As became apparent over the last two matches, United had well and truly been playing out of their skins this entire season. Bayern Munich and Chelsea have shown how vulnerable and beatable United can be this season. Munich ran riot in the second half, Chelsea did so in the first.
If United beat Bayern and get through to the semifinal of the Champions' League, where they should be able to overcome either of Lyon or Bordeaux, there should not be any doubt that they will not win the tournament, simply because either of the contestants will likely be Inter or Barcelona, teams which United CAN'T beat on current showing.
The time has come that United stop trying to paper over the cracks which have developed over this season, and start afresh (funds permitting, of course).
First of all, the squad has to be trimmed before fresh blood can come in. Without being sentimental, there are a number of players who will have to be let go off. This work of purging the squad of deadwood has to start from the back.
Between Foster and Kuszcack as goalkeepers, most United fans would take Kuszcack. He has been very good this season when called upon, and he should stay. Foster, on the other hand, is a lost cause. The sooner he leaves, the better. So, who should come in his place?
There are a number of names being put forward. Prominent are Lloris (Lyon), Frey (Fiorentina), Neuer (Schalke), Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow), and Lopez (Villareal).
Lloris, Akinfeev and Neuer are young and in the running for their countries' first choice goalkeeping jersies, and despite their age, have played at the top level for a number of years now. Frey and Lopez are much more experienced. Both of them are at their peaks, while the former three can still improve.
Considering the transfer rumours, all are likely to be lured to Old Trafford, but there is a higher probability of one of the younger ones coming in. Any of them would cost around 15-20 million euros.
In defense, Gary Neville has been shown up at the right back position. It is time he retired, especially since United have the luxury of three right backs available in the squad in O'Shea, Brown, and Rafael.
Other positions are covered as well since United boast of a number of versatile defenders capable of playing in multiple positions. With Smalling already acquired and Vidic looking to commit his future to the club, the defence is in fine shape.
We'll come to the midfield in the end, since that is the team's Achilles' Heel at the moment, and needs the most changing. We move to the striking department now.
On paper, United have six strikers. In truth, only three play a major part. Rooney, Berbatov, and Owen are three major strikers which United have. The other three—Macheda, Welbeck, and Diouf—are relatively young. However, while Macheda's interventions are usually decisive, the other two are inconsistent.
Welbeck needs to be sent out on a season-long loan, while even Diouf could also do with a short three- or six-month long loan in the Championship. In their place should come in a proven, experienced striker, of which there are many in the market.
United are still looking at Benzema, but I disagree. A player who has snubbed United once should not be chased. Plus, he is still young, and does not fit the experienced category.
The others linked with United are Dzeko (Wolfsburg), Huntelaar (AC Milan), and Villa (Valencia). Among these, Villa is the best striker in the world for now, but he is close to 30. Huntelaar has apparently refused United once, and should be struck off the list as well.
Dzeko is the youngest at 25, and has been playing well for the last two seasons at Wolfsburg. He has all the attributes to succeed at United, combing physicality, speed, movement, and power successfully. He would cost around 25-30 million euros, and a bit more in the case of a bidding war, but he would be worth it.
The midfield is in a shambles for United for the last two seasons, not quite at the level which is required at such a club. A small clearing out is required, with preferable people to be shown the door being Carrick, Hargreaves (if he does not recover), and Gibson (initially on a loan). Anderson would be given another year because of his injury.
Carrick has been a passenger for the major part of the season, and so, despite his achievements, needs to go. One season is more than enough time for a player of his quality to regain form, but he does not seem to have the will for it.
Hargreaves seems to be still in pain and having a mental block about playing again. If he were not to recover this season he should be shipped out, because he's just taking up a place in the squad. He was a good player for us, no doubt, but liabilities can no longer be allowed, even on past records.
Gibson has the potential to develop, and should be allowed to develop his game further. A year or six months in the Championship will only help him develop his all-round game, and he should be sent out with the specific instruction of how United would prefer him to grow as a player.
Scholes and Giggs have at most one season between them, and that too they should not be played against top teams, who often run around them. While their brains are sharp, their bodies no longer keep up.
So, players should be brought with the intention of replacing these two as well as the ones let go off. The Reserve team has atleast three players who can step up, these being Petrucci, Cleverley, and Eikrem. All three play very well, with Eikrem and Petrucci excelling in the Reserves while Cleverley has been superb in his loan at Watford, able to play in defence as well as across the midfield.
To replace Scholes, Petrucci and/or Silva (Valencia) would be good. While Silva is an experienced Spain international, Petrucci is among the foremost midfield talents in Italy, often dubbed the "Next Totti," for he plays in a similar fashion.
Of course, Silva's experience as well as his ability to play on the wings as well as in attacking midfield, coupled with a good dead-ball ability, tilt this in his favor. He would be available for around 30-35 million euros.
For Giggs, there are enough players for the left wing. Nani, Anderson, Obertan, and the returning from loan Tosic are all good players for the left wing. Eikrem or Cleverley can easily fill in for Carrick, due to their better movement (Carrick's economy of movement can get him a place at Madame Tussad's) and similar, if not better, passing ability (has Carrick made a forward pass this season?).
Hargreaves's position is the one which is vital. A versatile defensive midfielder who could play across the defence, he is also good at free kicks. His adequate replacements can be Khedira (Stuttgart), Toulalan (Lyon), and De Rossi (Roma). All are internationals, and captain their clubs regularly. Among these, Khedira is the youngest, but has almost as much experience, and is a dynamic box-to-box midfielder.
De Rossi is similar, but will be much more expensive. Toulalan, on the other hand, is a much more defensive minded player, having the ability to play across the defence as well. If he's unsettled at Lyon, United will be able to pick him up at a slightly lower price.
De Rossi would cost around 35-40 million euros, while Toulalan and Khedira would be available closer to 20-25 million euros. The deal for Khedira would be the best, because his energy and drive would complement the dynamic Fletcher in the midfield very effectively.
All in all, this rebuilding could cost United close to a 100 million euros. If Ronaldo's sale was 94 million euros, plus the approximate 30 million euros saved from the Tevez transfer are available, and money is generated from the proposed sales, there should be more than enough to get this done.
What do other United fans think ? Let me know what other alternatives are available to United and Sir Alex Ferguson, according to you? And please, no sad comments from United baiters about the club not having money. There's enough to go around, and it'll either stay that way or improve. United aren't going anywhere soon, so live with it.
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