After some very favorable, but yet remarkable results, the press has, almost unsurprisingly, incited rumors that Manchester United’s squad is about to be completely restructured.
Sir Alex Ferguson, who has been infamously known to influence matches with his mind games, must have pulled out his magical wand yesterday, because all of United’s title – including their most-hated – rivals either lost or drew their respective matches, which sees the Reds sitting very pretty on top of the Barclays Premier League standings all by themselves.
However, even those chain of shocking results could not stop the media from focusing on the potential revamp that the Gaffer may be looking to do in six months time, because no fewer than six United players have been linked with moves away from Old Trafford.
Edwin van der Sar, Tomasz Kuszczak, Gary Neville, Wes Brown, Owen Hargreaves and Michael Owen are supposedly leaving Manchester United either due to retirement, being out of contract or falling out of favor.
There are also rumors that Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes – the other two-thirds of the modern-day United trinity – could also be contemplating retirement, which would definitely see Ferguson’s recruitment capabilities tested.
It has already been reported that van der Sar is going to retire at the end of the season, but his understudy, Kuszczak, who started United’s last two matches, is also reported to be leaving the club in attempt to secure more first-team chances.
That will leave Ferguson short in experience in the one positions that requires it the most – as he found out the hard way for six long, painful years.
If this does happen, then the United boss would only have young Ben Amos, and the newly-arrived Anders Lindegaard, and they have a combined total of just THREE appearances – but none coming in the Premier League.
The great Peter Schmeichel retired from United after the wonderful treble winning season in 1998/99, and until the big Dutchman’s arrival in 2005, Ferguson tinkered with 11 different goalkeepers, who all failed to handle the pressures that it takes at Old Trafford.
Ferguson has certainly learned his lesson, so the supporters should expect a vastly proven goalkeeper walking through the doors of Old Trafford this summer – and there have already been quite a few linked with the job.
In perhaps somewhat of a cover up, Ferguson has already watched David de Gea, 20, from Atlético Madrid against Valencia – missing United’s Carling Cup match with Scunthorpe United in the process.
Almost unimaginably, Liverpool’s Pepe Reina is also being linked with a shock move 34 miles up the M62 to Old Trafford, but, to be honest, that seems a little adventurous – even for Sir Alex.
To date, Neville has only appeared three times this season, and if you ask some United supporters it has been two too many, so he looks to be playing final season with the club, who is a widely-known supporter of if, and when, he calls it a day in May.
In somewhat disturbing fashion, it looks like another long-term United servant is also on his way after Brown had an under-the-radar falling out with Sir Alex during the club’s Tour 2010 in America.
The unexpected foul mouth rant directed towards Ferguson on the way to a team building event has seen Brown only play in dire circumstances this season – playing eight times.
Both of the these Greater Manchester-born defenders have offered Sir Alex some much-needed versatility over the years, because both Gary and Wes have either provided covered at right-back or in the center of the United defense.
These two players have totaled 33 years of experience in the United defense, so if it true that Sir Alex is going to let both of them go for either reason, then he will have to bring in some ready-made replacements for at least one of them.
Rafael’s amazing come to form has made Sir Alex not miss the services of either of these two vastly experienced, but if the young Brazilian does happen to go down with an injury an off-the-rack replacement needs to be there.
The next players who are most certain for evacuation from the United squad is both Hargreaves and Owen, who have both spent more time on the treatment table then the Old Trafford pitch.
The Hargreaves issue has to leave a foul taste in Ferguson’s mouth, because of the amount of time he did to get him to United, but also the bundle of patience then manager had to have seeing a key figure of his squad out for the best part of two years.
If it was not for his injury problems, Hargreaves would have been a certain starter in United’s first XI, but he has only started once – a four minute appearance against Wolverhampton – in the last 28 months.
Right now, Sir Alex has Anderson, Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher and Darron Gibson, but it was evident against West Bromwich Albion that none of these players have the flexibility to play in other positions, which, agonizingly, Hargreaves does when he is fit.
Each of these players offer something that the others do not, but none of them are the complete package, which often limits Sir Alex to what kind of formation he can select, so the rumors about Lassana Diarra being linked with a move should not come as any surprise.
However, the other Owen, Michael, was always going to be an injury-gamble for Sir Alex, but he signed the former Liverpool star on a pay-as-you-play deal, so that should takes some – not all – of the frustration out of his time at United.
The striking predator has certainly made contributions to the club’s objectives by scoring 12 goals in his 39 appearances – including the wonderful winner against Manchester City last season and the equalizer against Aston Villa in the Carling Cup Final.
With Danny Welbeck and Federico Macheda both gaining invaluable maturity out on loan with Sunderland and Sampdoria, respectively, Sir Alex will have a plethora of attacking options when they return in the summer, so Owen would be odd-man out, anyways.
The two courses of actions that the supporters do not want to happen, which also reciprocated by the Gaffer, is the retirement of Giggs and Scholes at the end of this year.
However, if it is true that both Giggs and Scholes are calling curtains on their careers as well, then that is going to demand Sir Alex to spend more money than he probably should to bring in a couple of attack-minded that will make sure that club does not miss a beat.
Two players that are going to be in high demand this summer, and most likely not be for sale, are Tottenham’s dynamic pair of Luka Modric and Gareth Bale.
Some unforeseen and unfortunate injuries coupled with a quite untimely international call-up, has left Sir Alex short of wide players, and could have cost the club their lofty league position.
Ferguson has already secured the signatures from Anderson, Nani, Nemanja Vidic and Wayne Rooney on long-term contracts, because he feels as those players are going to be the backbone of the club’s future for at least the next three to four years.
It will be interesting to see who the boss brings in to replace two of the greatest-ever players in the club’s colorful history, because that is a daunting task that even he does not want to handle, but the United supporters know that if one man can manage it – it’s Sir Alex.
In the last 24 years, Sir Alex Ferguson has never been fearful of going against the grain to shuffle up his pack of players, and with this audaciously anticipated overhaul, the Manchester United supporters should know that manager always has the best interest of the club at heart.