With the game now released – many people are ready for another year of procrastination, pain and sporadic doses of pleasure – the attention will turn to how players are rated. Like them or loathe them, the ratings require a great deal of study and deliberation to create the greatest football management simulation on the planet. And going by the judgement of assistant manager Steve Round, here are the highest rated Manchester United players in the game...
Robin van Persie (Striker) – Four and a half Star Rating
Notable attributes: Technique 20, Off the Ball 20, First Touch 19, Determination 19, Corners 18
Having fired United to the title last season, van Persie is undoubtedly one of the top strikers in the world, and it's reflected in Football Manager. With exceptional technique and finishing attributes, van Persie will be a threat at all times, especially with his 20 rating for off the ball movement. Additionally, van Persie can play all attacking midfield positions, aiding tactical flexibility.
Michael Carrick (Central Midfield) – Four Star Rating
Notable attributes: Passing 18, Positioning 18, Natural Fitness 18, First Touch 17, Technique 17
Carrick is the key man in the United midfield, and with his passing, technique and composure, should be the man to dictate the play in front of the back four. Best used in the deep lying playmaker role, Carrick is most comfortable either in central midfielder or holding midfield, and should be one of the first names on the teamsheet should you play as Manchester United.
Marouane Fellaini (Central Midfield) – Three and a half Star Rating
Notable attributes: Heading 19, Jumping 19, Balance 18, Stamina 18, Strength 18
It's surprising that, given how Manchester United still need help in midfield, they find two central midfielders in their top three players on Football Manager. Belgian Fellaini is a strong presence, with four of his top five stats coming in the 'physical' category, whilst the other is also a sign of his aerial ability.
Wayne Rooney (Striker) – Three and a half Star Rating
Notable attributes: Bravery 19, Team Work 18, Technique 17, Aggression 17, Off the Ball 17
Rooney comes in fourth here, with his best role as a False 9, according to Football Manager. With Bravery, Aggression and Team Work, Rooney has all the mental attributes to support his fantastic technique, and should be partnered with Robin van Persie in the Manchester United team.
Shinji Kagawa (Attacking midfield) – Three Star Rating
Notable attributes: Agility 19, Acceleration 18, First Touch 18, Technique 18, Flair 18
The Japanese international playmaker is predominantly a central attacking midfielder in Football Manager 2014, but can also play on the left and right hand sides. With great speed and technique, Kagawa should be used on the left as an inside forward, allowing him to cut inside and create chances with his right, allowing his flair to take over games.
image: © Jason Gulledge