Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year: 'No new signings'...teddy out of pram won't be surprised

Ferguson has dropped a big hint that Kiko Macheda is set to go out on loan, possibly to another Premier League club. The decision to allow the Italian to move on another club for six months makes sense given that Macheda has dropped down the pecking order following the arrival of Havier Hernandez. Ferguson has also let it be known that Danny Welbeck and Mame Biram Diouf will remain on loan at Sunderland and Blackburn respectively.

The United manager has ruled out any new signings in January, but he hinted that Tom Cleverly could be recalled from Wigan, due to the absence of Ji-Sung Park who is away on international duty with South Korea. With United short of cover in midfield, how ironic would it be if David Beckham returned to United for a short loan spell? It would make perfect sense, but the question is, would Fergie actually be up for such a move?

It's true that both Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic were signed in the month of January, as was Henrik Larsson, Tosic and Manucho, but Ferguson rarely makes significant forays into the transfer market during the winter window.

The single biggest concern for Ferguson is central midfield where the United squad lacks quality strength in depth. Everyone in football is aware that Paul Scholes cannot carry on for much longer, but as we head into 2011 those hoping for quality additons to the squad will be disappointed.

Given his recent starting selections, it appears that the United manager has lost confidence in the ability of Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick to boss a two man midfield, this in turn limits Ferguson's tactical options; we saw evidence of this in midweek when United travelled to St Andrews and Ferguson stuck with a European like 4-3-3 formation - Birmingham City are in the bottom three - yet it was if United were facing Real Madrid.

The current situation is this: Even against medicore Premier League opposition such as Birmingham City, Ferguson appears to have little confidence in his players to start with 4-4-2 on the road.

It's true to state that Anderson has shown signs of improvement over the last month or so, but it remains to be seen if he will prove to be good enough to hold down a regular starting place - whatever the improvement, it is extremely unlikely the Brazilian will ever be anywhere near as good as Scholes at his best.

The fact is, Ferguson has missed out on players like Wesley Sneijder, Mesut Ozul and to arguably to a lesser extent Rafael Van der Vaart - the star trio were all available and for the right money, but United failed to make a decisive move for either of them and perhaps worryingly, as far as we the fans know, the club wasn't even contacted about the availability of Van der Vaart.

United return to action tomorrow on New Year's Day with a trip to West Brom, it remains to be seen how Ferguson will approach this game especially given the League leaders inability to win away from Old Trafford.

United's problems in midweek against Birmingham were many; we had left footed Ryan Giggs on the right-wing and we had Wayne Rooney playing on the left with Berbatov down the middle, United wasted possession cheaply on too many occasions and as a result, the first-half performance was very disjointed. If United are going to hold off the challenge of Manchester City then there has to be a big improvement when playing away from home.

Fergie chucks his Teddy of out his pram...

Alex Ferguson has been celebrating his sixty-ninth birthday today, 24 hours after recalling three on-loan youngsters from Preston North End. Ritchie de Laet and Joshua King were due to return to United next week, but midfielder Matty James was supposed to be on a season-long loan; few will be surprised at news of this decision following the sacking of Darren Ferguson, the now former Preston manager. Preston are rock bottom of the Championship and as a result they look like relegation certainties.

According to reports, Preston were notified that the Premier League leaders were recalling the three youngsters via a terse fax, which left the Lancashire club in no doubt that 'United' were upset about the sacking of Darren Ferguson.

Few people cross Ferguson Snr and get away with it; the United manager hasn't spoken to the BBC since 2004, following a Panorama investigation into his dealings with his son Jason and the Elite Agency. It is doubtful anyone from Preston will be receiving any messages of goodwill from Fergie when the clock strikes midnight tonight.

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