In the previous week, I suggested that huge investment will be needed in summer for United to stand a chance at competing with top clubs next season. This feeling will have certainly intensified for all United fans as they witnessed the 1-0 defeat to City on Monday evening. Perhaps this match has highlighted that bigger changes are needed in the dressing room.
Make no mistake. Sir Alex Ferguson will be angry following the defeat. This could well be the moment the power change in Manchester was confirmed? If City now go on to win the title, will Sir Alex hang up his boots?
Whatever happens now, City have completed a famous double over a United side that quite simply didn’t have the quality to break them down.
It’s now time for wholesale change at Old Trafford in a way that we may have never seen from Sir Alex. His reputation is at risk. He knows he should have sorted the midfield problem long ago. If he still intends to continue he has to reassert his stature in the English and European game by having a clear-out and making some marquee signings.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom for the fans. There are several reason’s United supporters should be optimistic going into the 2012/13 season.
Firstly, expect money to be made available by the owners. United are regularly linked with new players, but Alex Ferguson is a relatively frugal shopper compared to others in the Premiership. Some of the more expensive players likely won’t be coming to Old Trafford, and Fergie also usually stays away from players older than 23. However, following the poor season, many would expect a flurry of signings once the transfer window re-opens. A few quality recruits in midfield and defence are all that’s needed to drastically improve the standard of the current first team. Manchester United will likely have to part with some of its veteran players at the end of the season and look to the transfer market to fill those holes with talented youngsters.
On top of this, United are blessed with several young players, these will make up the core of the team going forward:
For instance, David De Gea has had his dodgy moments this season. But the 21-year-old Spaniard has also shown plenty of the talent that originally caught the eye of Sir Alex Ferguson. He has steadily improved as the season’s gone on, and will continue that trend going into next year. De Gea will be the goalkeeper of the future at Old Trafford, and fans will enjoy watching him get better and better as every game goes by.
Phil Jones is another promising young player in the United Squad. Sir Alex Ferguson has put Jones at outside back, center back and central midfield this season, and the youngster showed a well-rounded skill set while being moved around. Jones is full of energy and plays with passion. These are qualities that have endeared him to Fergie, and he will be a mainstay in United’s lineup for a long time.
This season Tom Cleverley has definitely shown his ability to provide a creative spark in the United midfield, but injuries derailed his season after just a few games. After regaining fitness, he was unable to work his way back into any sort of role that involved substantial playing time. He will have the entire off-season to regain his fitness level, and will come back next year ready to show that the beginning of his last campaign was no fluke. Next term I Imagine Cleverley will be one of Alex Ferguson’s first choices in the midfield.
Finally, Danny Welbeck has been a revelation for United this season. He has shown incredible pace and an eye for the goal, scoring nine Premier League goals.The 22-year-old striker will continue to be a nightmare for opposing defences next season, and for many more campaigns after that.
As well as the development of young players, United fans can look forward to seeing the more experienced players playing at their best. Wayne Rooney has entered his prime and established himself as one of the best footballers on the planet. He has been a world-class talent his entire career, and recently has started to show maturity and class on the pitch. Rooney is no longer a temperamental teenager, and has grown into a leader. As Rooney goes, so will United, and the striker seems poised to take his team very far next year.
Furthermore, Antonio Valencia’s form of late has proven that the winger has the potential to be one of the best players in the world in his position. The Ecuadorian has excellent pace and fantastic footwork, but his best attribute is his unselfishness. Many players at his position prefer to cut inside and go for the glory far too often. But Valencia is constantly determined to get the ball to the corner and find one of his teammates on a cross or back-pass. Valencia’s ability to get off a cross nearly every time he receives the ball in attack makes him a game-changing presence. Barring an injury next season, he will start to make the rest of the world notice his talent.
In addition, the return of Nemanja Vidic will be a huge boost next season. The Serbian defender has been sorely missed this season. The 30-year-old centre back is one of the best in the world in his position, but suffered a knee injury against Basel in the Champions league in December. Hopefully he will return to full strength by August ready to re-establish his role as United’s brick wall in defence.
European failure this year will have left the fans praying for success on the continent next season. The best way for the team to atone for a disappointing result this term, would be for Alex Ferguson to earn his third Champions League title. The Champions League trophy is by far the most important one to win for any European club, and with a few quality signings, United will be one of the favourites for next year’s competition.
Also, having lost twice against Manchester City in the league this season, United fans will be eager to have their revenge. The pain from these defeats could be eased if the Red Devils are able to return the favour to the Blues and beat them twice next season. City will be ready to compete for a title again next year, and United need to put their neighbours back in their place as Manchester’s second-tier club. This optimism will be boosted by the opportunity to win the EPL in its 20th Year. a 12th title win would show everyone, including Mancini’s men, which club is going to dominate the next 20 years of English top-tier football.
To top all of this, next season will be Sir Alex Ferguson’s 25th year as manager of Manchester United. It’s destined to be a special one. This is an amazing accomplishment in today’s football world, where managers are often the most expendable person at their club. Ferguson is one of the special few who have proven themselves worthy of their board’s trust, and United fans should consider themselves lucky every year that the Scotsman is still with the team, even when results are going against them. Bearing in mind this could be Fergie’s last season before his retirement, it would be great to see him go out with a bang.
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