Who would have thought that our destruction in the Champions League final, at the hands of Barcelona, could have been an awaking of something in Sir Alex Ferguson?
Although I must first state that I did not for a moment enjoy watching the likes of Messi, Iniesta and Xaxi play intricate five yard passes around United’s midfield, and back line, for the best part of 90 minutes- I do believe it rubber-stamped the realisation that while it has been a successful year on the pitch, at Old Trafford, it has not necessarily been one of the strongest sides Sir Alex has ever managed.
Since that night, Sir Alex has made it clear that his main priority next season will be beating Barcelona, with our adversaries in the Premier League all too easy to overcome- something which has become apparent looking at United’s behaviour in the early stages of this summer’s transfer window.
The demoralising defeat to the Spanish side clearly highlighted our need for strengthening and is a challenge I am sure Sir Alex will relish. The Scot has never succumbed to a challenge before and, in the twilight of his magnificent career, I am sure he doesn’t plan on beginning now!
Earlier this week, Phil Jones became the first acquisition in Ferguson’s final attempt to conquer the footballing world. The young Blackburn centre half, who impressed all season in the Premier League, has been tipped as a future England captain and looks set to partner Chris Smalling in the heart of United’s (and England’s) defence for years to come- when Rio and Vidic hang up their boots.
The Start of Something Special?
Nonetheless, a more immediate fear for United has been that of finding a replacement for Edwin Van der Sar, who retired despite the repeated pleas of the Stretford End throughout the season. After the problems we had replacing Schmeichel, fans have been expectantly nervous but it seems we may have found a keeper with the stature and composure to handle the toughness of the PL, in Spain’s under 21 GK, David De Gea.
Not stopping there, it appears Aston Villa’s winger Ashley Young is close to signing for the Reds when he returns from holiday next week, when he will add to our plethora of current talent out wide. With the move almost done, after Young made it clear that he wanted to play Champions League football next year, it seems Giggs and Park may be used more centrally next season, along side the returning Tom Cleverley. Add Danny Welbeck to our list of additions, after an impressive but injury plagued season at Sunderland, and one can see we have a rather impressive squad already!
Up front, Dimitar Berbatov looks set to stay, despite being omitted from the CL Final squad, and with Michael Owen signing up for one more year, it appears Sir Alex is not looking for another striker to rival first choice paring Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez.
However, the most necessary signing which I think we need to make during the summer is in central midfield for a number of reasons; most obviously being the need to replace Paul Scholes. Quite simply, having watched United home and away ever since I can remember, I cannot recall a better player than Scholes in any position. From being the best goal scoring midfielder in Europe, to developing into the best passer of a ball in the world, he is simply irreplaceable.
A player admired by everyone in the the Barcelona, and Spanish, sides, Scholes’ technical ability was appreciated around the world. Undoubtedly, a younger Scholes would have been certainly been one of the first names on the team-sheet, against Barca, as it was noticeable that United desperately needed to retain possession but regrettably it is impossible to hold back the test of time forever.
Looking ahead, the likes of Wesley Sneijder, Luka Modric and Samir Nasri have continually been linked with us on a daily basis and they are all blessed with immense quality but whoever steps into Scholes’ shoes will still face a tough task, such is the difficulty of replacing a genius.
Moreover, now that Owen Hargreaves’ unfortunate career at the Theatre of Dreams has to come to an end, one could argue that we most definitely need some fresh blood in our midfield (although he has been unavailable for the last 12 months). In my opinion, a fit Hargreaves would have walked into United’s midfield all season, including in the CL Final, thanks to his incredible work-rate and technical ability.
A fit Hargreaves was an exceptional Manchester United player, who had such a frustrating time at the club due to injuries, but some could say our new arrival, Phil Jones, is set to be our new midfielder enforcer, while Ferdinand and Vidic continue to occupy the defence.
Regardless, United have made it clear they are looking to stamp down their authority this summer and it would not surprise me if a number of additions are set to be named in United’s midfield in the coming months- leaving us to enjoy one of the busiest transfer windows in recent memory.
A massive United fan, Joseph has been a season-ticket holder at Old Trafford for the past 5 seasons and is currently studying sports journalism at University. Hoping to succeed in the tough world of football media, Joseph will be writing more often on Can They Score in the coming months, as he hopes to express his passion for the club through his writing. Follow him on Twitter here.