Two months after winning the Champions League final in Moscow it has been anything but a quiet summer at Old Trafford. With the long-running Ronaldo soap-opera plus assistant coach Carlos Queiroz leaving to take over at Portugal Sir Alex Ferguson has seen his pres-season plans thrown into turmoil.
With United returning almost everyone from last year’s double winning team this summer was always going to be a low-key one in the transfer market. United’s defense was the best in the Premiership last season. Add in the return of Gary Neville and Manchester’s defense should be stronger in 2008.
When looking at the midfield and forwards for the upcoming season you have to look at the situation with Ronaldo and without Ronaldo.
If Ronaldo stays at Old Trafford than a midfield squad of Ronaldo, Hargraves, Carrick, Scholes, Anderson, Giggs and Nani is the second best collection of midfielders in the Premier League after Chelsea’s. They have speed, experience, toughness and can score goals. The only midfield place where United do not a replacement is the right side of midfield for Ronaldo, but more on that subject later.
Up front United have Rooney and Tavez who are both on the small side. It is no surprise then that United are after Spurs center-forward Dimitar Berbatov who I think would be a great addition. With Wayne Rooney’s troubling injury record (never mind his added weight) I think that Fergie needs to add another forward as back-up for when Rooney gets injured.
If Ronaldo goes then the question becomes how do United replace him? While Nani is a replacement for Ryan Giggs on the left, United does not have a back-up right winger. So Fergie’s first task would be to find two right sided midfield players to replace Ronaldo. One to start plus a back-up.
Up front Ronaldo’s 31 league goals and 40+ goals in all competitions will be extremely hard to replace. United fans would be hoping that 20 goals from Berbatov plus 5 more each from Tavez and Rooney would replace Ronaldo’s goals but that is wishful thinking.
You cannot easily replace the best player in the world and Man Utd will not be as strong next year if Ronaldo leaves.
I do think that Ronaldo will leave and his loss will bring United closer to Chelsea and Liverpool next year. If I was a Man United fan I am really worried about the first month of the season. Away matches at Portsmouth, Liverpool and Chelsea could easily see United drop 9 points after only five games.
Only a couple of questions for Manchester United this pre-season but they are very big ones.