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Is Fergie Thinking Beyond 2011/12?

Tuesday 10th January 2012
Given the way the big clubs seem to be going at the moment, it actually seems as though United could win the title this season – but if City pull their act together, I don't think Sir Alex will be fretting too much.

Just look at the way United have lined up, not just in the ‘minor' competitions such as the Carling Cup, but in the Champions League and Premiership as well. Never mind the injury crisis, there has been a definite lack of stability in favour of playing young, usually inexperienced, players.

And as a result they haven't been anywhere near their best, as a 6-1 loss to rivals City and a string of low-scoring games following show. But why? After sticking with De Gea for so long, Fergie has even dropped him in favour of the more reliable Lindegaard, leading to the question why play De Gea in the first place?



My theory is that this is one of several years of ‘transition' for United. For many years now, Sir Alex has been to-ing and fro-ing between retirement plans and I think now, finally, he has decided for definite that it is time to leave.

However, the temptation to build just one more title-winning, league-dominating squad may have been too much for him to leave straight away and the situation at Chelsea has probably shown him just what happens when no long-term plan is in place when a manager leaves.

Obviously, Manchester United have no chance of competing financially with their City rivals when it comes to enticing the best players, meaning that only a few big current or future stars a season coming in is a possibility – as opposed to City and Chelsea before them signing half a squad in a transfer window.
To build a side, then, that could challenge for a few years would take at least a couple of years to assemble, even with United's remarkable track record with their scouting and youth systems. It is highly likely as well that Sir Alex will want to leave his successor with an easy first few years – especially given the revolving door nature of managerial posts nowadays and his own first few difficult years managing United.

So, with a long-term goal of a lasting team to pass on, it would be unwise to overstretch this one; putting excess pressure on them could affect their confidence when they don't succeed and, if they do manage to excel, future stars could be snapped up by money-rich rivals.

Let's not forget that the last time Manchester United crashed out of the Champions League in the group stage, they then went on to win the league title three times in a row, and four times in five years. The dominance shown then might not come around so soon this time but don't be surprised when it does, maybe just when Fergie finally hangs up his hairdryer.
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