Manchester United: 5 Things the 2010-2011 English Premier League Season Tells Us
While it's not quite official yet, Manchester United's 2-1 win over English Premier League rivals Chelsea this weekend has effectively handed the Red Devils their 19th league title.
It's a figure that's extremely impressive, especially when one considers that it will undoubtedly make them the most successful team in the history of English football's top division, overhauling the current record jointly held by United and Liverpool FC.
But as the dust begins to settle and the season comes to it's conclusion, what exactly can be said for Manchester United and their accomplishment?
Money Spent Wisely: Cash Isn't Everything
The last two seasons have seen Manchester United's spending remain fairly limited, with the only major signings of the current season having been Javier Hernandez from Guadalajara, and Chris Smalling from Fulham, the latter only costing a reported £4-5 million.
The 2009-2010 season saw the only major cash purchase in the form of Antonio Valencia from Wigan Athletic, but the Premier League title didn't find it's way to Old Trafford.
What could be considered the last major purchase by the club was in the 2008-2009 season, with the acquisition of Dimitar Berbatov for a fee of approximately £30.75 million.
Arguably the signing of the season for all of the Premier League, Hernandez in particular has exceeded all expectations. While his fee was undisclosed, United's strong scouting network should receive much more of the credit than their paying-power in bringing him to Old Trafford.
What the current season has further demonstrated is that Manager Alex Ferguson has been excellently executing his movements in the transfer market, proving that a record-breaking fee on Fernando Torres isn't what it takes to win the title.
Javier Hernandez Is Going to Be a Hell of a Player
I don't think this one needs much of an explanation, really.
Ferguson (Very) Rarely Buys the Wrong Players
While not all United supporters would have been aware of the skill and ability possessed by Javier Hernandez before his signing for the club was announced this summer, it is undeniable that the fee is proving money well spent.
This season, though, has also proved that when Manager Alex Ferguson does take the opportunity to truly "splash the cash," he rarely gets it wrong by signing the wrong player.
The aforementioned Dimitar Berbatov was bought from London club Tottenham Hotspur on deadline day in the summer of 2008. His first season at United was a mixed one, however, and by his sophomore season in 2009-2010 for the Red Devils, many were questioning the huge £30.75 million price tag shelled out on the Bulgarian.
This season, however, has proven an entirely different matter. While Wayne Rooney has not quite lived up to his billing this season following a fantastic previous season, Ferguson's faith in Berbatov has proven well placed with a current return of 21 goals in 30 league appearances.
And for those rare instances when Ferguson made the mistake of breaking in a player such as the infamous Eric Djemba-Djemba, there has also been a Diego Forlan.
Clearly labeled as a flop in his time in England, Forlan went on to Spain and proved an extremely solid and capable striker. That was only further emphasized following his sensational World Cup appearances last summer, proving that Ferguson rarely gets it wrong when he identifies a top quality player.
Problems with the Competition
Manchester United's competitors for the Premier League title this season have all proven that they have definite issues to work out during the summer holiday.
Chelsea spent massively by bringing in Fernando Torres for a British transfer record £50 million during the January transfer window while also splashing out on Benfica's David Luiz. The moves were seemingly made with the intent that that the Blues would be able to make a late surge and retain their title, but it simply never happened.
While I'm not of the opinion that a player of Fernando Torres' quality will fail to come good for Chelsea eventually, perhaps a combination of the expectancy that the huge fee demanded and Chelsea's own inability to find a formation suiting the striker has been their downfall. It needs to be properly sorted during the summer.
Arsenal seemed to be United's primary competition all season for the title, but Manager Arsene Wenger has again found himself deep in a trophy-drought that will now extend for a total of six seasons.
Many Arsenal supporters have spent the last two seasons deeply concerned about the team's lack of success, and Wenger has certainly come under fire from many supporters. Far more important, however, has been the club's seeming disinterest in bringing in the players that will allow them to mount a sustained title challenge into the last legs of the season.
Arsenal have certainly improved this season, but for them to return to their winning ways is going to take an admission from the boardroom that Wenger needs to be backed in the transfer market appropriately.
Liverpool's problems this season have been extremely well documented, but the arrival of Manager Kenny Daglish and the reinforcements purchased from the Torres transfer could prove beneficial. In the meanwhile, however, Andy Carroll still has work to do to justify his massive transfer fee, and Daglish needs to work to continue the work to bring much needed stability back to Merseyside.
Lastly, local rivals and outside title-rivals Manchester City are seemingly on course to qualify for the Champions League, a significant step in major progress since Sheikh Mansour's takeover in 2008. Money has been spent very freely with a number of big-name stars brought in since the takeover, but the club has continually failed to find the consistency for a sustained title-run.
Balance needs to be found for City to be true competitors, and a dressing-room of head-strong players needs a firm hand to keep in check.
United's competition need to realize that, as has already been suggested, money needs to be spent wisely and players sought to fit the team's needs in order to prove true title-rivals.
Alex Ferguson Is a Football Legend
Many Manchester United supporters will almost automatically agree with this reason without even needing to read the rest, but a record 19th title win for the Red Devils under Manager Alex Ferguson in 24 years of management at the club is truly impressive.
While plenty of supporters on the outside will certainly complain about Ferguson's negative characteristics—the fact that he seemingly always gets his way, the mind games he plays with other managers, and the infamous issue of "Fergie Time" in matches to name a few—the capture of yet another trophy in his illustrious career easily ranks him as one of the best managers in the history of the game.
If not, of course, the best manager in the history of the game.
As the seasons get on and Ferguson gets older, the inevitable talk of who will be his eventual replacement at Old Trafford is unavoidable.
Right now, however, it doesn't matter.
In the end, this season has only solidified that we as a generation of football supporters are extremely fortunate to get to witness firsthand a manager of the skill and ability that will be talked for decades to come—a true managerial legend of the game.
As a neutral, I can only applaud his excellent work.
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