On Monday, it’ll be a year since Sir Alex Ferguson took charge of his last ever game at Old Trafford but the way things have unfolded this season one’d be forgiven for thinking that 10 years have passed by since that rainy May afternoon. United’s catastrophic season simply refuses to end, the feel good factor generated by David Moyes’ sacking and Ryan Giggs’ first game in charge evaporated in less than a week, as United were their usual inept selves on Saturday.
The defeat against Sunderland underlined that while appointing a world class manager is crucial, so is securing world class players in the upcoming transfer window if United are to challenge for trophies again in the foreseeable future, for most members of the current squad simply aren’t good enough.
Not for the first time since leaving Old Trafford, Paul Pogba has had bitter words for Manchester United, with the Juventus midfielder accusing his former club of disrespecting him and wanting to get rid of him.
Pogba has claimed he was sidelined and marginalised, after he was told to train alone and he insists he has absolutely no regrets about leaving Old Trafford for Juventus in July 2012. It’s hard to fathom how the Frenchman could have any regrets at all about his decision, given that since joining the Serie A giants he’s gone on to win a consecutive league title, with a second on the way, and has developed into one of the best midfielders in Europe.
Over the last two weeks, football has been somewhat of an afterthought at United, with all the attention focused on David Moyes’ successor who, presumably, will be unveiled next week and is extremely likely to be speaking Dutch.
Football, of course, still has a role to play in this most endless, disappointing and beleaguered of seasons, whose finishing line seems destined to remain something blurry on the horizon. Good as it would be to draw a line on this season, after 10 months of dross and disappointment the last seven days have provided a welcome relief, with Ryan Giggs making his managerial debut in style, Liverpool losing the initiative in the title race and John Terry’s tears filling our TV screens yet again.
Having spent the last two weeks surrounded by the same uncertainty that characterised last summer’s pursuit of a world class midfielder, United look to have finally taken a step forward in their quest to appoint David Moyes’ successor and could unveil Louis Van Gaal as their new manager as early as next week.
Reports published last night by different sources, including the Mirror and the Telegraph, suggest the Dutchman has agreed terms with Manchester United and will sign a two-year deal with the option to extend his contract for a further 12 months.
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.