The Red Devils must ensure that Europa League success is a stepping stone to bigger things…
Manchester United is the toast of the town. The Red Devils won the Europa League on Wednesday night in Stockholm, completing the only missing piece in the European trophy bracket. This might be a huge nose-dive in terms of reputation and quality on and off the pitch, but the United faithful need to understand and accept that replacing an enigma like Sir Alex Ferguson is not something which can happen.
Two managers and three seasons later, the ship is still in the same waters. Every realistic fan misses the gameplay which mesmerised the world for two generations and terrorised opposition to trophy hauls. Yet, this season can, finally, be called successful as the Red half of Manchester won the Community Shield (versus Leicester City), the League Cup (versus Southampton) and the Europa League (versus Ajax).
Here, we take a look at the five key changes the club from Manchester needs to do to ascertain better rewards/ performances next season.
A change in the ‘old’ guard: The older stars have to leave. PERIOD. If this does not happen, United fans will never see the youthful exuberance, power and risk-taking confidence. Ashley Young, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick have given their best services to Carrington in their varied roles and timelines at the club, but just do not seem to fit into the longer scene anymore and should only be kept in a role similar to Giggs or Scholes played late in their careers.
Michael Carrick is close to signing a contract extension of an year, but Ed Woodward and Jose Mourinho soon find a replacement for him
Young did star in United’s 2-0 victory against Chelsea, but the versatile winger is just not good enough anymore and his current injury will, we hope not, push him further down the pecking order. The captain, who raised all three trophies this season, has been a long-term club faithful but is not providing his incisiveness of old, and should leave for the club’s good.
United are in transition, accept that: Manchester United have the highest number of fans all around the world and it is the huge support the club receives that makes it as big as it is. The fans, though, must accept the fact that United are not the best club in England, let alone Europe, in terms of football on the pitch. The manager, too, must accept this phase of transition under him and ask the fans to be patient.
Accepting that, waiting for a little and giving time to a manager of Jose Mourinho’s ilk, will only make life easy for the Portuguese and the players. While we clairvoyantly say that the upcoming transfer window is going to be crazy again, the incoming players must be given enough time to breathe into Manchester’s air and settle in. In the nerve-wracking pressure of today’s time, fans must understand that England is a physically different league altogether.
Clearing out deadwood: We know this is a little harsh but has to be done for the betterment and tread on the right path. Phil Jones has been given enough chances and the man is probably just not right for the physicality of the world’s most difficult league or at times, pushes himself beyond limits. Chris Smalling was a one-season wonder and has come back to his level now. Henrikh Mkhitaryan should be used better or allowed to leave, as his one-touches and flicks might not be good enough for the heavy training and closed-spacing football in England.
A lot more was expected of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but the Armenian playmaker has not lived up to his reputation in the first season
Luke Shaw, if he does not fit into the manager’s plans, must also be let go. The left-back has spent a lot of time recovering after an ACL last season and an ankle injury this term and needs a season of luck in which he proves his credentials again. At Manchester, we’re worried; he will not get the time to settle into his rhythm soon.
Transfers: Yes, they are absolutely necessary. As Antoine Griezmann gave himself 6 out of 10 on coming to Old Trafford, it only solves a small problem which looks Mourinho in the eye. The manager needs to find a long-term replacement for Carrick, as no other player in the squad seems to have the technical quality to cover up the 35-year-old’s quality. Only versatile Dutchman Daley Blind looks good enough, but the Portuguese’s reluctance to use him in that position already clarifies what United must look for in the market.
A left-back, certainly. Matteo Darmian has surely developed leaps and bounds and has given a good account of himself, but is not an expert going ahead and can be caught flat-footed against a faster opposition. Every other option is a fill in, as Marcos Rojo is better centrally and Blind does not possess express pace. If Griezmann comes in and this looks a close possibility, United might just have their bases covered, but the manager will need to find a system rightly suited to his set of players and particularly, Paul Pogba.
The attitude of the fans: Even if you do not share this article, please share this line as a United fan: Sir Alex Ferguson is gone. The club is managed by a certain Jose Mourinho, and he plays the way he knows and feels is right. The dynamic 4-4-2 is gone and will stay away. The manager will usually sit back and hit teams on the counter, and for him, that is the right way forward. He has won a lot of trophies with just this method, 25 to be precise.
The Alex Ferguson era is gone, and the United faithful need to get used to that.
We will not win it the attractive way anymore and that’s a certainty. Fans should hope and not expect, to win the Premier League next season, let alone the Champions League. The Red Devils faithful need to back their manager, his system, his tactics and that is the only way the club can actually move on. 27 years is a long time and SAF wrote himself on all of our footballing instincts. That, my fellow fans, needs to change.