David Moyes, Heir Apparent.
During a recent private conversation with Sir Alex Ferguson, cycling czar Sir David Brailsford inquired of the 26-year coach of the biggest sports team in the world, “what is your secret to constant success and longevity?”
“Get rid of the c****,” was Ferguson’s reply.
In his typically effervescent way, the response is clarion clear. In Ferguson’s view, group stability is the key to unlocking the door to a long path of success. Whether it’s brusque casting aside of important players, who had become disruptive to the regime, or the allegiant focus on youth and future potential, to his adamant refusal to publicly disrespect his contestable employers in the Glazer tribe, everything Ferguson does at the club is dogmatically focused on maintaining a stability. It’s a stability plan that’s always required him as the fulcrum of course, but he’s been doing it so well that no fan would have it any other way. The problem is, soon we will have to.
Signing a midfield enforcer – necessity or needless?
French poet and historian Voltaire once wrote; “Opinion has caused more trouble on this little earth than plagues or earthquakes”. He didn’t know it at the time, but when it comes to football, he may have had a point. United’s opening round defeat to Everton has prompted discussion in all quarters, with every critic, journalist and punter clamouring to offer their own opinion on the state of affairs at Old Trafford. Views range from the somewhat overconfident declaration that we have a team capable of immediate domestic and European dominance, to the cynical belief that we may as well pack up and go home now; such are our slim chances of success this year. The truth is perhaps somewhere between these extremes. The signing of Robin Van Persie and Shinji Kagawa will undoubtedly strengthen a team that missed out on the league title last season by goal difference alone, but a period of adjustment is inevitable as the team discovers how best to utilize these player’s talents. Add to this the fact the injury crisis ravaging our defence and the fragmented nature of our preseason and it’s easier to see why the Reds didn’t have the best of games against Everton. This is a team that will undoubtedly improve as the season goes on and players return to full fitness. Most detractors predictably aim the bulk of their criticisms towards our midfield. Another summer is almost gone and Sir Alex has yet to sign the midfield enforcer craved by so many. It has also become clear he has no intention of doing so.
“We’ve never had a holding player…I’ve not had it for 25 years. Why should I think about it now?” (May 2012).
This sentiment will no doubt frustrate many Reds supporters but such is the gaffer’s unwavering loyalty to Michael Carrick it is unlikely we will see a defensive midfielder added anytime soon. Add to this the re-emergence of Tom Cleverley and the signing of Kagawa and it becomes clear that Sir Alex has his own ideas of how best to move the team forward. Whether it will ultimately pay off remains to be seen, but as the Scot moves into his 26th season at the club, he is probably entitled to a little faith. It is, however, shaping up to be a career defining season for many of our players. Tom Cleverley will be looking to rediscover the form that saw Sir Alex prepared to build the team around him last year before injury curtailed his season. Impressing both in the Olympics and in pre-season the Basingstoke born midfielder will hope to build upon the promising relationship developing with Kagawa, and firmly stamp his name on the Gaffer’s team sheet. Alongside him in the centre, Anderson will be attempting to finally realize some of the form and potential that he has been on the brink of realizing for some years now. Now entering into his sixth season at the club, the charismatic Brazilian may be quickly running out of opportunities to show that he is capable of being a player for this club; a reality that is not lost on him.
“I need to prove what I can do. I know the boss and my team mates believe in me. I have just had bad luck. I need to improve…” (July 2012).
The form of Wayne Rooney was often scrutinized last season. Remarkable when you consider the sheer number of goals he scored. It is a testament to the lofty expectations placed on the former Evertonian that despite racking up a career best 35 goals in all competitions neither the fans nor indeed the player himself were pleased with his form. Over the last three or four seasons Sir Alex has successfully converted the striker into a highly functional goal scorer, capable of hitting the net even on bad days. The arrival of Robin Van Persie will hopefully breathe new life into Rooney, both lifting the burden of being United’s main man and introducing a bit of healthy competition. It would do the forward no harm to realize he is no longer immune to being dropped. The striker looked abject at time’s last season and a few games short of match fitness against Everton. Improvement is inevitable as the player embarks upon what should be his peak years. If the thought of playing up front along side Van Persie and Kagawa doesn’t whet his appetite, nothing will. In truth the Everton game may have come too soon for the Reds. International commitments saw a great number of senior players miss the opening games of pre-season. When coupled with the copious injuries wreaking havoc on our defence it is little wonder Sir Alex’s men were shy of form in the opening fixture. As players return and new signings settle in the team is certain to improve. Midfield frailties considered, it would be foolish to expect anything other than a competitive Manchester United when Sir Alex Ferguson is in charge. Though as always, he will do things in his own indomitable way with a clear idea of how he wants the team to form and progress. American Philosopher Elbert Hubbard once said “To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing”. This is one thing the unconquerable Scot will never be guilty of.
Kevin Levingston is a freelance writer and blogger. You can follow him on twitter here: @KevinLevingston
Check out what our Manchester United Transfer Scout has to say about all the latest player rumours.
#38 Signing Him Would Solve Everything
Welcome back to the Can They Score podcast in time for the new 2012/13 season. During our first season pod, Tom, Jonas, James and I give our thoughts on all the DHL Pre Season Tour, Sir Alex Ferguson, all the transfer rumours and our first trip away to Everton.
Topics Discussed Include
- The New Season
- The Robin Van Persie Saga
- Sir Alex Ferguson’s Successor
- Everton Away
Other Ways To Listen
My Favourite Footballer… Kevin Sheedy
By Gary Naylor
Kevin Sheedy was an Everton Great, a sweet, sweet sentence to write as he could, and should, have been a Liverpool Great, since they had him as a youth and let him go (preferring Ronnie Whelan, with whom he shared many traits).
Pre Match Interview with ‘The Wild Blackburn Rover’ (Part 1)
In preparation for Saturday’s massive match against Blackburn Rovers, I asked Michael Delap from the Blackburn Rovers blog, The Wild Blackburn Rover, some questions about the match and the seasons of Blackburn Rovers & Manchester United as a whole.
Player Ratings- Manchester United v Everton, Old Trafford, 23.04.11
Edwin Van Der Sar- 7
With Everton only recording 3 shots on target, one could say it was an easy day for the Dutchman, but he really did show his worth with another excellent display. His save from Rodwell’s deflected shot, in the 70th minute, was quite simply superb. #Vintage
Pre Match & Line Ups- Manchester United v Everton, Old Trafford, 23.04.11
Teams: Manchester United v Everton
Competition: Premier League
Last Match: Newcastle United 0 0 Manchester United & Everton 2 0 Blackburn Rovers
Kick Off: 12 45 on TV @ Sky Sports HD
Having put another point on the board, with a hard fought draw against Newcastle, Sir Alex and his men go into the match knowing 10 points, out of a possible 15, will see them crowned Premier League champions. Having once again shown our weaknesses away from home, Sir Alex will be hoping to sustain our imperious home record, against David Moyes battling side.