With an air of rebellion surrounding Old Trafford some of the attention has shifted from a side striving to maintain its dominance. Despite Wayne Rooney’s heroics in recent games there is an uncertainty presiding many squad members long-term status at the club, including both senior players and those on the fringe.
Captain Gary Neville is the heart and soul of the football club but at 35 the defender’s age is now getting the better of him. Retirement this summer is not unexpected and at best Neville will play one final token year as a professional. Paul Scholes is also yet to sign for another season at the club.
Meanwhile some of Sir Alex Ferguson’s more frustrating players face uncertain futures. Anderson – injured for at least the next six months – and Nani are still stuck in the rut of inconsistency. Nani’s brief return to form in January is only a moment in a largely disappointing campaign.
Manager Ferguson must also make some big decisions about his younger players. Gabriel Obertan, Mame Biram Diouf, Ritchie De Laet, Darron Gibson, Federico Macheda and Danny Welbeck are clearly far from the finished product. Will each progress into the players they were once expected to be, or be jettisoned to the Championship in years to come?
Even if United take the Premier League this May or head to European glory in Madrid some rebuilding is necessary this summer. Arguably, United needs to invest in another reliable winger, a creative central midfielder and possibly a striker.
World Cup years are not normally the best time to rebuild with grossly inflated prices for many of the best performing players. Mangers often try to do their essential business before the tournament, which begins on June 11.
Ferguson, once again, will face another huge conundrum this summer. Break the bank on a few class acts – Angel di Maria and Karim Benzema for example – or invest sparingly and hope for continued improvement in the current squad.
Benzema or Luis Suarez could prove useful acquisitions and each fits within the transfer policy of only signing younger players that command a high resale price, although neither will come cheap.
With the Argentine Di Maria grossly overpriced Joe Cole’s acquisition, if he remains a free agent, would represent a major coup for Ferguson. A player the Scot tried to sign at the age of 14, Cole still has years at the top ahead of him.
Although Jack Rodwell seems, almost inevitably, keen on a move to play along side his hero Rio Ferdinand a transfer is probably dependant on whether Nemanja Vidic remains at Old Trafford beyond the summer.
What is clear, the club’s financial situation means that United will not pay £50 million for Frank Ribéry this summer. The signing of Chris Smalling suggests another summer of caution in the transfer market that will disappoint many fans.
The green and gold army is gathering strength, although a full takeover seems unlikely in the near term. Whilst fans may hope for a revolution at Old Trafford, don’t expect major changes anytime soon. On or off the pitch.