Over & out?

I watched United’s exit from this year’s Champions League tonight with a heavy heart.  Despite some promising signs it looks as though this season is going to go down as a relative failure for the club – yes I know that we won the Carling Cup, but with greater achievements come greater expectations.  No doubt older inhabitants of Swindon can still recall the day they beat Arsenal 3-1 at Wembley in 1969 to win the same trophy (then just the humble League Cup), can remember what they had for breakfast that day and every member of the Swindon team.

By contrast, I suspect that many United fans have already forgotten who we played in this year’s final (it was Aston Villa) even though it was only a few weeks ago.  Such is the nature of life as a bunch of  greedy serial trophy winners.  The banner below kinda says it all…..

However, we’re not always better because we are out of Europe and face a (probably) fruitless pursuit of Chelsea for the Premiership.  Having seen it all over the last 20-something years I doubt that Sir Alex Ferguson expects a Chelsea slip-up; he’ll be thinking that could be it for the season.  I wonder what else he will be thinking as he sips his late-night Horlicks at home in Wilmslow tonight?  I wonder if he might not be thinking that he cannot face another year of turmoil and strife and might just prefer to spend a bit more time with the family and at the races?

The season isn’t actually over yet, but maybe it’s time for him to take stock on what has gone well and less well for the club this season……here are some thoughts he might well be having..and if he’s not he probably should be…..

Highs

Rooney stepping up to the plate after Ronaldo’s departure

Luis Antonio Valencia

Patrice Evra – Player of the Year but for Rooney

The re-emergence of Nani (sort of…)

As ever, promise in the Reserves and U18 teams – Paul Pogba, Will Keane, Scott Wooton

Maintaining local bragging rights with the  League Cup Semi win over City

Lows

The over-reliance on the ‘oldies’; Scholes, Giggs, Neville and Van der Sar

Dimitar Berbatov – his apparent inability to adapt to United’s style  and Fergie’s apparent inability to find the way of getting the best from him.  It’s like Seba Veron all over again. Also the lack of ‘chemistry’ between him and Rooney

Long-term injuries to Vidic and Ferdinand

Anderson – out of form and then injured

Rooney getting injured at precisely the juncture where we needed him fit and firing

Ben Foster failing to grab his big chance

Michael Owen – a signing that signalled lowered ambitions and didn’t come off.

Michael Carrick – I’m a big fan but he hasn’t had a great season.

and I’m sure there are many other issues on his mind right now….

Just watching the closing minutes at Old Trafford as Bayern played keep-ball with consummate ease makes me realise that there’s a lot of work to be done at United this close season.  It seems to me that a lot of fresh blood will be needed next year if United are to maintain their status as one of the big boys, both domestically and in Europe.

Whether Ferguson is the man for the job is a question that now needs to be asked – and doing so isn’t about disloyalty.  At Fergie’s advanced age, it’s a question that should be asked at the end of each season.  I’m sure that he will know when the time has come for him to step aside – and I just wonder if that time isn’t almost upon us.

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