Friday, April 24, 2009

What About Manchester United`s Future

Without doubt, Manchester United is one of the most exciting and consistent football teams ever to grace the turf.

With two titles already under their belts this season, there is still the potential to make that in to four, with the Premiership and European Champion`s League titles still to play for.

True, at times they`ve looked jaded, a result of playing so many matches during the season. And, to remain successful United will have to continue to bring good young players through the system, and probably to enter the transfer market when the window opens at the end of the season.

Sir Alex Ferguson will certainly be at the club next year, but what after that? He`s the most successful manager of all time. Whenever he does retire, his successor has a tall order to keep the club at the level we`ve seen over the past decade.

And, what about the tried and trusted players who have served Manchester United so magnificently over the years? Scholes, Beckham, Giggs, Butt and the Neville brothers were synonymous with the United success of much of the 1990`s. Of those, only Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, and Ryan Giggs remain. When outfield players reach their mid-30`s in football most are generally in the final part of their playing days, and contracts tend to be given on just a year-by-year basis.

Paul Scholes recently played his 600th game for the Reds against Portsmouth. Scholes is a `players player`- his talent recognized by other players, managers, and fans alike. Giggs now tends to come on as substitute (a very good substitute at that), and Gary Neville has been beset by injuries since last season, and is struggling to find his old form.

Michael Carrick is reliable in midfield, Patrice Evra at left back, and Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic as centre halfs are rock-like in defence. Following his knee surgery in November 2008, Owen Hargreaves should be back next season. Edwin van der Sar has another season left on his contract, though Ben Foster is a good goalkeeper, a future England keeper many reckon.

The rumours surrounding the `will he/won`t he` transfer to Real Madrid of Cristiano Ronaldo persist. And as good as Fletcher, Nani, Ji-Sung Park, and Anderson are, none of them have yet shone as consistently great players.

If Ronaldo does leave, United won`t only lose a midfield player, they`ll lose a striker too, who`s one of the best goal scorers there is. And with Carlos Tevez seemingly still undecided about his future at Old Trafford, the strike force of the experienced Berbatov and Rooney may not be enough. Having said that of course, youngsters such as the Da Silva twins, Jonny Evans, Darron Gibson, Danny Welbeck and the very confident Federico Macheda are all excellent future prospects for Manchester United.

The problem may be the gap that could be created by the loss of the current experienced-but getting on in years-senior players, and the youngsters who are coming along. Fergie hasn`t let the club down thus far. Where do United go from here? Hopefully onward and upwards, but only time will tell.


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