The 3-Signings Road To Improvement: Manchester United
This is the first article of a new series that I am embarking on. The "3-Signings Road to Improvement" series will feature an article on each club in the Barclays Premier League, talking about their shortcomings, and how perhaps three new signings, once this season is over, can push them to achieve greater things next season.
I will write the articles based on league position as of today, and as such I will start with current champions of England, Europe, and the world (not exactly a great achievement, but I'll mention it nonetheless), Manchester United.
With the team doing well on all fronts, Sir Alex Ferguson might be tempted to change little, and he'd be right. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, as the old saying goes.
However, I do see a few signings that could yet improve United, and make them virtually unstoppable.
For me, a major weak area for them is their right-back spot. Gary Neville and Wes Brown have been the specialists there in recent seasons and both have had seasons to forget.
Gary Neville wasn't exactly Mr. Reliable to begin with, and unlike Giggs, who like a fine bottle of wine seems to get better as he ages, Neville would be better off being compared to a bottle of milk that is three years past its expiration date.
Wes Brown had a decent season until he was ruled out through injury, but even in his best form, I do not see him as world-class. And with the resources United has, I think they could certainly do better than have Wes Brown at right-back.
"What about Rafael?" I hear United fans screaming away. He is definitely a very talented youngster, but I think he lacks the experience to command a first-team spot just yet.
He has been repeatedly exposed by players with more experience, and was given a torrid time by Robinho and Martin Petrov in the Manchester derby. I think he will be fantastic in a few years' time, but meanwhile they need someone else to show him the ropes.
As such, I suggest the first area to strengthen United will be at right-back. Sergio Ramos might be the ideal option, but there is no guarantee he would want to leave Real Madrid and the idol status he enjoys in Spain; plus, he would be really expensive if he is given the green light to go.
Besides, as explained above, i think Rafael Da Silva will be an absolutely cracking player in a couple of seasons, so getting Sergio Ramos would stifle his development.
Instead, I would suggest United go for someone much cheaper, but still very reliable.
That man is Habib Beye. He is suitably experienced, has shown great fighting spirit despite being part of the Grand Tyneside Circus, and will probably be available on the cheap should Newcastle go down. Even if they do stay up, I don't think Newcastle can deny a player the chance of playing for United.
With Tevez looking like he is leaving Old Trafford. Sir Alex might need a striker. I say "might," because he does have Fraizer Campbell and Manucho returning from their spells at Tottenham and Hull respectively, while Danny Welbeck and Frederico Macheda have impressed with the limited chances they have had.
That might not be enough for Sir Alex and Manchester United though, who might want a little more experience as they will look to challenge on all fronts again.
Benzema's name has been tossed around the tabloids for the last 43 transfer windows, and this summer will be no different. I think he would fit in at Old Trafford, but it remains to be seen if he will accept being a bench player like Tevez.
I think Manchester United would be better off going for Roque Santa Cruz.
If Ronaldo leaves at the end of the season, then his aerial ability at set pieces will be missed. Benzema won't be the solution to that, but Santa Cruz definitely will.
Also, I think Santa Cruz's predatory instincts are better than Benzema's, and he has the added advantage of being tried and tested at Premiership level already. He will definitely come cheaper than Benzema, and the lure of Europe should mean that he will not mind playing second fiddle to Rooney and Berbatov.
Definitely, the need for a winger hinges solely on Ronaldo's decision at the end of the season. Should he go, a player of his calibre will definitely have to be replaced; and I think right now, there is only one player who could even come close to being an adequate replacement, and that is Franck Ribery.
Should Sir Alex want him, he would definitely be available if a substantial transfer fee is offered. Ribery will definitely not want to be stuck at an under-achieving Bayern, and should they fail to qualify for the Champions League, then there is absolutely no doubt that he will go.
However, there is a chance that Sir Alex might not go like-for-like. He might be tempted to replace Ronaldo with Kaka, and I think this might actually be a better buy, as Kaka can finish, something Ribery is not as good at.
Ronaldo's goals have been vital for United in recent seasons, so the player brought in must be capable of scoring as well.
Kaka has said before that he would welcome a new challenge, and the fact that he actually considered a move to Manchester City means he is definitely open to departing the San Siro should a good offer come up. And should Manchester United come knocking, I have no doubt he will go to Old Trafford.
So that's it.
Basically, for United, nothing much really has to be done. After all, they did get to wherever they are with this team.
A lot depends on whether Ronaldo stays or goes. Whatever it is, expect them to be contenders again next season.
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