As soon as the final whistle blew at Wembley in the 2011 Champions League final almost every United fan pondered the question “how the hell can we beat Barcelona .”
A few days later as the Manchester United bus went past me at Old Trafford with the players and fans celebrating an historic 20th title, I couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed at the number in attendance.
Yes it was raining but it always does in Manchester, so that’s no real excuse. The reason the crowds weren’t bigger was simply because many United fans still felt disappointed at the loss to Barca.
The Champions League seems to have taken up a lot of our thinking, to the point where many of us are actually losing sight of the what else is important.
Since the Summer transfer window opened United have bought two proven Premier League players. Okay so Phil Jones as only played less than a season, but during that time he seemed more than equipped for the Premiership.
Ashley Young has been one of the brighter stars in the EPL for a number of years now even picking up the PFA Young player of the year award a few seasons ago.
Yet despite these two very astute signings there’s still a clamour among many Reds for a big money European name, someone to put the cat among the pigeons and convince the world we’re ready to take on Barcelona.
I’m all for the top players in the world coming to Old Trafford but I think Sir Alex has pulled off something of a masterstroke in making United far and away the most capable side of winning the league next season.
Signing Young and Jones gives United two players who are both capable of being part of a title winning team- although in either case there’s no guarantee they’ll even start.
While other clubs have twiddled their thumbs or spent their time chasing players they’ve got not chance of signing, Ferguson ’s added a pair of very useful English players who’ve shown they’ve no problem with the pace of the EPL.
Winning a 19th title was immense and an unbelievable achievement, but now it’s time to focus on the future and winning title number 20.
Ashley Young stated in his first ever interview as A United player that he wants to deliver title number 20 to Old Trafford which shows he knows where the priority lies.
When I think of the obsession with the Champions League I think of two things. The Episode of the Office where David Brent tells the -totally irrelevant to what he’s doing- story of the dog that has a bone in his mouth and looks down in the water, sees a dog with a bigger bone so drops his bone to get that one and ends up with nothing.
I also think of Chelsea and how in the past seven years their obsession with winning the Champions League has seen them employ seven different managers spend hundreds of millions of pounds and be no nearer to winning it today than they were in 2004.
The Champions League is the biggest tournament in club football but that shouldn’t mean United lose focus on which competition it is we play in week after week. If United are successful in the league, I’ve no doubt that success will eventually transfer to the Champions League.
Do we really want to take our eye of the ball and see City win a title, or Liverpool catch us back up, or maybe even Arsene Wenger finally get his act together? Perhaps Chelsea winning their second title in three years would be acceptable. Of course it wouldn’t.
Winning the league should be our priority and making signings to ensure that happens is a step in the right direction.
I’d love nothing more than to see United triumph in Munich next season, a venue that would be more than apt considering the tragic connotations the name and city has with our history.
I think the most important focus should remain on the league however, and for that the future’s already looking bright.
Agree or disagree? EPL or CL or both?
Read more of Justin’s articles at Red Flag Flying High