As Manchester United fans look back over a season full of “what ifs” rather than what actually was at least they can take solace in the fact that they can sit back and enjoy the world cup.
Well maybe that could have been the case a few days ago but following Sir Alex Ferguson’s recent comments on how United players featuring in South Africa will be given a month off after the tournament many will already be wondering whether they made the right decision in not supporting FC.
Speaking to Fan 590 radio station in Toronto last week, while promoting United’s pre-season tour Fergie said: “The World Cup will be draining for all the players involved.
“It is the biggest tournament of their lives and we will be giving all of the players involved a 28-day rest after the last game”
To say this is not the news many United fans want to hear is like stating the Glazers are not as popular as they could be. With Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra all figuring in the tournament not to mention Ji Sung Park, Michael Carrick –possibly- and Nani it could mean several first team members miss the beginning of the season.
The season kicks off with the Charity, sorry Community Shield, on August 8th so if any United players reach the final on July 11th then United could lose them for the first few league games. Now let’s be frank South Korea or Serbia won’t be reaching the final of the world cup and even if by the biggest miracle since Dimitar Berbatov tracked back, they did, United would still be able to cope. The same could arguably be said if Evra and Nani were to miss a few games early on although it wouldn’t be ideal.
The real worry with Fergie’s statement is the chance that United could be without Rooney for the start of the campaign. Last season’s game against Blackburn away – not to mention Chelsea at home proved that while United are always capable of threatening, without Rooney they’re immensely more beatable- or drawable- if that’s a word, which according to spellcheck it ain’t.
Ah well, not to worry with the imminent sale of the under-achieving Dimitar Berbatov United will surely strengthen the attacking forces at Old Trafford to give Wazza the much needed back-up he’s been crying out for.
Well, erm apparently not as Fergie also stated: “We definitely won’t sell Berbatov.” Are you sure Alex? Yes he is, adding: “He will be with us next year.”
Now Ferguson has said this sort of thing before- Juan Sebastian Veron anyone?- but lately – like most people past the age of 65- he’s becoming even more set in his ways, so when he states that the Bulgarian is going nowhere I for one am inclined to believe him. Also with every United fan’s favourite voodoo doll announcing his retirement from International football to concentrate on being lazy at club-level, Fergie may have been impressed enough to give him a little more faith.
The question is where does that leave United? With Rooney possibly missing from the start of the season and Berbatov just about missing in most of the games he plays in, there seems to be need for some form of plan B or C at Old Trafford.
Step forward Javier Hernandez……well not so fast. It seems the young Mexican who dazzled everyone with his impressive display of anonymity against England, is not even guaranteed a work permit due to playing less than 75 per cent of Mexico’s games in the past two years.
So United will have to await a decision from the FA- never usually too kind to the Manchester club- as to whether they will endorse the application for the young Mexican to be granted a work permit.
Even if he is, I doubt the most ardent member of the Hernandez fan club-you should join the newsletter’s superb- will expect him to make any sort of impact on the team straight away.
Ferguson has already stated that United may not sign anyone in the summer, so the idea of Berbatov leading the attack backed up by either Hernandez or maybe Kiko Macheda is not how many Stretford Enders would envisage the quest to reclaim the title kicking off.
Of course there’s always Michael Owen, who’s no doubt going to be ‘chomping at the bit’ to prove himself fit and able to spearhead England’s next World Cup campaign in 2014, or maybe the one after that.
Regardless, the idea of a Rooney-less United must have Chelsea, Arsenal and whoever else may hold any title ambitions rubbing their hands in glee at the possibility of opening up a gap before he returns.
I do realise of course that if England do progress to the latter stages that also means the possibility of being without Ferdinand or Carrick, but to be fair the amount of games the England Captain has started for United lately hardly gives me pause for thought let alone concern. As for Carrick- he’s not even a United regular so his absence –should he make the plane which is doubtful- is likely to go practically unnoticed.
Of course Algeria, Slovenia and the US of A may prove to be tougher than expected and Ferguson may find himself with a full first-team come August. After all Landon Donavon did do well at Everton and those Slovenians are well organised not to mention Algeria’s tenacity, you can never count out any team in the World cup, what’s the saying? “There’s no easy games at this level”- very true, look at 1990 no-one expected……………….
Read more of Justin’s work at his excellent blog ‘Name on the Trophy’