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United's spending spree spells the end for established stars

Thursday 30th June 2011
Sir Alex Ferguson has invested highly into top young talent this summer, signalling the time for change at Old Trafford is now.

After finally sealing the deal that he already 'confirmed' once before, Sir Alex Ferguson captured goalkeeper David De Gea to replace recently retired Edwin Van Der Sar.  However, with Ashley Young and Phil Jones also being signed this summer, Van Der Sar is not the only man set to be replaced.

It should be seen as no small coincidence that in each of Young and Jones's respective positions, there is someone who is in the twilight of their career or who has been linked with a move away.  First of all, take Ashley Young who plays on the left hand side, Ryan Giggs and Nani are the two other main left sided players at United's disposal.  Ryan Giggs turns 38 this November and with each passing season, appears in less and less games.  Although still one of the games best talents, he has to stop sometime and this coming season could very well be Giggs's goodbye year.

Nani was supposed to be the natural successor to Giggs on the left (as have many unworthy contestants).  Although many have likened his form and improvement to that of Cristiano Ronaldo before he departed for Madrid, he simply is not the man to replace Giggs.  Seeing Ashley Young brought in can only unsettle Nani as to what the manager's plans for him are.  Young, who can weave in and out and leave his defender for dead, much like a younger Giggs would, is a ready made replacement who given the opportunity would fit straight into the United side.  If Nani was to leave for pastures new this summer, it would be a move that would be beneficial to both player and club.

Now take Phil Jones, centre-back.  Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic are the current favoured partnership, and rightly so, they are the best defensive partnership in the game.  But over the last couple of years, injuries have limited Ferdinand's playing time and this will almost certainly worry Ferguson.  Not only does Ferguson have Ferdinand's vulnerability to injury to worry about but he also has Nemanja Vidic who, each transfer window, is linked with a move away from England.  Continued speculation suggests that Vidic and his wife do not love the English lifestyle and it seems as if Ferguson is preparing for the Serbian's departure.

The arrival of Phil Jones from Blackburn now means that Ferguson now has a ready made partnership to take over from Ferdinand and Vidic in Jones and fellow England Under 21 international, Chris Smalling.  Smalling has already proved that he his more than capable of a place in the United defence after stunning displays when called upon in Ferdinand's regular absence.  Sir Alex knows that with the rules demanding more home-grown players be included in squads, he needed to acquire the services of top young English talent.

Young talent need someone to look up to and help them progress to the next level.  Whilst there are many figures that fit the bill at United, the decision to keep Michael Owen for another year was a master stroke.  Who better to help young English talent take themselves to the next level than one of England's finest ever players?  Ferguson would have had in mind the arrivals of Young and Jones when signing Owen on for another year.  Each player can take different things from the veteran, Young can learn from an attacking point of view, where to place to ball, what position to be in and most importantly, keeping calm and collected when shooting at goal.  All points that Owen is a master of.  Jones will learn how to handle a world class striker, what they do and how to keep them as quiet as possible.  This will see Young and Jones improve tremendously.

Taking a moment to look at the situation as an England fan, it can only be great news that Sir Alex Ferguson deems so many English players good enough to ply their trade at the Manchester club.  Ashley Young and Phil Jones join Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen, Michael Carrick, Chris Smalling, Wes Brown, Rio Ferdinand and Danny Welbeck, who has been told he will be given a chance this season, as English players looking to impress England manager Fabio Capello.

Ferguson is a master at not only bringing through young players, but winning with them.  It looks as though that isn't going to change any time soon.

"You can't win anything with kids."


Follow me on Twitter: @azygratton24
Aaron Gratton

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