As the Manchester United players trudged off the Wembley pitch after their 3-1 defeat to FC Barcelona, their players, fans and particularly Sir Alex Ferguson must have been wondering how they can stop the dominance of the Catalan giants. Ashley Young, Phil Jones and David de Gea have all come in to reinforce the current crop, but there is still one position Sir Alex has yet to fill, and that is in the attacking centre of midfield. Yes Anderson can play there and despite his rather marmite status (loved or loathed) the potential is of course still very much raw, time will tell if he can fulfil the promise and perhaps even more crucially the money that United paid for him, believed to have been around £25.8m.
Tom Cleverley enjoyed a decent campaign at Wigan last season and whether Fergie decides to put faith in the youngster will become more apparent over the course of the season. However, with yet another defeat to Guardiola and his superstars in a Champions League final, Fergie’s intent to fill the void left by Paul Scholes’ retirement seems to outline his determination to have another crack at ending his Barcelona jinx before he eventually retires.
Scholes who was a substitute at Wembley and subsequently retired from the game after 17 years at Old Trafford, gave an honest yet grave view on that night back in May. “You would have hoped that in that two years you would have been able to bridge the gap a bit really. We were a million miles away from them. When you are taught a lesson like that — not once, but twice — it stays with you.” The defeat has left a bitter taste in many of the United players mouth’s with some calling on the Glazers to give Sir Alex full financial backing to ensure the club can compete on the finest stage.
Samir Nasri has long been rumoured with a move from Arsenal to Manchester United and if this was to go ahead, it would be one of the most acrimonious in years, given Carlos Tevez from Manchester United to Manchester City was hardly a transfer, more money into the hands of Kia Joorabchian, such a move for Nasri would illustrate a sign of weakness in Arsene Wenger and how Arsenal FC operate.
Surely Wenger would not sanction the transfers of both Nasri and Fabregas without adequate replacements? But with one year left on his contract, some might say it would prove to be shrewd business to take the money now rather take the chance on the Frenchman winding down his time in North London.
But one man who United would most definitely consider is Wesley Sneijder, the 27 year old appears to be the man who can add that spark, dynamism and perhaps the steel in the midfield to outmuscle the Xavis (god hope there is not more of them) Iniestas and co. Cast your minds back to the 2010 Champions League Final Semi-Final, much was said about Jose Mourinho and his masterful tactics to outclass Pep Guardiola, but it was a certain Dutchman who was at the forefront of everything bright and beautiful that Inter Milan did over those two legs.