Rabu, 4 April 2012

Nice article from David McDonnell

Transition? What transition! How Fergie overhauled United squad and STILL blew away his rivals

The most remarkable aspect of Manchester United's seemingly inevitable 20th title triumph is that it should come in what is supposedly a period of transition at Old Trafford.

While the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool have faltered during periods of change this season, Sir Alex Ferguson has kept his squad at the top of the pile, despite the arrival of new faces and a heavier squad turnover that usual.

It is a remarkable feat, considering United lost experienced players in Edwin van der Sar, Gary Neville, John O'Shea, Wes Brown, Owen Hargreaves and Paul Scholes - until his decision to come out of retirement in January - last summer.

Factor in the arrival of David De Gea, Phil Jones and Ashley Young, as well as the loss of skipper Nemanja Vidic and midfielder Darren Fletcher midway through the season, and United's relentless march to a fifth title in six years has been nothing short of astonishing.

At other clubs, allowances are made when their squad has a facelift, as if failure or dropping below their usual standard is the inevitable price of change. Not at United. Change is seen as a challenge, not an excuse to hide behind when things go wrong.

It is testimony to Ferguson's enduring managerial pedigree that even when United are going through such periods of transition, as they have done on several occasions during his quarter of a century reign, they have never finished lower than third in the Premier League.

Even when United went through their last significant process of evolution, in the 2005-06 season when they finished bottom of their Champions League group amid Roy Keane's acrimonious exit, they still won the Carling Cup and finished second in the league.

As the Premier League stands this morning, United are 18 points ahead of Arsenal, 23 in front of Chelsea and a humiliating 34 in front of arch rivals Liverpool, all of whom can also be considered to be experiencing periods of change.

In the case of Liverpool, they have spent £113 million on new players, more than double the £50 million United spent last summer, which makes their dramatic decline this season - with just two Premier League wins since January - all the more lamentable.

Arsenal may have recovered from their shaky start to the campaign, but remain an unreliable work in progress, while the player power at Chelsea ultimately did for Andre Villas-Boas and his attempts at a radical overhaul and change at Stamford Bridge.

A few weeks ago in this column I claimed winning the title this season would be up there with Ferguson's greatest achievements , given the vast sums spent by Manchester City in a bid to emerge from the giant shadow cast by the success of their neighbours. 

Given the backdrop against which United's probable title success will be achieved - City's huge spending, the changing personnel and the injuries they have suffered - it will be one of Ferguson's finest hours, not least for the symmetry of a 20th championship success.

With De Gea, Jones, the Da Silva twins, Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling, Young and Tom Cleverley, not to mention Wayne Rooney, Antonio Valencia, Nani, Javier Hernandez, all of whom are 26 or under, United have the nucleus of a formidable squad that is surely only going to improve.

Change can be a difficult thing for some clubs, but it is a process embraced by United and the type of players Ferguson signs, ensuring that continuity keeps them at the top of the pile more often than not.

source: http://www.mirrorfootball.co.uk/opinion/columnists/david-mcdonnell/The-Manchester-United-column-How-Alex-Ferguson-overhauled-his-squad-and-STILL-blew-away-rivals-like-Manchester-City-Liverpool-and-Chelsea-by-David-McDonnell-article886122.html

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