Manchester United have always been a club of prestige, success, attacking football and above all a team of players and management the fans can relate to and fall in love with, but now, within the space of a couple of seasons is the club slowly losing it’s identity?
Sir Alex Ferguson has been the cornerstone of United’s success for 25 years, able to build team after team from within, buying from abroad when necessary but keeping the fundamentals of the club within our very own unique brand of attacking football and home grown players. Sir Alex was able to mastermind a certain longevity in progression of youth and success without without ever deviating from the United attack minded style of play, able to mastermind not only a successful team, but to integrate new players, into a new team, over time and still reap the rewards.
From Gary Pallister to Ronny Johnsen to Jaap Stam or Nemanja Vidic whoever this may be the players have always been integrated into a continuity of a squad that already consisted of the likes of Steve Bruce, David May, John O’Shea or Rio Ferdinand. Success was built on players such as Giggs, Scholes and Butt graduating through the ranks eventually but not all at once taking over from the likes of Kanchelskis, Ince, Sharpe and Cantona. Moving on 10 or so years the same youthful now veterans are still at the heart of the team with a new supporting cast with the likes of Silvestre, Ronaldo and Van Nistelrooy.
Even Ferguson though, was prone to an error or two in the transfer market with the likes of Kleberson, Djemba Djemba, Jordi Cruyff and Bebe to name a few. Notably or ironically in the champions league winning season of 2008, 3 of our more expensive underperforming acquisitions Nani, Anderson and Hargreaves all cooly slotted away their penalties in the shootout in Moscow to lift the trophy.
Did Sir Alex get out at the right time? Did he realize this crop of players was finished? Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Scholes. A huge overhaul was needed? I don’t think so, he couldn’t leave his legacy to that of City pipping them to the title on goal difference, he had to have one more season to lift the trophy to a proper send off. Van Persie was the difference that season, £24 million spent to win the league perhaps?
The baton now passed to David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal and a real changing of the guard. Not only Ferguson but his whole backroom staff. Perhaps David Moyes greatest mistake was not in his inability to manage a club of this stature but that he chose to bring in his own people, Steve Round his assistant.. gone the likes of Mike Phelan and Rene Meulentsteen, people who know the club, the surroundings, the players and the history.
If we take Rooney and Carrick out of this squad who is left from this team that knows what it means to be a United player, a champions league winner, the United way, the real United way of playing? LVG has certainly rubber stamped his authority on the squad, gone are the days of attacking from start to finish, get an early goal and keep pushing forward and in comes a slower, passing, non effective brand of possession football. Rooney is our captain and our leader but name another leader in this squad of players? Smalling? Jones? Possibly in the future but they are no Gary Neville or Roy Keane who grab a game by the scruff of the neck and turn it on its head.
United will spend big in the summer again, and they need to. Di Maria has not hit the heights his price tag afforded him, Falcao a failure, Herrera consistent, but a world beater? How many current United players would get in the current Chelsea starting XI? Wayne Rooney is probably the only answer. Names will be flung into the hat and we will be linked to every single player with an ounce of credibility. Let us spend wisely, let us also give our youth a chance, McNair has real quality, as does Tom Thorpe, give these players a chance.
Does a team potentially consisting of Valdes, Rojo, Ottamendi, Di Maria, Gundogan and Cavani feel like a Manchester United team.. or would it feel more like a team that Manchester City would invest in to ‘buy’ the league title.
Investment is needed, truly, but lets spend wisely, Depay is young and has great potential, Clyne would be a great buy, Khedira is a playmaker who oozes class and is out of contract but lets hope the United way is not lost, let us keep the likes of Wilson and Perriera, Jones, Smalling, Shaw and the aforementioned McNair and Thorpe and build a team around these young players. Ryan Giggs may well be the only lifeblood left who understands the DNA of the club. It is so important that he carries on the legacy and that the brand of football we know and love isn’t lost.