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Subtlety Does It

Ferguson Rebuilds United Without Anyone Noticing

Posted Apr 15, 2011 by Shaun Edwards

Sir Alex is as wily as ever

As a former Manchester United fan (I prefer to remain impartial these days) I’ve spent a lot of this season questioning the value of the current Manchester United squad, wondering whether significant investment will not be needed for them to remain at the top level for the next few seasons, especially once messrs Giggs, Scholes and Van Der Saar have retired.  However, watching the side in the last few weeks, I’ll have to admit that I might have been a bit hasty.

There was little doubt that United were currently undergoing a period of transition following the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gary Neville and others, and the apparent failing of signings such as Michael Carrick and the injuries to Owen Hargreaves.  Rather than panic, however, Sir Alex has done what he does best: build a solid squad around players that are initially considered less than glamorous.

One of the main problems that seems to have been sorted is the undeniable reliance on Wayne Rooney upfront, which Ferguson has managed to virtually remove with his typically effective signing of Javier Hernandez, an almost like for like replacement for Ole Gunnar Solksjaer, and a man who has already fired in seventeen goals this term.  With Dimitar Berbatov able to chip in with a few goals every couple of games, it gives United a goal scoring option when Rooney is having an off day.

In the midfield, Nani has become one of the most influential midfielders in the division, constantly able to create opportunities for the front pairing, and the evergreen Giggs remains a more than useful option.  This is doubtless where United need strengthening most, simply due to the need to replace Giggs and Scholes when they both retire (a summer spending spree is likely to result in new midfielders more than anything else).  

At the back, United will have the services of both Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand for another three seasons or so, by which the time the young Chris Smalling will have learned more than enough from his two defensive mentors to be a significant rock at the back.  The one mistake that Ferguson cannot afford to make is that which he has seen Arsene Wenger make: refusing to spend the money on a high quality goalkeeper.  Having made the same mistake himself following the retirement of Peter Schmeichel, it’s not one you would expect a repeat of.

In the end, though, Sir Alex has created the backbones of yet another high-class squad, and one that is undoubtedly stronger than the one cultivated by his old rival Wenger at Arsenal.  If the Scot finds a decent set of replacements for those outgoing retirees, then he may leave United with the strongest team young team he’s yet manage to cultivate.

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