Don’t get me wrong but Manchester United were never the favorites to win the league since day one. The league title was always Manchester City‘s to lose and they almost bottled it. But now all they need is a win against a relegation threatened QPR to win their first league title in 44 years.
Manchester United on the other hand have done so well with the limited resources they had. They never made the big signing that was so badly required in the summer and still have pushed the title race to the last day of the season. A month back, they were leading City by eight points but then managed to surrender the lead. This is obviously not the Manchester United we know. United often come into their best form at the business end of the season but this time they didn’t do it.
Barring a miracle, Man City will most probably lift the title next Sunday. What does this mean to Manchester United? Other than the obvious devastation, the failure to capture the 20th league title is not such a bad thing. Why? Let us see.
Big Buys will be a priority
Losing to Barcelona is one thing but losing to Manchester City is totally a different thing. If they lose the title, Manchester United will buy new players, big players to compete with City.
Last season, everyone said that it was Manchester United’s weakest side in decades. After Ronaldo and Tevez left, United never replaced them. But, due to some great defending and Van der Sar’s saves, United were able to lift the 19th title. This season, Sir Alex bought Ashley Young, Phil Jones and David de Gea. All three transfers clicked and de Gea and Jones are looking very good for the future. But, all they needed was a player to replace Paul Scholes. The Sneijder transfer saga ended in vain and they had to bring back Paul Scholes from retirement.
Although Scholes has been good, you cannot depend on him anymore to win games. Ferguson needs a natural ball player who can hold the ball and initiate attacks like a Xavi or a Yaya Toure. In hindsight, you need a younger and faster version of Paul Scholes.
Eden Hazard might be the only man who can fit that profile. Hazard can play the ball with both feet, he can play in the wings and he can spray passes from midfield. A host of other clubs including Manchester City are looking for his signature, but if Ferguson can somehow lure him into Old Trafford, United will once again have the upper hand.
A Hard look on the Current Squad
Manchester United’s squad is not the best in the world. But, they somehow make it work time and again. If City win the league, it will force Sir Alex to take a hard look at his current squad.
Dimitar Berbatov is all set to leave, Michael Owen too might be offloaded. In the midfield, United have Carrick, Cleverley, Anderson, Pogba and Scholes. Given the fact that they fought too much to keep Pogba at the club, they won’t allow him to leave easily. Cleverley is an excellent prospect and he will stay. Anderson on the other hand has been nothing less than a free-loader and he might be offloaded (although Sir Alex has a specific liking towards the Brazilian). Scholes will be offered a new one year deal like Ryan Giggs was offered.
In the wings we have Valencia, Nani, Young and Park and most probably all of them will stay. Fredrico Macheda, Tomas Kuszczak, Ritchie de Laet and Bebe might leave the club.
Changes in tactics
Manchester United almost, always play in a 4-4-2 at home and a 4-5-1 with two wingers in big games. These formations are used because United is very strong in the wings. But, it isn’t working out so well as it did a few years back. If United have to win big games and play positive football, they have to start pushing through the center.
If United buy Nicolas Gaitan or Eden Hazard, they will play a 4-2-3-1 like Real Madrid does. To facilitate that, they will need a really good holding player and Javi Martinez of Athletic Bilbao will fit perfectly into that role.