by Kieran Davies

Currently Manchester United fans are keeping the faith by repeatedly telling themselves ‘wait until the summer we’ve got £200m to spend’ so often it almost seems like an incantation. There are stories everyday picking holes in matters at Old Trafford, so I decided to take a look at things as an outsider looking in. Firstly the departing manager was not a good manager, he was an excellent ‘man manager’ he had the ability to inspire players into playing above their potential. This is a rare trait and the club were never going to find someone with this ability as a replacement. Deep down Fergie knew he had milked all he could out of this squad and it was a long way off its competitors in terms of quality. Take for example the midfield. Since the departure of Ronaldo, Manchester United’s midfield would not have featured in the top 3 midfields season on season.  Tough job for the new man from day one.

Fans have been quick to jump on the David Moyes bandwagon when looking to attribute blame for their sudden demise. This surely can be the only reason how a side can go from being the winners of the league to mid table mediocrity in the space of 6 months? Not really. To quote the man himself Fergie once said ‘the most important person at this club is the manager’ and never has this been more the case. So bearing this in mind, while fans seem unsettled at thoughts of Rooney or Van Persie going elsewhere, you lost someone much more important at the end of last season and there is no quick fix in terms of your recovery from this. This wasn’t a player who will score 30 goals a season or a keeper who will save you in game after game, this was someone with ability of making all 25 players give their best performances time and time again. Over the years people have questioned a lot of Ferguson’s signings but he always seemed able to get what he wanted out of them within reason. There were also many exceptions to this. However, all of those players who he managed to get these performances out of are now just the players we all questioned the signing of.

The squad is very average and while many United fans will have their own opinions on who should be shown the door in the summer, the reality is the changes need to be more drastic and wholesale than you might think. Defensively the side is a mess. While De Gea seems to have improved from the shaky keeper who arrived a few seasons ago, a keeper is only as good as his back four. Vidic has already announced that he will be leaving in the summer. Ferdinand should have mould on him he’s that past his sell by date. Evans, Smalling and Jones are not good enough and wouldn’t get in many first teams of their rivals. The full back positions are also a problem and Evra isn’t the player he once was and the less said about Rafael the better as he is in danger of having to make a career out of being a Fabio look-a-like for the rest of his days. The most passion we have seen in the club’s midfield this season has been a Twitter outburst from one of the wives of the underperforming players. As much as I despised the player, Roy Keane is honest in his punditry and what he was saying was pretty close to the mark. ‘Keane v Viera Best of Enemies’ was television gold and should watched if you missed this.

How do you replace one of a kind?

The hole left by Paul Scholes was even evident during Fergie’s tenure as he coaxed him out of retirement. That hole now looks more like a sinkhole. Cleverley, Carrick, Kagawa and Fletcher are very average players who don’t seem to add anything to the United midfield. Don’t get me wrong Carrick can pass a ball sideways or backwards with the best of them but while he is deemed a more cultured defensive midfielder, just compare him to the competition in the league he is pale by comparison. Such has been the need to fill that gap that they have tried adapting Ryan Giggs to play the role but surprise surprise you don’t get as many games out of a 40 year old man. Now is not the time for sentiment and not many title winning sides contain men whose birthday cake is deemed a major fire hazard in most countries. The only real shining light in the midfield this season has been Januzaj but even so this has been in a handful of games but the boy does seem to have potential. Pinning hopes to an 18 year old boy should give fans some gravity as to how bad the situation actually is. Juan Mata is a class act but he is not a miracle worker and let’s be honest he joined a Champions League team probably thinking they would get through this blip and be one again next season.  How wrong he will be proved.

As good as they are individually for me Rooney and Van Persie just don’t work together. They make the same runs into the same channels for starters. Due to lack of quality out wide they also have to work a lot harder for any scraps they may want. Nani and Valencia would struggle to get into most sides in the top half of the Premier League, time to show them the door. Wellbeck is also a very in and out player who probably would be better served moving on to a club where he will get first team football, week in week out. It will help his development. Talking of which Javier Hernandez needs to find a new club in the summer as his career is really stagnating  and he is not likely to see much football ahead of Rooney and Van Persie. Now it looks as though it is a big overhaul in the summer that is needed but these are the hard facts.  The media would lead you to believe that there is a plethora of money available in the summer. Firstly this would be quite out of character for the owners who have not spent so lavishly during their ownership. Add to that, this side won’t even be in European competition next season.

It is possible to get players in who don’t demand European football but of these players only a small percentage blossom into world class talent. It is also possible to get world class players to join you who overlook the lack of European football but these players tend to need astronomical weekly wages to overlook such a thing. The biggest news coming out of Old Trafford the last couple of weeks is Wayne Rooney’s new contract of £300,000 per week. Unless you are lucky enough to sign a talent who currently lives somewhere void of Western media, I think a few of these players are going to look to milk the cash-cow dry when it comes to their wage demands. After the signing of Fellaini I wonder whether the owners will feel they have had their fingers burnt already and will ponder such investment. Football tends to run in eras as does humanity itself, to get Manchester United back to the precipice of where they were during the Ronaldo days will take a lot of time which fans more than likely aren’t willing to wait. This will result in a number of managers coming and going until one is lucky enough to hit the ground running. As can be seen at Spurs this is not a good business model as the new man has to take over a squad that the old one constructed more often than not at great expense.