Posted by: Kaushik | May 5, 2007

What must Manchester United do?

I write this after United defeated City in a fairly ill-tempered derby but not as violent as some of the previous ones helped in no small measure by the absence of Joey Barton who is set to face police charges for his brutal assault on Ousmane Dabo. But aside from that, this post will try and focus on what United should do next. They’ve an extrememly good chance to clinch the league, a victory which they thoroughly deserve because they’ve played an attractive brand of football.

Defeat at the San Siro was a big blow with United practically mauled by the Rossoneri and they did not look like scoring at all. I’m a closet Milan supporter and I’ve followed them over the years as do most neutrals who generally like to watch attractive displays of football. Milan’s win brought back memories of the 2005 win over United in the 2nd round of the Champions League. Milan won both games in the 2nd round and in my eyes there were 3 people who really made the difference then. Seedorf of course, Rui Costa and Hernan Crespo. But the Milan United first legs in both 2005 and 2007 was a game for neutrals to be enjoyed. Slick passing and super ball movement pretty much summed up those games and both games were stunning to watch just for the silky skills on display.

But back to the question of this blog, where do United go from here? Defeat in Europe will be a bitter pill to swallow, but tiredness despite being an excuse is not the real reason. Cristiano Ronaldo chose to go anonymous at the San Siro while the ages of Giggs and Scholes, both 32 and 33 is starting to show. Michael Carrick is yet to show that his stunning performance against Roma was more than just a flash in the park. United miss a midfield marshal and Roy Keane did a super job for the better part of the 12 years that he was there. Owen Hargreaves is all set to enter United next year but he will never be the aggressive, heart-on-sleeve figure that Keano was and I’m waiting to be proved wrong. United also need a good right back to eventually replace Gary Neville who can’t be faulted for effort and years of dedication. But most of all, after Ruud van Nistelrooy’s departure, the striking department has seen a void of sorts. Despite Rooney and Ronaldo sharing 45 odd goals between them and Louis Saha looking in ominous form earlier on, there is still  a need for a class striker. Carlos Tevez, a much publicised United fan could be an option with a $20 million escape clause in his contract(if he has one). I don’t believe Fernando Torres would move to United. Two more names are being tipped as potential United strikers. Michael Owen and Dimitar Berbatov. I’ve seen Berbatov and he’s pretty damn good and he turned down United for Tottenham and it remains to be seen whether he will still be there come the start of next season. Michael Owen on the other hand has had a tough time with injuries and did not get a chance to shine at Real Madrid being kept out by the coaches even though scoring frequently while coming on as a substitute. I would love to see him come to United. Despite protestations of him ageing and the like, when both Rooney and he have been fit, they’ve formed an entertaining partnership up front for England. Another important requirement would be to find a world-class goalkeeper and it has been quite difficult to fill Schmeichel’s void. Van der Sar is a terrific goal keeper but 37 now I believe. Kuszcak seems like a decent replacement while Ben Foster has kept well at Watford despite a few horrendous howlers. United have had a history of buying bad goalkeepers. (Massimo Taibi & Mark Bosnich anyone?) But the question is where do we get great defenders? I mean no point trying to get the Italians. Alessandro Nesta packed a $50 million offer from Chelsea and the aftermath of the 2006 Calcio scandal was the best time to sign a defender. Imagine if United had gotten their hands on Gianluca Zambrotta who’s incidentally off to Milan next year supposedly.Laurent Blanc was bought a few years ago after his sell-by date. Jaap Stam had a row with Ferguson and had to push off. But we now have a pretty good central defensive pairing in Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand. When Vidic entered United, I was wondering where the hell he came from but he’s actually grown better since his partnership with Rio Ferdinand. He’s gotten good enough to attract a 9.8 million $ bid from Juventus which was promptly turned down. Patrice Evra is also blossoming save his howler against Milan in the first leg but there is a lot of renewed hope from this United team.

Alex Ferguson has pulled another rabbit of the hat and this is possibly his third attempt at rebuilding his squad. His first included the generation of Hughes, Mcclair, Ince, Pallister and Keane. Then came the Neville brothers, Beckham, Giggs, Scholes, Butt and now come the current crop. Being in England this season has been an extremely interesting one with action coming thick and fast in the Premier League.

I’ll save another post for the feelings that come with being a sports fan. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t crushed by United’s disappointments over the previous years, but as you grow older, one hopes you’re able to handle disappointment better and I can say I have. I just hope United succeed soon in Europe again, 2 European cups is a travesty for a team of their pedigree. I hope beautiful football continues to be their legacy.

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Responses

  1. Lovely post, Kausha, truly full of the enjoyable. However, Fernando Torres! I’ve only seen him play twice this season and he has been so mind-numbingly BAD that I wouldn’t wish him on anyone. I’m really glad Milan didn’t get him at the start of the season like they wanted (although they did go and buy Oliviera, who has done basically squat over the last year…).

    I think Roo-Ron should do for United, actually, as they grow over the years. Everyone says Arsenal is a young team but United’s in something of a transition phase themselves. Saha will be super if he gets to exploit his pace to achieve something other than wide shots.

    Also, ahha, Nesta at 50 million from Chelsea. It’d have ended in slaps for Jose. So hot! 🙂

  2. Gary has just lifted the premier league title as captain….
    i really don’t know what to say about that.
    hoo boy, am i going to enjoy watching man utd vs chelsea to see them lift the trophy at stamford bridge! bliss..

  3. @ Roswitha:

    Thanks. I only mentioned Torres because his name has been doing the rounds. Saha might wind his way to Tottenham as part of a cash+swap deal for Berbatov.

    @ Menon: I think United are to be presented the title at Old Trafford on the last day of the season.

  4. damn….


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