13 Reasons Manchester United Will Win the Champions League in 2013
Who would’ve predicted it? Chelsea, against the mightiest of odds, won this year’s Champions League, defeating Bayern Munich on an enthralling penalty shootout. Though it might be too soon to make predictions for next year’s Champions League, I tip Manchester United, who ended this season without any major trophies, to assert their dominance on Europe.
Winners as recently as 2008 and finalists in 2009 and 2011, Manchester United certainly have the experience to take the crown to Old Trafford, and next year, we might just witness Sir Alex Ferguson lay his hands on the top prize in European football one final time.
Here are 13 reasons why Manchester United will win the 2013 Champions League.
Sir Alex Ferguson Factor
As with each season, Sir Alex Ferguson is a key factor for United. And let’s face it, he will not be around much longer.
In 1998, when Sir Alex failed to win the league, he went on to guide United to a historic treble in 1999. Something tells me that the next season will be his last season with United, and what better way to retire than to win the grandest prize of them all?
Rest assured that Sir Alex will have a reasonable transfer kitty to bolster the squad. The selling of fringe players, coupled with the desire to assert their dominance on Europe, will mean Ferguson will have no shortage of funds.
Furthermore, Manchester United’s plan to raise close to $1 billion by listing itself in the public market, more specifically by floating the company on the Singapore Stock Exchange, should also allow for more financial flexibility.
Sir Alex Ferguson will most definitely look to bolster his squad with a few marquee signings. He has faced criticism over the years for not fully replacing key members like Roy Keane, Paul Scholes and recently Cristiano Ronaldo.
Failure to secure the Premier League title and to progress to the knock-out stages of the Champions League must have certainly not set well with either the fans or the manager.
United do have a great squad. However, certain world-class additions would allow United to compete strongly.
Chelsea’s win over Bayern Munich means that Tottenham Hotspur will not be in the Champions League next season, and United might target Luka Modric.
Modric is at the prime of his career and would fit in perfectly with the United squad, settling in where Paul Scholes used to/still plays. If United manage to get hold of Modric, he would certainly add a level of panache that has gone missing from the United midfield.
Shinji Kagawa is another attacking midfielder United seem to be closing upon. Kagawa has been linked to Manchester United several times, and the Red Devils are probably the favorites to obtain his signature.
Javi Martinez, Nicolas Gaitan, Eden Hazard and Jordi Alba are just a few elite players that have been linked to United.
“Offence wins games, but defence wins championships.”
Manchester United are a team reliant on a rock-solid defence. Nemanja Vidic, in all likelihood, will be plying his trade at United, thereby forming a formidable partnership with Jonny Evans at the heart of defence.
In addition, United possesses solid defenders like Rio Ferdinand, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, defenders who could slot into any team.
The full-back positions do posit a problem, though. Patrice Evra is not getting any younger, and he seems to have deteriorated and is neither reliable in defence nor an active contributor in offence. Rafael also needs more time to develop.
United need a full-back who contributes in attack, yet makes crucial tackles and interceptions and supports the wingers by creating some space for them, exchanging one-twos with them and putting incisive balls into the box.
It is clear that Sir Alex will be striving to bring in some full-backs who can play well with the squad.
The best signing Manchester United can make is to procure Spanish International Jordi Alba‘s services. He contributes well in attack and matches it with defensive solidity of the highest degree.
However, given the fact that Alba himself has reiterated time and again the improbability of his move to United, it would be difficult to get hold of him.
If Alba’s services cannot be procured, then Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa would also fit the bill. The Montpellier captain, Yanga-Mbiwa has been in instrumental form for the Ligue 1 outfit who currently top the French Ligue. What is more important is that he has stated that a move to Manchester United would be a dream transfer.
At right-back, Mathieu Debuchy has been linked with Manchester United these days, and he might fit the bill perfectly. The player for Lille has almost 300 appearances for the club, and he would allow players like Rafael and Phil Jones to develop as well.
It was reported that Sir Alex Ferguson went to France to watch Lille take on Lyon, and he was most interested, not in Eden Hazard, but in the full-back Debuchy.
Another right-back that has been particularly impressive that United might want to get a hold of is Lukasz Piszczek of Borussia Dortmund. He played splendidly in last year's title-winning campaign, where he played all games barring one. This season, too, he has put in splendid performances.
Tony Jantschke of Borussia Mönchengladbach might also be a feasible option. A strong bid from United might see 'Gladbach give up on their young defender.
United will surely buy an attacking midfielder this season. Names like Wesley Sneijder, Eden Hazard and Shinji Kagawa all operate excellently as attacking midfielders, providing United with more creative options in the opponent’s half.
Over-dependence on Wayne Rooney will decrease, as United will have four attacking options, from the left with Nani/Young, right with Valencia, centre with Kagawa (or another signing) and Wayne Rooney leading charge.
Rooney will also not need to drop deep and orchestrate the attack but will instead be complimented well by other players.
Change in Formation
It’s no secret that Sir Alex loves to employ the classic 4-4-2. However, this puts a lot of pressure on the central midfielders, and an off-game from the wingers can severely curtail chances of winning key encounters.
A 4-2-3-1 formation yet again won the Champions League. Bringing in players like Kagawa or Hazard will allow United to employ this formation, which means the creative burden is lifted from Rooney.
United will have more control in midfield and better chances upfront as well, as someone like Kagawa can also score plenty of goals.
My ideal formation would be: David de Gea; Patrice Evra (hopefully Jordi Alba), Nemanja Vidic, Jonny Evans, Rafael (hopefully Mathieu Debuchy); Phil Jones, Michael Carrick; Nani/Ashley Young, Shinji Kagawa, Antonio Valencia; Wayne Rooney.
Of course, the 4-4-2 will also be employed in many matches, allowing budding stars like Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck to showcase their talent.
This season, I’ve been dazzled by the one Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The 17-year-old has been so impressive that he has been listed in England squad for the Euros.
Sometimes in crucial games when you need that extra bit of energy, youthful, charismatic players like Chamberlain can be a huge difference.
And when you talk about talented youths, look no farther than United. Tom Cleverly, Paul Pogba (who might just be staying), Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez are all relatively young players who can change the game.
One area where Manchester United excels is finding a perfect blend of youth and experience. The comeback of Paul Scholes to United in the middle of the season did wonders for United. Similarly, veteran Ryan Giggs had two goals and eight assists to his name.
Established players like Nemanja Vidic, Wayne Rooney and Park-Ji Sung all provide United with a plethora of options on the field and plenty of lessons for youngsters off it. Such players also foster an environment where egos are contained and a team ethos is put forth instead.
With United seeking to bring in big-name players, their presence is a must.
Come-Back from Injuries
United certainly had key members missing this season. The biggest of them was Nemanja Vidic’s injury.
Darren Fletcher is another key squad member who missed out on the season, while talisman Antonio Valencia was also injured for a long while.
Anderson was also showing glimpses of his talent, and he might finally rise to the occasion next season as well.
"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." Wise words indeed!
United function as a team first, not a collection of individual greats destined to stamp their mark on a match. Unselfish play is what dictates United’s game. Any player who comes in is expected to have the same ethic.
There are also no locker-room blowouts at United, unlike at Manchester City (Mario Balotelli, Carlos Tevez), Bayern Munich (Arjen Robben vs. Franck Ribery), Chelsea (at least under Andre-Villas Boas) or Real Madrid (Jose Mourinho, Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos).
Barcelona, too, have a new coach, and only time will tell how they will function as a team and whether he can manage all the egos at the Nou Camp.
As previously mentioned, United already have a formidable squad. And when more signings are added to that list, it leaves Sir Alex a lot of room for squad rotation.
Arsenal experienced firsthand how a lack of squad depth can injure your chances while vying for major trophies. In the second leg of against AC Milan, Arsenal was poised to make a comeback, and after being three goals up in the first half, things seemed to be heading Arsenal’s way.
However, as legs grew tired and Milan became more resilient, Arsene Wenger had limited options, and lack of a proper substitute bench might have cost them the match. He had no choice to bring in Maroune Chamakh and Park Chu-Young as substitutes.
Such problems will not be present at United; Sir Alex knows how to rotate his squad, and fatigue should not be a problem for the majority of the players.
After having bowed out unceremoniously from the Champions League at the hand of Basel and having the title taken away from them in the dying moments by Manchester City means that United will be more ardent in their pursuit of silverware the following season.
Chelsea have provided a great example of what conviction can lead you to. From being underdogs to Napoli (in the second leg), to Barcelona and to Bayern Munich, Chelsea truly showcased great conviction.
United will seek to emulate the same.
A Superb Combination
When you add world-class players to an already finished squad rife with game-changing talents managed by one of the greatest managers, you create a recipe for success.
Despite being labelled one of the weakest United teams, they have gone on to win the Premier League in 2010-11, finished as runner-ups in the Champions League of the same year and narrowly missed out on the Premier League title this year.
Certain voids will be filled, younger players will mature and a level of panache will be brought it.
Surely, next year will be the year of the Red Devils.
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