Thursday, 7 July 2011

Changing of the guard at Old Trafford

It would have been very easy for Sir Alex Ferguson to have retired after being beaten by Barcelona in the Champions League final at the end of last season. No one could have denied him a well earned rest after building many great Man United sides and leading them to many trophies. With Barcelona the dominant force in European football, their 'noisy neighbours' Man City looking to spend more and more in a bid to challenge their old rivals and with Scholes, Neville and Van der Sar saying 'goodbye', some would say it would have been an ideal time for Ferguson to retire. However, those people clearly underestimate the phenomenal hunger for the game Ferguson still possesses and, as he says goodbye to two more loyal servants to his club, it is clear that Ferguson is looking to build his final great Man Utd side.

The acquisitions of David de Gea, Ashley Young and Phil Jones showed his intent to rebuild with youth, his rumoured bid for Samir Nasri shows his desire to add creativity to a squad now minus Paul Scholes, and his sale of John O'Shea and Wes Brown to Sunderland shows the ruthlessness he still has in his pursuit of success.

He is now clearly focusing on youth. Brown, 31, and O'Shea, 30, are two of the older members of United's squad and now it seems he will put even more trust in the likes of the Da Silva twins who emerged to hold down a regular place ahead of O'Shea and Brown in United's first season.

Brown's season was blighted by injury which is typical of his time at Old Trafford and season, injuries also seemed to catch up with O'Shea.

As United continue their squad overhaul, Sunderland continue to add depth to their squad which was a big problem for them towards the end of last season as they struggled desperately with injuries. The signings of the former United pair add to the earlier acquisitions of Ahmed Elmohamady, Connor Wickham, Craig Gardner, Ji Dong-won, Keiren Westwood and Sebastian Larsson. O'Shea and Brown can give Sunderland great experience and are both excellent professionals. The big question mark for Steve Bruce is if they can stay fit for the season.

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