Twenty more days of wait and once again, we will kick off another season of Premiership football. This time around though, there is a buzz around England as the fans feel that there are six clubs, namely Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs and Manchester City, competing for the Premier League title. With the concept of “top four” gone right down the gutter, the blue half of Manchester and the Spurs fans in North London are confident that their respective clubs can bring home the trophy. Having already spent £60m on Jerome Boateng, David Silva, and Yaya Toure, City are also pressing for the signature of James Milner, Fernando Torres and Mario Balotelli. Though some fans might question the game plan of Man City, the new signings sure are bolstering their squad in every department under Roberto Mancini.
In an exclusive interview after Spurs played New York Bulls, Spurs manager Harry Redknapp underlined Man City’s role in the title race saying, “Manchester City will be a massive factor in the title race this season. They will eventually win the championship, whether it is this year, next year or the year after. It is only a matter of time until they win the Premier League – that’s my opinion. They have got such tremendous backing. And there is every chance it will be this season. They are only going to get stronger.”
Now these statements are not from an amateur, these are from a man who knows English football in and out.
So, in this situation, what does Sir Alex do?
He sits back and laughs at City. The reason being, he feels the current squad is good enough to do the job and bring home the title. Given his experience, you wouldn’t argue.
Like always, even this time during the summer, a number of top quality players have been linked with a move to Manchester United. Papers report United’s interest in signing Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, Rafael Van Der Vaart, Luka Modric, Wesley Sneijder, Mario Balotelli, Luis Fabiano and Mesut Ozil. All these players are big name players having an ability to make an impact at the football club shortly after their inclusion but what about the players who are currently under contract and fighting for a place in the first team.
Considering Nani, whose career at United started off well but his inconsistency and injuries made the faithfuls wonder about the player’s quality. It was only until the time his quality shone and his heroics helped United crush Arsenal 3-1 at home last season. Similarly, players like Anderson, Berbatov and Obertan are prolific footballers but even though there have been glimpses of their genius, they just haven’t been able to find their touch at Old Trafford. So, why overlook such special talents who came to the theater of dreams with an enormous reputation, and sign a new star player?
United need to persist with them at least for a season as the Red Devils have a squad that “if plays” to its full potential can be the best in Europe. Signing an overseas star player would reduce the number of first team opportunities for youngsters like Darron Gibson, who are coming through the ranks. It would also limit chances for players who had been out with injuries for a substantial amount of time or for those who have had an off season.
Manchester United Goalkeeping Department
Manchester United have two top quality goalkeepers in Edwin Van Der Sar and Tomasz Kuszczak with Ben Amos unveiled as a part of the first team for season 2010/2011. United have been linked with a host of goalkeepers amongst whom the most notable is Hugo Lloris. With Van Der Sar at United for at least one more season along with the Polish, Kuszczak, there is really no need to sign another goalkeeper. Kuszczak, who was signed from West Bromwich Albion has worked hard and waited four years to become number 1 at Old Trafford. He proved his class to the world by filling the void superbly well in Van Der Sar’s absence, keeping three clean sheets in eight games that he played for United. Ben Amos is currently 20 years of age and has made been tipped to go a long way. Having made an appearance for England at the youth level, he is high on confidence and raring to go if given a chance.
Manchester United Defence
Manchester United Defence is probably the strongest in England having a phenomenal mix of youth and experience. Gary Neville, Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Wes Brown and John O’Shea provide the experience necessary for the top level of football, whereas, Ritchie da Laet, the Da Silva twins, Johnny Evans and the newly signed Chris Smalling provide young legs. United also have the likes of Craig Cathcart, Corry Evans and Oliver Gill coming through the United ranks. Cathcart in particular has been hailed by Sir Alex after his loan spell at Watford the previous season. During season 2009/2010, United suffered horror at the back when United’s entire back line was out with injuries. Evra and Ritchie da Laet, who has a remarkable pace played well to cover up for the boys missing. Fabio Da Silva along with his brother Rafael have been quite a revelation since their arrival at Old Trafford. Chris Smalling was signed from Fulham earlier in the summer after a series of good performances towards the end of last season. Some may make arguments regarding Neville’s age and Ferdinand’s injury concerns but O’Shea, Brown, Jhonny Evans and the rest will cover well. Nine top class defenders with premiership experience make United simply impervous. United signing a top quality defender would limit the number of opportunities offered to some of the players who are currently in the United squad.
Manchester United Midfield
Manchester United Midfield have one of the most diverse in the world comprising of Nani, Anderson, Scholes, Carrick, Giggs, Hargreaves, Valencia, Gibson, Park, Fletcher and Obertan. Nani and Anderson had bright starts to their United careers where in they both played impressive football and were the key to United’s midfield. Both these players have been extremely inconsistent over the past few years, especially Anderson, who on his day is one of the best in Europe.Unlike Anderson, Nani played astonishingly well towards the end of last season to earn himself a four year contract at Old Trafford. Marked as the “undroppable” by the press during his early days at Old Trafford, the previous season wasn’t the best for the English International. This could be his opportunity to re-establish his place in the center of midfield along side Darren Fletcher. Obertan missed out on preseason in 2009 due to injury. This time round, he is in the United States with the rest of the United team having an awesome pre-season, impressing everyone around. Young guns like Darron Gibson had a decent 2009/2010 season as well. Paul Pogba is regarded as the next Patrick Viera and with much praised Tom Cleverley and Rodrigo Possebon knocking on the door for a place in the first team, United’s midfield looks good. Park is a special player, who does a perfect job for the manager on the wing, whether it be tracking back or attacking. With about ten world class midfielders already at Old Trafford along with a couple coming every year through the ranks, United doesn’t need another midfielder.
Manchester United’s Strike Force
Manchester United’s Strike Force consist of Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov, Michael Owen, Frederico Macheda, Danny Welbeck, Mame Biram Diouf and the newly signed Mexican International striker Javier Hernandez. Though Berbatov had been disappointing in Rooney’s absence to score goals, Sir Alex agreed to give the Bulgarian another chance up front for United. Sir Alex’s confidence paid rich dividence when Berbatov impressed in the pre-season clash against Celtic. In the post match interview Sir Alex said, “Berbatov was the player of the match and he undoubtedly deserved it. His showing great and attested to his high class.” Signing a new striker of the likes of Luis Saurez would not let the young players like Macheda, Welbeck, Diouf or even Hernandez get enough football in the first team and add an unnecessary striker who would also limit the number of opportunities that Dimitar Berbatov gets to start.
Manchester United have an extremely diverse and a versatile squad with a fine youth system. Sir Alex has always ensured that a proper chance and a decent amount of playing time is given to most players in his squads of the past. Sir Alex sticking to his policy will let United come out with flying colours. At least for a season, United must persist with the current squad and not sign more players as it would help the ones currently under contract to showcase their ability to the full. You never know, what if Anderson, Carrick or Berbatov do another Nani and come up with splendid performances?