Date: 8th August 2011 at 9:49pm
Written by:

One for the future?

Bridging the gap to Barcelona is the agenda on all football fans nowadays. The current Barcelona team is certainly a one off, possibly the best footballing team in history and so it’s only natural that most fans of other clubs feel that their team is inadequate. So are Manchester United going about this so called “problem” in the correct way? 

I believe that we are. One thing is guaranteed, there is no quick fix to bridge the gap. No amount of money in the world and no signings can instantly and consistently play on the kind of level that Barcelona did in their 2 recent Champions League winning campaigns. What Manchester United look to be doing is to focus on developing the younger players, and in my opinion this is the correct way of going about it.

We’ve seen examples of teams wanting a quick fix or getting to the top quickly by throwing incredibly stupid amounts of money signing players and paying their lofty wages. Chelsea have just recently employed their 7th manager in the Abramovich era; Andre Villas-Boas. Interestingly only two of their previous 6 managers have delivered a league title; Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti who recently got dismissed. In that same era (2003-2011) Abramovich has shelled out over £500million, an average of £65million per season for 8 seasons resulting in 3 league titles making them the second most successful team in the past 8 seasons behind Manchester United.

The other extreme of the scale is our close rivals Manchester City. They are the benchmark for the quote “money won’t buy you success” or at least they are right now. In the 4 seasons that they have been funded by a cash rich owner, Manchester City have spent around £450million, averaging around £112.5million per season yielding no league titles to date. Note this figure does not take into account the £54million that they have spent this summer.

So there you have it, two examples that simply spending massive amounts of money in the transfer market will not necessarily make you the best team in the world. Another example could be made of Real Madrid. They have been world reknowned for their big spending. In the 2009/10 season, Cristiano Ronaldo transferred to Real Madrid for a world record £80million and Kaka also joined for a figure around £54million. In the past 2 seasons they have spent around £270million and yet the gulf between the Madrid club and Barcelona has been highly noticable when they meet.

In stark contrast, in the past 5 seasons Manchester United have won 4 league titles and reached 3 Champions League finals winning one of them, arguably one of the most successful periods in the clubs history. In that same period Manchester United have gained a net £20million from dealings in the transfer market meaning we have actually made a profit from transfers in that time. Astonishing?

Most fans have been critical of Manchester United’s transfer dealings. I confess that at times I have been one of them however something that I do concur with is the fact that we buy players young. I concede that buying players young can sometimes be a risk. I suppose a good example of this is that we spent £7million on Bébé, a player who is yet to make an impact at Manchester United, however the benefits outweigh the risk.

We all saw the impact that Javier Hernandez made last season. Chris Smalling has also been a very good player for Manchester United since joining last summer. We also signed 19 year old Phil Jones this summer as well as 20 year old David De Gea and recalled youngsters Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck, Mame Diouf and Kiko Macheda from their loans last season. Furthermore, we are already in possession of the Da Silva twins who have broke through into the first team in recent seasons.

In addition to these players, we cannot forget that we have an FA Youth Cup winning team in which many have been tipped to break through into the first team in the coming years. Personally I feel that it is the development of these kinds of young players that is the most effective way to eventually bridge a gap to a team that has at times looked inhuman.

One thing that young players do better than any other kind is learn. These players can be taught the “Manchester United way.” They can be taught a philosophy of football. They can be taught loyalty. They can be shown all of the mental attributes needed to be a champion from the more experienced players who have been there and done that. They grow up playing the way that Manchester United play. This is why I believe youth should be, and is important.

Regardless of the score in the community shield yesterday, whether we won or lost, it was the performance that impressed me the most. For the majority of the second half yesterday, the team had an impressively young age of 22.2, yet still managed to dominate the game and keep possession. It was these players that turned the score around from a 2-0 defecit to our city rivals to win 3-2 in the second half. A superb comeback in typical Manchester United fashion. The future looks very encouraging.

Whatever happens for the rest of the summer, Sir Alex Ferguson’s faith in young players is the right way to go about improving the team and eventually catching up to this current Barcelona team who many people see as “the best team in history.”

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13 responses to “United Slowly But Surely Bridging The Gap To Barcelona”

  1. Dan the Man says:

    United will always be the best team. We don’t need russian or arabs oil money. We just need the Man Utd way of doing things

    • MU Sg says:

      Then, we don’t need money from American Jews too (Glazers). To be honest, United were doing great when we we still a PLC. We were the world’s richest club, now we have the biggest debt. Damn the Glazers and lynch the bastards in the United board who sold us out.

    • Abdullah says:

      Dan the man shut up u need arab money or u wont be able 2 survive the heat in a few years ..

  2. barcelona are a quality team closing the gap takes time doesn’t matter who we get for midfield it will take time for them to build understanding

  3. Jamali says:

    From the way the kids performed at the Charity Shield, I won’t be utterly disappointed if we didn’t get Sneijder. In fact we could even consider selling some of the players. Gibson is still hanging around there. Come on, any takers? Kuzchek too. Berbatov could go for the right price too.

    Anderson and Cleverley was superb together. Carrick looks the misfit that I always see him as. Sell his ass quick, for peanuts if we have to. He’s just taking a spot away from the kids. He slows down play and so very unimaginative with his passes.

    Giggs will be retiring next season. Park will need to re-invent his play as I don’t think he’ll get much playtime on the left wing now.

    But having said all that, getting Sneijder would still be great. Apart from the obvious benefits that he’ll bring to the middle of the park, the kids will develop much faster playing with him and coached by Scholes.

  4. Phil says:

    ummm… no.. you’re not bridging the gap to Barcelona.. What changes have Man U made to their system that are so impressive? Don’t get me wrong, they are a good team, but please… Until you have the youth system Barca have, you can’t touch them. And let’s not get carried away because you beat them in a friendly that was played mostly by their B-team. Any meaningful game against Barca will be played against Messi, Iniesta, and Xavi being there. To say nothing of their other players. It will take a lot more than Chicharito to overcome that. Lest we not forget the Man U’s collective ass was handed to them by Barca 3 months ago when it really mattered.

    • Zayn says:

      We did get beaten, but this article is talking about how we are IN THE PROCESS of recovering from that. He’s not saying we will definitely beat Barcelona should the two sides meet this coming season. He’s simply saying that Manchester United is heading on the right track to be able to propose at least some sort of contest against the Catalan giants, and personally I agree. Our team this season has the potential to be a lot stronger than it was last season, and a lot of our players are young, so if not this season, there’ll always be the next one.

      And in response to your first line, if we of all clubs aren’t bridging the gap, then who is? You can’t honestly say that over the course of a whole transfer window, NOT ONE team has come close to improving their side. And let’s be realistic, Manchester United is one of the few clubs in the world that could actually take on Barcelona.

  5. ohhhhhhhhhhhh! what a wonderful manchester united to come in the nearest future with the bringing up of the youths in a manchester united fasion. it’s the right way bridging the gap to barcelona

  6. john says:

    why is manchester talking about “closing the gap”. If anyone is even close to that its real madrid. So they first have to consider closing the gap with madrid. At the moment man united or any other team is not of concern. The 2 biggest teams to beat are real and barca, man united is not a team to concerned about.

    • nicholas says:

      as if you were playing in the team… don talk so arrogantly… i believe barcelona are the team to beat at the moment… not forever,, barcelona is lucky to have messi.. the only player that shines.. give it up on the xavi and iniesta subject. iniesta is playing against manchester united in the friendly though. despite all the possession they created a nut chance,, messi is the solution to all the possession. hence without messi barceolona is just a normal average team that pass the ball around and around in their own half…

  7. Ez says:

    Phil, that was not Barca B! 5 players for Barca from the final started that game while only 3 from the CL final started the final! Only Xavi and Messi, Pique, Alves, SergioB and Mascherano from that final did not start. And Keita started the friendly so which B are you talking about?!
    Our changes we made are the midfield line up… Young, Clervely, Ando and Nani non of them played at the Finals but beat Barca in the friendly….
    And yes we are closing in just like we did on Juventus.

  8. umar says:

    yes our youth can caught up with barca. barca are nothin without xavi who is ageing they just enjoy winnin mentality recently but our current squad wil develop into a very strong and reliable team 4 so many years 2 come

  9. messi says:

    Good article. Im a Barca fan & have been for almost 20years now (unlike the recent bandwagon passengers). I also appreciate good football & Man Utd play good football. I can honestly say I fear Man Utd more than Madrid. Over the years the games between the two of us have always been good honest football matches, unlike ‘el clasico’. Dont get me wrong, I absolutely love it when Barca beat ‘Franco the fascists team’ but whenever we have beaten Man Utd, its the way your club has responded, with grace & with humility. Which is more than I can say about Madrid. Lets hope Man Utd & Barca meet again this season & provide another great spectacle for fans around the world. Visca Barca & Glory Glory Man Utd. Fuck Madrid!