Because of United's slump last season perhaps? Indeed letting go of 8 points in 6 final matches is a big deal and unforgettably etched in history and immortality. Or could it be because Chelsea FC is a formidable opponent and United could fail to eliminate them in the F.A Cup in the second leg at the bridge? After failing to go pass Real Madrid, only time would tell what the fixture against Chelsea would churn out but if we fail to beat Chelsea after losing out to Real Madrid, that shouldn’t be enough to assess what United have done all season. So what could be the major reason Manchester United is yet to get the respect they truly deserve? To followers and pundits of the beautiful game that reason is not far-fetched...
Manchester United despite their work ethics, their professionalism, their passion and their never-say-die attitude have not totally dominated games this season. Please don't get me wrong. United have been wonderful in many games, and they won't be where they are if they dependent on lady luck; what United have failed to do is to dominate their opponents in a heelbone-to-skulls manner. United have failed to stun, immobilize, crush teams in the manner of Bayern Munich and Barcelona (the Pep Guardiola and pre-surgery Tito Vilanova teams) have. United have given us fantastic games and victories but have not been very convincing in winning. Yes, United beat Norwich City 4-Nil at Old Trafford in week 28's fixture and yes, Shinji Kagawa got a landmark/unprecedented hat-trick but they were made to work tirelessly for it. Aren't football games meant to be unpredictable and exciting? What case is this writer making?
What do Pep Guardiola's Barcelona, Ottomar “Rekord Meister” Hitzfeld's Bayern Munich and Antonio Conte's Juventus FC (2011/2012) have in common? They were dominating teams. They turn up in big games and never suffered small teams gladly. They were winners with a difference. Winning is one thing but doing it with distinction is another matter entirely. Record breaking always involves a form of dominance and that's what United's missing sorely. That’s why there's a tinge of doubt on this present United team.
While this season may be going out of the picture (and United are bound to be successful as it winds up too), it's pertinent to note those player which if Manchester United were to sign, then we're in for an era of dominance in England and Europe. Which players you may ask…
Great teams are always built on the backbone of a solid defence. United's defence right now is built around an aged Rio Ferdinard (34 going on 35), an already aging and sometimes injury-prone Nemanja Vidic (31) and the youthful and sometimes boisterous Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling. There’s no doubt they would look into the market and should he be available at any price around £12.5m-£18m, Sir Alex Ferguson shouldn't hesitate to sign Gerard Pique Bernabeu...again. The 6 foot 4 central defender was part of the 2007/2008 United team that pipped Chelsea to the Champions' League title. Once a Red-Devil, a return to Old Trafford might not even be a bad idea as Barcelona seems to be enduring a slump in fortunes ( I saw them beat Milan but that doesn’t take away the fact that they are on a downward slope) as United is climbing back to the pinnacle of football royalty and greatness. What's Pique got? He's strong in the air, a good marker, has good ball control and long passing range. On the flipside, he could get caught out of position especially during counter-attacks. Young, strong, with an eye for goals and no stranger to the English game plus his wealth of experience as a winner at club and international levels, Gerard Pique's signature is to die for. So who should join Gerard Pique?
The modern game revolves around an energetic and creative midfield. And more importantly, the engine room of a lot of teams is anchored by a 'regista', a deep-lying playmaker. Registas have taken the game by storm and every winning team has one, even two in some cases. Xabi Alonso, Xavi Hernandez, Paul Scholes, Andrea Pirlo, these players are not defensive midfielders but are given a moderate amount of defensive responsibilities. They are granted freedom to dictate the play and attempt long range risky passes to the forwards. Should he be available for between £15m-£25m, United should snap up Arturo Erasmo Vidal Pardo. The Juventus player is a versatile box-to-box midfielder capable of playing both defensive and offensive roles and has a knack for scoring vital goals. Because of his youth (he's 25), Vidal's hard tackling and tenacity would be a welcome addition to United's engine room. He would be a perfect twin to Michael Carrick's usually laid-back but efficient style. He would also be a perfect partner/twin to Carrick's short passing style plus because he has good positional play, makes good tackles to cut off opposition offensive moves and can move the game from defence to attack with his through balls. On the flipside, however, his hard tackling makes him a frequent fouler and injury-prone against hard markers like him. These minuses take nothing away from Vidal's sterling qualities.
A beneficiary of all the hard work in the midfield should be someone with pace, good dribbling ability, a good supplier of balls to the opponents' danger area and sometimes a deadly finishing winger. While United could work with sharpening Antonio Valencia, Ashley young and other players on the right, on the left wing, however, is a gaping hole. Candidly, forking out £25m-£35m (maybe even more) would not be a bad investment on Gareth Frank Bale. This is one player perfectly suited to United's counter-attacking style and the heir-apparent to Ryan Giggs soon-to-be (if not already) vacant throne. He's got pace, great ball control, wonderful technical abilities and packs rocket shots in his boots. Did I say he packs rocket shots in his boots? Crucially, he's a dead-ball specialist, a good one at that. If there's a player born to adorn the number 11 jersey at Old Trafford, it's this young man and if there's a club capable of taking his game to the next level and fulfill his lofty career dreams and aspirations, it's Manchester United. United and Bale go together like bread and butter, like Mac and Cheese, like a hand in a glove...the downside to him is the accusation that Bale topples over a bit too easily (which fast player doesn't? Ronaldo? Robben? Ribery?) He could also have slight muscular injury problems. Bale and United are a match made in football heaven.
Make no mistakes about it, Manchester United already have a wonderful array of strikers but to put the fear of God and the United emblem into the opposition's mind, there's a need for one more. One with the ability to finish the build-up right in the opponents' vital area. A quick thinker with good ball control, swift feet and an aerial presence. If United can fork out £18m-£24m, then Robert Lewandowski is a must buy. Already he's dropped a "come-and-get-me" hint when he refused a contract extension at Dortmund and he's been known in the media to be a confessed-lover of the EPL. What could he bring, you ask? He's good finisher especially in the box 18, he's got wonderful aerial skills/presence and he possesses a good counter-attack threat quality. At 24, ready to take to the challenge of the EPL with matured calmness. The presence of Shinji Kagawa, a former BVB teammate could help him settle in rather well too. If there's anything to be wary about it may be because he's not known to be a good passer and holder to the ball (and there's little use for that in an opponent's box 18). He'd be a good addition to a dominating and all-conquering team Manchester United's hoping to be.
The positive events of this season are rejuvenating Sir Alex Ferguson already. He's like a shark tasting the blood and can't seem to wait to build a team that would rival/stand alongside the Bayern and Ajax of the 70s, the AC Milan of the 90s, the Barcelona of 00s and his treble-winning team of 1999. The next signings are vital; I just hope these footballers are at the heart of the next Manchester United acquisitions. What do you think?
My name is Olumide Ogungbemi and I'm a Lagosian that reps Manchester United...