With any lingering doubts about Sir Alex Ferguson's disinterest in Inter Milan's Wesley Sneijder eroding day by day, a question very important to the viability of the club—on the field of play—remains unanswered.
A lack of clarity of thought has prevented most from identifying and accepting this question. For too long, most United fans—myself included—figured that the most question that needed answering was:
Who will replace Paul Scholes?
This is all fair and good and necessary. Paul Scholes was a great player, perhaps irreplaceable. Still, this isn't the question.
The question is, Who will replace Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick?
I doubt that many Mancheser United fans will be under the delusion that Carrick is fit to take up the mantle as the spearhead of our attacks. Additionally, I would be extremely surprised if anyone thinks that we can go another season with Carrick starting a Champions League final against Barcelona.
Nuh-uh. You will be hard pressed to argue that point.
And this brings me to a new question. With Sneijder seemingly not on his way to the red part of Manchester, are Anderson and Tom Cleverley United's best midfield option?
Now, I know a lot of people will be up in arms, saying that it was a just a friendly against an under-strength Barcelona side, and there is a good point there.
Still, have you seen a Manchester United midfield work as hard and as effectively in the last three years against opposition that good? I mean, they were functional. When was the last time we could say that?
Here's what Sir Alex had to say about Tom Cleverley after United's final preseason match against Barcelona:
It's [midfield] an area we have to find a solution for, that is why we played Tom Cleverley today. Physically he is not the strongest, but he is wiry and has a great idea of the game. He is a good footballer and was our best player today.
His discipline was terrific. He is a quick passer of the ball. He has good eyes. It was a big night for him. He is a big, strong possibility for us to start the season.
On Anderson, Sir Alex said:
The boy is a fantastic talent. We expect him to be a key player this season. He has a good football knowledge. He understands the game very well. He has made tremendous improvement, and he is going to get a lot better.He scored four goals for us last season, and if he gets eight or nine next season, it would a huge asset because the football side is very good indeed.
I know it could be a risk, but where is reward without risk. Look at Jack Wilshere and the season he had last year, look at Javier Hernandez and the season he had. The precedent is there, we just need some faith.
What do you think?