In May 2011, a story appeared on every newspaper, website and television channel which has been very familiar for the past twenty years or so; ‘Manchester United are the Champions’.
Having won the league title by 9 points, many would assume that not a lot needs to be changed in the dressing room at Old Trafford.
The Manager remains as confident with the media and as tactically shrewd as any young whipper snapper getting into the game.
The senior side dominated domestically once again, winning the Premier League and progressing to the latter stages of both cup competitions and firmly establishing themselves as the team to beat.
Finally, looking below the surface, both the reserves and youth side are brimming with talent and have endured long yet successful seasons which included silverware.
So I want to ask, what is the problem? Why are so many members of our squad linked with moves away from Old Trafford?
Edwin Van Der Sar and Paul Scholes speak for themselves – they are retiring from the game whilst at the top; however, Tomas Kuszczak, Jonny Evans, Wes Brown, Patrice Evra, Nemanja Vidic, Owen Hargreaves, Darron Gibson, John O’Shea, Bebe and Dimitar Berbatov have all been linked with moves elsewhere.
I would like to state here that firstly, I firmly believe the likes of Evra and Vidic leaving Manchester United is definitely media speculation and your typical column filling rubbish in order to sell a newspaper; and secondly, it is silly season in which every player known to man gets linked with every club in the country – however for the other players on the above list, this seems to be more than just a rumour and could soon well be a reality.
Bebe has finalised his loan move to Besiktas and sadly, Owen Hargreaves has not been offered a new contract so will be released on a free transfer; and what about the rest? Well it is only the middle of June, we have weeks ahead of us so anything can and probably will happen.
In the summer of 1995 Sir Alex Ferguson was criticized for letting superstars such as Mark Hughes, Andrei Kanchelskis and Paul Ince leave Old Trafford. Having lost out on the league title to Blackburn a few months earlier – Sir Alex knew that it was the right time for change, and we all know that decision proved correct as United went on to do well without them over the next few years.
Other superstars and fans favourites have also left United and different stages, usually when Sir Alex sees fit; Ruud Van Nistelrooy, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo spring to mind.
So having previous successful experiences in changing the squad dynamic, is this a case of Sir Alex thinks our squad no longer good enough?
Is it that Sir Alex is joining in with this media obsession that every team needs to be more like Barcelona?
Is it a case of Sir Alex thinks everybody around us will improve and we need to remain one step ahead of our rivals?
Is it a case of Sir Alex feels we were lucky to win things last season?
Our manager has the full trust and respect from everybody associated with the club, from the owners, all the way down to the fans with his staff and players in between; if he feels the wholesale changes are needed then who are we to doubt his judgement.
The question on our lips is why do we need to make so many changes to a winning squad?
We know that there is no room for sentiment in business, especially football, however if he did keep this squad together, surely it wouldn’t be for sentimental reasons and it would be for the simple fact that it is a successful squad, full of experience and more importantly full of winners – not winners from 6 years ago, but winners from 6 weeks ago.
We can expect arrivals this summer, and I fully agree that the likes of Gary Neville, Paul Scholes, Edwin Van Der Saar and sooner or later, Ryan Giggs do need to be replaced.
We have already seen Phil Jones brought to the club and I am in full support of new additions – but I am sure many United fans wait and hope that we do not see too many departures as fundamentally, stats speak for themselves; Premier League Champions by 9 points, Champions League runners up.