Ferguson: Legacy or fallacy?
Has David Moyes been handed a poison chalice?
The messiah has departed and his gospel is that United have never been stronger; apparently David Moyes has inherited a squad of world beaters who are only going to get better and better. It must be true because the greatest manager British football has ever seen keeps telling us so, but is Fergie pulling off a smoke screen of Derren Brown proportions? Is it possible that rather than the Holy Grail David Moyes has been handed a poison chalice, whereas the new Chelsea manager, Pellegrino and Guardiola have been handed far better deals.
Fergie likes to give the impression that he has retired during a golden period of success at Old Trafford, with a young finished squad capable of ruling the roost for years to come, but just how successful have United been in the past couple of years? The reality is that this year’s title is the only piece of silverware in the cabinet, the European campaign was embarrassing last year and they failed to get past the quarter final stage this year. Apart from a weak Premier title they haven’t come close to winning a trophy this year, talk of another historic treble seems a long way off now. You could argue they were not even the best team in England this year; in five meeting with Chelsea they won once and that was courtesy of an obvious offside goal and a controversial red card for Torres.
Just how difficult was it for Fergie to win the title this year when he only had two realistic challengers. Manchester City found the burden of being reigning champions too heavy a load to bare and after the board’s intransigence in the transfer market City only ended up stronger in areas where they were already strong. Chelsea are a young team in transition and had the burden of being European champions to contend with; it’s incredibly difficult to win the Premiership when you know you will be playing in excess of sixty games in a season with a young squad. Sending so many fringe players out on loan was further evidence that the club were planning for the future rather than the present.
Fergie on the other hand bolstered his squad with the marquee signing of Van Persie and Borusssia’s midfield dynamo Shinji Kagawa; factor in Alex Buttner and Nick Alexander and it wasn’t difficult to see who had the best prepared squad to win this year’s title. I fully expected United to win the title once the transfer market closed at the end of August, the medical staff had an easy season, which also helped but next season it could be a completely different story.
It appears that Arsene Wenger has finally woken up from his eight year hibernation and realised that Alan Hanson got it partly right, you don’t win anything with kids alone; it’s a man’s game. The fans and Usmanov are becoming louder than Fergie’s noisy neighbours and in the wake of a new maga sponsorship deal from Puma expect Wenger to do a good impression of a woman let loose in a shoe shop having been given her first credit card for many a year.
It’s hard to believe that the City board will not have learnt from last year’s mistakes and they will be eager to please their new manager. It’s also hard to believe that Silva, Aguerro and Tevez will be so ineffective again next season.
Chelsea will be stronger next year, none of their key players from this season look like leaving or retiring and with a year’s experience in the Premier Hazard and Oscar can improve again on impressive first seasons. The squad looks to have a nice balance between youth and experience for next year and the Europa Cup win will instil a winning mentality in the youngsters. Lukaku has looked hugely impressive; Chalobah and McEachran will add depth to the squad after impressing on loan. Kevin De Bruyne is being courted by Borussia, which is testament to the success of his loan and Dortmund would prefer Lewandowski to go to Chelsea. It’s looking good down at SW6 for the return of the prodigal son.
So, just how good is United’s best ever squad. Scholes has retired, Giggs, Ferdinand and Evra are all well past their best and the other defensive lynchpin Vidic will be 33 next year and is looking increasingly injury prone, the outstanding Carrick is no spring chicken.
There is undoubted potential at the theatre of Dreams. Rafael, Smalling, Jones, Buttner, Cleverley, Powell, Kagawa and Wellbeck. Yet how many of those players advanced their careers this season? Rafael, showed his temperament is still an issue in the Chelsea game, Smalling and Jones had injury interrupted seasons; Cleverley faded badly in the 2nd half of the season and Kagawa was disappointing by his own admission. Wellbeck scored two goals all season and Nick Powell disappeared from view. It was the established stars and Van Persie’s goals that won United the title, aided by cameos from the youngsters. Can those youngsters be trusted to fill the boots of Giggs and Scholes, has Carrick got the consistency to match his outstanding season without the influence of Giggs, Scholes and possibly Rooney? United will no doubt spend big again and the signings of Baines and Fellaini (and to a lesser degree Jagielka) would certainly address issues that need to be addessed.
The poor performance of the English teams in this year’s Champion’s league is a fair reflection of the strength of the Premiership at the moment. This is probably the weakest Premiership for a long time; could any supporter from the big 4 put their hand on their heart and say they fancy their chances of winning the cup with the big ears next year?
Pep Guardiola has played a blinder. He has inherited the best team in Europe and has a war chest to improve it further. Jupp Heinkes has left him a true legacy, whereas Moyes will be expected to win trophies immediately and play attractive football with a team that is will be more transitional than any other United team in recent years without the bedrock of twenty first century Man United, Scholes, Giggs and Ferdinand missing or on the periphery. Then there is the disillusioned Wayne Rooney and Chicarito, who has finally tired of his supporting role; factor in the misfiring Valencia and Young and you wonder just how good a squad Moyes has inherited. Fergie’s assertions that Moyes has inherited a well balanced, outstanding squad suddenly seems to be stretching the truth a bit.
Fergie wants to be remembered as the man who left United on a high and with a squad to rule for years, the reality is that in the past two seasons United have won a poor premier, have disappointed in Europe and the linchpins of the last decade have retired. Furthermore, Moyes doesn’t instil the fear factor into referees in the way that Ferguson did.
The interesting thing is that the media and the public have fallen for Fergie’s Derren Brown act and Moyes activity in the transfer market will be vital to United’s immediate success, because I would be very surprised if the current United squad is capable of winning a stronger Premiership next year.
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