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Sir Alex Ferguson is Not Stupid

By | 14th July 2009

sir-alex-fergusonIt appears that the trend going around the internet this morning involves bashing Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson. In case you missed it, yesterday the wily old Scot claimed that his summer spending was done. All of this after signing just three players: Gabriel Obertan, Michael Owen, and Antonio Valencia.

Many people – if not all – are saying that this is a sign that Fergie has lost the plot. How can you lose the world’s greatest player plus an Argentinean workhorse and only replace them with a relatively unknown French youngster that couldn’t even secure a place in his own Bordeaux side, an aging England star who many have labelled as crocked for good, and a player from Wigan that has never quite cut it on the biggest stage?

Quite simply, too many people were looking for direct replacements to Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez. Too many people are forgetting that Sir Alex Ferguson has built and rebuilt many great sides over the past few decades. When Ruud van Nistelrooy left the club for sunnier pastures in Spain, the entire football world was wondering where the goals would come from.

Back then, and just as today, Fergie didn’t need to find a direct replacement for his biggest star. Instead, he rebuilt the team based on a different focal point. Ruud van Nistelrooy as a slow target man was replaced by an entirely new system; Louis Saha led the line, and quite successfully, with his dynamic movement and tricky pace, Cristiano Ronaldo grew into his free role where the world was his stage, and Michael Carrick sat back and threaded the needle for the always-moving and always-fast United attack.

The result? The 2006/07 Manchester United remains one of the most exciting and attacking sides that the Premier League has seen. That Ruud-less team (should we just call them “polite”?) ended a long drought of trophies for United and kicked off yet another period of United dominance. Three Premier League trophies later, and Sir Alex Ferguson is still kicking.

So instead of worrying about directly replacing Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, we should all wait with open eyes and open hearts to see what magic Sir Alex Ferguson can pull from his old hat once again. This is a man that has built more great sides than any other manager, and if he’s content with what he’s got then it means that his current squad will fit the bill for his new plans.

After all, Sir Alex Ferguson has never been the type to just let his team be average. The 2009/10 season will be no exception…

Has Fergie lost the plot or are we witnessing the next era of Manchester United? Have your say in the comments section below!

Reader Comments

The below views are those of our readers and do not reflect the opinions of Premiership Talk or its employees.
  1. [...] United game after game, it was only because the system set it up that way. When I wrote about Sir Alex Ferguson’s new plan the initial feedback was “yeah, but who will replace Ronaldo!?” It’s a simple [...]

  2. [...] United game after game, it was only because the system set it up that way. When I wrote about Sir Alex Ferguson’s new plan the initial feedback was “yeah, but who will replace Ronaldo!?” It’s a simple [...]

  3. NorwegianDevil says:

    @ Andy:

    To answer your question:

    No, Van Nistelrooy was not.

    Yes, Ronaldo was.

    But for all of Ronaldo's good sides he wasn't without fault. And thats why I believe that we are in a very similar situation now as we were when RVN left.

    When RVN played for United we were predictable. People knew that if the could keep him silent then we would be les potent. Problem was that our play was dependant on RVN as focal point, and if you put him out of the equation we were much easier to handle. As with Ronaldo, RVN didn't track back much, and because of that other player had to work harder to cover the room left by RVN's abcense and then found themselves out of position when it was time to attack leaving us with fewer attacking options. Because of this we were more predicable and easier to defend against.

    With Ronaldo last season we saw a lot of similarities. Stop him, and we were easier to contain. He didn't track back so other had to cover his defensive duties. Our first two league wins was because we attacked and defended as a team and because of that we were very unpredictable. With the emergence of Ronaldo as the worlds nr. 1 we again became predictable. Now that he is gone I believe that we will go back to being unpredictable and we will be better as a team.

    We have no reason to panick.

  4. Andy says:

    Quick question: was van Nistlerooy the best player in that Man U team or was he just a prolific goalscorer? Was Ronaldo just a prolific goalscorer or was he the best player (by some way) in the team? There's the difference.

  5. Brian says:

    That's the key right there – how did we replace Ruud? Not with a striker! Not with a clinical player! Fergie changed the system so Ronaldo would find himself in front of goal more often, and over time the teenager who had "no end product" grew into his new role.

    Fergie doesn't replace players with direct replacements – he changes the system to suit the players that are still there.

    And you're repeating the same things we all heard when Ruud left – "where will all the goals come from?" They come from all over! Look at the 2006/07 season…the goals just get spread around more. Just because one goalscorer left doesn't mean a team needs to find a brand new, direct replacement goalscorer. Rooney, Berbatov, Owen, Nani, and co. will all pick up their share of goals.

  6. Andy says:

    I really don't think i am missing the point. You mentioned van Nistlerooy being replaced and how they managed to find someone to score his goals for them. I ask you this: who from the current Man Utd team is likely to score the 30 goals that Ronaldo would have scored had he still been there?

  7. Brian says:

    Andy, I think you're missing the whole point. Fergie isn't trying to replace Ronaldo anymore. He's building a new system that doesn't need Ronaldo. Nani may not be anywhere near Ronaldo's footballing skills, but perhaps he will fit into the system better (he is certainly better at tracking back, for instance).

  8. Andy says:

    I wouldn't say he's lost the plot at all. I also wouldn't say that he was at all happy with how his summer has panned out. Losing Ronaldo and Tevez and replacing them with Valencia and Owen? Neither of those are good enough replacements and to say Nani will step up and replace Ronaldo is quite ridiculous. He is nowhere near the player Ronaldo is and will never be. He wanted Ribery, Benzema, Eto'o, Silva etc but couldn't get them.

  9. Zain Alvi says:

    I definitely agree with you, Brian, and I have the same point of view as presented in the comment above by 'flagged'. Nani definitely needed a greater role at Old Trafford and Wayne also needs to play with his natural approach in order to extend his best foot forward.

    Obviously, Cristiano is a huge loss but like you said, it's pointless to find a direct replacement for a player like him because there is NONE. As for Tevez, he was great for you guys but Gary Neville is right in insisting that a fully fit Michael Owen will surely supply United with what Tevez used to provide.

    With that being said, I really hope Sir Alex loses the title next season, regardless of whether or not he loses the plot.

  10. flagged says:

    Yes i agree, Sir Alex has not lost the plot, he has done fantastic business in the summer and saved Utd a lot of money in the process.

    As you said he hasn't really replaced Ronaldo and Tevez only becoz he didn't need to, i think Rooney and Nani will benefit from this adn it will show this coming season.

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