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United season review and gallery

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18 May 2010 10:04:46

United season review and gallery

When the 2009 summer transfer window shut there was a general feeling of foreboding at Old Trafford. The gloomy predictions were not from Sir Alex Ferguson but many fans, observers and critics felt United's moderate transfer business was not enough for the task of making history with four successive Premier League titles. £16m Antonio Valencia was always going to be something of a slow burner as the quiet Ecuadorian made the transition from Wigan to the Reds. Michael Owen was a cost-nothing acquisition who overnight went from an injury-ravaged Scouser to a possible classic Fergie bargain in the eyes of United fans. But it was a gamble rather than a nailed-on purchase. Gabriel Obertan, at £3m, was one for the future but whose move to Old Trafford even shocked his old boss at Bordeaux, Laurent Blanc. And he arrived injured. Considering this trio were the answer to losing over £100m of attacking talent and goals in Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez it was little wonder the usual anticipation as the season opened was somewhat muted. Before the transfer window closed there were four Premier League matches. In many ways the quartet of August fixtures summed up United's entire season. There was a mundane, un-inspiring opening victory against Birmingham City. Dull Then a Turf Moor shock when missed opportunities led to the 1-0 defeat to Burnley. There were 45 minutes of dull fare at Wigan before United reached top gear and stormed to a 5-0 win. Then there was a 2-1 Old Trafford win against Arsenal when even the most red-eyed United fan left the ground wondering how on earth the Gunners had been beaten. In that opening four matches Wayne Rooney had scored four of United's eight goals. The season was to be littered with the same kind of story-lines that opening four games brought. It was all about: were Rooney's shoulders broad enough to carry the burden of United's goalscoring and inspiration? Was his goal run a purple patch or the unveiling of a new, consistent hitman? Heaven forbid, but what would happen if he were injured? The question over Rooney's impact hung over Old Trafford all campaign. It was a debate that never went away. No wonder Fergie lost his cool when asked about the possibility of having to cope without Rooney just days after he'd scored two goals against Milan. "Do you want to stick pins in us," he snapped. Clearly the voodoo doll idea was taken up as four goals and four games later Rooney collapsed with a badly sprained ankle in Germany against Bayern Munich. Question From that moment on we got the answer to the question that had been hovering for nine months. Without Rooney, United's season fell apart. He was absent from the Chelsea match and United critically lost. He was unfit for the Bayern return and the Germans made United pay. He was sidelined for the 0-0 stalemate at Blackburn. The League and Europe were effectively surrendered in that 12-day period. Ultimately, United did make a tremendous fist of the campaign under the circumstances. Nobody got further than the Reds in Europe and nobody pushed Chelsea closer at home. But there was a desperate sense of if only a formidable back up to Rooney could have been landed then the Reds could have cleaned up in this crazy season. They flew by the seat of their pants in attack and eventually paid the price. Another season on tenterhooks wouldn't be advisable. Of course, everyone can make their own summer wish lists but we don't have to contend with the problems of the transfer market. In reality, you cannot snap your fingers and a goal-scoring Frank Lampard clone comes running or another Cristiano Ronaldo arrives in a puff of smoke. Nevertheless, discovering and acquiring those kinds of much-needed injections into a squad that couldn't quite make it over the line will be paramount. What is your verdict on the season? Have your say. RelatedPicturesView Gallery (8)


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