An opinion piece appeared in The Daily Mirror this week in which some interesting points were made with regards to the possible revamp being planned by Sir Alex Ferguson for Manchester United. It will certainly be the last of the teams he builds in his near quarter century at Old Trafford with even the exact number being debatable because of his ability to have one team morph into the next.
The article is reproduced in its entirety HERE but while many of the opinions presented are fair and reasonable there are a couple which require closer examination. It does not necessarily mean that the opinions presented are wrong or right because in football nothing is ever black or white.
The writer suggests for example that “If the Lord of Old Trafford was thinking about quitting this summer he would not be bothered about the inheritance he will be passing on to his successor” Really? If Sir Alex can be relied upon for anything, it is the passion he has for a club that he has served so well for so long. Does anyone truly believe that Ferguson will happily retire knowing that he did not do everything in his power to hand over a team which has the best possible foundation for his successor in order to maintain a dynasty that had been patiently built since 1986?
He then continues “United’s first choice 11 next term could look something like: Van Der Sar, Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Valencia, Fletcher, Modric, Obertan, Rooney, Villa. With a bench of Kuszczak, Fabio, Smalling, Gibson, Nani, Park, Hernandez”
That lineup looks good on paper except for some of the names that have NOT been included. Let’s start with just three of the youngsters who are currently loaned out to various clubs – Zoran Tosic, Tom Cleverley, and Danny Welbeck. Consider the case of just one.
Tosic signed for United in January last year at age 21 in a reported £8million move having already made his international debut for Serbia the previous season. After making 5 senior appearances for United, Tosic was loaned out in January this year to FC Koln in the high quality Bundesliga.
His 5 month stint there has been so successful that Koln is now desperately hoping to make his signature permanent while Tosic has openly stated that he would love to remain in Cologne. Is this alented 23 year old – who can no longer be regarded as a youngster, going to be lost to United after the club had correctly recognised his potential less than 18 months earlier?
Maybe a more pertinent question is how long is someone like Tosic expected to hang around Old Trafford in reserve teams or being sent out on loan spells before starting to imagine settling down in greener pastures elsewhere like the Serbian international appears to have found at FC Koln? And Tosic, Cleverely and Welbeck are not the only ones. There are also the likes of Federico Macheda and Ritchie De Laet just to name a couple, in and out of the senior team. When will the huge potential of all these treasures going to be given an opportunity to flourish?
This Mirror suggests that Spurs midfielder Luka Modric and Valencia striker David Villa could both be transfer targets by Sir Alex to join early acquisitions Fulham’s Chris Smalling and Mexican Javier Hernandez. It also expects Dimitar Berbatov, Michael Carrick and Ben Foster to head out of Old Trafford.
So if these comings and goings indeed eventuate, United will end up with the lineup suggested above PLUS Anderson, Brown, De Laet, Diouf, Evans, Fabio, Hargreaves, Macheda, O’Shea, Owen the veterans Neville, Scholes, Giggs and hopefully the recalled Tosic, Cleverley and Welbeck. With the exception of an additional goalkeeper, that is one hell of a 34 man squad!
The article then goes on to ask – “Is that a better squad than the one in the current season? Probably. Is it the best yet? Unlikely” When you think back to some of the previous squads at the club it’s a fair comment, but surely, you cannot wish for a much better squad than that one.
Getting it right this time might be harder than Ferguson himself realizes even though he has got it exactly right so many times since arriving at Old Trafford, that only an idiot would bet against him doing so again.
The work is already underway. Most importantly, potentially, is the knowledge that the next United team will be Ferguson’s last. He will demand that it stands as a monument to his achievements, not a reminder of where he began to lose his edge.
Perhaps the final word should be left to Sir Alex himself when he says that “It’s time to build a new team because when you are challenging for the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and the Carling Cup there is a draining effect. You have to spot the moment when you say it’s time to freshen and change one or two players. It is not a desire to do it, it is a need to do it because the demands and pressure on players to win trophies can be quite exacting”
Is it time for the three on loan players mentioned above to be recalled to Old Trafford?