When the news broke on June 11th 2009 that Manchester United had accepted a world record offer for Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid, there was a feeling of great sadness amongst United fans, despite the clear inevitability of it all.
It was the end of what had been a glorious chapter for the club and Sir Alex, who had signed this skinny little teenager from Sporting Lisbon six years previously. What they created was a footballing genius, who will go down as one of the game’s greatest ever.
As far as experiments go, Manchester United’s decision to appoint David Moyes last summer was as close to an unmitigated disaster as it gets. In fact, by the time Moyes was unceremoniously relieved of his duties, things had gone beyond the point of no return and drastic action was required.
Away from heat maps and statistics recording pass completion rates, football remains an extremely simple game. One in which, crucially, quality always makes the difference, on and off the pitch, particularly over the course of a season. Just as it’s impossible to fathom Tom Cleverley performing better than Yaya Toure over 38 games or Ashley Young delivering more assists than Arjen Robben, it’s naive to expect a decent manager to perform like a world class one.
It seems that United’s hierarchy simply can not bring themselves to make a swift decision, regardless of it being needed to seal a transfer or to secure David Moyes’ successor. Yesterday it looked as if it was only matter of days before Louis Van Gaal was unveiled as the new Manchester United manager, but different reports today suggest the Dutchman might no longer be the frontrunner to replace Moyes.
The main issue, it seems, is that Van Gaal is determined to bring a five-man coaching staff with him at Old Trafford, including former Ajax, AC Milan and Barcelona striker Patrick Kluivert and former Ajax captain Danny Blind, which would see Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes, Phil Neville excluded from the coaching set-up.
Much has been said since the turn of the year in regards to who Manchester United are going to target this summer transfer window. Everyone seems to have an opinion on who United require but perhaps the more pertinent question should be: who can they acquire?
I don’t buy into the theory that the club won’t be able to attract their targets simply because we can’t offer European football for a year. In this modern day game, money very much talks, so should you offer enough, they will come. The main stumbling block is more likely to be whether these players can see United rising again.
Ryan Giggs expects Manchester United to bounce back immediately and return to fight for the title next season, after a dismal campaign has seen them finish outside the top four for the first time in Premier League history and which will likely lead to a first season without European football for the first time since the 1981-82 season.
Giggs was named interim manager in the wake of David Moyes’ sacking and got his managerial career off to a winning start, as United demolished Norwich 4-0 on Saturday, playing with a verve and tempo they had almost never shown this season.
When we think of club legend Roy Keane, there are 3 things that immediately come to mind. A leader, a fighter and a tough tackler. The man, in the middle of the park was immense and became one of the most influential players on the pitch, so can 19 year old youth starlet, Ben Pearson follow in his footsteps at Manchester United.
He along side Paul Scholes, formed one of the best midfield partnerships the Premiership has ever seen. Scholes was the man who ran the show using his feet from the midfield. His spectacular passing, grace and composure on the ball is unrivaled by any player to wear a Red Shirt in recent memory.
Well this is all a bit odd isn’t it? I ‘d almost forgotten what it’s like to wake up on a Sunday morning, still delighted with the events of United’s match the previous day.
What a difference a week makes.
There is a part of me that thinks that perhaps it would be wrong to get too carried away. Let’s not forget that the Moyes era began with a classy 1-4 win at Swansea, but there was something different yesterday. You could sense the nerves through the players early on as the habit of useless possession continued to plague the side. But, once Rooney buried his penalty, there was almost a swagger to it all.
After a week he himself described as “a whirlwind”, Ryan Giggs took charge of his first game as Manchester United interim manager, following the sacking of David Moyes on Tuesday, and got his managerial career off to the best of starts, as United swept Norwich aside with a convincing 4-0 win.
While the Canaries might not have been the toughest of tests for Giggs’ team (admittedly, that has a wonderful ring to it), there were some positives signs after a season of doom and gloom. Here’s five talking points from Saturday.