Although not stars, the likes of Wes Brown and John O’Shea gave years of service at United so the surge of people wishing them well at Sunderland and even wishing they stayed is more than justified.
Both were ready to be called upon when needed specifically John O’Shea who put in shifts in various positions over the pitch but if you are looking for sentiment or sympathy a football club is the last place you should expect to find it because when you have run your course you have run your course and no manager knows this better than Sir Alex Ferguson.
Sir Alex has been known to be quite ruthless in getting rid of players he felt had even become detrimental. Players like Jaap Stam, Ruud Van Nistelrooy and David Beckham are testament to this but at the same time he has been known to ‘struggle’ with cutting loose players who have simply become less useful.
“I had to release them because I was getting to the stage where I was terrified of talking to them.
“Telling them they were not playing a game and it wasn’t fair to them.
“They were good players who played a big part in the resurrection of the club, no doubt about that so when the time came for me to let them go, I knew it was cutting strings. Loyal strings. And I didn’t enjoy it.”
I would imagine the sales of Brown and O’Shea will have posed a similar problem for Sir Alex as they are represent the spirit of the club having been players for so long but in the same breath it is a fact of life that everything runs its course and the ability to spot that and react is one of Sir Alex’s strengths.
In the same interview in which he spoke about Neville and Butt he also said,
“Making decisions is what I’ve always been good at.
“I can make quick decisions. I’ve been lucky that way.
“Some people can’t make a decision but in management you have to be able to make decisions”
And the decision to let them both go having already seen Neville, Scholes and van der Sar retire is a big decision but one that Sir Alex will have thought deeply about having faced a similar situation in 1995 when we lost a plethora of talent in Ince, Kanchelskis and Hughes.
Whilst we have lost a number of these player via retirement and in 1995 these players were sold the idea remains teams work in cycles; people go out of the team as people come in so there should be no ‘shock’ over how many people have left.
In this instance fresh faces have been brought in and players already in the squad will be given a greater role in the team to compensate with the departures. Of course there will be concerns over the quality of the replacements that have been brought in but this is natural too, the same happened in 1995 and it spawned the infamous ‘You don’t win anything with kids’ quote from Alan Hansen.
Of course I don’t need to tell you how that panned out!
Players come and go, hopefully in 15/20 years we will be worrying about how our team will cope when Smalling, Jones, De Gea, Pogba, Morrison etc retire.
By then I hope we will have transfer targets in mind as well as more talented youngsters that can come in and do what will hopefully be considered an unenviable job.