Thoughts of a Manchester United season ticket holder
Thursday, 22 July 2010
Young Guns Go For It! Could This Be Fergie's Greatest Achievement?
So on one hand Manchester United are being linked will all and sundry as usual, and on the other Sir Alex is saying he is not going to sign anyone...as usual. You will be used to this transfer window role play by now if you are a die hard.
So on this tour of our American owners homelands, it's the normal pre-season chance for many of the kids and reserve players..all competing for a coverted place in the Red Devils side..but this all feels a tad slightly different at the minute.
One of the reasons I say that is because it really does feel like we are now the poor man of English football. Not really in the cash sense of the word. But we know now that if a decent player comes up, then City will nab them..even if it's just to use them to mow the Eastlands pitch rather than play the game. David Silva could well become the worlds most famous groundsman in the next twelve months! The allure of United will always be there for potential targets, but it feels that we have to search that bit more harder now for our new blood, or pray that neither City, Madrid or Barca want any of them...'Biggest Club In The World'?? Maybe in fanbase terms..but most of these players are businessmen and it's really not a time to be signing contracts to a club kicking on with a billion pounds worth of debt.
But I am totally cool with that when it comes to player recruitment. If we cant sign the £30 million plus players in world football then so what? Some of the clubs greatest players have cost peanuts from this last generation. A paltry million pounds for Cantona in the 90s. Cole, Yorke, Sheringham and Solskjaer were all great business. Denis Irwin cost peanuts..as did Patrice Evra. And even Vidic and Ronaldo were relatively cheap. Yes, there has been big signings and also some mistakes along the way..Juan Veron cost a small fortune, but the success of Rio and Rooney as big money signings offsets that. Berba is yet to justify his fee, but could a successful first season by (3 months ago) an unknown Mexican supplement the goal tally we need for success? United never do things the easy way.
Which leads me on to the youth at the club..
The primary reason why things feel different this pre-season, is we are seeing a crop of young players who are very much nearly men. Danny Welbeck looks to have become physically stronger over the course of the summer as his body matures. I remember Fergie saying the shock he previously had with both OShea and Fletcher, when they left at the end of the season as kids (a few years back) and returned at pre-season like physical monsters! That's how I see Welbeck. Technically he still has to improve. But if he is powerful and mobile, he will get more chances.
Also off the production line on this tour are Cleverley, Kiko, Rafael, Fabio, DeLaet, and Corry Evans. Add to that the relatively young pros like Obertan, Mame Diouf, Gibson (no longer one of the kids) and Jonny Evans (positively a senior now!) then you start to see the skeleton frame of a fantastic young side..one which Arsenal would love to produce, but in no way do they currently have that kind of depth of quality, and range of ability. I didn't even mention Smalling then..lets wait and see with him. And there is the very exciting prospect of Paul Pogba, an 17 year old who could have the world at his feet very soon. A Michael Essien/Patrick Viera type player who also scores goals...his time will come soon. Davide Petrucci is also an immensely talented young man who could become a United dynamo!
For me Cleverley is the wild card this year. We don't quite have a player like him in the squad. He had a phenomenal season in the Championship last year as Watford's player of the year and brings a scurrying Gordon Strachan like quality to our modern day midfield. He has got the tricks in his feet, and the drive and desire to succeed, and I think he will surprise a few opposition teams this year if given the chance. In fact...could he be that creative midfielder that we've been begging Fergie to buy??
I also expect the DaSilvas to play alot more this year, barring injury. They are without doubt in my mind the future of United's full back positions...Philipp Lahm? Who the hell needs him! Despite the odd error, at 20 years old I have rarely seen such exciting talents for United in these two positions. They are brave as lions and are totally progressive in their play...something we demand at the club. I trust Fergie to turn them into top class players very soon.
On the other hand, Kiko and Obertan are part genius, part enigmas. Neither has really had a run in the first team, and it is obvious they will need football this year. Do you keep them and break them in slowly? Or is a loan the best option. I know for sure that if both only feature in a dozen or so matches this season that their progress...and their confidence...will be thoroughly stunted.
So I'm quietly optimistic about 2010/11. Every media source is writing us off, and all I'm waiting for now is for Alan Hansen to say "Ye cannae win anything with kids" These lads are progressing well. With the guidance of some brilliant senior footballers at the club, and maybe then add the spark of a Nani, or a Valencia, or even an Anderson..then I think we have every chance of winning silverware this season.
So as Manchester City collect a fantasy league squad of players to fulfill an ambition that they dared not even dreamed before the oil money came in, it will give us immense pleasure to put them in their place with a bunch of old guys and a collection of kids. It would surely be one of Fergie's greatest achievements..and I bet he can smell blood right now.
Manchester United fan since the age of 9 when he saw Norman Whiteside curl the ball into a Wembley goal in the dying minutes.
He is an Old Trafford season ticket holder in the North Stand Tier 3...and cried tears of joy, on his knees with the many in Moscow.
Rob is a contributing author/editor at Man Utd blogzine 'The Faithful'