By Eddie SmithUnder the circumstances, Sir Alex Ferguson could certainly be forgiven for calling it a day at Old Trafford, picking up his golf clubs and his gardening tools and enjoying a well earned retirement. After 25 years, the United boss has seen and done it all in the game and the retirement of Edwin van der Sar, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes, along with the imminent end of Ryan Giggs, marks the end of an era for Sir Alex.
Many critics have claimed the current stars wearing Man Utd shirts are not as good as previous generations and it could certainly be argued that much like over at Stamford Bridge, Ferguson has been trying to squeeze the last few drops of ability and success from his side before a major rebuilding job takes place. Having lost the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez in recent years, United have lost much of their flair and starpower that saw them lift the Champions League trophy in 2008.
After seeing his side torn apart by Barcelona at Wembley last month and with major reinforcements needed if they are to retain their grip on the Premiership trophy, nobody would have blamed Sir Alex had he decided the time was right to pass the torch to his successor and give him the task of building the next great United side. However, even at 70, Ferguson has the drive and motivation to begin the rebuilding job to lay the foundations for the next 10 years of Manchester United success.
Following last years shrewd capture of the excellent Chris Smalling, United are close to sealing a deal for his long-term central defensive partner in Phil Jones. It’s a duo which may well be paired together in England football shirts for many years to come and will be a long term replacement for Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea – who looked the part in last night’s 1-1 draw with England in the under 21 tournament – is set to come in and at 20 years ago, could be destined to be Old Trafford’s number 1 for many years to come. With Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez both with many, many years ahead of them and other young stars such as the Rafael twins and Danny Welbeck also in the squad, United have more than enough potential to form the basis of their side for many years to come.
Ashley Young is also hotly tipped to join from Aston Villa, not only adding another of England’s hottest young talents to the squad, but also much creativity and flair to the midfield area. While to compete with Barcelona United do undoubtedly require some genuine, proven quality along the lines of Luka Modric or Wesley Sneijder, Ferguson is quite rightly addressing the issue which has led to the recent downfall of Chelsea by building for the future while also putting a winning team on the park.