Alex's Ferguson's declaration earlier today, which ended his club's participation in the annual transfer circus, sent shock waves throughout the sporting media, sending a chill up the spines of most United fans. And it's understandable why.
The Scotsman still leaves his squad with no obvious replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez.
The additions of Newcastle dud Michael Owen, Wigan talent Antonio Valencia and Bordeaux unknown Gabriel Obertan (although welcome) are still largely seen as not much of an impact. Until Fergie said otherwise, speculation was still rife that the squad was expecting another big-name striker.
All this leaves Manchester United with an unclear season ahead. It's unclear, but not unfamiliar. Manchester United faced somewhat similar "crises" when Cantona retired and again when Stam, Beckham, Keane and Van Nistelrooy left.
Yet today, these club greats are only missed in terms of sentimentality, not ability. The team has always kept its winning ways intact.
So is this happening again? Almost certainly.
Ferguson may be risking a trophy-less season, but it is something quite necessary. The team is in transition and perhaps at the best time.
With the perfidious Ronaldo finally gone, Tevez leaving his bench-warming role and Neville, Scholes, and Giggs all entering their swansongs, it is time for the coach to refine a new team. And the Scotsman certainly knows how to create a team.
In fact, Ferguson may be doing a bit of a Wenger. Commenting on youthful-strike duo Welbeck and Macheda, Sir Alex said, "They are both young players—but young players with ability always get a chance here." This hints that he will give his youthful side a chance to prove itself.
Added to them, he can also count the maturity of Jonny Evans and sublime Brazilian fullbacks Rafael and Fabio da Silva, the mercurial Nani, and the ever-improving Anderson. All playing alongside experienced regulars like Carrick, Ferdinand, Vidic and Rooney, with the latter itching to fill the gap left by his departing teammates.
Sir Alex is known for building his teams on discipline. Although this has been the major issue for Nani and Anderson, you can be sure that the Scotsman will drill his own philosophy into them just as he has with everyone before.
His fourth team will be his parting gift to whoever comes to replace him and to ensure Manchester United's dominance long after he has left.
If anything is wrong with this team, Ferguson has still given himself the time and resources to tweak it, lose players or bring them in as quickly as the January transfer window.
The £80 million received from Real Madrid is a lifeline to the club in the current financial crisis. The board could use this sum of money to ensure future stability in the face of huge debt.
In short, Ferguson is not gambling with the club as many might think. Instead, the Scotsman is playing a shrewd little game, which will leave the club in a stronger position financially. On the football pitch, he can leave Manchester United with something a little more useful than just memories.
Watch this space.
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