In what has been a tumultuous week for all involved with Manchester United, fans have been left to contemplate what the future holds. In Wayne Rooney‘s eyes the future is definitely not bright. Sir Alex Ferguson publicly disagreed last night and seemed somewhat perplexed by the suggestion that the club had a lack of ambition. Frequent followers of both the Reserves and the Academy will testify that the current crop coming through the ranks is the best for some time with numerous youth internationals regularly playing to a high standard in the style expected of any Manchester United side.
Yet Rooney’s main bone of contention seemed to be the quality of the current first team squad, particularly recent additions. Although he is a fine player, Rooney is neither manager, chief executive or even captain (club or on-field, or vice, or…well you get the picture) and so for him to have the cheek to make demands as to future acquisitions is utterly ridiculous.
What exactly did he expect David Gill to say to him? Does he want a list of targets and to be kept in the know regarding progress? I’m quite certain Gill would have stated that we are always tracking players and it was up to the manager when to make the move, after all last time I checked Fergie was the one in control of the team. The current situation reminds me of a less-explosive event during one of the club’s most successful periods ever.
HE WEARS A MAGIC HAT
When Roy Keane famously criticised the desire of the squad (no not the MUTV one) after being knocked out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich in 2001, many observers agreed that it was time for change. Despite three titles in a row, the side seemed to be stagnating with many players around their peak ages but not much youth to support them – and their hunger being openly questioned.
Yet back then the squad was practically the same one which had won the Treble. Some new youngsters had been more involved, the likes of Jonathan Greening (an unused sub in Barcelona), Ronnie Wallwork and Luke Chadwick, but none of them were considered as highly as the youth in the current squad.
Fergie knew that changes were necessary so he did the obvious thing and spent big. Ruud van Nistelrooy and Juan Seba Veron were brought in for a combined sum close to fifty million pounds. In spite of the transfer outlay the 2001/2002 season was a difficult one, with United finishing outside the top two for the first time in eleven years and being eliminated from both domestic cup competitions in the early stages.
The strength of that side came in Europe where the side successfully negotiated the lengthy double group stage format before a convincing defeat of Deportivo in the quarters set up a semi-final with the surprise of the season Bayer Leverkusen who had already defeated Liverpool in the previous round in a thrilling tie, that after topping a group containing Deportivo, Arsenal and Juventus. It would be wrong to call United’s performances complacent but sloppy play lead to Leverkusen netting two crucial goals at Old Trafford which helped them go through on the away goals rule. Looking back Leverkusen had many quality players, Hans Jorg-Butt, Lucio, Ze Roberto, Michael Ballack, Bernd Schneider, Oliver Neuville and of course Dimitar Berbatov.So what does that season prove?
Well the new signings both impressed, obviously van Nistelrooy was the more spectacular with his incredible goalscoring but Veron’s performances in Europe are often overlooked, his ability to dictate games was his main attribute but this didn’t come out often enough in the rough and tumble of the league. A player who would fit perfectly into modern day Arsenal only seemed to disrupt the famous midfield four of Beckham, Scholes, Keane and Giggs which had been so dominant for so long.
So spending big doesn’t always work either, the key is to have a long term plan. Bringing players through the youth team, whether they be foreign imports or local lads is built into the fabric of Manchester United, as is the oft-used ‘nobody is bigger than the club’- not Sir Matt, not Sir Alex and certainly not Wayne Rooney.
Comparing Rooney’s outburst to Keane’s is good for an analogy but the fact is Keane stayed and although he eventually left in a cloud of acrimony, he is, and forever will be, a Manchester United legend. He put aside his misgivings for the good of the club and because he had faith in the manager. He criticised the team for living on past successes but he didn’t criticise their ability. He never disrespected the fans or the manager and after all he was the captain and thus was entitled to be a little more outspoken than the rest. So without mentioning cows or fields, summing up the situation can be done without metaphors but with a simple phrase, ‘You can’t buy success.’ Manchester City became the richest club in the world in August 2008.
In the two seasons since they have a total of 0 trophies, they are on to their second manager and have failed to qualify for the Champions League. In that same period, their unambitious, penniless neighbours have won one league title, two League Cups, been to a Champions League final and missed out on a record fourth title in a row by just one point.
So Wayne, the grass isn’t always greener, good to see you have now seen sense and congratulations on your new 5 year contract
Written by forum member mather23