Saturday, July 17, 2010

Ferguson lining up Vidic replacement?

The speculation surrounding the future of "want away" Nemanja Vidic continues unabated; if we are to believe reports, the Serbian will soon be playing for Real Madrid under Jose Mourinho. If the rumours prove to be true, United fans will be disappointed with the defender who they've grown to admire since he signed for the club back in 2006. However, Vidic's standing among the fans' went down when midway through last season reports claimed the Serbian refused to play when pulling out at the last minute - supposedly because of 'injury'. On at least one ocassion Ferguson was said to be 'baffled' by the late no-show.

The latest transfer speculation suggests Ferguson could be eyeing Bruno Alaves as a replacement. Porto's 28 year-old centre-back is also being linked with Zenit St Petersburg, with talk of a £12.5m move. Some United fans will no doubt be underwhelmed at the prospect of signing Alaves, but he is probably better than some of Ferguson's existing options.

Replacing Vidic is just one of many problems facing Ferguson; the United squad is ageing and the manager has little room to manouevre in the transfer market due to lack of funds. United have been labelled as Real Madrid's feeder club by rival fans' - and being honest it is hard to argue with that. United are becoming a selling club, one that has to sell before the manager can strengthen.

Ferguson has put great stock in the fact that his younger players will have benefited from the previous twelve months experience, but that assertion is open to question; Gabriele Obertan was given few opportunities to prove what he can do. Danny Welbeck was sent out on loan and now there's talk of a permanent move to Sunderland. Kiko Macheda and Fabio da Silva were both missing through injury for much of the last campaign. Darron Gibson has been given ample opportunities to prove what he is capable of, but the Northern Ireland international doesn't appear to fit into any obvious slot in the engine room; he lacks pace, doesn't tackle particularly well, his passing is so-so; on the positive side, he has a decent shot - but for sure he is no Paul Scholes.

Like Gibson, Anderson has been given ample time to prove his worth, but he too has fallen well below expectations, so much reports claim he could soon be sold.

When you factor-in the constant injuries to Owen Hargreaves - who has not gone on tour this summer due to a 'new injury' - and the speculation surrounding the future of Michael Carrick there are serious concerns about the United engine room.

Up front Berbatov has been very hit and miss, but worryingly for United fans, the team might have to rely on him for the first few weeks of the season if Rooney suffers from his dreadful World Cup campaign and a disappointing season end.

It's fair to say Rafael da Silva (should be in the team every week), Jonny Evans and Atonio Valencia all did extremely well last season. Nani showed great improvement once he stepped out of Ronaldo's shadow.

United have signed two unproven youngsters in Javier Hernandez and Chris Smalling from Fulham. Hernandez could take time to settle, but he looks as though he has the quality to succeed based on his performances at the World Cup for Mexico.

Comparing players is always a dangerous business, but the Mexican is a predator - a player who comes alive in the opposition's penalty area; he is a bit like former Sunderland striker Kevin Phillips - both in his stature and his style of play. Smalling has only been a professional for a couple of years and it will interesting to see how he copes with playing for a club like United.

Ferguson has no alternative but to be positive about his squad's prospects for the coming season, but as ever, results will be key and the manager's summer optimism will be tested once the battle commences and the talking stops.

4 comments:

  1. I see Smalling gave away a penalty against Celtic the other day... good start. I could argue that we could survive with Evans/Smalling covering for Ferdinand alongside Vidic next season. It isnt ideal (as we saw last season) but maybe we could live with it another season until Fergie bites the bullet and signs a defender to replace Rio rather than just cover him.
    The problem will be if Vidic does go. I saw £18m in one of the papers... Thats a bargain in my opinion. When Vidic is in the right mood I consider him the best centre back in the world and as most tend to play until 33/34 then Madrid will get a few years out of him. I am not a fan of Alaves but hes the best one linked to us yet - which worries me too. Perhaps we should just beat Spurs to the punch and sign Simon Kaer. He was the only danish player at the world cup who showed any promise and as he is young there would at least be the possibilty of selling him on in the future the next time Madrid come calling :S

    Evans had an ok season for me. I just felt that he stalled around the mid season point and his form dipped the longer the season went on. I guess I felt that he had pretty much reached the hight of his abilities and just going to be the same level of player as Vidic/Ferdinand. I hope I am wrong on this though and we have Ferdinands long term replacement already at the club.

    Did you see the stuff about Lahm? How Bayern want the right back from Ajax and may be willing to sell Lahm and could be after Park Ji Sung in a part exchange? Would love to see Lahm at United though I cant see Bayern selling the captain of the german national team after the world cup he has just had.

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  2. I have slightly more faith in Evans, but perhaps that is just optimism. I think he's a fantastic lad, but not one to reach legendary status.

    My largest concern is actually on offense. With essentially the same attacking options as last season we will have to rely on Rooney to single-handedly drag us near the top of the table again.

    This is my first comment. I have enjoyed this blog thoroughly for the past two years. Of course, I wish we could be discussing something more uplifting this off-season, as optimism seems to be running thin among all United fans.

    My biggest concern is that with Ferguson's departure inevitable, and the Glazer's financial debacle, will we be able to recover after a few off years like the 2004-06 period, or will this be a much more serious situation? I fear the latter.

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  3. Dave,

    I am quite concerned about Smalling I must admit. But, we have a decent start fixture wise, so we should (in theory) get off to a decent start, but if goes pear-shaped early doors we might see Fergie panick buying...when bringing another centre-half. I cannot see Alaves arriving though.
    I'm convinced Fergie will not buy another central defender, but he sure as hell needs to do so... I honestly believe we need two new centre-halfs actually.

    I agree with you about the mooted Vidic Fee.

    Regarding Ferdinand, I think his days are numbered, so much so that I don't expect him to feature much at all, so forget about him and forget about Lahm too, but yes he'd be a good signing...


    I don't know a lot about Simon Kaer to be honest. I thought Denmark were a bit suspect at times at the back, but Kaer's passing is very good from what bits I saw.

    I agree with you about Evans. IMO, he will never be as good as Rio or Vidic or Steve Bruce. He is just so, so as you say. Evans is marginally better than Brown.

    The way it is looking I can see us really struggling to finish in the top three.

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  4. The Rose Villain,

    NO problem about multiple replies. I need to post a new message informing folk we use comment moderation.

    Irrespective of Evans being a great lad, IMO, he's neither a Rio or Nemanja.

    Rio was one of the finest interceptors in the game; he snuffed out trouble before it happened - but as I have been repeatedly stating his days are numbered.

    Nemanja is a 'muck and bullets put your head where it hurts' type of centre-half.

    Evans is just another central defender, but like I say he is better than Brown...

    I too fear for Rooney, it could take him weeks to recover from his injuries and last summer. There's too much pressure on Rooney now and I suspect Ferguson will be forced into bringing him back early...before he is ready. Rooney could do with three months off.
    I doubt Hernandez will be able to carry the team alone. We know Berbatov cannot be relied upon to do that... As for Diouf, I fear he is just another shot in the dark.

    Owen is too similar to Hernandez and he isn't suited to playing the lone striker role.

    Regarding Fergie and the Glazers. We all share your concerns.

    The Glazers could wreck United and I don't see any way out of the mess they've created.

    Fergie has done a remarkable job under very difficult circumstances with no money to spend, but as you say he cannot carry on forever.

    I can see Mourinho coming back to England when Fergie goes, but what could United 'no pot to piss in' offer Jose? With that said, Mourinho won the CL with unfashionable Porto and without spending - would he fancy the challenge of managing United with no money to spend? His ego might convince him he could do it. If anyone could pull it off, it is Mourinho.

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