Manchester United is not Real Madrid.
The Bleacher Report has gone mad these past few weeks over who Manchester United needs to replace Portuguese winger Cristiano Ronaldo. From Ribery to Benzema, Valencia to the wholesale purchase of the Dutch National team, I think I’ve seen every possible iteration of possible “big signings” Manchester United can pick up to replace Cristiano Ronaldo and now Argentinian striker Carlos Tevez.
Is it entertaining? Yes. Will one of these user-concocted signings happen? Probably.
But is a big-money replacement for Ronaldo necessary? In my honest opinion, no.
Let me repeat: Manchester United is not Real Madrid.
Yes, they have made their share of big money signings. Yes, they have made it look at times like there were buying a championship. They’ve thrown their big-money weight around for players like Tevez, Rooney, Ferdinand, and Saha. But with the current lineup, I strongly believe they do not need another £35 million man to build another path to dominance.
Why? For the third time, Manchester United is not Real Madrid. Manchester United has never been just the sum of its parts. We don’t have to buy this star and that star and that star all in one offseason and expect them to “star power” their way to a championship the next year like some absurd video game.
Manchester United can build a championship team without the big-money signing. Sir Alex understands that strong role players built and groomed within a system can pay off dividends on the football field and in transfer negotiations.
Remember the aftermath of David Beckham’s exit? Cristiano Ronaldo was signed as a role player for only £12.7 million. He was perceived as a rising star, a shadow of the brilliant young star he is today. Groomed under Sir Alex’s system, he became the world-class offensive dynamo he is today, and the showpiece of many other similar role-player signings and academy call-ups (Carrick, Vidic, Park, Fletcher) that built the foundation for a treble.
Obviously, this does not mean that the current squad will win the championship this year. Serious questions must be asked and answered from Darren Fletcher, Anderson, and Park Ji-Sung. Dimitar Berbatov still needs to show the world-class finishing he is getting paid for. Star reserves like Danny Welbeck and Kiko Macheda need to start fulfilling the enormous potential that fans have placed on them. Even Wayne Rooney has to prove he can shoulder more of the goal-scoring debt that will go amiss with Ronaldo’s exit.
Despite that, Manchester United has the squad that should live up to its top four billing and can have a chance to win the Premiership this year.
But it is the perceived notion that Manchester United cannot win a title without Ronaldo that puts them in the best position possible to build the foundation to win the Premiership and do well in Europe this year. The pressure to win the Premiership has been passed to Liverpool and Chelsea; the pressure to do well in Europe has been passed to Chelsea, Barcelona, and Madrid.
Manchester United, out of the spotlight, can just focus on building chemistry with their new signings (however big they may be), improving their academy call-ups, and creating a new, “post-Ronaldo” treble around a still very strong squad.
So, could Manchester United use the services of Ribery, Benzema, or Sneijder to win a championship? Absolutely.
But do they really need those high-profile players this offseason? According to history, absolutely not.