Football

Will Manchester United win trophies without Sir Alex Ferguson?

Sir Alex Ferguson will retire at the end of the season (©GettyImages)
Sir Alex Ferguson will retire at the end of the season (©GettyImages).

It's undoubtedly the end of an era.

Sir Alex Ferguson has left a legacy so unrivalled that the phrase "David Moyes replaces Sir Alex" shouldn't even be in use.

Ferguson is never going to be replaced and the history he has made with the club will never be replicated. Rather than replacing Sir Alex, Moyes is only going to fill up the soon-to-be vacant post of the United managerial post.

Is Fergie leaving United in the "strongest possible shape"? I beg to disagree. On 1 July, Moyes might be coming in to take over a team of defending champions, but there is still plenty of work to be done.

For one, no other managers would have won the league with United this season. This has been a mediocre United side, apart from Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney. Matches have been won from the boots of Van Persie, the man who Ferguson pinned the hopes on in snatching the league crown back from their neighbours Manchester City.

Nine comeback wins in the league were built on the mentality instilled by Ferguson over the years. Had United failed to turn half of those games into wins, the league race would still be on today.

Did United play like champions? Hardly. Unless you insist on the frequently-used cliche of "winning dirty is the hallmark of champions".

Rather than leaving opponents on their knees and begging for mercy, United have been happy to trade punches with them. Using examples from two home games earlier this year, United only had 47% and 43% of possession against Southampton and Everton respectively. Saints, playing at an intimidating away ground, managed to muster 20 shots on goal compared to the Red Devils' 11.

The 'shots on goal' stats against Everton was 11 apiece. Both times, United won thanks to the clinical finishing of Rooney and Van Persie. If the possession stats pointed out anything, it's that the Red Devils have been hardly in control of their games this season. Most of the problems boil down to the quality, or rather the lack of quality, in United's midfield.

Michael Carrick has had a standout season this year and has been an unsung hero for United over the years. While he is not a bad player by any means, the fact that he is United's best midfield option speaks about the lack of quality in this area. Anderson and Tom Cleverley have failed to hold down a permanent starting position all season. Shinji Kagawa has shown moments of brilliance but his impact has been hampered by injuries. Nani has been making more headlines about his next possible destination rather than his exploits on the field.

Where else can you find a set of wingers - Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young) - which has only one league goal between them all season? And this is supposedly the champions of England.

United have been bullying the small teams on their way to the league title. In 12 big games against the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and Real Madrid, United have only come away with a measly three wins, while losing seven of those. Not forgetting that they have been knocked out of both domestic cups by Chelsea and losing in the Champions League to Spanish giants Real Madrid, albeit with some controversy.

United will surely lose some driving force with Ferguson moving to the directors' box from the dugout. But for the foreseeable future, Sir Bobby Charlton and Sir Alex will still be there to rectify the problems should they arise.

Moyes has done a tremendous job with Everton on a shoestring budget, but managing a team challenging for honours and a team chasing for European places is very much a different case altogether. But if there is any similarities between him and Sir Alex besides the fact that they are both Scottish, it is that Moyes can offer stability and longevity.

That is probably something that the nomadic Jose Mourinho cannot offer. If we have never doubted Sir Alex, we should never doubt Moyes as he is Fergie's last major decision.

Moyes may need time settling in and setting his priorities right for a team primed to be at the top, but I'm sure Ferguson would be giving advice to his successor.

The real worry is not within these few years: it is when both Sir Alex and Sir Bobby leave their posts and that's when the Glazers will have the final say in every decision made..

 

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Topics:
Football
Premier League
Manchester United

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