As Barcelona humbled a defiant but ultimately poor Man Utd side at Wembley, the euphoria of a record-equalling 19th domestic title seem to vanish completely.
Despite reclaiming the PL title in what was, for me at least, one of our most impressive seasons under Fergie as he got criticised left, right and centre about how ordinary his side were, there was a sense of failure. What followed was the realisation that we need to up our game in order to compete with the likes of Barcelona.
Barcelona was now the standard to aspire to.
At first, it was a mere reaction to a humiliating defeat, one of defiance and determination to improve. It was about being positive. Then, it seemed like people started assuming that only Barcelona were in our way towards world domination. We started talking about how to counter Barcelona (apparently, a tough tackling midfield was all we needed…). We assumed that, come May next year, we will have to think about how to beat the Spanish club at the Allianz Arena. Overcoming Barcelona was now Fergie’s last challenge before he retires from football. What I hate about all this talk of usurping Barca is that we seem to be thinking that we are guaranteed a chance to do so in the big final next year. One or two mega signings will instantly mean that we will beat Barca. Do we really think that we are the lone rival of Barcelona, fighting for the world title?
Nothing could be further from reality. It is true that we were the second best team in Europe last season and deservedly so. We did not annihilate Chelsea and Arsenal to the PL title though. We are not light years ahead of the chasing pack in the PL. Preparations (for club and for fans) for next season should not focus on Barcelona. They are a phenomenal team. There is no way we can just add 1-2 players and suddenly be in a position to beat them.
Anyone can beat anyone in football but Barcelona, for me, were unbeatable at Wembley. We could argue all day about tactics. The fact of the matter is that Barcelona were the overwhelmingly superior team and it is going to be like that for some time. What we need to focus on instead is making sure we actually get to the point where we have the privilege to challenge them again. As Fergie recently said about Barca:
“We will try to move on and get above them, but the target is to be in Munich in May next year and only then, if it’s Barca again, can we assess how we are able to cope with that.”
We should not be blinded by the ambition of capturing the European crown. What we need to do is make sure we don’t get overrun at home. Next season, Chelsea and Arsenal will be baying for blood. We haven’t cracked the league. They will come at us and they will be determined as ever so don’t underestimate them.
Apart from those two, I think Liverpool and Manchester City will also be threats. It is still a big ask for Liverpool although they are fast improving their squad and will be hungry for a CL place at least. Man City, on the other hand, are title contenders in my opinion. You don’t need to love them to realise that they have a fantastic team. Class goalkeeper, class defence containing the fantastic Kompany, class midfield (Silva in particular) and with Tevez a great striking force to which they will probably add the excellent Aguero.
The priority next season is undoubtedly the league and in my book, we already have the squad to do it and we have to be the favourites at the start of the season. Sneijder could come and add some glamour to our unfairly maligned midfield. But we already have the weapons in our arsenal to cope with the PL. We just need to make sure we deliver.
Let’s try to win the PL for a record-setting 20th time and then we will see if we can think about Barcelona.
good point i think its mainly the fans that are baying for barca blood the manager and players know what it takes to win a league championship with or without new signings we,ll have a good chance,if you look at our main rivals chelsea who finished second last year have experience but with a new young manager that never managed at this level even though he knows the english game it might take them time to get going. i have a bad feeling torres is gonna be unstopable next season his form left him last season but love him or HATE him he is a class striker and they have a strong squad and with additions will be stronger we,ll just see if time will be afforded to their new manager if things don,t go well for them at the start of the season,aresnel we,ll have to see if wengner who for me seems defensively naive and looks like he got lucky by inheriting george grahams strong defence to build his winning teams on, actually signs some decent defenders which would dramatically change that weak spot in there make up,then theres city we,ll have to see what they do this tranfer window if tevez leaves they,ll have a void that none of their current strikers can fill so any new signings will have to hit the ground running another problem for them is the same that befalls a club based on the whimsical notions of a billionaire owner if they have a bad start will mancini last the season,liverpool for me they could surprise everyone next year they will certainly improve and will play football the right way which will be a welcome change to everyone,i also think we,ll play some great stuff again this season young could prove a great signing theres youth coming through and fergies raring to go i can,t wait for the season to begin ,that was a rant and a half one more thing gigg,s ball into owen agaist the sounders what a ball if we did get an experenced defencive midfielder to push the likes of giggs and anderson up the pitch it would be a big help theres youth coming through pogba seems like one for the future but until then scott parker would be a great signing strange one i know but would give us serious bite something we could do with in away league games
good talk, you actually have to build a strong team to challenge the first four in epl, mancity and chelsea will pose more treat as before. my advice to ferguson is that, he should forget about barca because man utd has no team to defeat an organisation that claims according to their logo, ” more than a club” the arrival of sanchez and the expectation of fabregas will see barca dominating the world easily.