2010 wasn’t a vintage year for Manchester United.
We lost the league by one point, were knocked out of the Champions League earlier than we would have liked, we didn’t go crazy in the transfer window as many fans demanded, and our supposed future club symbol handed in a transfer request and spat out his dummy. However we still won the Carling Cup, which is better than some teams out there managed.
Going into 2011 there is a growing sense of optimism amongst United fans. There is a growing belief that this team is beginning to take shape, we all knew there was a transition to come but none of us knew that it might happen so rapidly. Although I should add we are by no means the finished article…yet.
But what should we be looking forward to in 2011?
Number 19 – sitting at the top of the table two points clear and with games in hand, United look well position for a push towards number 19. Winning this with G Nev, Giggsy and the Ginger Prince still plying their trade at Old Trafford, it would be a fitting finale to their careers. To achieve 19, we need Anderson to continue on the road to redemption and Rooney to start scoring, amongst other things. However being unbeaten and with the rest of the league looking shaky, one of United’s ‘famous’ strong second halves of the season should bring us record breaking 19.
Wayne Rooney scores and it is not a penalty – with games against Sunderland and Birmingham happening before 2011 arrives, we might already get this wish but if not I couldn’t imagine a better New Year’s Day than Roon putting a few past Scott Carson.
Youth making its mark – whether it has been the impact of Chicarito and Smalling at OT or Cleverly and Welbeck at their loan clubs, a new group of youngsters is emerging to invigorate the first time and set us up for the future. Add to this the likes of Pogba and Morrison in the youth set up and there might not be much need for SAF to break the bank on star signings.
CL Final at Wembley – United seem to be underrated by the media in the UK. Last season we went out of Europe due to bizarre referring decisions and a wonder goal by Robben. Had we got through another final was beckoning. Having made relatively light work of the group stages and still unbeaten in the league this United team is coming together nicely and can stand up to anyone on their day, and hopefully that will be CR7 and Mourinho at Wembley.
Becks to return??? – not something many of us are really that keen to see, but with Beckham basically begging SAF to bring him back on a short term loan and our previous history with Henrik Larsson, it is safe to say stranger things have happened.
Uncle Malc realising he has overstayed his welcome – whilst rumours of new bidders for our club seem to appear on a weekly basis, with the clearing of the PIKs there is a definite feeling that something is happening behind the scenes and city sources believe a sale might not be far away. Perhaps they have realised the money making opportunities out of mobile content might get swallowed up by the collective agreement, perhaps they just can’t pay their bills anymore, but whatever the reason should the Glazers sell and unburden United from debt many will be ecstatic (assuming the new owners are open and honest with the fans).
Summer Transfer Window – perhaps we will find out what SAF, Gill and the Glazers promised Wayne Rooney. Disillusioned he said he was leaving due to ambition but was convinced to stay. Will the club enter the market for a new central midfielder?
Owen Hargreaves – if Owen Hargreaves returns the point above becomes void. A fans favourite in one season, how United would like to see him back. Offers so much to the midfield and the team as a whole, a fit Hargreaves would be just the thing to help fire us towards number 19 and start on the way to 20!
Emergence of Sir Alex Ferguson’s next great side – whilst stated above, what could prove to be the most exciting part of 2011 is how our team develops and whether it can join the other great sides SAF has created. Midfield and between the posts are the two areas that need to be addressed to create this side. In midfield the age of our players (bar Giggs & Scholes) is encouraging, should Anderson emerge as an all action midfielder and some of our younger wingers (Cleverly & Obertan) step up, we will look well stocked in this department. Although I wouldn’t rule out a Stephen Defour type signing. Whilst in goal we look to have a better plan in place than after Schmeichel left us.
No doubt other people have other thoughts on what they are excited about for 2011, and the above only takes a top level view, but I really believe 2011 could see the emergence of the next great Manchester United side.