Robin Van Persie inspired Manchester United to a 20th title on Monday night with a sublime hat-trick against the relegation-threatened Aston Villa. It was fitting that the Dutchman was the one who scored the goals which won United the title as his decision to join United instead of City was pivotal in deciding whether the Championship came back to Old Trafford or not.
Even with Robin Van Persie in their ranks, many would say that this side is no way comparable to the vintage sides of Ferguson like the double-double winning side in 95 inspired by Cantona, the treble winning team of 1999 and the all-conquering side of 2008 that had Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo playing in tandem. While Fergie might not agree that this team is any less, there are issues all across the team, which he must solve if he wants to win the all elusive third Champions League title.
Will he stay or will he leave? It’s all up to Ferguson, whether United’s number 10 stays or moves on. If he stays on, where does he play? Van Persie now is the first choice upfront and looking at the selection for the past 3 games, Kagawa seems to be the preferred the number 10,so is Rooney prepared to play as a midfielder? After years of being the star player and the focal point of the team, is he prepared to step back and take up a more responsible role?
Rooney in his own book has admitted, ”Physically I’ve taken a bit of a battering over the years. When I get up in the morning after a game, I struggle to walk for the first half an hour. I ache a bit. But football has had a massive impact on my body because my game is based on speed, power and intensity.“
Players like Rooney who depend so much on power and ability to drive past players have a sudden decline at the end of their careers, so maybe a move to midfield wouldn’t be a bad idea.
The Portuguese winger’s only major contribution this season was the red card he got against Real Madrid. It is almost certain that he is set to move in the summer with Wilfred Zaha coming in from Crystal Palace. Nani didn’t seem very interested to take part in the celebrations yesterday and he hasn’t been picked for many key games, apart from the one he got sent off in. It looks like Ferguson has lost his patience with the man who was supposed to replace Ronaldo.
First it was Ryan Giggs and now it is Rooney, Ferguson trusts a 39-year-old winger and a striker more than his two central midfielders to partner Michael Carrick in the middle. Anderson has been given enough time at Old Trafford but it looks like another Brazilian has failed to make it at Old Trafford.
Tom Cleverley had started the season brightly but faded off and was poor in many games he was selected. The fact that he is young and from the academy sure ensure that he gets another season at United, which may make or break his Old Trafford career.
Whether Ferguson decides to retain both of them or not, he has to go out and get a central midfielder, preferably a strong and mobile player who can partner Michael Carrick.
So who will United’s first choice central defence pairing next season? Rio Ferdinand has been excellent this season and is expected to sign a contract extension. Phil Jones has been excellent too along with Jonny Evans, and Nemanja Vidic has recovered well to rediscover his form after the horrific injury.
Having a fixed choice central defence partnership is important for the team especially for the man guarding the sticks, David De Gea. It appears like Chris Smalling has fallen down the pecking order, and unless there is an injury crisis, he wouldn’t start.
Personally, Jones-Evans and Vidic-Ferdinand seem the right combinations, with one physical defender who puts his life on the line partnered with a much stylish player who is better on the ball.
It is entirely up to the Mexican if he wants to stay at Old Trafford and play a bit-part role. Ferguson knows that the Mexican is important to United and has scored some crucial goals but he might be forced to sell him as he is not able to play him week in and week out.
Ferguson will already be thinking about next season and how to win the third elusive Champions League and the fourth for United. Overcoming the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich will be his priority before he calls it a day but also he can expect a more formidable challenge domestically from the likes of City and Chelsea next season.
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This Post first appeared on Sportskeeda