only 16 years old. Gibson was never this much of a prodigy, not even close, albeit his potential to become a solid 1st team player at Manchester United is undoubted, it’s whether he wishes to become a player in the mould of John O’Shea or Wes Brown, or he’d like to be the mainstay in another team in the premier division’s midfield. With the comparison to Fletcher, his development stalled slightly when he picked up some serious injuries then took a while to cope with the physical nature of senior football, due to his slender frame. Gibson, on the other hand, is already a big, strong young man. He has a massive physical advantage to Fletcher when he was the same age as Gibson is now. This means he can't be expected to improve simply by filling out as he matures (something which you could always see would improve Fletcher massively as a footballer) It's other aspects of his game which need the most work and there's no guarantee they will improve as much as Fletcher's athleticism did over the last 2 or 3 years. Fletcher has apparently recently put on 12kg of muscle but Gibson can't improve his awareness or movement as easily as eating more tuna and lifting a few weights. It's daft to assume that his development trajectory will match Fletcher's. They're completely different footballers. Now onto Gibson’s development as a footballer, about 18 months ago, in Dalymount Park (Bohemians’ home ground) Gibson was playing in an abysmal Ireland B side against an equally if not poorer Nottingham Forest side, where Ireland just managed to save themselves from blushes by beating them 2-0, albeit the scoreline really does flatter to deceive.

I'm still amazed and delighted for the lad that he has made a significantly bigger impact this season than most of us probably expected. Yes, it may be mainly down to serious injuries (Hargreaves, Anderson, Carrick being out for a while, Giggsy too), but he has proved he can do a job when called up and definitely improved since 'breaking through' last season. Will he be a starter for us in a few years time? Maybe. Can he do a decent job, contributing as valuable squad player? Undoubtedly. In regards to the previous comparison with Fletcher, they're not being compared because they're similar footballers, or that Gibson's going to improve as much as Fletcher has - as far as I can tell no-one thinks either of those things, and for good reason - but it's the simplest way to get it across to people that players can improve beyond your expectations, beyond what potential you've seen, and that patience is often the most important part of being a football fan at times like these.

Gibson, who appears determined to assume the modern day mantle of Bobby Charlton and David Beckham with his eye for the spectacular, embellished his reputation with a stunning first-half performance against Bayern Munich. The Irishman’s third minute goal, from a scorching 20-yard strike, was the kind of contribution that Scholes, in his prime, delivered countless times in a season. But Gibson also energised United’s play. His buccaneering performance injected the urgency that was lacking against Chelsea and his passing was astute and penetrating.

His style of play at times seem to make him seem as if he were a luxury player within the side, but when he’s played as the attacking player in a midfield trio you can really see where he fits into the side, his positioning is astute and penetrating with him often finding perfect positions just outside of the area in which he can smash a ball into the net from range with. Although with Gibson you I think that you have to accommodate him in order to find a place for him in the team, look at Paul Scholes in the season in which he scored 20 goals from “midfield”, a similar position in which Berbaflop claimed as his own last year, Manchester United got the most from Scholes’ midfield capabilities as well as his fantastic shooting ability and with Gibson we have a player who can be similar in the mould of Scholes, one who likes the attacking part of the game and isn’t shy of tracking back either, yet is just a tiny bit more interested in attacking. Compare Darron to any of the other midfielders who’re seen as long term in the United ranks, Gibson gives us a real goal threat in and around the penalty area something that the likes of Fletch, Carrick and Anderson don’t, which is why, in my opinion his inclusion in the side is anything other than what some fans are calling a luxury. Darron has been finding himself in strong positions on the edge of the area incredibly frequently with him being somewhat renowned for his late run into the area with one of the wingers supplying him with an inch perfect cut back pass for Gibbo to take aim with his pile driver. I think in the long term he should play more of a Carrick role in our midfield and stay deep, but add the inclusion of when he pops up to attack when there is a chance. I think he just has to improve defensively and positional wise and be more aware of what is going on around him which will improve if he can get more games which unfortunately I don't see him getting at Manchester United. There was a game when he partnered Scholes in Midfield and I really liked the way to roamed up and took 2 Midfielders from the opposition with him and let Scholes have plenty of room. In a way his inclination to attack will create space for his other partners in midfield to spread the play and to create while he could be an attacking threat. Where Gibson to stay at United in the long term he must improve his defensive side to his game to get in the midfield pairing when there are two central players as at current he is too much of a defensive liability for Carrick or Scholes or anyone else to deal with, yet I would like to stress he is a better tackler than the likes of Scholes and was even touted to play in the role in which Carrick played in against West Ham at Centre Back which shows how Sir Alex must really trust the defensive part of his game. The primary reason for which I’ve awarded Darron with the somewhat high value for Attack is his ability to pick up good positions to shoot. He does tend to go forward whenever possible and he’s a constant threat when given time to shoot, you can guarantee at least once in every game he takes part in he’ll end up in a perfect position ready to blast a shot. Whether that shot threatens or not is a different story all together.


Darron has a proclivity to go missing in matches. When he does get the ball he lacks ideas and is very selfish. Whether he is 12 yards out, 20 yards out, 50 yards out or on his own goal line, his first inclination is to shoot for goal. He’s the kind of player who may look good on Match of the Day, yet fails to impress when watched live. Yet in the latter period of the 2010 season it had seemed in the big games that Gibson had really improved in this aspect of his game, his chased and chased in a bulldog like approach in which he hassled the opposition and caused a lot of trouble for the Bayern defence and midfield opposition, which at the time led me to believe that his style is dictated by Sir Alex’s tactics rather than his general style. In regards to that game, Darron Gibson’s inclusion caught me by surprise but he justified SAF’s choice for much, much more than the first goal, Darron played extremely well – and he’s a tough bastard. Self-confidence has at times lapsed into complacency. In 2007, he went out on a six-month loan spell to Wolves, then in the Championship, but was picked in only 15 of Mick McCarthy’s starting line-ups before he returned to Old Trafford. Gibson has been working with the United coaches in the gym and outdoors on his aerobic fitness and while the statistics bear out his devotion to an improved work rate, at times it still looks like he is strolling through games. Going by his current levels of fitness (pre season) he’s lacking in his usual fitness. He’s looking a bit bloated but after a few more workouts he’ll trim back to his usual shape. Overall including last you can see an overall improvement over his previous performances at Wolves and even Antwerp or even earlier in his Manchester United career, his willingness to chase the ball and do a job as a garbage man or to do the dirty work is very impressive. During the pre-season we’ve seen little of it though and he seemed to be a bit more lax in his style and has seemed to regressed but when he’s back at full fitness I expect to see the energy, enthusiasm and willingness to trackback and to become the aforementioned “garbage man” again. In regards to his Stamina it’s a hard area to rate. Judging by his positioning it would be hard to say he was a lazy player, I’d regard him to be about on par with Michael Carrick in terms of Stamina


He's got a great shot on him, for the people saying he misses more than he scores, of course he does its actually incredibly hard to score from outside the box, hence not many players do it regularly. Ronaldo must have taken so many more efforts from outside the box per game than Gibson does and Gibson is more accurate than him in my honest opinion. The problem might be that he does it at the wrong times though; occasionally he has better options on, which has infuriated the United faithful when his shooting goes astray, you won’t hear them complain when he gets it perfectly nestled in the top corner though. The reason as to why I’ve given him both Middle Shooting and such a high shot technique is wells, the reason that this is his bread and butter, he hits 'em with power and often times it hits the target. A blinding shot that can only be stopped if on target by keepers with freak of nature reflexes, you could say that he possesses the shot power that can make a ball wish that it was never kicked! Only Scholes in our entire team can compete with his power and accuracy from range. In a power test a couple of years ago Gibson's shot was proven to be more powerful.


Here is an area in which Darron Gibson is perennially overlooked in. He is actually a quality passer, one of the reasons for which I’d call him at times a poor man’s Paul Scholes. He has a fantastic passing range, actually when he's got time he can spray 40 yard passes pretty effortlessly, did it for the reserves and has done it quite often for the first team. Again he showed a great range against the quality (said very generously) Airtricity XI and a fantastic assist for Valencia. But sometimes he can look a bit sluggish at releasing the ball and sometimes his passing is really sloppy, an example being against Chivas where he was stuck out on the right flank, against Bayern his passing was good, against Manchester City it was really poor. It varies with him but there is definite potential for a quality passer in there, he just has to iron out the erratic nature of his passing and then he would be regarded as a top notch passer, right now though only certain people can see the quality, soon all will see. He makes next to no mistakes when trying to find a team mate, the only aspect of his passing in which I’d really like for him to improve on is, bar his consistency, would be his tendency to pass backwards, but thats only when he’s in his own half, when in the opposition half you can see he’s in his prime, he’s exceptional at laying off balls around the opposition box and putting through intricate balls for the attackers. His crossing from corners is arguably the best Manchester United have also, his corners are cracking! They always seem to land in or around the 6 yard box causing havoc for the opposition defence, but joy for the United front line. He has a fantastic ability to ping these super long range diagonal passes and is also very good at spraying it along the turf. He is not a better passer than Scholes, but if he loosens up a little, he could turn on the ball a bit quicker and show a bit more composure then he could be as good as Scholes. else impressed by his passing against the Irish XI? Obviously the opposition was poor but that's not all that important when you're talking about passing ability/technique, he showed the talent's there pinging passes about, it's just the application at the top level's still not quite there yet. Still, thought it might've surprised a few of the Gibson critics. Surely not enough is made of his corner taking ability. I don’t think we have had anyone in the squad since Beckham that can rival his dead ball crossing from the corner.


It’s his quickness of thought at times; when he's hounded he can look rushed which could be his major drawback. Games, experience, training hard and with very good players will help this aspect, which has been questioned in the past, be ironed out of game. It’s to what degree Fergie thinks he can have a goal scoring midfielder who doesn't look out of place in a Manchester United shirt out of Gibson. So far he's backed him and I think he's been in the job long enough now to spot talent and to believe him when he say's a player has something about him whether we can see it at first sight or not. If he takes Fletcher as an example of how a player can improve on his weaknesses and develops over the next year or two then he may well be not just written of yet. He shows desire to win every ball, but his Response lets him down at times.

YouTube - Antonio Valencia`s Goal - Airtricity League XI vs Manchester United - Aviva Stadium - August 4 2010

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