It can only be a good sign that so much has been made of United’s second consecutive loss in the Premier League.
If two defeats are considered a crisis and the team are believed to be devoid of ability and desire after the Chelsea and Liverpool games, then so be it. Much better than a shrug of the shoulders and a roll of the eyes that some fans are forced to endure when they concede.
But let’s play along for a second shall we? So United are in crisis and in need of a serious squad overhaul, but where do they begin?
It is perhaps the goalkeeper position that will cause much consternation for Sir Alex over the coming months, regardless of where the Premier League trophy ends up this year.
Edwin Van der Sar has done what most presumed to be impossible. If he hasn’t usurped Peter Schmeichel as King of the Old Trafford goal, then doing more than justice to his legacy in a position where 13 decent keepers have fallen before him. It is nothing short of incredible that Van Der Sar is still at the top of his game despite being the wrong side of 40, and the Dutchman has made the task of replacing him all the more difficult with his prolonged quest for perfection. Ferguson must get this right at the first attempt this time, they cannot afford to opt for another Massimo Taibi.
But the writing has been on the wall for Van der Sar for some time, so where did United come undone against their league rivals?
If you were to ask most United fans they would suggest the midfield as the problem area. Scholes and Giggs are still both outstanding but their age does count against them, while most have reservations over the ability of Michael Carrick. Darren Fletcher is a fine player, but gets through games on work ethic rather than outright ability. The central midfield area could be bolstered, there is no doubt.
If United could recruit a ball-playing midfielder made from the same mould as Luka Modric then Rooney wouldn’t be forced to drop as deep as he does at times, and could work more on finding his goal scoring touch. The bonus betting favourite is one of the finest footballers in the Premier League and linked up well with Berbatov during their time together at Spurs and can be the hub of United, much in the way as Scholes has been for the past decade or so.
He offers something slightly different to Scholes as he is more mobile and possesses the knack of tackling and breaking up play, something the Ginger Wizard isn’t exactly known for. It could well be the time for the baton to be passed on.
Man Utd have also been linked heavily with the Udinese midfielder Alexis Sanchez. If this proves to be true, then United will have one of the hottest prospects in Europe on their hands.
Sanchez has been a revelation this season as Udinese continue to be the surprise package of Serie A. His 11 goals so far this season demonstrate his goalscoring abilities, while his quick feet and good footballing brain have marked him out as one of the league’s danger men – His style bears a striking resemblance to a certain Portuguese winger.
Aside from this, United have little else to improve upon. Nani and Rafael have developed beyond belief this season, while Chris Smalling has performed admirably (with the help of Vidic, who has imparted his defensive wisdom upon him in the absence of Ferdinand) and Berbatov is finally playing as most knew he could. Put the Bulgarian’s odds of being top scorer in the Premier League into a back and lay calculator , and you won’t be surprised if the outcome suggests he will come out on top.
Reports of their demise are premature, and the squad doesn’t need a complete change of personnel. Just a facelift will do the job nicely.
Piece courtesy of Pete South