Alex Ferguson and Manchester United need more than a decorator: major reconstruction by a builder and a plasterer is required

April 14, 2010

As Manchester United’s grip as supremos of the Premiership weakens, it has become very apparent in recent weeks that they are a declining force and have been for some time.

Wayne RooneyIt might be premature to be a Prophet of Doom, but the fact of the matter is that Alex Ferguson and Manchester United have papered over the cracks for a couple of seasons now. They no longer need a decorator, but a plasterer if not a builder!! The reality is that the team has been overly dependant on the goals and talent of Christiano Ronaldo in previous seasons, and Wayne Rooney during the current campaign. Take these two alpha players out of the equation, and what you are left with is core of very good players  who have been happy to play second fiddle, but do not seem capable of conducting the orchestra!!

Father Time is inevitably catching up with Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, who have been great players and even greater servants of Ryan Giggsthe club. Inevitably with a combined age of bordering on eighty, they are looking leggy and only capable of playing a cameo role. Strangely enough the third veteran in the Holy Trinity, Gary Neville, seems to be rejuvenated this season, pushing forward and crossing into the box with exquisite accuracy. However the reason for his “second wind” is probably that he was sidelined with an injury for the best part of two seasons.

It’s not all doom and gloom. Manchester United have some very solid, competent players: Van der Saar, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra, Valencia, Nani and Fletcher. They also have young players of great potential, such as Darren Gibson and Johnny Evans. But they are players for the future. The problem lies in the midfield, where the players brought in to replace Roy Keane, have not delivered. Michael Carrick, a fine passer of the ball, flatters to deceive and Owen Hargreaves has barely donned the scarlet shirt during an injury prone two year period.

Roy KeaneFor most of Alex Ferguson’s twenty four year tenure, United have always had a World Class midfield enforcer: first Bryan Robson and then Roy Keane. These two were the complete players – natural leaders, who could tackle, win the ball, pass it and move from box to box chipping in with their fair share of goals. Admittedly these are rare gems in every generation, but Ferguson needs to excavate another gem and very quickly. Darren Fletcher is very nearly that player, but just falls short.

The other shortcoming is in attack. In Wayne Rooney’s absence, Dimitar Berbatov lacks the strength of character, presence and Carlos Tevezenergy to make an impact up front. He is frustratingly lethargic and seemingly disinterested. Other than “The Bionic Man”, few could match Rooney’s prodigious energy levels, stamina and desire, but Berbatov could at least make an effort!! Why on earth did Ferguson release Carlos Tevez at the end of last season? He was the one player that could mirror Wayne Rooney for desire, drive and energy and goals.

The writing was on the wall in last year’s Champions League Final, where Manchester United were outplayed and out thought. Sure Barcelona are the best team in the world, but Ferguson did not heed the warning. It was clear then that United required  a midfield general, and that if Tevez were to leave, he would need to be replaced. Neither happened, and as a result in Rooney’s absence, United wilted and lost to a good Bayern Munich team. Good, but not great like Barcelona!!  In football, as in life, if you don’t move forward, you go backwards…….

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