Fergie plotting Rooney's revival
Published 01/05/2013 | 08:00
Sir Alex Ferguson may have woken up with a bit of a headache this day last week; there was hardly a photograph published after the title-clinching victory against Aston Villa that didn't see him clutching a bottle of champagne or 'swigging' from it!
However, I'll bet that wasn't the foremost thought on his mind: it'll have been "how can we kick on from here?" Because that has always been one of the best qualities of one of the greatest managers of all time: a refusal to rest on his laurels.
So forget all this talk (which he began) about this being the best squad he's ever worked with. Fergie will already be plotting ways of improving Manchester United who've just racked up their 25th major trophy since that first one under his impressive tutelage – the 1990 FA Cup.
Some 'perceived problems' that were around at the start of this season have 'repaired' themselves over the course of the last eight months. De Gea has improved markedly in goal, so much so he was named in the PFA's Premier League XI. And while Rafael was widely judged to be vulnerable, defensively at least, at right-back, there aren't too many reservations now.
Evra hasn't had a great season and I think Sir Alex is looking westwards towards Goodison Park for an obvious solution. Leighton Baines was also named in that PFA XI and is unlikely to win trophies while continuing to pull on an Everton shirt.
There was a time that the centre of United's defence picked itself: Vidic and Ferdinand. At their best they're probably both still first choice but Evans, Jones (a certain England centre-half in the not too distant future) and Smalling hover around.
It's probably midfield that's dominating the manager's thoughts at the moment. Valencia and Nani have been in and out of form: Giggs cannot go on for much longer. Carrick is excellent defensively but is he the 'creator' that most United supporters hanker after? I'm not convinced by Cleverley and I'd be looking at Modric who hasn't established himself in Madrid.
Up front, as if it's not enough to have van Persie, Hernandez and Welbeck in the bank, rumours abound about Lewandowski from Dortmund. Sir Alex said nothing over the weekend to dampen such speculation and the Pole would be an outstanding purchase, an out and out striker who'd give van Persie licence to roam.
Which brings me to the main thought that's on my mind: what to do about Wayne? The manager substituted him, yet again, on Sunday but made a very public show of patting Rooney on the back and ruffling his hair. Was that a message that the player will still be at Old Trafford?
Maybe ... but where does he fit in? I don't believe being re-created as a 'Scholes' would satisfy Rooney's obvious urges to be around and inside the penalty area. Yes, he can play 'deep' but he doesn't hide his frustration there. Three times in almost as many minutes at Arsenal he 'gave off' to Evans, Rafael and even van Persie for somehow letting him down. He is NOT a happy bunny.
I can't see Rooney being happy anywhere abroad. I don't see United selling him to a club in England. I hope Fergie knows 'what to do about Wayne'. I certainly don't.