It would seem an almost offensive question at first that the greatest manager in the history of the game would fail to address the most important issue.
After all three major summer signings, over £50 million spent plus the recall of two important loanees and a promise they won’t be going out again this season, is hardly letting the grass grow under your feet.
Yet let’s ask ourselves one fundamental question: Are we now better equipped to beat Barcelona?
I’d argue not.
This Summer I’ve praised Sir Alex for making the side strong enough to mount another successful title challenge as I truly believe we’ve got the strongest squad in the Premier League.
Yet that shouldn’t detract from the two tonne white elephant still sitting firmly in the room: how are United going to beat Barcelona?
Last season in the Champions League final it was glaringly obvious we were at least one midfield enforcer short of really being able to give the Catalan side a game.
Never mind the “Fletcher was injured” argument or “Carrick had an off day” or even the “Anderson should’ve started” point. The fact is United as in Rome two years previously simply didn’t have the tenacious though tackling terrier to try and break down the Barca play and mix it up a bit.
Ji Sung Park tried his best but simply ended up running himself knackered after half an hour.
With all the rumours surrounding Samir Nasri or Wesley Sneijder, the smart money is that we won’t be buying a player like that even if we do make one more big name signing.
You could argue that Sneijder is that good a player that he will move us a step closer to Barcelona’s level, regardless of the fact he’s an attacking midfielder rather than a defensive or box-to-box one.
All this is academic of course unless had signed Sneijder but at the time of writing we aint.
The loss of Paul Scholes and Edwin Van der Sar is a massive blow no matter what they’re ages but in terms of beating Barcelona it may actually be Owen Hargreaves’s departure which is the most telling.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not claiming that the curly haired one is a better player than Scholes that would be ridiculous. What I’m saying is he’s the one midfielder who, had he regained his fitness- admittedly a big ‘if’ then he could have been ideal for the task of getting in Barca’s faces.
Buying players simply to beat one team may seem a little daft to some, but let’s face some simple facts, if United really want to win the Champions League then sooner or later we’re going to have to beat Barcelona and my concern is that problem doesn’t really seem to have been addressed this Summer.
Whenever the subject of beating Barcelona comes up with many of the Reds I’ve spoken to, the general consensus seems to be that United would need to be on form and simply hope the Spaniards had a bad day at the office.
That’s like expecting the Daily Star to have newsworthy story on the only day you buy it, call me a cynic but I think United’s chances of wrestling the Champions League from Barcelona, look about as likely as they did last season.
Read more of Justin’s articles at the excellent Red Flag Flying High