Season Preview – #12 Man United

Manchester United:

Last summer saw The Red Devils receive a staggering £80million transfer fee for Cristiano Ronaldo as the Portuguese international moved on to Real Madrid. Despite But, despite constant reassurances that there is money in the bank – balance sheets showing just over £90million – Sir Alex Ferguson has chosen to stay clear of the transfer market this summer, doing the majority of his business before the window even opened as he begins his 25th year as manager of Manchester United.

The man who has broken the transfer record six times in his time has manager of United; Fergie has taken a more pragmatic approach in buying players this summer as he looks to build for the future. Relatively unproven defender Chris Smalling has been signed from Fulham for around £10million, while a highly promising striker in Javier Hernandez was prised away from Guadalajara in Mexico before the World Cup for a reported £7million.

Speaking about his two summer signings Fergie has said: “We’ve a strong belief in their abilities. They will eventually be the next Manchester United.” Apart from that, it has been an eerily quiet summer at Old Trafford – there has been links with Wesley Sneijder, which we all know turned out to be pure speculation and bluster. However, there seems to be some genuine interest in Mesut Ozil – who United have tried to sign before. This could be one to watch before the transfer window closes.

Last season saw Manchester United pick up just one piece of silverware – the League Cup in a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa, they bowed out of the FA Cup in the Third Round to old rivals Leeds United through a Jermain Beckford goal – they didn’t fare much better in the Champions League having been knocked out by eventual finalists Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals on away goals.

A common thread picked out by fans, journalists and rival supports alike last season was United’s alarming overreliance on Wayne Rooney – with him United seem to be outstanding, without him they look ordinary. Although, somewhat worryingly, his poor form at the World Cup and injury before it means he has yet to score since March. This looks like the season that the load will be loosened on the Englishman with The Red Devils boasting the aforementioned Rooney, Michael Owen, Mame Birame Diouf, Dimitar Berbatov, Danny Welbeck (provided he doesn’t go on loan) Fredrico Macheda and Javier Hernandez as their attacking options. The question is – who will be forming a partnership with Rooney upfront this season?

Sir Alex Ferguson may have said in the past that Manchester City are “A small club with a small mentality” but surely he is beginning to get worried as the juggernaut begins to gather speed. In terms of squads, they are fairly evenly matched but if City were to gel this season then you would bank on them finishing higher than their rivals. The fact of the matter is, United have been finishing in the same positions since the Premier League began, so in that respect they have an advantage.

United’s primary objective for this season will be to regain the Premier League title, after they narrowly missed out it last season by a single point to Chelsea in May, which would have seen them set the record of four straight league titles – if they were to do so they would set a new record of 19 league title, thus Fergie will have finally completed his original aim of knocking Liverpool off their perch.

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