By Mark James
With the constant influx of Sugar Daddy owners coming into our game, it is easy for even the most faithful of supporters to become jaded and begin to query their teams’ ability to maintain pace in the transfer market and on the football pitch.
It wasn’t that long ago that I found myself questioning Manchester United’s future prospects, and who could blame me? After all, this summer alone, we saw the likes of Lucas and Hazard slip through our fingers. The former joined PSG, whilst the latter eventually jumped ship to Chelsea; both moves no doubt lubricated by the respectively overdosed bank accounts of the Qatar Investment Authority and Roman Abramovich.
With many fans seeing our midfield as the weakest part of the United team and squad, it is understandable that such losses could not go unnoticed, even if they were only the fabrications of individuals focussed upon filling back pages.
Of course, the threat that these new clubs bring is a very real one. As with the emergence of our noisy neighbours, it is an inescapable fact that every time any multi-billionaire chooses to flutter his eyelashes in the right direction, there are certain to be plenty of suitors to their fiscal flirtation. But, following Wednesday nights Champion’s League defeat against FC Cluj, it seems fair to say that Manchester United’s future is looking bright.
I do not intend to wax lyrical about each player’s individual performance, but let’s consider this; Manchester City have crashed out of Europe’s elite competition for the second time in successive seasons and whilst many will argue that their groups have been particularly difficult, others continue to muse that they simply lack the experience to get the job done.
But let’s not forget that this is a team that includes the likes of Carlos Tevez, Yaya Toure and David Silva. Between these three players alone, you can count 5 Premier League medals, 3 FA Cup medals, 2 La Liga medals, 2 European Championship Medals and a World Cup medal, not to mention more individual awards than you could shake a stick at. Yet these players and this Manchester City team supposedly lack the experience to make it beyond the group stages of the Champion’s League. So much so that this season they managed to accumulate the lowest English points tally ever in the group stages of the competition?
Well, if experience in the competition itself is that important, one can only suggest that Manchester United are certainly heading in the right direction.On Wednesday night Sir Alex again gave us a taste of what Nick Powell can offer in midfield, whilst the inclusions of Buttner, Smalling, Wooton and Jones was enough to make me sleep easily, safe in the knowledge that our recent defensive slip-ups are not more deeply inbred into the youth of our club.From Wooton’s last ditch tackle in the first half, to the dominant strength and control characterised by Jones’ bursting runs down the right side, it is fair to say that these are players building in confidence and developing the future of the United back line. A single year seems to have made all the difference. These are no longer players who look out of their depth playing against teams from across Europe. Last year’s failings have clearly had an impact upon Jones, who continues to bemoan the humiliation of being dumped out at the group stages in 2011, and last night’s performance already showed a huge step-forward in the progression of a number of our younger stars.
Of course, as the defeat itself showed, this isn’t a group of wunderkind world beaters. But, with the added experience provided by Sir Alex’ careful squad rotation policy, the future of Manchester United seems to be in good hands.
About the Author: Mark James attended his first Manchester United game in the mid 80s. He has been a regular visitor to Old Trafford for more than two decades and has developed a passion for sports writing since leaving University with an Honours Degree in Media Studies. As a dedicated writer, Mark has been published in UN sponsored business magazines on behalf of International Tourist Boards, dramatically boosted the online present of e-commerce companies around the world and continues to share his love of Manchester United with blogging communities across the internet. Available via a number of freelancer hire sites, Mark can be contacted through his leading online profile available here..