Man United just aren’t what they were. Sound familiar?
Of late we tend to hear it discussed in pubs up and down the country, sensationalised headlines splashed across the national newspapers, pundits predicting the Premier League trophy to move to the blue side of Manchester, to bitter rivals Liverpool, or to London.
Let’s just go back to Summer 2010 for a moment and relive the build up to Season 2010/11:
It was a relatively quiet summer in terms of incoming players in 2010. Unknown Mexican Javier Hernandez signed before the World Cup for a fee of £6 million. He joined Chris Smalling from Fulham for an undisclosed fee. There was also the signing of Portugese attacker Bebe from Guimares….although Sir Alex would greatly appreciate if you tried to forget about that one. Wayne Rooney was out of sorts, handing in a transfer request and then signing a new five year contract with the club in the space of a week, and yet another summer passed without a top name signing for the fans to get excited about.
Now if we fast forward to a brief summary of Season 2010/2011 for Manchester United:
Community Shield winners
Premier League Champions
Beaten Champions League Finalists
Semi-finalists of the F.A Cup.
The team equalled the Club’s record league unbeaten run of 29 matches during the season. And the achievement most of United fans will remember most fondly: United broke the English League title record by winning their 19th title, surpassing Liverpool’s record of 18 titles.
Not the best ever season in their illustrious history granted, but far from the worst!
United successfully fended off domestic challenges from ‘noisy neighbours’ City, defending league champions Chelsea and Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal side. Being called average has worked well so far for this squad. Sir Alex Ferguson is a master in the art of getting the absolute best out of his players. Credit to Ferguson for what he has achieved.
However, as we approach the beginning of a new term, United must take it serious in strengthening their squad this transfer window. City are throwing money at big name’s for fun, Chelsea are attracting the attention of plenty of top players such as Spurs hotshot Luka Modric and Brazilian Neymar, Liverpool have made a number of shrewd signings, including Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing, and London neighbours Arsenal and Tottenham are preparing their squads at the moment so as to best make their claim for the Premier League Championship this term.
United have secured the following signatures for season 2011/12 so far:
David de Gea: At the age of 20, he has already drawn comparisons with the recently retired Edwin Van Der Sar due to his height, composure and his experience having won a Europa League medal.
Ashley Young: Received bucket loads of praise for recent International performances. Young can certainly exciting to watch. Aston Villa fans would stand in anticipation whenever the ball was at his feet. Sir Alex Ferguson knows what he’s doing, and he signed Young for a reason. However, he has to start performing consistently on a bigger stage, which I have for one have criticised him for.
Phil Jones: England under-21 star Jones is seen as Rio Ferdinand’s long term successor at the club.
Attacking-wise United always hold a threat. Dimitar Berbatov, overshadowed by the meteoric rise of Javier Hernandez, will certainly feel as if he has a point to prove after being left out of the Champions League Final squad. Quite incredible considering he was the League’s joint top scorer last term with 20 goals.
Hernandez’s instant impact and relationship with Rooney up front will be looked to be built upon by Ferguson, teamed with vintage performances by 37 year old Ryan Giggs, rolling back the years running along the left wing at Old Trafford, the power, speed and moments of magic from Nani and Valencia.
The one place where United Must improve, the centre of midfield. They have GOT to have a world-class midfielder in the mix for next season. With Scholes now retired, a massive void is left to fill as United are now missing a stalwart in the centre of the park.
For me, Inter Milan’s Wesley Sneijder fits the bill perfectly.
Barcelona are without doubt United’s most formidable opponents, they have proved year after year to be the best team in club football. Two or three top drawer signings for United before the summer transfer window closes and the Catalan giants may start to get ever so slightly uncomfortable at the prospect of another meeting.
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