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United must strengthen to keep pace with City

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Phil McNulty | 14:24 UK time, Monday, 14 May 2012

Manchester United stood 100 seconds from a 20th title when Sergio Aguero ripped the Premier League prize from their grasp and transported it to Manchester City.

And when the dust settles on a finale to the season that was pure sporting theatre, Sir Alex Ferguson will move to ensure time does not stand still for United in the face of City's new domestic supremacy.

For all the scenes of bedlam at the Etihad and talk of a shift in the balance of power, assessment of United's season and the road ahead should first be placed in context.

They were less than two minutes from prevailing and retaining their crown over a Manchester City squad assembled at such vast expense by their Abu Dhabi-based owners.

And with a tally of 89 points, they achieved the highest total recorded by the runners-up in the Premier League's two decades.

The old streetfighter's defiance was in evidence as Ferguson told City: "They know I'm not going away."

And there was even a history lesson for good measure as he added: "It will take them a century to get our level of history."

This may or may not be true - but City's recent activity makes it clear they will do their best to make up for that lost time.

United players looked distraught after finding out City had beaten QPR. Photo: PA

When Barcelona outclassed Manchester United in the 2011 Champions League Final at Wembley, Ferguson's thoughts were on tackling an enemy abroad.

He is no closer to accomplishing that task, only to find another threat landing on his doorstep in the shape of the club he branded the "noisy neighbours". This enemy is almost outside the gates of Old Trafford.

Ferguson is insistent his squad is not in need of a serious overhaul but a summer without major acquisitions in midfield and attack will again raise the contentious question of just how much financial power is being placed at the Scot's disposal by American owners the Glazers.

He said before Sunday's final game at Sunderland: "I don't think the squad needs freshening up. I think I've got to make sure we have got a really strong squad.

"We've got a good base. Obviously every young player will hopefully get that maturity and authority into their game. We saw that with Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney.
"I think with Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley we will see that with them. They have very good potential.

"There is Rafael and Fabio da Silva and David de Gea. There's a good nucleus of young people in the club."

United had to cope without inspirational captain and defender Nemanja Vidic for the last six months of the season and still stood less than two minutes away from another title.

Ferguson also lost the understated but trusted Darren Fletcher from his midfield when the Scot was ruled out from December onwards because of illness.

But the brutal analysis, one that Ferguson is so well-equipped to make, is that he must shape his plans in the knowledge that rather than suffer what he predicted would be "untold damage" if City lost the title, their arch-rivals will now be armed with the confidence of champions.

And this is why, for all his optimistic messages, Ferguson will need to apply some serious work to his squad this summer.

True, there is a nucleus of good young talent although it remains largely unproven at the highest level.

BBC Sport's Alan Hansen told me: "Sir Alex has these young players like David de Gea, Smalling, Welbeck, Jones and Cleverley and this season has been a learning experience that will improve them greatly. No question they will be even better for it next season.

"The question is will De Gea become an Edwin van der Sar? Will Smalling and Jones become a Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic? Will Danny Welbeck become a Rooney? The answer at this stage is only 'maybe'.

"I would say, without a shadow of a doubt, that a top class midfielder will be Ferguson's priority, a dominant figure who can get from box to box, play that killer pass and score a goal. But where is he and will other clubs not want him? It is easier said than done."

But the performances of City' pivotal players such as Yaya Toure and Aguero underscore the scale of the task he faces.

For all the fine work of 37-year-old Paul Scholes in midfield since he came out of retirement in January, United still miss a player of Toure's power, presence and influence.

And for all the enduring qualities of Ryan Giggs, the Old Trafford legend is 39 in November and Father Time will be tapping even this enduring figure more firmly on the shoulder next season.

Hansen added: "Giggs and Scholes have been wonderful players but their age means they won't be playing every game and for how long will be capable of producing this outstanding level of performance? This is why I think strengthening midfield is the priority."

United have also been forced to rely heavily on Wayne Rooney's goal contribution this season as Welbeck continues his excellent development and Javier Hernandez suffered an understandable second season dip.

With Dimitar Berbatov now almost certain to leave Old Trafford and Michael Owen's future yet to be clarified, Ferguson may well feel unearthing a goalscorer to compliment Rooney another item on his agenda.

For all the strength in central defence, on the flanks question marks remain about Rafael da Silva's defensive qualities and Patrice Evra will be another under scrutiny after a mixed season, with Ferguson already linked with Everton's outstanding England left-back Leighton Baines.

Ferguson was in attendance as Borussia Dortmund won the German cup with a 5-2 win against Bayern Munich on Saturday, with attacking midfielder Shinji Kagawa and striker Robert Lewandowski two objects of his attention.

United will not usher in a wholesale arrival of new faces but there is little doubt there is a danger City could open up that most slight of title victory margins - goal difference - unless Ferguson acts. Luckily for United, the 70-year-old has the experience and command of these situations not to be panicked by the latest threat.

Arsenal and Chelsea were eventually overcome - but City are now not just in position to outmuscle United for any top targets Ferguson may fancy, as they did with Samir Nasri, they can also offer the glamour of being Premier League champions alongside Champions League football.

Such are the fine margins of glory and loss in the Premier League that Ferguson and his players will be haunted by the two goals conceded to Everton in the last seven minutes of a 4-4 draw at Old Trafford.

And of course there was that crushing 6-1 home defeat to City in October when the positive intent nurtured in United by Ferguson, even in that hopeless cause, allowed Mancini's side to punish their ambition and rack up late goals that proved to be priceless.

Ferguson rightly stated he was not going away - but he will also know with absolute certainty that Manchester City are not going anywhere either.


Page 1 of 13

  • Comment number 1.

    The Man United team cost more than Man City team yesterday underlining the fact that United have been "buying" the title for years.

  • Comment number 2.

    What a suprise, Utd must strengthen, I'd expect them to adopt that approach every season.

  • Comment number 3.

    Not sure where the mystery is over what's available to Ferguson, last year it was a bit over £50m and this year it will just be whatever he spends. Agree largely with the views on the squad: full back has to be a priority and a quality centre-mid is still needed in my view, but although bringing in another front-line striker would hopefully take some of the pressure off Rooney, it would also threaten to stunt the development of Welbeck and their partnership and also make it more difficult for Hernandez to return to form.

    The danger is that City can actually go out and target specific areas they need to strengthen, as opposed to just going out and signing the biggest and most expensive players they can as has been done in the past. Depending on what happens with Tevez, Balotelli and Dzeko, if they add cover at centre-half and a bit more diversity in midfield then they can draw on this year's experience and really kick on next year.

    It's pretty common knowledge that United are greater than the sum of their parts but given the injuries they've had this year there's no reason they can't go on and break 90 points next year with some fairly modest improvements. The painfully obvious reality is that unless Arsenal keep RvP and seriously pull their finger out financially in the transfer market or Chelsea win the CL and spend a truckload of cash rejuvenating the squad and click instantly then it will be a two-horse race all season again and these points will rack up similar or even higher points tallies.

  • Comment number 4.

    With all due respect in terms of how close united were to winning, I have been saying this for two years now that this is not a great United side, football is very much a psychological game with teams being beaten by United sheer history and knowledge of what they have doen in the past, all credit to Ferguson for doing this but now that City also have that psychological belief with there new title as Champions I think it will be a lot harder for United to stop them.

  • Comment number 5.

    First things is a credible preformance to get 89 points from a squad in tansition and with so many injuries throughout the season....though there are certain ares which definitely need strengthining...I somehow fell next year will be pivotal for 2-4 players in terms of their carrer at ManUtd..the likes of Rafael,Anderson,Macheda,Fabio...these guys either really need to step up or be counted out...Rafael for all his talents just soemhow witches off and it has cost us against Everton(Bayern 2 years back)...we need a full season from Anerson to really establish himself...Macheda deservers his chances but I guess this can be his last year..we also need a back up of Evra as he has not been in good form and Fabio/De laet/Fryers..somebody has to step up & provide cover..we are ok on the wings & in goal keeping department...we need 2 defensive if Fletcher doesnt recover to break up things and one creative midfielder...who in the midfielders we can sue I am not sure...we have a few extra at real madrid and could be worth a punt for cheap money...Nuri Sahin,Diarra etc...what say people?..

  • Comment number 6.

    City finally win the title after a 44 year hiatus, and to be honest they deserved it. The Premier League is full of teams trying to recapture glories past, but who has waited the longest to be back on top?

  • Comment number 7.

    i feel united will find it hard to compete with city, with them losing the title all the best players will now be shifting to the blue side

    the likes of

    webb foy dowd clattenburg all are already establishing themselves in the city ranks and now city are the might force they have once been talked about

  • Comment number 8.

    1994 Man Utd 92 points (42 games)
    2000 Man Utd 91 points
    2004 Arsenal Invincibles 90 points
    2005 Chelsea 95 points
    2006 Chelsea 91 points
    2009 Man Utd 90 points

    thats it, out of 20 seasons, those are the only teams to better United record this season. So, you'd have to say, not a bad outing from the team considering they were shorn of Vidic for most of the season, Fletcher too and injuries to Nani, Valencia, Ferdinand, Cleaverly, Jones, Smalling and so on.

    In fact, an incredible performance from a team in transition and if not for a stupid last fews mins against Everton, we'd be having much of the same conversation with the colour reversed.

    United do need an international calibre creative midfielder and (maybe) central defender. They should have signed Snjeider last year and should try again this year or Modric, esp if Spurs lose the berth to Chelsea after the final.

    Jones was over-hyped. Cleaverly & Smalling never recovered form after the injury, but it was madness to be relying on them. City were never going to be a Blackburn circa 1996.

    Beyond that, a new right back is badly needed and while Evra came good, he suffered for a lot of the season. De Gea, source of most of the doubts in 2011, came good and at least he looks settled now. So, no more bloody wingers and unproven talents. Fergie needs 2-3 proven calibre players to solidify the team for the next 3 seasons and help blood the Jones's, Smallings and Cleaverlys into becoming the players they can be.

  • Comment number 9.

    Plus I could never really understand why Berbatov was frozen out...he could have provided some quality when required..but I guess it wasn't meant to be...and hoping that Pogba stays though the reports are not encouraging....I hope Owen is not given an extension and instead of we keep Macheda/Will keane/Joshua King etc in the carling cup squads atleast...

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    I think both the Manchester teams will get much stronger next season and I also predict the same two-horse race. United need some new players such as Baines and Kagawa. Other wise with the returning Vidic and Fletcher as well as the experience that de gea, Jones, Cleverly, Welbeck and Smalling will have from this season, the United squad is still very strong. Nani, Valencia, Young and Rooney will probarbly get better also next season so this is great for both United and England.

  • Comment number 12.

    *couldnt apologies whisky was out early #thegoodlife

  • Comment number 13.

    How can Ferguson play Scholes and Giggs, at the same time asserting he doesn't need to do much to strengthen his squad... pure nonsense. The young players he talks of are no Scholes, Giggs, Neville, Beckham of yesteryear! United are in trouble and I say that as a fan! The standard of the Premier league is in greater difficulty when a failing United team finish so far ahead of Arsenal etc!

  • Comment number 14.

    United need two players - a great, dynamic, creative central midfielder and a right back that can attack and defend.

    Scholes was that midfield player 5 years ago, but his legs have gone. Carrick, Fletcher and Anderson are all competent Premier League midfielders, but they're not that player. Cleverley could be that player, but his breakthrough year has been injury plagued and there's no way of knowing if he's going to do it next year.

    None of the right back options: the twins, Smalling out of position or Jones out of position are good enough at right back.

    In goal, in central defence (especially with Vidic back), on the wings and up front United look more than strong enough to me.

    United can afford to lose Giggs, Scholes, Berbatov and Owen this summer if they can get in those two top players they're missing.

  • Comment number 15.

    I will maintain that I think for Manchester Utd to finish second is an incredible achievement. I honestly do not think, player for player, they have an infinitely better side than many of those other sides that covet a Champions League place. However, as a team, Sir Alex Ferguson has been able to generate such a winning mentality and a consistency of performance, as well as eeking out that ounce of class from their star performers when it is necessary, which for me makes them stand apart.

    I don't think they need an overhaul; tweeking maybe, but whether they do this or not I don't think will compromise their position as joint favourites at the least (in my eyes) for next season's title. I think much more will depend on those sides around them holding on to their better players and developing their own squads as well as a collective shun to the air of invincibility which they portray and actually 'have a go' when playing them. Sides show each season that they can be 'got at' and can be beaten. To me that is the bigger question... will teams finally begin to see that Manchester Utd are beatable and not to give them too much respect?

  • Comment number 16.

    as we are now discussing next season im putting my toenail on the line to suggest

    arsenal will finally establish themselves as englands number one team repeating the season of the invincibles

    also as with the rest of the fodder in the epl the bottom few will no doubt be similar to this


  • Comment number 17.

    We wouldn't qualify for the Champions League.....they said.
    We would finish below Spurs.....they said.
    We would be overtaken in the table by a resurgent Liverpool......they said.
    Wouldn't be able to cope without Fabregas & Nasri.....they said.
    Couldn't compete with Liverpool's "super-signings" of Downing, Adam & Henderson.....they said.
    For the first time in decades we had an inferior squad to Spurs.....they said.
    Wenger no longer knows what's best for the club......they said.
    We were guaranteed to go backwards unless we spent BIG MONEY & signed a BIG NAME......THEY SAID.

    Last season we got 68 points and came 4th.
    This season, with an "inferior squad" & without the "irreplaceable" powers of Fabregas & Nasri, we got 70 points and finished higher up the table.

    As has already pointed out:
    Power shift in Manchester
    Power shift in Liverpool
    Arsenal STILL Kings Of London

    STILL the BIGGEST club in the BIGGEST city in the BIGGEST football nation on earth.

    Not bad for a club who are "going backwards" it Mr McNulty?

  • Comment number 18.

    @hanlondj..I somehow get the feeling this year a lot of these current youngsters will be tried and thrown in the deep end to see who all are in the class of 92 and who are not....the team which won the FA youth cup last year will have atleast 2-3 players trying to break into first team this year...lets hope for the best!!!!

  • Comment number 19.

    So basically what you're all saying is that City bought the title, which you don't approve of, and in the next breath banging on about United buying players to compete next season.

    Buying the title?

  • Comment number 20.

    As for the clearout.. I'd send Raphael after Fabio. Anderson just doesnt look like he'll make the United grade. I'd hang onto Evans but he is an O'Shea - he'll never be consistently good enough for a first pick. I blame him for the fiasco vs City.

    Berbatov is gone. Owen I'd like to see stay and mentor Macheda/Hernandez/Wellbeck. Rooney needs a real support up front and one of them needs to step out and prove themselves. I think it'll be Hernandez as he has proven he can do it on the biggest stage - but he needs a rest and then consistently picked.

    De Gea
    Smalling - RIO/New def - Vidic - Evra (New def - Jones - Evans - New def)
    Valencia - Carrick - New Player - Nani (Giggs, Scholes, Cleaverly, Young)
    Rooney - Hernandez (Wellback, Macheda, Owen)

  • Comment number 21.

    If Utd aren't careful, they'll end up being sunk by sentimentality in a similar fashion to what's happening on Merseyside.

    Radical changes are needed.

  • Comment number 22.

    We lost the title on goal difference during the last three minutes of the season and that was despite some utterly idiotic results like losing at home to Blackburn and throwing away two points v Everton. I don't think we need a massive overhaul, maybe a signing or two to add something new and a bit more depth but most of the squad is fine.

    I'm just curious Phil, would you be saying the same if United had won the title?

  • Comment number 23.

    i also believe mark lawrensons predictions should be axed for next season

    fair you can be slightly bias but liverpool would have run away by a country mile if his predictions were true

    also hansen needs to be axed, i dont care if they have grit or determination there cr*p at football

    last but not least we now need to come together as football fans and make sure the teams that play 'basketball football' be relegated down to the blue north square premier or whatever its called

  • Comment number 24.

    I reckon its a bit cliche' by now but I'll continue on in saying, "Well done to Citeh."

    Right. Now to put a bit of reality into this years title race. We(United) gave up out title because we simply aren't as good as Citeh man for man. The Glazers must give SAF spending power if we are to compete next season. And, let us not forget about Chelski. They are going to attempt to do the exact same thing as Citeh has done this year. Buy, buy, buy! United had better sort out the financial issues if we are seriously going to compete with the likes of Chelski and Citeh in the coming season. This years Chelski side was a one off. They will not be this bad again. Well, I say that as long as Roman is the owner. Chelski are also trying to build a new stadium which will undoubtedly bring in even more money as well as younger and better players.

    As for our squad: I think a minimum of four players are needed. Danny is not a good strike partner for Wayne. And, who knows whether Hernandez will ever find his old form again! Giggsy and Scholesy are getting on in age and they must be replaced immediately. The fact that we finished level on points with Citeh this season is astonishing to say the least. If we don't buy and BUY big this summer I see us coming in third next season behind both Citeh and Chelski.

    One of the quickest ways to sort out this mess would be for the Glazers to finally go!!! I'm sure we could find an owner that is every bit as wealthy as Citeh's owners based on our history, proven earning potential, etc...

    If we don't do something immediately we will turn out exactly like Liverpool. Do we really want to go down that road? I think not.

  • Comment number 25.

    The only signing that will help United is the signing of a new manager--anybody but Al Fungus.

  • Comment number 26.

    Well I guess we need to have perspective..Utd have always bought early in summer under Glazers whenever required..either it be Nani,ANderson,Hargreaves together or like last year when we got Jones,Young & De Gea..somehow I get the feeling Utd will again buy quickly if they really want buy in next 2-3 weeks before the Euros comes about & market goes up again for a player...lets see...

  • Comment number 27.

    my last valid point i would like to thank posters such as

    Hahacharadeyouare and the_soul_patch_of_david_villa

    for trying to enlighten other 'basset hounds' (sorry patch) of the beautiful game

  • Comment number 28.

    To say we finished runners up with an important tally epitomizes how much City have had a splendid season. City have enough cash to invest even more, and that's the most worrying aspect.
    The big deal is we might see players pipped from under our noses because they'll probably be more interested in playing for City where they'd earn more money and would be playing for the Champions. Whereas playing for United would mean playing for prestige and less important wages.
    So the Glazers are going to have to show they're worth it. And lure world class players. Until then we'll always end up on the losing side whether it be in the PL or the CL.

  • Comment number 29.

    Year 2010 - Chelsea play Liverpool needing a win, Stevie G makes a 'backpass'.
    Year 2012 - City play QPR, Barton (Former City player) is (gets himself) sent off.

    People who are comparing 500mn spent in 2-3years with 200 mn spent over 8-10 years need to math classes.

  • Comment number 30.

    Man Utd have been in decline since 98'

  • Comment number 31.

    Well done to Man Citeh for buying the 2011/12 league title.

    Following £1 billion of investment since 2008, and losses of £194 million in the last financial year, Shake Mansour’s plaything convincingly won the league on goal difference after beating a 10-man, relegation threatened side in stoppage time. Mankini will be reflecting on money well spent as his team of overseas mercenaries edged past a below-par and ageing United side on goal difference.

    United may have made expensive signings in the past but the important distinction is that those funds came from revenue streams built up over decades. Forbes recently listed United as the world’s most valuable club, and their millions have been accumulated through decades of sensible team and business development. Citeh have merely been bankrolled by an Arabic sugar daddy looking for a new toy. The same happened to Chelsea when Abramovich arrived and United quickly overcame that new threat.

    Citeh fans should be embarrassed at the behaviour of their so-called idols – Tevez refused to play and took an extended holiday despite a £250+ a week pay packet, yet was still welcomed back with open arms by Mankini. And we don’t even need to go into the walking joke that is Mario Balotelli.

    Citeh may have unlimited funds but they are still nowhere near being a “big club”. I liken them to the Lotto Lout Michael Carroll, all cash no class. They should come back when they have won 19 league titles. The last time I checked it was 3.

    So Citeh fans can enjoy their brief moment in the Arabic sun but can be sure England’s real top teams will roar back next season. At least I hope so for the sake of our sport.

  • Comment number 32.

    Thank you Man City. Thank you. You have done English football a great service by wrenching the EPL title away from Man Utd. For this realtively poor Man Utd side to have won the tiitle would not only have been a travesty, it would have emboldened his majesty SAF to continue with his obstinacy of refusing to recognize that which has been apparent with his team for a while now - a midfield which is second rate at best.

    Take Ryan Giggs. He has rendered extraordinary service to Man Utd. But he is currently a pale shadow of his past and the logical move would have been retirement. But he continues on with the support of his manager, who refers to him admirably as Giggsy. Would Ryan Giggs feature for Real Madrid or Barcelona? Not even on their bench. Take Michael Carrick. Here is a player who is completely devoid of any imagination. Given a 10-yard open space ahead of him, he would rather pass sideways. Unlike Roy Keane who drove the team relentlessly forward and scored many important goals, Michael Carrick is lethargic and cannot score if his life depended on it. He cannot carry the socks of his supposed Man City counterpart - Yaya Toure. He belongs with a West Bromwich not Man Utd. Take Paul Scholes. In his hey day, he hardly put a pass wrong. But watch him now and he frequently losses the ball in critical situations. He should have stayed in pasture.

    That Man Utd was ruthlessly esposed by a relative minnow like Basel should have told SAF all he needs to know. And yet like an ostrich wiith its head firmly encased in sand, he refuses to acknowledge the massive deficiencies of this Man Utd squad. Blowing 3-1 and 4-2 leads against Everton at the most critical of stages would have been sacriligeous to past Man Utd teams. To field a defeatist team against Man City was an insult to every fan who has been a witness to the forward ever creed of the past. And his statement that this squad does not need reinforcement infuriates even more.

    So thanks to Man City for doing all of us a favor. If Man Utd does not strengthen its squad, may your reign continue.

  • Comment number 33.

    @steffy78... if that would have been the case then Chelsea would have never lost under Mourinho's era...City are not going to buy all of the world's best players and keep them on bench...there are plenty around to choose from and make a squad...and trophyless season doesnt mean players won't be joining Utd...

  • Comment number 34.

    I really hope we don't get many players just two or three! A cm is needed, i personally think Schweinsteiger would be perfect, but we are unlikely to get him. All this talk about getting either Hazard or Kagawa is great, but i don't know where either would fit in.

    If we get Kagawa, Carrick will be all alone in the centre, him and the 2 Cb will be defensively exposed too much unless we sacrifice hernandez/welbeck, and place Scholes/Cleverley with Carrick and play Rooney further forward, and Kagawa as the 2nd striker. Whilst, if we get Hazard, is he going to play on the wings? I'm happy with the three wingers we have. It is difficult to know who would work. I would love to see either Modric or Schweinsteiger at United next season, but then again SAF knows more than me ha, if he is looking at buying either Kagawa or Hazard or both then he knows what he needs to do to fit them in the team.

    Ps. Hearing about Van Nistelrooy retiring today, has just made me think that i hope Hernandez can become as prolific as he was (150 goals in 219 games)

  • Comment number 35.

    ncfc123 - Man Utd team cost more than Man City?

    Starting line ups Man U - £147m Man City - £192m
    Bench - Man U - £56m Man City - £110m

    and that also forgets the £41m (K Toure and Adebayor) as opposed to £10m (Smalling) that did not make the squads for various reasons

    I don't support either Manchester team as I'm guessing you don't unless ncfc is meant to be mcfc which based on your maths it probably is...

  • Comment number 36.

    United scored more goals this past season than the previous one, they conceeded less as well. This was of course a poor United side, one that is in need of new blood in some area's.

    Go back to the Community Shield, the back 4 that day only played together 2 more games together all season, and that was in November/December. We had a constantly changing back 4, a new keeper learning English and the English game at the coal face. We had a midfield that started out wonderfully, playing our own version of the Barca pressing game, but once Cleverley was injured, Carrick came in and we changed our style of play. That in turn affected Anderson's form and then he got injured to.

    An ever changing defence a midfield that went from being snappy, and quick to pedestrian and predictive. These things didn't help United, Nor did the plan to introduce some of the wonderfully gifted young midfielders we had, as both Morrison and now Pogba have left the club, Yes United need someone in the middle of the park and yes they'll need someone to come in and replace Berbatov, but whole sale changes are not needed. They lost the league on goal difference, had Evra scored to make the Everton game 5-2 instead of Everton then going up and making it 4-3 straight after, or had the penalty at home to Newcastle correctly not been given, we'd be here proclaiming United's 20th title.

    No doubt some purchases need to be made, I think everyone can see that, but not everything is doom and gloom for the red half of Manchester.

  • Comment number 37.

    The standard of football posters on these blogs really have gone down hill....

  • Comment number 38.

    United are a 'team in transition' apparently according to the supporters.

    I thought all teams were in transition.

    The word you are looking for is decline.

    Early exit from CL, early exit from the domestic cups. Outplayed in the Europa. League form saved by Scholes coming out of retirement.

    Most of all - throwing away the title.

    Whilst Ferguson can be acknowledged for taking a 'squad in transition' to second place, his decision making and signings (and lack of) are to blame for the decline.

    That and the Glazer debt eroding away at the foundations of the club.

  • Comment number 39.

    Last post, as aUnited fan, you'd have to say the side is a lot weaker than the 08 side. Back then you had Vidic, Rio, Rooney, Ronaldo and Tevez - 5 world class players (Giggs and Scholes ceased to be workld class around 2004/5).

    Now only Rooney and arguably (an aging) Vidic are world class. Valencia and Nani would have admirers, but where as previously you'd be worried about key players being poached (Beckham/Keane/Giggs/Scholes/Stam/Rio/Ruud/Ronaldo/Tevez etc), you really dont have that worry this year. You'd say Spurs (RVDV, Bale, Modric, Walker) would be more appealing or Arsenal (RVP, Wilshire).

    Put it in an international perspective - Rio, Carrick & Wellbeck prob won't make what will be a weak England squad with Jones and Smalling on the fringes, if at all. Young is a squad player. Vidic, Giggs, Scholes all retired, with Evra close. That kinda says it all.

    The fact is SAF blends a better team from the sum total than his peers, but the individual elements are weak. if Rooney isn't on form, United don't fire. That wasn't the case in 07-09 and they need to get back to that.

    A Modric/Snjeider type and clinical surgery through the squad is needed.

  • Comment number 40.

    I don't think the squad overhaul should be as big as some say. David De Gea's start of United career was what I expected it to be: will struggle at the beginning, but will grow in confidence throughout the season. We've got decent back-up in Anders Lindegaard, too. We need a class left back, because defensively, Evra is simply not good enough anymore. Out of position too often and when he has a bad day, he'll make any half-decent right winger look like Jairzinho. There aren't many good left backs available, but I'd love it if we signed Leighton Baines. The midfield woes are well documented, I'd sign any of Modric/Kagawa/Hazard. Some say we need an enforcer, I think Phil Jones should be given a run as a CDM. He did well there earlier in the season. I'd also get a striker, because Berbatov will leave and so will Owen and they need replacing. Will Keane is an exciting prospect, but he's good few years from becoming a first team regular. I'd ask Schalke about Huntelaar, natural goalscorer, would love him at United.

  • Comment number 41.

    I guess I've found the 'Lets laugh at United blog'. ;)

  • Comment number 42.

    I find it rather amusing that some man utd fans seem to believe they are okay because they lost the title on goals difference. City shld have won the title by at least 10 points. But the referees helped man utd with at least 15 points with dodgy penalty decisions and sending offs which won games for man utd. This man utd team is weak. No creativity or guile. They dont even deserve 2nd place. They are 2nd due to Fergie and tradition, just like Arsenal coming 3rd with an awful squad. What is keeping Man utd and Arsenal going is tradition. They are both weak teams that will not win anything again unless they strengthen. As for city, the first title was always going to be difficult. №ω they have tasted it, am afraid, the floodgates will open and i see them winning a couple more.

  • Comment number 43.

    Hazard and Javi Martinez would be ideal, but if Glazernomics dictate I would consider Kagawa and Strootman to be a good summer's business. Perhaps need a right back as well. There are a few players who should probably be moved on to make space / generate funds.

    If rumors about Kagawa / Hazard are true, I wonder if it would herald a move to a more 4-3-3 formation for next season. Interesting that we played that way against Sunderland - I wonder if that's a pre-cursor to next season.

    On losing the title to City, I would like to join the legions of non-bitter reds who have congratulated them on their victory. I have to admit that City fans deserve it after 44 years of pain and suffering!

  • Comment number 44.

    put simple- united need to retire giggs, sell owen, anderson and berbatov. Buy a modric or silva for some attacking flare and need a general in the midfield, i dont believe Carrick and Fletcher are world class either . YAYA killed us- we have nothing to match his presence....any suggestions?????

  • Comment number 45.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 46.

    What drama!

    Well done Mercenary Citeh.

    We'll take our title back next year!

  • Comment number 47.

    Ah, the old injuries excuse. Football is a physical contact sport. Because of this, injuries are an integral part of the game, just as much as the lines on the pitch and shape of the ball. You might as well say "Well, we'd have won a few more games if the goals were two feet wider".

  • Comment number 48.

    Ferguson has been saying he has the cash available to spend big and compete with City's spending. Now it's time for him to prove that and make the necessary signings over this summer. United need at least 3 new players. Need replacements for both Giggs and Scholes. If United don't sign any quality players, this will prove United cannot compete with City and this will be the season where the shift of power has moved from the red side of Manchester to the blue side of Manchester. Right now we are seeing the rise of City at the expense of a decline for United.

  • Comment number 49.

    #42 rambo_chambo I find it rather amusing that some man utd fans seem to believe they are okay because they lost the title on goals difference. City shld have won the title by at least 10 points. But the referees helped man utd with at least 15 points with dodgy penalty decisions and sending offs which won games for man utd.


    Please? A recent report highlighted that if correct key decisions had been awarded in all PL matches Utd would have been 6pts better off and City 2pts better off.

    All very academic I know but less of your BS on these forums. Congrats to City on title.

  • Comment number 50.

    @31 "United may have made expensive signings in the past but the important distinction is that those funds came from revenue streams built up over decades."

    I don't think that's really the point. The question is not 'where' the money came from; it's quite simply 'how' much money has been spent. And the majority of Utd's big-name players - Rooney / Nani / Ferdinand / Young / Jones / De Gea / Carrick et al - have been bought for big sums of money.

    Both City and Utd have spent big money, regardless of where that money has come from. And in the real world, it's not possible to win the Premier League without spending money. Utd have been spending big money for the past decade to ensure they stay at the top - good luck to them. Now City are doing the same! Good luck to them too!

    Some fans have been suggesting that City 'buying' the title has been bad for football. I think it's great for football. Imgaine where we'd be if Blackburn, Chelsea and now City hadn't received big investment in the past 20 years? Well Manchester Utd would have won 17 of the 20 Premier League titles. It would have killed interest in our league.

  • Comment number 51.

    In all honesty, competing with City is going to be much, much harder than when Chelski came along, simply because the sheikh has taken investing in a plaything football club to a whole new level.

    The average wage paid to a City player is close to 100K a week, allegedly. As big as Manchester United are, there is no way we can compete with that.

  • Comment number 52.

    I'm not too worried about United really, we've had some big injury problems with Vidic and Fletcher this year who were really missed as Smalling had a fairly poor season compared to last, Evans wasn't good enough (no matter how many commentators say he was incredible; he still made some silly errors), so all we had was Ferdinand who cant play every match anymore. Fletcher is the only solid CM we have, everyone else are playmakers, so we need him back or buy a replacement, perhaps Fellaini or similar.

    Giggs has had a bad season, didn't look comfortable in CM and doesn't quite have the pace to play out wide now so I cant see a need for him other than an experienced sub to close up games. Scholes on the other hand has been brilliant (after a couple of dodgy matches at the start), I hope he has another year left in him but we need someone in his mould to link everything together. I hoped Cleverly would step up this season but never looked good after that little ankle injury, plus he would need to adapt him game to replace what Scholes is. Modric is the obvious choice to bring in but Swansea's Allen would be a cheaper/younger option, have him shadow Scholes for a season whilst playing the smaller matches and he could be quality!

    Other than a decent RB (so much hatred for the hotheaded da Silva twins!) we have a good young team that, as you have quoted by Hansen, will only get better!

    Last point on Hernandez, how can Fergie bring him into the team once every few weeks and expect a performance? Normally so good at rotating but he played the same team every week up to the start of the CL, changed it all around and surprise we struggled in that tournament! Needs to rotate from week one next season so when you bring in Hernandez et al, they have the best chance of performing well! Get that right along with a couple of CMs and Citeh will be worried!

  • Comment number 53.

    I'm not one to jump on the 'Man City have bought the league' bandwaggon because if your club had the money you'd love seeing all the best players being bought for your club, but for people to counter that argument with ridiculous facts like the Man Utd team cost more is ridiculous. Your including players like Rooney and Ferdinand who both cost around £30m each and were bought 8 and 10 years ago respectively. Man Utd have been strengthening their team with one or two marquee signings every season unlike Man City who have spent close to £320 in 3 1/2 years.... There's a difference!

  • Comment number 54.


    LMAO - nice one :o)

  • Comment number 55.

    @ post 38 dogeared: united have had two previous seasons during the PL era when they haven't won a trophy. In 97/98, the next season they won the treble. The next time was 2004/2005, a season when united were knocked out of the CL in the group stages. Within 3 seasons united won the title in 2006/2007, and the PL and CL double in 2007/2008. Having only lost the title on goal difference with a record points haul for 2nd place, with the worst injury record in any season in united's history, I put it to you that united will be the team to beat, as per, next season.


  • Comment number 56.

    32 - You do Carrick a disservice. His role is not that of Yaya Toure but Gareth Barry/De Jong shielding the back four. He is told to keep it simple and although not Roy Keane has been one of the better players this season. If you put him alongside Toure for example you'd see the difference. At the moment he has to do all the running of players that are too old (Giggs and Scholes) or positionally naive (Anderson).

    42. Care to name some of these decisions that got United 15 points? I can think of the Murphy penalty call against Fulham which is evened out by the penalty Newcastle got at OT. Don't let the media's bellyaching about Young allow you to think the QPR and Villa pens weren't so. If they weren't we'll add Dzeko's v Sunderland to the list to even one of them out and Balotelli's non red card v Spurs to the list.

    United need a young left back to put pressure on and eventually replace Evra. Baines would be overpriced for what he is (a solid but unspectacular English player). Jordi Alba is surely Classico bound one way or another so Fergie's scouts need to get busy.

    An experienced right back is a must. There was rumour that when Fergie was spotted in Lille he was actually watching the right back. This would be a top signing if he could have the impact say Sagna who joined from Lique 1. This would allow us to stop putting Jones and Smalling there and to ease Rafael in a bit as he develops (or indeed get rid).

    Fletcher needs replacing. We cannot have another Hargreaves here where he refuses to retire but equally is of no use. There is no agression or mobility n United's midfield at all. I'd love us to go for Tiote or Fellain but can see price being an obstacle. Again the scouts needs to find someone to do the job. We are talking Fletcher here not Keane. There are players out there who can perform the role.

    Next up Giggs and Scholes need to be able to retire in which case we need a schemer in the middle of the Park. Modric would be ideal but can't see it. So Kagawa or someone lower profile please.

    No need for any strikers. Welbeck is still relatively junior and has shown a great understanding with Nani and Rooney already. Hazard has been casually linked but unless playing from the left in place of Young or behind Rooney I can't see that happening either. Berbatov and Owen can go. Let Macheda and Keane have a few run outs.

  • Comment number 57.

    well done city. the table never lies and they finished on top. sooooo close tho! we will all remember where we were when they won that in the last minute on the last day. but to all you doom mongerers and nay sayeers, all you ABUs... WE WILL NOT GO QUIETLY INTO THE NIGHT!

  • Comment number 58.

    First and foremost, congratulations to Man City, they’ve got a great squad, they simply were better and the table reflects about where everyone should be at the end of the very long season.
    But, everyone saying:

    “The balance of power has shifted..",
    " City is here to stay... " ,
    " It's over for UTD...",
    And and…

    I would say this: " will you relax?" Let's see:

    - A United Team that was a “good team at best” was a mere 85 seconds from getting their Twentieth title... a title they have absolutely NO BUSINESS in getting considering the bags upon bags of cash City has "thrown away"
    - ManU has how many UK-based players in their starting line up vs. City's? Oh, and yes, while the name of the game is win at all cost, I actually do take pride in that Man United give a chance “home grown” players
    - So why the thrown away: “What comes so quickly ... leaves so quickly"

    City has won one title and they’ll probably – as the should with this squad – win maybe a few more,,, but as Murinho blazed in with a storm.. he left just as abruptly as he came in.. So, let's relax, friends.. a few quality signings and ManU will win it - again !!

  • Comment number 59.

    1.At 16:26 14th May 2012, Ncfc123 wrote:
    The Man United team cost more than Man City team yesterday underlining the fact that United have been "buying" the title for years.


    No, i think you need to think about that last statement. Also consider the wages of most of those players city lured.

  • Comment number 60.

    The width of an upright. That’s all the difference this season between United winning a record 20th championship title and finishing runners up. Had Patrice Evra’s header gone in instead of hitting the post when United were 4-2 up against Everton at Old Trafford, it would be the Reds, not the Blues, who would be crowned Premiership winners. On such narrow margins are fates decided.

    And it is this finest of margins that makes United’s ultimate collapse so hard to take for Reds’ fans everywhere. Blowing an 8 point lead in four games to hand the title to their bitterest and closest rivals will take a lot of getting over. And what makes it worse of course is that no one had any right to expect them to get into that position in the first place. While Citeh have spent £1 billion strengthening their squad, United have leaked £500 million in loan repayments and debt charges. Of United’s starting eleven only Wayne Rooney, perhaps, would get into Citeh’s first choice team. They have battled through virtually the entire season without their captain, Nemanja Vidic, Darren Fletcher, Anderson, and Tom Cleverley, and have missed Smalling, Jones, and Valencia for lengthy stretches. It is quite, quite remarkable that they have managed to maintain a challenge right up to the end of the season. But many Reds fans might have wished them to be well out of contention before the season’s end rather than go through the agonies of losing out at the last.

    Despite their valiant efforts in the league, the season overall has thrown up few positives. David de Gea in goal has won over his many critics at the start of the season and looks set to become United’s long term keeper. The lad deserves huge credit for taking on the challenges he has faced at Old Trafford, with a different culture, language, and an ever-changing back four in front of him. Danny Welbeck has come on apace as a top quality striker. Antonio Valencia terrorised full backs on his return to full fitness. Wayne Rooney’s goals kept United in the title hunt for longer than might have been expected. But there is little else to cheer.

    Early exits from all cup competitions highlighted United’s decline as a European force. Major weaknesses at full back were demonstrated in the match against Everton which ultimately cost United the title, and strengthening is badly needed here. Both Smalling and Jones have been played out of position to cover for gaps at full back and in midfield, to the%

  • Comment number 61.

    United need to replace Carrick & Fletcher, these 2 mid-players lack enough creativity needed for a club like Man U. Lots of fans don't believe in Anderson but personally,i think that man has enough penetrating passes and visions that are valuable for any midfield. SAF need at least 2 good midfield players in the class of Sneijder and if they are not available for now, he should concentrate on Cleverly,Young,Nani,Anderson,Valencia and strengthened it by withdrawing Rooney to attacking midfield because he never really look like a prolific goal-scorer to me anyway, that will leave room for Chicharito and Wellbeck upfront and he will do well if he can persuade Berby to stay.With a very good midfield that supply good passes,Berbatov is still one of the best strikers in the world. Unfortunately,that midfield is what Utd lacks. For God's sake, SAF should not come up with Carrick and Fletcher next season. They are the weakest point of Man U. Whoever doubt it should go back and look at Utd @ the begining of the season without these 2 players and compare the mid-play to what we had against Basel,Bilbao,Everton,and Wigan. Lest i forget, i think Fletcher can solve the problem on the right back.SAF drafted him to that position before in an emergency situation, and by my evaluation, i think he did well.

  • Comment number 62.

    cost of squads that played for their respective clubs this season (not including players on loan to other clubs at start of season)

    man city £309m
    chelsea £305m
    man utd £253m
    liverpool £160m
    arsenal £131m
    spurs £123m

  • Comment number 63.

    Its not just the fact we lost the title but rather who we lost it to. Plus, having to put up with Liam and Noel's banter for the next season makes it sooo much worse! Then I reckon is the issue of all the new Citeh supporters. I cannot remember a time when I have seen so many blue shirts in and around Manchester--gobsmacked!

  • Comment number 64.

    My expert picks would be:
    Lee Cattermole - To add that steel in midfield that's been missing since keane left. His performances v city this season show he's the man that can put toure in his place.
    Keizuke Honda - The star man of the CSKA Moscow team and Japan. Would increase revenues and be excellent for the proposed flotation on Singapore Exchange. And an excellent replacement for scholes as well!!
    Jordi Alba - Spain's LB and at a tender age of 21 (i think). Would link up well with de gea and push evra for a starting place.

  • Comment number 65.

    I reckon the best signing United could make this summer would be a young, classy Spaniard who wouldn't cost a fortune. A guy who is track record for flair. A guy who can make the most of average talent. A guy who is used to working to a budget, just to keep pace. Roberto Martinez.

  • Comment number 66.

    I was wondering when the blame would eventually fall to the Glazers, it always does after losses. Man Utd fans blame them for being in it for the money...I can find a few people associated with the club who are in it for the money (Rooney, Rio being the prime examples), so why is this a big deal?

    The fact is, under the Glazers, marketing deals have grown exponentially, and the team itself hasn't been doing too bad on the pitch (4 out of 7 leagues, a CL trophy etc). Fergie has spent around 220 million since they've come to Utd, but obviously that isn't enough to appease the Man Utd faithful.

    The failure to sign a midfielder is a particular point of contention... but the money has been made available, if you care to remember (Anderson, Hargreaves cost 25+ million euros each), so you have to admit that the problem was created by Fergie's poor choices.

    And do you really think that even in the last two years, when people have been calling out for midfield reinforcements, Fergie was denied the cash to sign a decent midfielder? Out of Silva, Nasri and Mata, I'm pretty sure he could've had at least one, if he asked. Don't try to blame to the Glazers, for a problem that is clearly down to Fergie.

  • Comment number 67.

    I believe it will be at least five years now before United win the PL again. Thoughts?

  • Comment number 68.

    Poor Owen Coyle and Terry Connor they must be thinking that if only a bored and spoilt oil sheikh had landed on their patch then they too would probably be champions with the benefit of the £1,000,000,000+ investment.

  • Comment number 69.

    @61: Rooney has never looked like a prolific goal scorer to you......have you missed his 34 (or is it 35) this season? Two seasons ago he did the same. He is now 3rd only to Dennis law and Sir Bobby Charlton in uniteds all time top scorers!

  • Comment number 70.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 71.

    In my opinion apart from David Silva, at the age of 37 Paul Scholes is still comfortably the best midfielder in the Premier league which shows just how much the league has regressed in the last 3 or 4 years. What I would really love to see over the summer is some really exciting players joining the top clubs. Messi obviously is never going to leave Barcelona, but it would be amazing to see ozil, neymar, cavani, etc etc gracing our stadiums next year. Apart from aguero, silva, cisse and van persie what players consistently excite in our league?
    As for Man Utd they need two quality central midfield players, plus a pacey centre-back if they are to stay in touch with not just city, but the rest of the big european clubs next season.

  • Comment number 72.

    At 16:56 14th May 2012, therealronaldo wrote:

    Shake Mansour’s plaything convincingly won the league on goal difference after beating a 10-man, relegation threatened side in stoppage time.

    Ridiculous statement...Citeh won the league because over 38 games they scored more and conceded less (marginally its true) than Man United. This one result stuff is nonsense.

  • Comment number 73.

    @ 67: I disagree for these reasons:

    United only lost the league on goal difference this year.

    United threw away an 8 point lead with a few games to go.

    United threw away a two goal lead vs Everton in a game that would have won them the league.

    United had the worst injury list in their entire history to contend with.

    Last time united lost the league, by one point to Chelsea in 2008/2009 they went on to win the league fairly comfortably in the following 2 seasons.

    United have blooded loads of young players over the last two seasons.

    What are you reasons for thinking that it'll take them 5 years at least?

  • Comment number 74.

    @68 Patto45

    Poor Owen Coyle and Terry Connor they must be thinking that if only a bored and spoilt oil sheikh had landed on their patch then they too would probably be champions with the benefit of the £1,000,000,000+ investment.
    You can add Fergie, and every manager on the planet to that list.

  • Comment number 75.


    Scholes was world class. This season he is no way better than

    Modric Parker Van Der Vaart Mata Ramires Arteta Wilshere Cabaye Ben Arfa Fellaini Nasri Dempsey etc

  • Comment number 76.

    United have many good young players but how good are they?

    Will they ever be as good as Vidic Rooney, Keane, Ronaldo Ferdinand Giggs? not sure they will ever be that good.

    Youngsters per se are not the answer it is youngsters who will devlop into some of the best in Europe, the current crop appear to be more like good squad players and don't really frighten the opposition.

    Fergie has always said the Glazers provide as much money as is required and needs to buy 2 top European players to keep up with City.

  • Comment number 77.

    Anyone saying United have been buying the title for years make a point but the vast majority of the money spent has come from developing United as a global brand and not through Middle Eastern oil money.

    In terms of transfers, Falcao would be a fantastic signing- a proven goalscorer and creator who would take some of the strain off Rooney. Then we'd have to find a strong central midfielder and someone else to help create things in tight situations. Plus replace Rafael- not a major overhaul but definitely investment is needed this summer because we all know City will spend again

  • Comment number 78.

    @ 71: I reckon the chances of seeing at least some of the players you mention playing in the PL next year is quite high. With the change in tax laws in Spain, the players have to pay 54% tax as opposed to the 24% they have had to pay previously......I think they called it the "Beckham Rule" which has now been overturned due to austerity measures in bankrupt Spain. With higher rate tax payers paying 50% (or is it 45% now?) in the uk.....that is now not as punitive as it was, relatively.

  • Comment number 79.

    United did well considering the injuries they've had to deal with - Vidic has been out for months but we adjusted remarkably well. City have struggled far more when Kompany has been missing and I think this reflects the fact that a Ferguson team will always be up towards the top of the league, no matter who the individuals are.

    But this United team, in terms of individuals, is definitely below average; 89 points was only achievable because the league as a whole has also been below average. When was the last time all three promoted teams stayed up, two of them very comfortably? The complete failure in Europe is a more accurate reflection of the team's quality.

    I was at the Sunderland game yesterday and Giggs and Scholes were excellent, but it's time for them to take a back seat. Ferguson needs to bring in a top drawer central midfielder (or two) so that the club can finally move on from the golden generation.

  • Comment number 80.

    Man u needs to strengthen to keep pace with city?

    Phil!! U do know man u lost the title at the very last min right?

    Ud think man u were 15points behind.

  • Comment number 81.

    71. At 18:01 14th May 2012, uptonparker wrote:
    In my opinion apart from David Silva, at the age of 37 Paul Scholes is still comfortably the best midfielder in the Premier league


    You must be joking....come on better than Toure Y, Mata, Gerrard, Modric?!?!

  • Comment number 82.

    @75 The only CMs who come close to Scholes in the EPL are Modric and Yaya Toure.

  • Comment number 83.

    At 16:26 14th May 2012, Ncfc123 wrote:

    The Man United team cost more than Man City team yesterday underlining the fact that United have been "buying" the title for years.

    Hmm really:
    De Gea £17 million......Joe heart: £600,000 to £1,500,000
    Pat Evera £5.5 million.....Gael Clichy £7 million
    Jony Evans No Fee......Joleon lescott £22 million
    Rio Ferdinand £30 million.....Pablo zabaleta £6.45 million
    Phil Jones £16.5m...... Vincent Kompany £6 million
    Ryan gigs No fee.......Gareth Barry £12 million
    Paul Scholes No fee....Samir Nasri £25 million
    Carrick £18.5m.......David silva £26m
    Ashly Young £20 million.....Yaya toure £24 million
    Valencia £16 million....Sergio Aguero £38m
    Rooney £25.6 million.....Tevez £25.5m
    Nani 25.5 million.......Mario Balotelli £24m
    Edin Dzeko £27m
    de jong £18 million
    Not used
    Berba £30 million
    Park £4M

    Total Man utd: 217.5 Million Man citys: 293 Million

  • Comment number 84.

    United need to buy in centre midfield. This has been said for the past 3 seasons and is still true. Highlighting this problem was that we had to rely on Scholes returning after Christmas, which should never happen at a club like United. In many games this season we have played four wingers across midfield, sometimes with another playing as a second striker.

    It is time for a good clear out, to provide opportunity and funds for the new players needed. Berbatov, Owen, Bebe, Macheda, and Park all have to go, they are either too old or not good enough. The sale should free up at least enough funds to purchase a world class centre midfielder.

  • Comment number 85.

    I am not a Utd fan but I do think that in a strange way city winning the title yesterday is the best thing to happen to Man Utd since Chelski won the league, that time Fergie went out and bought some decent players and they won the league and European Cup. if they had won it yesterday the glazers would have kept the purse strings tight and net season they would have pretty much the same squad. but now i think he will realise he HAS to bring in some quality if next may he wants to avoid the scenes that are happening in Manchester right now.

  • Comment number 86.

    I also believe that centre midfielder should be Mario Gotze of Borussia Dortmund, if they can prevent him from joining Munich.

  • Comment number 87.

    Manu fell to pieces once before when one great manager (Sir Matt Busby, 1969) who made the sum greater than the parts over 20 years was put out to pasture and the same will happen when SAF “retires” as he will soon. Even with the crowds and the money and their “history” since 1958, Manu will no longer be a permanent force and will have to spend more to get less. At least then the fans who remain will be true fans. I think MCFC will dominate for a generation.

  • Comment number 88.

    Im very interested to see how mancinis policy of barely any rotation works with potentially an extra 10 vital champions league games. Im just hoping toure gets his wish to return to barca then city will only have 2 players who care(hart and kompany)

    United can guarantee the title next season if we get left back cover/replacement for evra, a replacement for berbatov, a creative midfielder and a defensive midfielder. In an ideal world we would get jordi alba/baines, lewandowski, kagawa and javi martinez. The first 3 would be 10-15mil each with martinez being 25-30 which still doesnt even match ronaldo's transfer even if we paid top price for all of them so its not unrealistic. With loaning out fabio, selling berba and letting afew other players go on free like owen that will open up the wages.

    We have needed to spend big since keane left and then after ronaldo left, yes we won titles but we would of won more champions leagues if we strengthened properly. We spent 50mil last summer but got scholes, neville, brown, oshea and vds off the wage bill which would of opened up alot more wages than the new players were on.

    This is about the 6th season in a row we have desperately needed a dominant central midfield partnership and each season the need gets greater. Hopefully losing pogba and morrison will show fergie that buying quality is the way to go for us this season.

    I heard that the glazers have recently spent big on tampa bay so hopefully they will follow suit with united as if they dont the glazer protests are going to come back with a fury.

  • Comment number 89.

    @77: It all depends on how you define "buying the title". If you define it as spending significantly more than your direct competitors then i would argue that united have NEVER "bought the title".

    Just a few facts

    United have only been the top spenders in transfer fees in 4 of the 20 PL seasons.

    Since 1992, united outspent city on 7 occasions, city outspent united on 7 occasions and the other 6 were equal (bearing in mind that city were not even in the prem for 6 of those seasons, with one season in league 2 (division 3)).

    People say that united broke transfer records blah, blah, blah. United might've spent say £3m on Pallister back in the day, but other sides spent say £5m on three've got to look at total spend not just the cost of one player, as I said above, united have only been top spenders in the PL in 4 seasons out of 20. They are 5th overall below, City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs.

    United spent more money on ground improvements/expansion than transfers during the 90's and early naughties than on transfers.

    United have always kept wages at less than 50% of turnover since the early 90's, city currently pay more than 100% of turnover on wages alone.

    City have spent more, net, in 3 years than united have in their whole history.

    You can argue that city haven't bought the title if you want but trying to compare their spending model to united's is laughable.

    Btw, well done city, the table never lies, whoever wins the league deserves it.

  • Comment number 90.


    I don't mean the number of goals but the art of scoring,shooting and positioning. Rooney is a player with a high workrate, running,tackling,covering and passing. A natural goal scorer like Lineker,Ian Rush, and Rudd Van Nistelrooy only position themselves @ d right place and put d ball in the net. Sometimes, looks easy but believe me, it takes them sometimes to master the trick. Rooney only assume the position because nobody is ready to take that responsibility since d departure of RVN and Ronaldo. There is no doubting the fact that Rooney remains one of the best footbalers that the world wouid ever see.

  • Comment number 91.

    If we examine the united team, there's far too many average players in the side, and with city's financial clought, and the teams around us strengthening we are at risk of falling behind

    In goal were fine but let's look the defence. Evra has no cover so the lack of competition doesnt apply no pressure to him which doesn't improve performance. Rafae's positioning leaves us vulnerable at all times. So quality full backs are needed

    Most importantly though, our midfield needs total configuration. Anderson is not good, nani is overrated and not good enough, even ashley young is overrated and not man united quality. Park has done all he can. Scholes and Giggs are legends but we can't rely on them forever. And cleverly still needs time

    So that leaves us with valencia (our player of the season), carrick (who I still don't beilieve is good enough) and fletcher (who is out till noone knows when)

    So we need another top winger, two and maybe possibly three, world class central midfielders.

    Inter and roma aren't in the champions league so deals can be done for the likes of sneijder and de rossi. There are young quality players such as eriken of ajax, and m'vila of rennes. Hazard is a possibilty although it looks he's going city, as well as the likes of gotze at dortmund and even lass diarra of real madrid

    Up front we'll need another body for sure to cover the departure of owen and berbatov. Rossi would be available with villareal being relegated. Llorente at bilbao will have no european football this year, and there's the likes of soldadoand huntelaar

    Its time we buy quality. And if we are to invest in the youth then buy quality youth not thosewho we think will blossom. No more time to waste money on the likes of bebe, obertan

  • Comment number 92.


    The simple answer-buy effectively, as Fergie did with Hernandez last season, rather than throw money at it and hope.

    The title started drifting at Wigan, where, apart from s**t reffing giving them a goal that should never have stood and denying us two sewed-on pens, Fergie had a second League game in a week for the first time since the brilliant run we were on had started.

    He risked trying a bit of rotation at JJB, and it went pear-shaped.

    And THAT is the problem, as it actually was last season, too. The reserves/fringe players just aren't good enough to take up the cudgels.

    It is also telling that Citeh rescued 11 points from 8 games in which they went behind-we managed just 3 from the same number.

    A few thoughts on where we precisely need to strenghten shortly.

  • Comment number 93.

    Sheikh Mansour doesn't even have enough money to buy the players required to turn United into a good team. They are the worst team Citeh played all season. Got tuned in 1-6 in their own back yard and then pathetically parking the bus at the Etihad. Georgieboy you are wrong (67) when you say you will not go quietly into the night. You did at the Etihad. Although since you're asking. United need a RB and LB a quality midfielder (the guy who said Schweinsteiger, I agree) and partner for Shrek.

  • Comment number 94.

    Now you've done it Phil, a blog about how Man Utd need to strengthen their squad?

    You do realise you will now get everyone, bar City Supporters, now turning into mini accountants, stating that Utd don't spend half as much as other Premier League teams yet still obtaining quality players etc, etc.

    I can see it now :

    "Yes but United have only spent xxx million (to emphasis point) compared to (insert Premier League Rival here) xxxxx milions in the space of 12 months"

    "Ah, but you are forgetting xxx return if we achieve certain goals during season. Or (insert new players name) really only cost xxx million for (insert random reason here)"

    I do find it amazing how supporters have access to their teams Profit/Loss Accounts. I suppose it's what comes with being in the Premier League, considering I only know Rotherham have made one signing which was on a free.

  • Comment number 95.

    That refs assistant that gave that 'ghost' penalty to Newcastle United at OT?

    Does he get a prem league winners medal as well?

    Won em the title that fella!!

  • Comment number 96.


    First part-don't assume Manja & Fletcher are coming back.

    Essien,only slightly older than Vidic,has clearly been finished by his knee injury-we are probably OK CD-wise, but is Ferdinand going to play more than 20 games next year, either?

    Fletcher's condition is stress-related, so, though I pray not, he may have to give up the game, or risk it recurring. We need an experienced defensive CM alongside whom Phil Jones can learn the job, because that's where he can make a real mark. If they can do as Toure does & attack effectively as well, great, but it's that covering on the back four that has been garbage for at least the last 2 years.

    I still believe the attacking CM we need is there already-Rooney. He can do anything needed very well & I believe we would still get 15 goals a season minimum out of him.

    Alongside him, Cleverley needs a decent run, or you go for an attacking CM who shines for as near 95 mins as you can get, rather than a flash harry who disappears as soon as a decent opponent double-marks him.

    More shortly!

  • Comment number 97.


    It's absolutely classic when United start blaming poor refereeing decisions on costing them the title.

    Any neutral will tell you United get way more than share of dodgy decisions - and no, it doesn't balance over the course of the season.

    This is the influence of two things -

    1. Ferguson and his influence over the FA, which quite frankly needs an independent investigation.
    2. Old Trafford being the biggest stadium - a phenomenon repeated world over, but referees need to be better tuned into it.

  • Comment number 98.

    I do find 2 things ironic since yesterday's victory.

    1. Fergie has come out and dismissed City's win by saying that he isn't worried until they have done it 19 times, which would take them 100 years.

    This almost sounds like a statement from Liverpool fans that rely on their past history to dismiss other team's victories, which is of course what Man Utd fans taunt Liverpool about.

    2. A few Man Utd fans on this blog stating that Chelski (Chelsea) and Citeh (City) will spend next season. So Fergie has to spend to keep up essentially. Yet, the same fans taunt Chelsea and City for spending big and "buying" the title.

    Can you spot the hypocrisy?
    Are you beginning to see the irony?

  • Comment number 99.

    @ 94: I can see that you've heard of the Internet and have mastered posting comments. As for knowing accounts figures, etc they are all freely available if want to look: (for uniteds accounts) (for transfer figures since 92)

  • Comment number 100.

    9 months ago, if you'd offered United supporters that the destination of the title would go down to two teams on the last game of the season and that they would be one of them ... they would've taken it. They'd take it next season too. Let's not get too carried away with the power shift thing. Yeah, there is a new player now and they will be around for a while but United will be there or thereabouts next season as well.


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