Like Real Madrid, AC Milan and Bayern Munich; a club the size of Manchester United; with the tradition, history and constant hunger for success, either nurtures talent from a young age until the time is right to be a first team regular, invests in players full of potential with the ambition to develop them into superstars, or on the odd occasion, buys an already established superstar.
For more than a quarter of a century, Sir Alex Ferguson had been the man in charge of making the decisions on who comes in to the club, who leaves the club, who wears the red jersey and ultimately, who represents Manchester United on a weekly basis.
While most United supporters have witnessed Sir Alex get the best out of squad players – the rest of the footballing world have not seen it quite the same way.
There is not one Manchester United fan who did not love John O’Shea – yet the rest of the footballing world couldn’t believe a player with such limited ability made over 250 appearances for the club.
While most United supporters sang songs about big bad Wesley Brown – the rest of the footballing world couldn’t believe the he was capped for England. It must have because he played for United, not because he was any good, right?
Hard tackling Phil Neville, adored by the Old Trafford faithful – again, the rest of the footballing world looked on in disgust at how much silverware this guy was winning, considering he never made a position his own, and was perceived to be the rubbish, younger brother of half decent Gary Neville.
The above names are only a handful of examples in which former players have performed well for our club, simply because Sir Alex Ferguson got them playing to at 100% every week. Would any other manager have worked such miracles?
If you feel I am off the mark with those players, how about Alan Smith, Jesper Blomqvist, Jordi Cruyff, Roy Carroll – these are all players who had significant roles or long spells at the club, and performed well, but to the outside world, were absolutely dreadful.
Moving on to the current crop of United players. Yes, the reigning Premier League champions.
Yes, title winners by 11 points.
However, a squad full of players the United fans adore; players Ferguson could rely on – but players that the rest of the footballing world wouldn’t have anywhere near their own squad.
To hammer this point home as I can imagine there are a few angry reds reading this: my concern is not what other supporters think – far from it actually; but what if David Moyes cannot paper over the cracks and disguise the obvious flaws in certain areas of the squad. Something which Ferguson has done for generations.
To pick a few of the current crop who do take a lot of stick from the outside world:
The good: A player with great power, pace and bags full of potential.
The bad: For a striker, let’s face it – he is a shocking finisher.
The good: Another product from the youth squad, a great leader and apparently a future United captain.
The bad: A defender who turns like he has a fridge-freezer on his shoulders. Evans was turned inside out time and time again last season.
The good: Great skill and passing range.
The bad: Never fit and cannot control the tempo of a game.
The good: Athletic, quick, great in the air, an all-round gifted footballer.
The bad: Coming into his third season at the club and still unable to hold down a regular first team place – possibly because nobody can agree on his best position.
The sad fact is David Moyes is highly unlikely to have the same magic touch as Ferguson from the word go – but a massive thing in his favour is he will not carry any burden.
There will be no burden of needing to give players games because he signed them for big money, brought them through from the youth squad, or made promises of first team football.
It will be a totally clean slate, and this could mean changes.
Every manager needs squad players. Footballers who can fill in when there are injuries, do the job in a host of positions, and go about their business without question or worry – footballers you can trust.
Whilst David Moyes is inheriting a title winning side, will the squad players be motivated to give for him what they did for Ferguson? Probably not.
I believe within the next 12 months, the Manchester United squad will see significant departures from the playing staff, but I for one do not see this as a bad thing.
Have I got this totally wrong? Are these players actually world class and I just cannot see it?
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