Yes, other clubs have managed to win the Premier League apart from Manchester United even though with 11 titles out of 18 going to Old Trafford, people can be forgiven for having formed the wrong impression. It may be the reason why cries of doom and gloom are so loud whenever the championship ends up elsewhere as it did this season.
But that’s the way of football, Sir Alex Ferguson made a brave effort to lead his team to four successive titles, something which has never been achieved in the 120 year history of the Football League. That the attempt fell short by just one single point, while disappointing, should be no reason for dejection as Manchester United showed that it remains one of the powerhouses of European football.
This is how The Telegraph summed up a season which ended up coming so agonizingly close to making history.
Manager Sir Alex Ferguson: Having offloaded Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez last summer, it could be argued that the Scot has performed miracles by keeping Manchester United in the title hunt until the final day of the season.
But the flip side of that argument is that he failed to replace the two forwards, despite insisting the money was there for him to do so. If United had another top striker, they would surely have been able to cope better without Wayne Rooney when he was injured last month.
Truly Reds Comment: Fair point but worth remembering that Rooney’s injury was one of many that the club suffered throughout the whole season. Granted, injuries happen at every club and are part and parcel of football. It must be conceded however that the abnormally large number that United was continuously hit with throughout the whole season could have easily made the difference to the fine margin that eventually cost the title.
Best Player Wayne Rooney: Antonio Valencia, Darren Fletcher and Patrice Evra have all excelled this season but Rooney has carried United pretty much since the opening day of the campaign. Thirty four goals in all competitions says it all but Rooney’s true worth to the team was exposed when he was injured against Bayern Munich. Without him, United lost to Chelsea and, with a half fit Rooney restored for the second leg against Bayern, Ferguson’s team fell short.
Truly Reds Comment: Difficult to argue with that assessment except to say that even with a half fit Rooney for the Bayern Munich second leg, both that particular game and the quarter final tie as a whole were well and truly won at half time. It’s all hypothetical of course but it’s highly unlikely that United would have failed to get through to a very winnable semi final had that single red card incident could have been avoided.
Apart from Rooney, Patrice Evra’s outstanding contribution throughout the season must also be recognised.
Worst Player Dimitar Berbatov: The Bulgarian has appeared crushed by the pressure of being United’s £30.75m record buy. Just 12 goals all season, none in the Champions League or against a top seven team, highlight his dismal campaign. Recent performances have been awful and he has simply failed to deliver. Brazilian midfielder Anderson, sidelined until next season with a cruciate ligament injury, deserves a dishonourable mention too.
Truly Reds Comment: Agree up to a point. Berbatov had a disappointing season but was hardly the worst player! He often showed flashes of brilliance but clearly not anywhere near often enough. Can concur about Anderson but in all truth, the form shown by Nani during the first half of the season and Michael Carrick in the second was just as disappointing as Anderson’s and arguably worse than Berbatov.
Moment of the season Bayern Munich away: When Wayne Rooney scored inside two minutes in the Allianz Arena, everything seemed to point towards another Champions League final. United were also in pole position in the title race. But Rooney’s turned ankle, seconds before Bayern’s winner, ultimately turned United’s season. Eight days later, United were out of Europe and behind Chelsea in the title race. It was the turning point of the club’s whole campaign.
Truly Reds Comment: Rooney’s turned ankle undoubtedly played a huge part in killing off United’s entire campaign. It can be argued however that there were not one but two equally critical tuning points. One was the previously mentioned red card against Bayern Munich at Old Trafford which possibly cost not only a place in the semi final but also reaching the Champions League Final for the third year running.
The other may have been critical in the race for the title. It was the moment when Chelsea were eliminated by Inter Milan from the Champions League, which in turn enabled them to solely focus on their visit to Old Trafford for an entire week while United were battling Bayern Munich in Germany. Again, we will never know with any certainty but it’s entirely possible that United’s defeat in that crucial meeting could have otherwise been a draw or even a victory which would have handed United the initiative and made all the difference to the final points tally.
Big Issue : Ferguson needs to sprinkle some stardust on his squad this summer to replace the ageing veterans who cannot be expected to go on for much longer. A new striker, top class defender, creative midfielder and long term successor for Edwin van der Sar need to recruited. We are told the money is there but Ferguson is reluctant to over spend. Sometimes, you have to pay a premium however, and United have reached that point.
Truly Reds Comment: Agree that a proven goalscorer to support Rooney is badly needed. Will only go along with a top class defender if Owen Hargreaves is unable to fully recover because if he does, he will be the virtual new signing required. A class creative midfielder is what was desperately needed this season and remains an absolute must. Finally, a long term successor for van der Sar will be required for the future and highly desirable as cover for the coming season.
Verdict 6 out of 10: Due to their recent history, unless United win the Premier League or European Cup, their campaigns will be regarded as a failure. Ferguson’s team has delivered the Carling Cup this season, so they have at least added some kind of silverware, but it’s the big pots that matter and they have ended up elsewhere.
Truly Reds Comment: Very true but remember that the big pots have also ended up elsewhere in the past – temporarily, and it never took all that long before they found their way back to Old Trafford.
Verdict: 8 out of 10
How many points out of 10 would you rate the 2009-10 season?