Barring a miracle, 19 times winners of the League Manchester United will finish a season trophyless for the first time since the 2004/05 season.
Losing the title to neighbours City will be a bitter pill to swallow for Sir Alex. United have endured countless problems over the course of this campaign including numerous injury problems, capped off in Basel when their talismanic skipper fell victim to a season ending knee ligament injury. United’s form in Europe has been abysmal, from crashing out of a relatively simple Champions League group in December to falling well short in Europe’s second string competition AT the hands of Athletic Bilbao.
Ferguson will need to address this during the summer period, with a number of names already being linked with a switch to Old Trafford. Before this season, United were well known for their exceptional record in Europe. They still hold the record for going unbeaten in 25 away Champions League matches from 2007-2009 and have reached three finals in the last five years.
Is this season a blip? A year of transition for a club that has spoilt their fans with success over the recent years? Did complacency and United’s shocking injury list take its toll? Everyone associated with United will have different views on this seasons problems. If City win the league on Sunday by goal difference many United fans will look at the 6-1 drubbing at Old Trafford as a pivotal moment in this year’s title race, despite it being relatively early in the season, it took United’s players and supporters some time to recover from that horrific Sunday afternoon.
One area that is crying out to be strengthened is United’s central midfield. As the Sneijder saga dragged on right up until the final hours of deadline day, Sir Alex trusted in what he already had. With Tom Cleverley looking impressive in his first few games in that midfield with Anderson alongside him. Fast forward five months and with Cleverley struggling with injury problems that eventually plagued his whole season and Anderson under-performing, Sir Alex pulled the most surprising rabbit out of the hat.
Eight months after his retirement, United’s midfield maestro for the past 15 years was back. A sign of desperation cried many pundits as United’s central midfield cracks started to widen. However the return of Scholes galvanised United to some exceptional domestic form which took them to 8 points clear at the summit of the Premier League in April.
Over the course of the next few months there’s a wide expectation of many comings and goings at Old Trafford. Sir Alex will know potential champions City will only get stronger so this summers window will be a very important one for the red half of Manchester.