Are Manchester Uniteds new signings signs of a sinking ship?

After throwing away the Premier League title last season, despite having a substantial lead several times, the momentum is very much in rivals Manchester City’s court next season. With Manchester United up to their knees in crippling debt and an ageing squad the future for United doesn’t look positive for the 19 times Premier League champions, what with the free-spending City improving as well as another threat from Chelsea who have strengthened their squad significantly with some pundits believing they lead the race for the Premier League title.

Alex Ferguson reacted to this by making too additions to the team in last seasons top goal scorer Robin Van Persie and Borrussia Dortmund playmaker Shinji Kagawa. On the face of it these two are world class players capable of creating goals and scoring with Ferguson even comparing his current strike force to the 1999/2000 side that won the treble including the Champions league (albeit in a similar vein to Chelseas win last season) a strike force led by Teddy Sheringham, Sjolksaer, Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke. However this is where the comparisons must end.

Robin Van Persie Manchester United

12 years ago Manchester United boasted the likes of David Beckham, Roy Keane, a much younger Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, Jaap Stam and Peter Schmeichel as the backbone to their team. Today however David De Gea is yet to peak physically and was often a weak link in the United backline and is yet to show he is suited to the English game – a stark contrast to the world class Joe Hart in goal for City.

The defensive line although boosted by the return of Nemanja Vidic alongside Rio Ferdinand they are both ageing and notoriously injury prone. The younger defenders of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones although good prospects for the future lack the experience that is needed for a Premier league push and perhaps in many ways caused their downfall last season with disappointing results towards the latter end of the season. Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs both players who have always been the spine of United are nearing the end of the career and with age comes more injuries and a lack of fitness.

Upfront they are somewhat blessed Wayne Rooney prolific to say the least, Dimitar Berbatov although likely to leave can score and Danny Welbeck and Hernandez have no problems finding the back of the net. Its through this that the signing of Kagawa and Van Persie seem strange. Although Van Persie is a world class striker and without doubt an addition to any team there are warning signs blaring from the player that Ferguson could not have missed.

Van Persies previous record in terms of fitness is somewhat off putting. It’s a bit like buying a Landrover with a poor service history, you know it’ll get the job done but it will without doubt break down at one point. Furthermore although he scored 30 goals in the PL last year an astonishing feat, but he did it as a lone striker, something he will not get the pleasure of at Manchester United and as he didn’t have pre season with them he will have to work on a partnership with Rooney during game time which could potentially cost points.

He is also 29 years of age and for the £24million price tag they got him for, something quite extortionate for a player his age, is unlikely to perform anything of a standard that would compensate for the fact they could have had him on a Bosman free transfer this January. Therefore the signing seems more of an attempt to appease with the fans in that landing the PL’s top goalscorer looks like a statement of intent however in reality it seems as though that Manchester United is a club that might be acceptant of its position as second best.

Onto Kagawa and although for Dortmund he was an amazing player last season again this seems like a public relations move when you look under the surface. The Japanese maestro who operates as a second striker (Rooneys favoured position) is key to Manchester United securing the Asian fan base and market they are famous for having.

With the departure of Ji-Sung-Park to QPR, a player responsible for generating extreme amounts of income in Asia through shirt sales etc, Manchester United look to have lost a key market. Kagawa in Japan is the equivalent of Beckham in Japan, adored by all and would definitely attract more fans to the club and therefore an increase in merchandise sales. The importance of the Asian fan base is key to Manchester Uniteds income shown by the Glazers decision to float the clubs stocks on the Singapore stock exchange in an attempt to raise money. For the £12million they purchased him for this can be easily recouped abroad.

Although this article seems heavily critical of Manchester United what you can’t deny is that they are both very good players they’ve signed. However goals is the one thing they didn’t lack last season and often they were exposed defensively. The return of Vidic will no doubt prove vital but how long they can keep him fit will be the key to regaining the title to in my opinion a superior Manchester City.


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