Date:16th March 2011 at 7:47pm
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Ravel Morrison kisses badge

Could next season be 95-96 all over again?

This season almost any player who’s put in a decent performance has been linked with Manchester United.

The list of players deemed ‘destined’ to come to Old Trafford in the Summer is so long, that if it were true United could fill a 25 man squad two times over.

Just looking at the goalkeepers being linked with United gives us some idea of how whenever a football writer is short of copy, making up a move to the Theatre of Dreams seems the easiest thing to do.
Goalkeepers linked with a move to United have been –deep breath now- Manuel Neuer, Pepe Reina, David De Gea, Gianluigi Buffon, Igor Akinfeev, Maarten Stekelenburg, Diego Lopez, Hugo Lloris and John Burridge- okay I made that last one up.

If Sir Alex Ferguson was planning to try out a new revolutionary tactic of having eight goalkeepers as some form of defensive unit, then that assortment of stoppers would be perfect, but he aint so they’re not.

It’s obvious United could do with another keeper as with Van Der Sar’s imminent retirement and Anders Lindegaard’s relative inexperience, surely Ferguson will be looking for a new number one.

Defensively United are arguably the strongest they’ve been in in recent memory – with Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, John O’Shea, Wes Brown, Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling, Patrice Evra, Rafael and Fabio Da Silva giving Sir Alex plenty of quality options. The frustration at the lack of games Ferdinand has managed has been offset slightly by how well Smalling’s done since he arrived at the club.

When it comes to strikers, Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov, Chicharito are a formidable trio with Danny Welbeck and Kiko Macheda also available if Ferguson’s needs them, spending millions on a striker would be a pretty pointless endeavour.

It’s in the midfield department that the smart money’s on Ferguson spending and spending big.

Luka Modric, Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, Jack Rodwell, Gareth Bale, Wesley Sneijder, Beram Kayal, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Eden Hazard, Bastien Schweinsteiger, Ashley Young, Jeremy Menez and Marek Hamsik are just some of the names that it’s been claimed will be wearing the red of United next season.

While I’ve advocated the signing of Charlie Adam, as a dead ball specialist and someone with the ability to spread the play, I’m not sure that United really need to start throwing money around.

There are three reasons I’m beginning to think United may not need to ‘splash the cash’ quite as much as some would suggest. The three reasons are simple: Ravel Morrison, Paul Pogba and Tom Cleverley.

In that trio of United have three players who have made anyone that’s seen them bristle with excitement. Morrison’s recent brace against Liverpool in the FA Youth Cup has made him one of the most talked about players at the club, while Pogba is not far behind.

Both have excelled for the academy this season, Pogba who turned 18 today- happy birthday son- has been compared to Patrick Vieira in the past, not just because of his physical appearance either.

Pogba can be a driving force deep from midfield and has a shot on him that Anderson can only dream of and the former Le Harve player has been attracting a lot of attention from the national media of late as certain newspapers realise he could break through to the first team sooner rather than later.

Morrison’s star is shining so bright that the club were even prepared to give him a chance following his recent court appearance, make no mistake about it, if it wasn’t for his talent, he’d have been jettisoned long ago.

Tom Cleverley has been one of Wigan’s best players this season, putting in stellar performances in a team that’s spent the last seven months battling relegation. As he did at Watford Cleverley’s shown himself to be a useful attacking midfielder that’s not afraid to mix it up a bit and get stuck in. I’ve made no secret of the fact I’m a big Cleverley fan and firmly believe he could do a job at Old Trafford next season.

Many Wigan fans, like Watford ones before them, rave about Cleverley and believe if they’ve any chance of survival he’s going to be a big part of it.

Of course anyone will tell you playing for Wigan, or United’s academy or reserves is a lot different to playing in front of 70 odd thousand fans every week, but the same argument could have been used for any player to come through the ranks.

It’s been a while since anyone’s made the step up from the youth to the first team, but it’s also been a while since players of the caliber of Pogba Morrison and Cleverley were coming through United’s ranks.

Continued on page two.