There has been a lot of “big” talk coming out of the Manchester United camp this summer. Veterans Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs claim that United are strong enough to conquer the English domestic league for a 21st time crushing rivals in the process.
The club will be going into their first Premier League season without Sir Alex Ferguson at the touchline, with fellow Scotsman David Moyes taking over during the summer.
Moyes has perhaps the biggest shoes in world football to fill and come kick off, all eyes from around the globe will be scrutinising his every move.
His job is to emulate the success Ferguson brought United and there is no doubt that should Moyes stutter at any point, pundits, fans and perhaps players will be quick to point it out.
Manchester United though seem overly confident going into 2013/14 campaign. There are certainly many issues yet to be dealt with despite the season only being two weeks away. Moyes must put these issues to bed or at least temporarily sweep them under the carpet and address them once more at the turn of the year.
The biggest set back this summer for Manchester United has been the Wayne Rooney transfer saga. A soap opera style “will he, won't he” storyline has been dragged out for nearly three months and is still yet to be to be dealt with sufficiently.
As the end of the transfer deadline day looms ever closer, Rooney's window of opportunity to exit the club is closing quickly.
The unsettled front man seeks regular football at the highest level and with Real Madrid looking to complete a move for Gareth Bale, PSG successfully acquiring Edison Cavani and local rivals Manchester City showing no interest, Rooney's options are limited. Manchester United fans will certainly object to any kind of sale to London title rivals Chelsea.
The “angry” and “confused” Rooney is certainly not the type of character any changing room needs at the beginning of a campaign but with any solid decision yet to made, it looks like Wayne will be the centre of attention for at least a few more weeks.
Another issue that has faced Manchester United and David Moyes this summer is their failed transfer targets. The red side of Manchester isn't used to rejection but has lost out this summer to Bayern Munich for the signature of Thiago Alcantara, has failed in an attempt to bring in Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas and it is looking increasingly likely that Luca Modric will stay at Real Madrid.
That leaves Moyes to perhaps throw in a last minute desperate bid for Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini from Everton. What does this say about Manchester United then? Well with Alex Ferguson gone, United no longer have that pulling power to bring players in and experience the chance to be coached by one of footballs greatest managers. David Moyes isn't an internationally recognised coach and with the club currently in a period of transition, players around the globe will be waiting to see what happens over the next 12 months before putting on the red shirt.
Last summer Manchester City struggled to bring in their transfer targets whilst they were champions, losing out on Robin Van Persie, Eden Hazard, Lucas Moura and Javi Martinez.
What resulted was a desperate dash on transfer deadline day with only one of four players brought in that day prospering Matija Nasatasic. Both Roberto Mancini and Alex Ferguson stated last season that it was best to add to the squad whilst being champions.
Confident United might not feel so upbeat after the difficult start they have been handed for the beginning of the season. With three difficult away trips to Swansea City, Liverpool and Manchester City and a tough home game against Chelsea within their opening five fixtures.
Adding to that, a potential home or away trip for the group stage of the Champions League. This period of the season will be vital for Moyes and the players. Win the majority of the games and United will have shown that they still have everything they had under Ferguson.
Lose the majority and the immense pressure will be felt by the whole United camp for the remainder of the season. Their rivals will be looking to get one over on them at an early stage and set the reds back in their title defence. Hostile trips to Anfield and the Etihad will certainly be a test of Moyes character.
Sir Alex Ferguson
The 2013/14 Premier League season will be one without the “Fergie” factor for United. The hair dryer treatment will be a blast from the past come May and the incessant chewing of gum with no longer be visible by television camera. This is a fact that Manchester United fans, players and staff must accept. It's the beginning of a new era and United are certainly stepping into unknown territory.
Should they take note of what went right and wrong at the clubs in the Premier League when a change of manager occurred, then United can stay strong. What fans must not expect is a repeat or continuation of the success experienced under Alex Ferguson.
David Moyes is approaching his first title contending season and Champions League as a manager. His inexperience in these areas will shine through at times and the fans need to remain patient with the former Everton manager.
Despite this, Manchester United have sent out a message this summer. A loud one that exclaims that they will remain champions and that Moyes will be the mastermind behind it all.
Rivals Manchester City and Chelsea have been a little quieter. City have gone about their business this summer without controversy and have avoided getting caught up in any petty mind games before the first ball is kicked.
Jose Mourinho at Chelsea however has opted to play the mind games straight from the off, but has still played his sides chances down of winning the league this season. United then, must ensure that they live up to their confidence or otherwise face eating their words in May when the ribbons on the trophy turn to one shade of blue.
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