Old Trafford summer transfer activity in detail.
Sir Alex Ferguson is not one for resting on his laurels, and whilst that is of course a massive cliche is it also incredibly accurate. The Old Trafford boss had to deal with the loss of household names who had notched up over 1000 Premier League appearances among them and set about bringing in replacements for positions he felt he had to improve in the face of what may well be domestic solid but needed a re-think when related to European success.
Whilst clearly the club has some long term financial issues to deal with, soaring interest payments and overall debt levels that are frankly mind boggling are not so easily brushed under the carpet with yearly levels of high turnover, that said Ferguson had money to spend and he spent it wisely and perhaps more importantly, early.
The arrivals of David de Gea, Phil Jones and Ashley Young came before pre-season got into full swing and that has helped to mould the nucleus of a first 11/15 that the Man United boss will look to draw upon across all the major competitions.
The Spanish starlet custodian has been shaky between the sticks but Ferguson has been quick to defend the former Atletico Madrid man and whilst he has perhaps flapped at one or two efforts he has looked solid when it comes to tricky efforts on goal, thus proving that the youngster has what it takes to fill the massive gloves, metaphorically and literally, left by Edwin van der Sar.
Phil Jones is perhaps seen as a long term replacement for Rio Ferdinand, who’s injury problems have become both more pronounced and worryingly regular. Indeed the loss of Nemanja Vidic in the first week of the season left the club looking to Chris Smalling to play out on the right of the defence, a position the England man has excelled in.
The Blackburn Rovers defender has shown maturity beyond his years and could be a stalwart for years to come, whilst a player like Jonny Evans can on occasion, even at age 24, lack conviction and concentration, one can see that Jones has the makings or a far more accomplished centre back than his Northern Irish team-mate.
It is Ashley Young, of the three new additions, that has settled in the best. Ferguson has been linked with a move for the former Aston Villa man and either by luck or design has purchased the winger at his very peak. The 26 year old had a good season in the Midlands last term but now looks ever more the finished article, rushing up the wing with renewed purpose.
Whilst at Villa he at times gave the air of a player who felt he was above his team-mates and frequently thus opted to go it alone and in his early years flitting in and out of games, now no longer a big fish in a small pond the England international looks to have grown. Now opting for quick insightful passing over trying to over elaborate, the results are clear for all to see, even after only a few games in a United shirt he already looks the part and when Luis Antonio Valencia returns it will be Nani, and not Young, who will fight the Ecuadorian for a first team spot.
It was widely reported that as well as these new additions, Ferguson was also looking into bringing in another attack minded midfielder with Inter Milan man Wesley Sneijder high up on the wish-list. As it turned out no move was forthcoming and that was more likely down in part to the Man United manager looking to trust to those at the club to fill such a role and has watched as youngster Tom Cleverley has taken the job on with aplomb.
On the outgoing front, aside from the three giants who called it quits, Edwin van der Sar, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville, those who departed either did so because both club and player realised the time was right to move on to the next challenge or because it became abundantly clear they were not good enough to warrant a place at the club.
John O’Shea and Wes Brown both served a very useful purpose and had fluctuating levels of importance during their respective periods at the club but a move to Sunderland was probably one all parties knew was right. The pair, both of whom garnered an undeserved smattering of ridicule from outside Manchester, amassed over 750 appearances for the club and won a total of ten Premier League titles and three Champions League triumphs as well as numerous other accolades and should therefore deserve more recognition than either get.
Gabriel Obertan, who left for Newcastle United, wholly failed to impress. Whilst the Frenchman did look promising when on reserve duty when push came to shove he really didn’t cut it in the first team and was seemingly always living on borrowed time, failing to make an impact against the then non-league Crawley Town was perhaps the final nail in his Man United career coffin.
Here is a closer look at those who arrived and who left Old Trafford this summer and how they have faired or why they were offloaded.
David de Gea: £17.6m from Atletico Madrid
Shaky start but an undoubted talent and a player who is expected to grow into the a player who can fill the void left by the loss of Edwin van der Sar.