Ferguson’s Re-Branding Again…But Will New-Look United Work This Time?
Sir Alex Ferguson is a manager revered by many as a gaffer who has stood the test of time; he has broken seemingly every managerial record going and still keeps on surprising everyone by building a new United side ever 5-6 years.
Sir Alex Ferguson is a manager revered by many as a gaffer who has stood the test of time; he has broken seemingly every managerial record going and still keeps on surprising everyone by building a new United side ever 5-6 years. He has coped with the sale of massive stars in the shape of Christiano Ronaldo, Mark Hughes, David Beckham and Paul Ince. He has coped with shifts in tactics, from the rigid 4-4-2 which he had grown up with to adapting to anything, he’s coped with players going off the rails (Stam, Van Nistelrooy) and he still remains.
So what has Fergie got up his sleeve this time around in terms of rejuvenating his squad? Well the retirement of some key players forced his hand on some issues and has seen him spend big on talented youngsters this window. David De Gea has arrived as a £18m replacement for Edwin van der Sar from Spaniards Athletico Madrid. Phil Jones has arrived as a defensive reinforcement after the retirement of Gary Neville, which coincided with the sale of seasoned vets John O’Shea and Wes brown to Tynesiders Sunderland. Ashley young has arrived as a supposed replacement for ginger wizard Paul Scholes in a £17m deal from Aston Villa after his impressive showings in an England shirt.
The past few close seasons have seen Sir Alex aiming in a different direction in terms of strategy and that has been in the shape of youth development. His transfers in the past two close seasons have leant sharply towards looking for players with high re-sale prices; this is after he said in his £30.75m buying of Dimitar Berbatov that this would be the last transfer of its kind from him. Youngsters like the Da Silva twins, Darron Gibson, Gabriel Obertan, Thiago Bebe and Chris Smalling are all examples of this shift in policy, from proven names to players for the future of the club for bargain prices. While some have proved to be flops, the most notable of these being £7m Bebe, others such as Chris Smalling and Javier Hernandez have turned out to be gems for the future, for a side which looks set to be being built in Fergie’s mould that can run onwards after he retires.
For the 2011-2012 season then Ferguson is going hell for leather with the backing of his new guard after the old guard has moved out. Where these new players will fit in though is the question I am considering?
Keeper David De Gea’s future is the easiest to predict as he has been signed purely as a replacement for Van Der Sar, he has all the potential to be just as good, comes straight in as the new number 1 keeper at United and will start in front of perennial underachiever and Polish international Tomasz Kuszczak. His ability is not in question, but whether he will be able to handle the pressure of being the number 1 at one of the world’s biggest clubs is yet to be seen. It will be after his first big blunder that we really see the young Spaniards true colours; hopefully he will turn out to be another Schemichel, not another Massimo Taibi.
Defender Phil Jones’s signing was one that worried me. The 19 year old Blackburn centre back enjoyed regular first team action last season and saw his development as a footballer come on in leaps and bounds. However will he see such prolonged spells in the first team here as he competes with first team duo Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and back up’s Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling. Smalling and Jones are widely regarded as England’s first choice central defensive pairing in the future. But it is my opinion that a lack of first team options for Jones could see his development stunted; only time will tell, let’s just hope that Fergie has his best interests at heart and didn’t just want to stop him moving to Anfield or the Emirates.
The oddest of the summer additions in my opinion has been Ashley Young, yes the loss of Paul Scholes left a hole of creativity in the centre of the park But Young is an entirely different player to Scholes, and first and foremost his best positions are on the wings or behind the striker. Positions Scholes was never really familiar with. Leaving me with the query where does Young fit in? Will Fergie play him on the wings in front of Valencia, Park and Nani or behind lone striker Javier Hernandez in the position that Wayne Rooney looked so comfortable in last season? This indeed seems to be another conundrum which we will have to wait until the start of the season to solve. However if there is anybody to solve this one, it surely has to be Ferguson.
The final big question for Fergie’s summer spending spree is over the proposed move for Wesley Sneijder to old Trafford. Ferguson has come out and unequivocally said the player they are constantly linked to, is not on his way to Old Trafford. While a player of Sneijder’s undoubted talent would be a welcome figure in any dressing room I think for Fergusons new look United this is the right move. Sneijder is a whole other kind of player to what United want and need. He will end up playing deeper than needs be, thus wasting his talents. Sneijder should stay at Inter and reap the rewards of his freedom, and should stay away from the premier League at all costs.
So this season will be a stiff test for Fergie’s new guard, one which as we have seen time and time again now, that the Scott will rise too. Whether his new players can rise to the challenge though that’s the real question.
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