Due to the high number of responses the article got, I thought I’d go over some of the points you brought up, in more detail.
Many of you said you were glad we hadn’t signed Hazard as he was “too arrogant” and “not a United type of player”. Who are the two best players Sir Alex has manager? Eric Cantona and Cristiano Ronaldo. Were the not outrageously arrogant? There was a story in Gary Neville’s autobiography about a posh dinner the team were invited to, where they were told they must wear a suit and tie. All abided by the rules bar the Frenchman, who turned up in a denim jacket. Sir Alex never said a word. Is that not arrogance of the highest order? In 1994-95, Cantona’s reckless red card against Galatasaray and kung fu kick against Crystal Palace, cost us in all three major competitions. In the summer of 2008, after he’d led us to winning the Champions League, Cristiano Ronaldo openly flirted with Real Madrid. He was given a massive round of applause on his first game back, against Villarreal. In December 2008, against Sunderland, with United struggling to break them down and still drawing 0-0, Ronaldo picked up an injury. As we tried to break, the ball came to him, and Ronaldo, unable to continue, kicked the ball out of play because HE couldn’t carry on, and walked off the pitch. These are all instances of arrogance and putting the club second, but we forget the ramifications of these incidents because of the good they did for the club. You accept their faults because you know you will reap the rewards if you let them be. Top players all come with baggage; it’s just a case of managing it. And no one is better at that than Sir Alex Ferguson. The truth is; we missed out on Eden Hazard because we refused to spend the money. Chelsea are the holders of the Champions League and we have to realise they can offer more than just money.
When the class of ’92 took over the first team in the summer of 1995, replacing the departing Paul Ince, Andrei Kanchelskis and Mark Hughes, they did the Double straight away. They were all very talented footballers, but were helped by the fact they were surrounded with leaders all over the pitch: Peter Schmeichel, Steve Bruce, Gary Pallister, Roy Keane, Eric Cantona. They were all tremendous captains for the club. We don’t have those players now to guide Smalling, Jones, Welbeck , Cleverley etc. There’s no one to put an arm around Jones and Cleverley and reassure them they’ll recapture their early season form. Michael Carrick is a senior member in this team. He’s not good enough, nor is he strong enough, to hold this role. In 2007-08, when we had Ronaldo, Tevez, Rooney , Giggs and Scholes in their prime and the best defence and goalkeeper in the world, he didn’t need to stamp his authority in matches. Now, he does. Transition is about integrating the young players in the first team with help of the more experienced players. Carrick doesn’t have the fighting spirit to be a leading central midfielder for Manchester United. He gave up on England because he was often overlooked rather than carry on and fight for the place he feels he deserves it. Barry and Parker were overlooked for years, but they carried on fighting and became integral members. Carrick has more ability than both of them, but he’s afraid of a challenge. How can he be expected to guide the younger players? In big matches, he either makes horrendous mistakes or goes missing. People forget what a sitter he missed at 1-0 in 2008 Champions League Final. A leading central midfielder for United needs to impose himself on matches and Michael Carrick is afraid to do that.
Carrick just makes our play slower, less attractive and “safer”. He hinders our attacking threat. He’s nowhere near the best in the world, and if he is to be our leading central midfielder, then we have to recognise we’re not fighting for the Champions League any more. If we came up against a European powerhouse, they’d roll right over a midfield led by Carrick. The Community Shield should have been the end of him. A first half with Carrick in midfield, and we lose 2-0. A second half with Cleverley there instead, and we win 3-0. Cleverley, Anderson and Fletcher getting injured meant he was needed again. He’s a good squad member. Someone to bring on when we’re 2-0 up away from home to keep possession. He has won 4 league titles and a Champions League medal, but then was when we had match winners all over the park. When we have to rely on him in midfield, he’s just not good enough.
I don’t think United need a major change; a playmaker and a ball winner in central midfield are essential, the last time we had that we won the Champions League. A left back and 20 goal a season striker would be great but it’s in central midfield where we desperately need an overhaul. We need to start Phil Jones there too as he’s not a defender.
If next season Michael Carrick is our leading central midfielder once again, then, like the majority of Carrick’s passes, we’re heading backwards.