With the league title all but assured to be heading somewhere other than Old Trafford for only the second time in the last six years, it’s not time to panic but nor is it time for complacency.
United’s reliance on the ageing Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs highlight the need for strengthening the midfield Then there’s the imminent departure of Dimitar Berbatov, the startling loss of form of Chicharito, plus the obvious need for some form of competition/understudy for Patrice Evra which cannot be ignored. Oh and did I mention the uncertainty surrounding Darren Fletcher’s future, or Tom Cleverley’s ability to play a full season?
United may finish this season with a points total nine higher than 2010/11 when we actually lifted the title, but let’s face facts, trophyless seasons and ones in which we see our ‘noisy neighbours’ lift their first ever Premier League crown are hardly a success.
There’s work to be done this Summer and as Roy Keane noted recently its the ‘team not the squad’ United need to strengthen.
Here’s five players that Sir Alex Ferguson should pursue with vigour as soon as the season ends to help deliver title number 20 before the Bluenoses reach number three.
Leighton Baines. The Everton left back can offer Patrice Evra a much-needed understudy as it’s obvious United are in serious trouble should our skipper get injured especially with Fabio off on a season long loan. The former Wigan man has excelled at Goodison and is more than adept at getting forward in the way most United full back’s are expected to. With Everton seemingly having a constant garage sale, it shouldn’t take a King’s ransom to prize Baines away from the blue half of Merseyside. Price £7 million.
Iker Muniain. Dubbed the ‘Spanish Messi’ due to his diminutive size and willingness to run at defenders, the Athletico Bilbao winger was part of the side that quite frankly tore United a new one in the Europa League. With a full Spanish cap under his belt it wont be long before the nineteen year old starts adding a few zeros to his price should he make more appearances for the national side. With Paul Pogba’s boyhood heroes Juventus sniffing around, United may need to move quickly although a £29.5 million price tag may put the Glazers off, if we want to challenge on more than one front next season, it’s time to pay up. Price £29.5 million.
Cheick Tiote. Cue lots of “I stopped reading at Tiote” comments as most people will no doubt think I’m off my tiny little mind with this suggestion but let’s ask ourselves one simple question: “who is United’s ball winner in the middle of the park?” Darren Fletcher? Ji Sung Park? Anderson?! Exactly, United’s midfield is comprised of pass master, quarerback types rather than grafters willing to go and get hold of the ball. Tiote is just the type of no nonsense nasty little bugger who can get in people’s faces and do the old fashioned “get hold of the ball and give it to a more skillful player” job that used to exist at Old Trafford. Newcastle have benefitted enormously from having the Ivorian doing the donkey work in the middle of the park and so could United. Price £11 million.
Raúl. When I first heard the suggestion that a 34 year-old striker could come to Old Trafford and make a difference I scoffed with the same arrogance that made me doubt Henrik Larrsson was a good idea at the time. United woud like to win the Champions League yes? Then why not sign the competitions greatest ever goal scorer? Oh but he’s past it. Well someone should tell the Real Madrid legend that then as he’s scored over twenty goals this season for Schalke. I’m not suggesting playing him week in week out against the likes of Stoke and Fulham, but why not use his talents in the cup competitions and as another option in some of the bigger league games? Price Free transfer.
Stéphane Sessegnon. I realise he may not exactly fill the hearts of many Reds with inspiration but let’s face some facts, if as I’m suggesting United buy all the other players on this list, then we aren’t going to be able to spend £40-50 million on an attacking midfielder, there simply isn’t the money available. Therefore it’s time to look at what we can afford and who can do a job and Sessegnon fits the bill. He’s been one of the few bright spots in a pretty poor season for the Mackems, has an eye for goal – one in three ratio this season- and plays with the sort of energy that is needed at Old Trafford. Should Scholes and Giggs’s appearances be limited next season, then we simply cannot rely on Tom Cleverley to be our main attacking midfield option, such is the nature of his injury record. Sessegnon may not be Luka Modric but that may not be such a bad thing as he’s actually more consistent than his overpriced North London counterpart. Price £10 million.
There you have it for £57 million United can have an Evra understudy, a proven European goalscorer, a superstar youngster, and two midfielders capable of playing against the Premiership’s best. I may be oversimplifying the issue but at a time when it’s obvious we haven’t got the billions others have, less than £60 million for five players who would improve our side, hardly seems like a bad investment.
Am I spouting the usual dribble I’m more than renowned for or is there a semblance of sanity in my musings? Answers on a brick through the usual window please.
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