Manchester United 2011/12 Preview: Ins, Outs, Transfer Targets and Predictions

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Last Season

Sir Alex Ferguson clinched the Premier League title in the penultimate game of the season at Blackburn Rovers but in truth the Old Trafford side always looked good to wrestle the champions crown from Chelsea and in many ways the season may be considered in the long run as something like the end of an era.

Man United legends Edwin van der Sar, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes all bowed out and have left Ryan Giggs as the last remaining long term veteran, a link to Ferguson’s outrageously successful ‘Fledglings’ but last term also helped to serve as a warning to their rivals that youngsters are beginning to find their feet as the Red Devils look to build on from past successes.

Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez was a bigger success than Ferguson could have ever hoped for, netting 20 goals in his debut season. Young centre back Chris Smalling also showed maturity at the back when injuries and poor form saw the former Maidstone man flung into the deep end, an England call up was a reward for his consistency.

Oddly enough the players who finished as top scorer and top assist maker, Nani and Dimitar Berbatov, ended the season by missing the Champions League Final but both had hugely crucial roles to play in the Premier League title success, though one wonders what the future holds for both players.

Wayne Rooney’s unwise decision to announce his intention to quit the club was expertly handled by Ferguson and after a troubling few weeks where the club’s supporters made it clear they were not happy with his antics, the England man got his form back and all was forgiven, an overhead kick winner against local rivals Man City helped erase that unseemly episode from the supporter’s collective memory.

It was home form that blew all other title rivals out of the water as Man United dropped just two points from the 57 on offer at Old Trafford, an astonishing record that afforded the club the occasional slip up away from home, and these did indeed occur at the likes of Everton (where a 3-1 lead was lost in injury time), defeat at lowly Wolves as well as back to back losses to Chelsea and Liverpool.

In the end the title was secured with nine points to spare though a Champions League Final defeat to Barcelona, the second in three seasons, was something of a crushing blow but in many ways did not take anything away from Man United’s rightful claim to being the Catalan side’s main challenger to the crown of best team in Europe.

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