While they undoubtedly want to win more titles next year, the signings at Old Trafford this summer bode well for the future, to put United in good stead when Sir Alex Ferguson leaves the club.
Is that what Fergie is doing then this summer then – focusing on the next generation of United’s team and cementing his legacy so the team can continue to perform at such a high level when he retires?
Last season Ferguson finally achieved his ultimate goal by beating Liverpool’s record of 18 league titles, winning United’s 19th league title and the 12th Premiership title of his illustrious reign. But Ferguson will be 70 in December, and realistically he won’t be around forever.
With Ferguson gone, there is a chance that United could struggle without him, Sir Alex is the best and most successful manager in the world – and any manager would struggle to even try and emulate his success at Old Trafford.
But by signing young players with high potential, Ferguson is giving United a solid core of young talent to build around in the future. With Paul Scholes’ and Gary Neville’s retirement the “old guard” and the legendary class of 1992 are all but gone. Ryan Giggs is the only remnant of that great batch so Ferguson is now signing players and blooding in talent that will form that next great dynasty for the club.
That’s what United’s policy of signing young players under 25 is all about. Players that can come in, develop and contribute for years. If they don’t make the grade, they at least have a high re-sale value, so United don’t lose out financially.
If you look at United’s most recent signings, it points to Fergie building a legacy at the club, so they have a good side when he steps down. The vast majority –Nani, Valencia, Smalling, Chicarito, Ronaldo, Rooney, Carrick, Hargreaves, Anderson, Evra, Vidic – all were 25 or younger when they signed for United and yet to reach their peak as players. I can only think of a few players over the last few years – Edwin Van der Sar, Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen – that were the exception to the rule.
The arrivals of Ashley Young and Phil Jones are just continuing this trend. Young is 25 and Jones is 19; both players haven’t reached their peak yet and have great potential to be a big part of United’s plans for the next few years.
They will help establish a legacy for Ferguson as creates a solid core of young, exciting talent for his successor. United have a host of players are all still 25 or younger; Rooney, Valencia, Nani, the Da Silva twins and Chris Smalling are all young and will continue to get better.
And with the likes of Ryan Tunnicliffe, Ravel Morrison, Will Keane, Paul Pogba, Kiko Macheda, Danny Wellbeck and Tom Cleverley on the fringes of the first team and ready to contribute next season in some capacity, Ferguson is simply creating a new generation of young players who are familiar with each other, have played together for a while and can excel together, just like the golden generation of Beckham, Scholes, Giggs and the Nevilles nearly 20 years ago.
And that’s why I ultimately can’t see United signing Wesley Sneidjer this summer. The Dutch playmaker is 27 and is in the prime of his career, and is without doubt a world-class player. While I would love to see Sneidjer in a United shirt, I can’t see Ferguson willing to spend the £40m+ it would take to sign him from Inter Milan, when they would likely not be able to recoup that money in a few years time.
Obviously, there are exceptions (Berbatov being the main example), but a new keeper is a more pressing and important matter this summer (even in that case we are looking at youth in Spain’s David De Gea).
It would be more likely for United to give Anderson or someone a bigger chance to fill the void left by Scholes, or promote a player from the reserves to come in and contribute next season.
What do you think? Is Sir Alex building his final dynasty?
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