The coming season for Manchester United fans will be one of the unknown. New manager David Moyes has the large shadow of Sir Alex Ferguson looming over him. There is no question Ferguson has left a monumental legacy. 38 trophies, including 13 Premier League titles and two European Cup’s is a phenomenal tally, but perhaps Ferguson’s greatest achievement is the squad he has left Moyes. The former Everton manager has inherited a squad that has the right blend of youth and experience, plus many players who will undoubtedly improve. It is undeniable, though, that Ferguson has left United short in one position: central midfield. That is where Moyes has targeted a key signing and it is where he has failed so far.
In recent years, United have neglected to strengthen their central-midfield. In fact, it would be a fair assessment that the Red Devils have never truly replaced Roy Keane. As Paul Scholes has gradually played less and of course now retired, United are left with Michael Carrick as their most reliable and experienced centre midfielder. Carrick was superb last season, but United need another player capable of controlling the tempo and pace of a game.
Barcelona‘s superbly talented Thiago Alcântara was heavily linked to the Old Trafford club. An £18 million buyout clause was a fairly reasonable price to pay for one of La Masia’s most accomplished graduates. The deal looked likely, but as United stalled, Pep Guardiola pounced and brought him to Bayern Munich. Those who witnessed Borussia Dortmund’s German Supercup win over Bayern on Saturday will have noticed the precision of Thiago’s passing and his comfort in possession. At 22, the Spanish international was the right age and the perfect type of player for the Champions.
After the unsuccessful pursuit Thiago, Moyes moved for another Barca midfielder, Cesc Fabregas. Two bids were rejected outright by the Catalan club and both former Barca manager Tito Villanova and new boss Tata Martino seem to be kindred spirits: they both see the value of Fabregas as a player.
“I’m not going to involve myself in club accounts,” said Martino, “but considering the club has already rejected two offers, I will guess it will reject a third. In other words, he will remain here.”
According to the various musings of his team-mates Alex Song and Gerard Piqué, Fabregas had no intention of leaving his boyhood team anyway. Another potential United target, PSV’s Kevin Strootman, has signed for Roma. Now there maybe is a wider issue of major players rejecting the advances of PL clubs and their riches for the lure of the attractive European clubs, but for United, it represents a problem in itself.
Now that Thiago has joined Bayern and Fabregas appears as likely to join United as I am, it will be interesting to see who David Moyes will pinpoint to spearhead his midfield. It is clear Moyes wants a creative midfielder who can assert his authority on a game. Marouane Fellani at his old club Everton may be an option, but would he be the solution? James McCarthy at Wigan may also be a good option for the future, but is he in the same bracket as a Thiago? PSG’s Marco Verratti has also been mentioned, but he has signed a new four-year deal with the Parisians. Many names have been thrown around like confetti, but it is clear, United need a central midfielder. It may be the difference between success and failure for latest Scot with the key to the United dynasty.