Manchester United have never started a Premier League season without believing that they can finish top of the league and rightly so. No doubt the most successful club in English football started the 2010/11 season with the same mentality but at such an early stage in the season, the men in Manchester United jerseys find themselves playing catch-up. Sir Alex Ferguson has stressed time after time that he has everything he needs at his disposal. If United can win the league without strengthening in January it could be the clubs most impressive Premier League season to date.
Having made an uncharacteristic start to the season, United still haven’t found fifth gear. This has left many Manchester United fans wondering if new additions to the squad are the only solution. Sir Alex was recently quoted in the Independent saying “We won’t be buying in January, definitely not”. This was not the news that many United fans wanted to hear but there’s plenty of reason to keep the faith.
Wayne Rooney made his feelings clear about the clubs ambition and the importance of bringing in new players and he had a fair point but as he’s proven before Alex Ferguson isn’t often wrong. He’s pointed to the fact that there are several players returning from injury that will re-strengthen the squad. Antonio Valencia and Michael Owen might not have the power to singlehandedly turn things around but hopefully the increased competition for places will raise the level of the United team.
The fact that he has belief in his current squad will pay dividends as every United player can recognize their importance to the team in whatever role they play. Take for example, Roy Hodgson at Liverpool: He’s stated that he needs to bring in five or six big name players or even a £20 Million signing because his current squad simply isn’t good enough. There’s no way the Liverpool players can feel the same loyalty to the club or manager when they’re constantly under the threat of being replaced because they’re not valued.
As Alex Fergusson said, the January is a tough time to sign players anyway because a lot of the best talent is cup tied. Unlike Manchester United, Liverpool have little to suggest they’ll be playing in Europe next season so it will be difficult to make some serious additions. Therefore, it’s likely that Hodgson’s lack of belief in his team could backfire. It’s clear to see United are in a transitional phase so that fact that they’re actually still unbeaten this season is a credit to Fergusson and his players.
As long as United are able to draw upon a fully fit squad who’s to say they won’t be able to close in on Chelsea? The Blues have shown they’re not unstoppable and they’ll drop more points along the way. If United can find some consistency the deciding factor could come down to the big head to head games. The same should be noted for Manchester City, but at least for this season, Chelsea will be their biggest obstacle.
Supposing Manchester United miss out this season, the immediate future will still look bright. As the younger players develop, expect to see a new look Manchester United team competing for the title. Hernandez, Evans, Smalling, Nani, Obertan and Macheda led by a refreshed Wayne Rooney; that’s a force that Chelsea or Manchester City won’t be able to buy! If I were in Mancini shoes, I’f invest in some goalie gloves. Do you think Manchester United will be able to mount a serious title challenge this season without making additions to the current squad?
Written by: Olly Dyson, correspondent for soccerpro.com