Manchester United's squad depth may make Sir Alex Ferguson put off retirement

01 March 2009 10:41
For a Carling Cup final Sir Alex Ferguson could put out a line-up without crucial personnel, where four of his strongest players were not even on the bench, and still produce a winning team. There is no other club in the country that can do this, and that is why United are all-powerful. While others are struggling to replace quality with quality, they can do it with ease.

Ferguson has had a wonderful weekend, with the way results have worked out for him. Now he can rotate his players to face Newcastle on Wednesday night, and rotate again at Fulham on Saturday to reach an FA Cup semi-final.

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He can bring in different players but the team just keep on winning and this is why, in the 'lesser' competitions, United are seamlessly making the transition from game to game and continuing to win the trophies. It is a clever way of working, and so far it has worked an absolute treat.

Five trophies would be wonderful for United but if, before yesterday, you had said to Ferguson that you would give United the Premier League and Champions League and that they would fail in the FA Cup and Carling Cup, then he would have bitten your hand off. These competitions are categorically his priorities, and anything else is a sideshow.

The Champions League is a different proposition, but still United will start a week on Wednesday as the favourites to beat Inter Milan. You just know that he will play much-changed sides against Newcastle and Fulham, saving his best for the Inter game.

With Inter to face on Wednesday next week and Liverpool three days later, United are two good results away from being in pole position in their two most important competitions.

In the FA Cup they might draw Chelsea or Arsenal in the semi-final, and that could prove difficult, but when they are playing teams not among the top five or six then Ferguson can field any line-up he wants and still expect to win.

I do not think Ferguson has ever had this much strength in depth, with so many players springing up in different positions. Besides Darron Gibson and Danny Welbeck, both of whom started yesterday and played well, there are the Da Silva brothers, with Jonny Evans also good enough to play 120 minutes of a Carling Cup final at centre-back. This is why Ferguson could, conceivably, change his mind about when to retire.

There is much speculation about when he will go, but he is looking comparatively young for his age. When you have had so much success, some people would say you should go out on a high, but everybody gets greedy and Ferguson can certainly look to the next couple of years and see almost a guarantee of success.

There are always different ways of looking at it: either he goes leaving United in a very strong position, or he thinks in the back of his mind that he has got them into this position, so why should he not take advantage of it?

You cannot say with certainty that United will dominate English football for any length of time. Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs would all have tremendous influence in the dressing room, and when they go they will be very hard acts to follow.

I expected a period of dominance from Chelsea when they won back-to-back titles, but it never materialised. At the moment it looks like Man United can blow everybody out of the water, but it can change quickly, and Ferguson will be the first to know that.


Source: Telegraph