In the aftermath of Manchester City’s stunning finish, Manchester United will prepare to bounce back after falling just short of their twentieth title. With City’s first Premier League championship since 1968, many believe that this could be the start of an era of dominance for United’s cross-town rivals as they can continue to acquire players at astronomical prices. For many City fans (and United haters), there is hope that this setback for United will lead to a changing of the guard as the blue side of Manchester will become the team to beat for years to come.
Yet, after United’s recent history, the idea that the Red Devils will lay down to City’s resurgence just isn’t realistic. After dealing with the “Invincibles” of Arsenal, the “Russian Revolution” of Chelsea, the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez in one summer, and now “Blue Moon Rising”, Manchester United knows how to respond to tremendous adversity. Under Sir Alex Ferguson, the Red Devils have repeatedly shown the will, determination, and adaptability to continue winning despite numerous challenges.
There are many concerns which resulted from this season whether it was United’s horrible European form in the Champions and Europa leagues, continual midfield struggles, inability to score more goals, relapses on defense, goalkeeper issues, and the team’s consistent struggles in matches against rivals like Manchester City, Liverpool, and Chelsea. This myriad of problems along with the stunning number of injuries plagued the Red Devils throughout the season.
As a result of the failures associated with a trophy-less season, many will claim that United must go through a dramatic upheaval of the squad in order to stop Manchester City’s new found momentum as a Premier League powerhouse.
However, drastic changes have never been United’s style of dealing with misfortune. Under Sir Alex, calculated moves and continued persistence will be the remedy for dealing with the despair of bitterly losing the title.
When one looks at United’s squad, there is no need to make wholesale changes. Let’s take a look of the different parts of the Red Devils’ lineup.
For David de Gea, it was never going to be easy to seamlessly replace a legend in Edwin Van der Sar. After struggling to adapt to the physicality of the Premier League, de Gea’s confidence took a big hit. He was pushed around like a rag doll in matches against Blackburn and Stoke which cost United precious points. Yet, it was his performance against Chelsea on February 5th which consisted of a stunning save against a Juan Mata free kick in stoppage time that indicated that the Spaniard was ready to truly take over in goal. In the final three months, de Gea showed the poise, strength (he was no longer being jostled around in the box) and assurance of a top keeper that United can rely on for years to come. Along with back-up Anders Lindegaard who is more than capable of being a starter, Manchester United’s goal-keeping is not an issue.
United’s defense suffered the worst possible blow on December 7th when Nemanja Vidic suffered knee ligament damage which would sideline him for the rest of the season. United was in serious trouble as they would now have to fully rely on the inconsistent Johnny Evans and the injury-prone Rio Ferdinand. However, Ferdinand was able to stay miraculously fit and Evans stepped up to the challenge of replacing Vidic. While the duo had their struggles against Chelsea and Everton, Ferdinand and Evans held many teams at bay.