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Panic Stations! We’re Doomed! Doomed I Tells Ya!

Remember the days when it looked as though Chelsea’s reign would last forever more? They were an efficient machine, powered by the mighty captaincy of John Terry with all the arrogance in the world provided by Jose Mourinho. When we beat them 1-0 in 2005, during a season where they would go on to finish eight points above us in the league, we had Richardson, Bardsley and Rossi on the bench, whilst they had Gudjohnsen, Carvalho and Wright-Phillips. We were oceans apart and even the idea of matching them any time soon was totally far fetched.

Ruud van Nistelrooy was our top scorer that season and the second highest scorer in the league, scoring 21 goals, more than a quarter of our total. He left that summer, we didn’t buy anybody to replace him and instead just bought Michael Carrick, by everybody’s reckoning a poor man’s Roy Keane, the former captain we were desperately trying to replace.

Was this going to be fourth season running that our trophy would be in London? Sky Sports thought so, predicting we would finish behind Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool the following season.

When we thrashed Fulham on the opening day of the season our fans seemed fairly optimistic though. We played some bloody brilliant football that day and granted, it was only Fulham, but our lads were on fire. After Cristiano Ronaldo made it 4-0 with less than 20 minutes played, Wayne Rooney grabbed his face, both players grinning, and all the fuss about the World Cup and Ruud and our strikeforce and Roy Keane seemed insignificant. We were too insecure following the years without the Premiership to get cocky but things certainly seemed to feel good again.

That good feeling, on top of insecurity, continued for the whole season. In the end, United picked up 6 more points than they had the season before, they scored 11 more goals and won 4 more games than Chelsea. We were champions again.

I doubt you needed that trip down memory lane but judging by the reaction of some of our fans recently, it appears maybe some do.

The idea of signing Michael Owen was completely ludicrous to me. I thought it had to be a shitty paper story. Signing Antonio Valencia wasn’t ever going to have us jumping for joy, I was fairly apathetic, but it was fine, I’m sure he’ll do pretty well. Signing Gabriel Obertan didn’t really feature on the radar at all.

It was time for Cristiano Ronaldo to leave and I’m glad he has. The press don’t seem to understand that perspective but then the press don’t love United and watch them every week. They didn’t have to feel ashamed every time he had a temper tantrum or feel fury every time he lost the ball and made no effort to win it back. Of course it makes no sense for a person entirely unconnected with United – why would any fan want their best player to leave? But that was certainly the case for plenty of reds this season.

I cringed when the Stretford End chanted for Carlos Tevez over the top of Sir Alex Ferguson’s end of season speech but it was definitely a chant I’d sung in the weeks preceding. As Tevez started to voice his displeasure at his current situation it became harder to support the move to sign him though. He was third choice behind Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov, with increased competition coming from Federico Macheda and Danny Welbeck. He wasn’t going to be happy so it made sense for him to leave rather than stay being unhappy, cost us a fortune, before leaving for Argentina in five years anyway. When he dragged the situation through the press it became beyond any doubt that it was time to leave. He can take his five Premiership goals with him.

We’ve now had time to adjust to the Owen signing and whilst there are still some doubts, the general feeling is positive. He’s free, his wages are next to nothing, so it’s win-win. Valencia isn’t here to be the next Ronaldo, he’s here to boost the squad. He looked good playing against United at Old Trafford so one can only assume he’ll look even better when playing for United. Obertan is one for the future and isn’t a transfer we need to concern ourselves with.

So, champions of England, two other trophies in the bag, European Cup final, FA Cup semi, with three players in and two players out, yet sections of our fans aren’t happy to hear Ferguson isn’t buying anyone else this summer.

Now, I’m not saying because we’ve done it before that naturally it will just happen again. Just because we improved the season after Ruud left when everyone else wrote us off, it doesn’t mean that we will improve the season after Ronaldo and Tevez leave. But equally, if we did following the summer of 2006 then why the fuck can’t we do it following the summer of 2009. Had Ronaldo left at the end of the 07-08 season then maybe things would be different, given the massive effect he’d had on our season, but things changed last season.

To improve on last season’s goal tally and replace the goals Ronaldo scored, we’d be looking at Wayne Rooney scoring 5 more goals, Dimitar Berbatov scoring 5 more goals, as well as 9 goals from Owen, Valencia and the likes of Carrick, Fletcher, Nani etc. chipping in with an extra goal or two. Is that really so hard to imagine? We replaced Ruud’s 21 goals and added 11 to it without buying any replacement. Is it really that unlikely we can replace Ronaldo’s 18 goals and add more, given we have brought players and expect improvements from the likes of Rooney and Berbatov?

Buy Huntelaar for £25m or Aguero for £30m or Ribery for £45m! Do it! We have to if we are to compete for the title!

Has Liverpool’s squad improved? No. Has Chelea’s? No. Has Arsenal’s? No. The chances of Alonso, Mascherano, Terry and Adebayor leaving are higher than the chances of them buying a brilliant talent who will massively turn them around.

Nobody is buying brilliant players this summer and there is a reason for it.

“I can only placate the fans this way and say I am not going to be stupid,” said Ferguson. “We have got that wonderful sum of money from Real Madrid but there was no way we were going to throw it away and put an extra nought on the end of the transfer which I didn’t think was value. Some of the numbers being tossed about are sky-high, not just in England but across Europe. For some reason it seems to have caught fire this summer and it has been very difficult to get value.”

I’m sure the manager would have loved to spend more of Ronaldo’s transfer fee but it made more sense to hold off and save it for when the market has calmed down. Maybe you or I would have been hesitant to make such a brave call but are we really questioning Sir Alex Ferguson here? Are we really wondering whether he knows that we have a squad capable of winning the Premiership or not? He’s won the thing fucking eleven times, so wouldn’t it be wise to assume he knows what he’s doing?

This doesn’t mean the title is wrapped up or in the bag but we will start next season as favourites. We may not win the league but that might very well have happened even with Ronaldo in the team. It’s not our God-given right to win the Premiership every season (I know, shocking isn’t it!) but I’m happy enough for August to come with no new faces and have the belief that we are going to win the title again. Ferguson believes it and I tend to side with him. The occasions when I don’t side with him I end up looking like a twat anyway.

So relaaaax. We’re in very capable hands here, the most capable in the business in fact, so let’s just count ourselves lucky for that and wish away the summer!

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. chris says:

    finally a voice of reason among all of this. too many fans forget rooney will move into a more central role and berbatov is no slouch either. also remember when beckham and rvn left? fergie didn’t exactly go out and splash the cash to replace them right away did he? (purchased a little known portugese winger..)

    we must also remember there’s a debt to service. there’s no need to panic yet.

  2. cantonese says:

    great headline, great article, great comments from my favourite readers. thank you for that. what i love about united and sir alex is that we always show character and don´t necessarily make the seemingly obvious move. and concerning michael owen, since i saw his happy face in the training ground pictures i got that song going round in my head: “if you can´t be with the one you love – love the one you´re with”…

  3. Drew Vader says:

    My preferred line up:


    –With key positional battles at RB (Rafael), LM (Nani/Tosic/Obertan), CM (Hargo/Ando/Scholes/Gibbo), and GK (VdS).

    –And I don’t think his place will be in danger for big games, but Evra will have to be looking over his shoulder at Fabio and Delaet. The same for Rio with Evans.

  4. SupersonicWarrior says:

    @Scott, it’s a sad day when you need to remind United fans no to panic and that we’re in good hands.

    I thought United fans were meant to be thick skinned? Us against the world? We shall not be moved?

    Advice to all reds – don’t buy newspapers. Only believe what comes out of SAF mouth. Nothing else. (Ok, maybe Scott’s!!)

    “Ferguson believes it and I tend to side with him. The occasions when I don’t side with him I end up looking like a twat anyway.”

    Line of the summer that Scott. Well played lad.

  5. urval87 says:

    Just watch out for OWEN. Its not for nothing that Fergie has given him the No. 7.
    I’d bet 25 goals on him today!!!!

  6. Red Joe says:

    Thing is, Sky Sports to me seem to have an anti-United bias anyway. I remember when we lost 5-0 against Newcastle (remember them?) in the 90s and the following week they showed the goals with a gunshot sound superimposed over the top. And when we go a goal up in a live game, listen to the disappointment in the commentator’s voices!

    I reckon we’ll still win the league.

  7. aaron says:

    does anyone know how to pronounce Lljaic? does it sound as complicated as it looks?

  8. ooh-aah says:

    suberb article!!!

  9. Revanth says:

    Sir Alex is god

  10. KVN says:

    Interesting read scott. the only thing i’ll disagree with you is about Ronaldo going. I really cannot understand why you would want the World Player of the Year to leave United. That makes no sense whatsoever. We all have our opinions and we won’t always agree on everything, but on this issue I will disagree with you on.

    Everything else you’ve written is on point. For me, Nani, Anderson and Berbatov must have a big season. All three have the potential to excel on a consistent basis and dominate games the way we know they can.
    Berbatov’s football style reminds me of the way Roger Federer plays tennis. In that he moves with grace, doesn’t use up much energy but is effective at what he does.

    Also, SAF really does need to look at the tacticle side things – especially in Europe. There’s alot more questions and only SAF and his backroom staff will be able to provide the answers.
    How will our style of play change now we have Owen on board.
    Our midfield compostion: Will it be Anderson, Fletcher and Carrick in a 433 or will he go to a 442 or a combination of the two.
    Will he give Foster his chane to shine and even if he’s not playing well stick with him through those tough times.
    Will Fabio Da Silva get more prem games and experience
    When will Hargreaves be back
    Will Wellbeck, Macheda and Gibson get more chances in the first team.

    The one thing I do see, is that the team will be more of a unit working together rather than at times as individuals.

  11. wazza10 says:

    brilliant piece written scott.i could’nt agree with you more…i for 1 hav neva been tevez’s biggest fan..i’m glad he left as well as ronaldo..the 06/07 season was my favorite because of the brilliant soccer we played and the fact that critics had written us off..I was hoping SAF could sign a quality holding midfielder but i believe fletcher can do a decent job..nani should come fresh this season on the left wing with valencia on the other..i believe that this is the season wger scholes,nev and giggs will be gradually eased out of the side and let the likes of ando,gibson,macheda,tosic and obertan to come through and make a name for themselves..

  12. doncobaino says:

    scott good article
    but my faith in ferguson is as strong as ever
    *i dont have faith in Mike Owens legs
    *i dont have faith in a former scouse hero taking our beloved number 7 shirt
    *I dont have faith in Owen Hargreaves knees
    *I dont have faith in andersons ability to tackle
    *i dont have faith in andersons ability to shoot
    *i dont have faith in john osheas first touch
    *i dont have faith in john osheas crossing
    *i dont have faith in the glazers not pocketing some of that ronaldo cash
    *i dont have faith in fletchers ability to dominate the midfield in the absence of hargreaves.
    *i dont have faith in paul scholes anymore.
    *i dont have faith in berbatov leading the line, does he know how far up the field a striker should play?

  13. irish-red says:

    A bit of perspective is needed i think. last season was almost our best season EVER!! PL CC WCC winners, CL final which we lost to an amazing side in barcelona and FAC semi final loss with our youth.
    All this was achieved with ronaldo and tevez i grant you but ronaldo wasnt our best player last season and tevez wasnt great either.
    The loss of these two players can even be seen as a positive on the squad as a whole because they unfocused the players at the wrong time.
    Ronaldo announcing his departure before the champions league final and all of tevez’s bollox at the end of the season.
    I will miss ronaldo but good ridance to the pair.
    With owen, valencia and obertan coming in to the squad i am optomistic for next season.
    We also have some good youth players at the club such as macheda, wellback, gibson, raphael, evans, fabio, possebon, james, cleverly, amos, tosic and pettrucci. Whilst i dont think they will all make the grade. there are some bright sparks in there for the future.

    In fergie we trust!!! *** 4 in a row ***

  14. prince.of.united says:

    When you said that Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool not strengthen their squad, on the other hand they have not sold their best player.

    We sold our 1 best player and released other, so we are behind in that sense. I have no doubt about the goals, they will come and they will come thick and fast.

    Owen signing was always a surprise rather more than a surprise, but still I believe he will score goals and that too for fun, because the amount of chances we create are countless, and Owen know how to bang the back of the net.

  15. devilz88 says:

    Its a new beginning of a chapter really,despite not signing marquee names(well owen is just a English lad),we do need to thinker the system’s a bit for this players in order to suit..It is VITAL that fergie must change his tactic in order to suit this players..And its vital to blood some young talent, like the old saying”we will never win titles with kids for more than 14 years”.SO its time to prove that our youth sytem is doin well..In terms of the tittle,I would rather us play majestic football than to do a”job” of winning the title..Last season was boring,I can’t even remeber such a below par performance from my expectation…Whats worst we got expose when we lost to Bar..So,fergie needs a retaliate his tactics or we will be just get expose in European competiton wise..

  16. Stephen says:

    I just laugh when i read this “we’re doomed we’re doomed stuff”

    Some of you should remember the 80′s.. so bad they were actually funny…

  17. Little Miss United_1990 says:

    That just made me comfortable. Cheers Scott

  18. ToonToon says:

    Newcastle fan here, just want to say that Owen will do well in a decent team, with decent service, which he’s never had at Newcastle. Didn’t expect him to be given the number 7 though, bit more pressure now. I would love to see him break back into england squad personally. Also, if you have some fans who are complaining about what Sir Alex is doing, they are unbelievable. You are so lucky worrying about coming second. Prem should be yours next season good luck.

  19. sir82 says:

    Scott, you’re an ace.

  20. United says:

    Wake up boys!! We still have Rooney!!!
    i’m positively sure that this year will be rooney’s years!!

    btw nice writings scott..

    United 4 Live!


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