As the transfer season approaches, rumors are starting up quickly. Obviously, the most current incident involving the club is the sale of Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid. And while this isn't the main focus of this article, I feel it's best to start by offering my naive take on this.
First off, Ronaldo has admittedly been the best player at United for the past three seasons. However, as much as United fans like myself had denied it, United was becoming dependent on Ronaldo far too much, and this was evident in the team's results.
In '07-'08, Ronaldo was unstoppable, and so was United; however, come '08-'09, Ronaldo had a very start-stop campaign, and United's season was also very unpredictable, as there were some memorable highs (Chelsea anyone?) while also some outstanding lows (Liverpool what?).
Another part of Ronaldo's domination was that I feel his development came at the expense of other team members, such as Rooney, who was forced numerous times to cover for Ronaldo's lack of defending, and at the price of overall morale.
Simply put, with Ronaldo now gone and 93 million euros in the bank, I feel the team will be back to being just that- not just a one man effort, but a team effort.
Now on to the topic.
In my opinion, the new team SAF is building should be based around Rooney, if not for the simple fact that all Devils fans know of Rooney's undoubted loyalty, and therefore we don't have to fear his leaving. Furthermore, Rooney is exactly what every team dreams their star players are- unselfish.
Now, I mean no offense to Ronaldo when i say this because i have nothing but respect for a man who devoted six years of his life to this club, but I actually feel that Rooney is a more dangerous player when played correctly, as shown in October and for the English National Team.
The difference between them, in my opinion, is passion and Rooney's ability to involve others in the play.
I'm not saying that Rooney is more skillful then Ronaldo, because that's simply unreasonable, but I believe he is more effective, and his link-up play is second to none, as shown with Ronaldo for United and Gerrard for England.
With Rooney as the central focus, I feel that the team will play much, much better together simply because Rooney gets everyone involved, and I'm pretty sure I'm correct when i say that this can only help the teams morale, which has noticeably dropped.
This brings me to my next point: Berbatov. This man is a riddle wrapped in an enigma. He disappears for long stretches of the game before appearing with a piece of magic.
He appears not to try (or care, depending on your attitude), yet he had an acceptable first season, not to mention he is a fantastic team player like Rooney, and a player I have no doubt that SAF plans to build his next team around, simply because Berba, like Rooney, gets others involved, while never giving the ball away.
However, the problem with Berba is that his first season was simply acceptable—as one of the two remaining senior forwards, he needs to step it up, and in my opinion, he needs to play in what I believe to be his natural role, the No. 9, which is the position we bought him for, not the center midfielder he has been forced to play.
Admittedly there are other reasons for this, such as the midfield's lack luster season, and other players' (like Tevez) lack of passing to him (watch old games, how many times is he open and other plays play the harder pass or take ridiculous shots?), while also possible instructions from the gaffer.
If allowed, I see him and Rooney providing for some of the most brilliant link-up play we've seen in a while, and more goals should subsequently be scored.
Let me make sure I'm being clear: I fully expect the style of Manchester United to change. When Van Nistelrooy was here, we played very direct because of his uncanny ability to score at will.
With Ronaldo, we played a free flowing game to accommodate his tendency to drift and his lack of defending. However, the problem with styles of play is that they become predictable, and Manchester United this past season was very predicable. Ronaldo wasn't as effective and the team as a whole appeared not quite as capable.
Opposing teams simply new how to deal with us. So next season, with a team more then likely to be focused around Rooney and Berba (as it is very unlikely that SAF will buy a brand new star like Messi or even Villa to be the focal point), I can see United playing a slower, more team oriented game with players having more defined roles.
In this respect, I can see Ferguson buying more traditional wingers to replace Ronaldo, players who like to cross or play it inside instead of having Ronaldo's tendency to cut inside and shoot. Other then that, it's a crapshoot who United acquires.
So this is just my opinion on what the next United team will be like. Please feel free to comment, critique, or just simply bash my thoughts. Thanks for any input!