As Manchester United go in search of 4 more goals today against Middlesbrough, a feat that will emulate that of Billy Merediths team of 1907/08, by scoring 4 goals in each of their last 4 games, a record that has stood for 100 years, Sir Alex Ferguson is calling on his young side to build a new dynasty by becoming the world best team for years to come.
The last time United, and Sir Alex, had that opportunity was is 1998/99 when the team won the treble. That United squad contained Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, as well as a young Wes Brown, just starting his career, from todays squad, and boasted the likes of David Beckham, Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, Ole Gunner Solskjaer, Teddy Sheringham, Dennis Irwin, Jaap Stam, Peter Schemiecle, and was led by Roy Keane. After completing the treble in Barcelona, by beating Bayern Munich with 2 late goals, Peter Schemiecle, who was playing his last game for United that night, went on to say that this young team could dominate the Champions League for years to come. Since that day, a decade ago, United have 2 semi final appearances to their name in a largely unfulfilled period. Dominance at home could not be translated into European success. But after clawing their way back to the top in England, after a period of 4 years when Arsenal and the Chelsea reigned supreme, United are looking to take the step that has eluded them thus far in their history.
Not resting on the triumph of last season’s league win, United spent heavily in the summer, bringing in Owen Hargreaves, Anderson, Nani and Carlos Tevez, into an already talented squad lead by Giggs, Scholes, the experienced pros and Ronaldo and Rooney, the exciting would be world beaters. They have invested in the future, rather than the now, with the likes of Nani and Anderson, along with Pique and Ben Foster, who may all got playing time this season (not Foster who is out injured until March), but it is next season, and in future seasons, where their impact will be felt. Potential has been invested in. Hargreaves and Tevez were bought for the now and the future. Hargreaves has the potential and ability, and more importantly in terms of English players and English football, the discipline to be the new Roy Keane, the shield in front of the back four, allowing the likes of Carrick and Anderson to be more affective in the attacking half of the field. While many may doubt the partnership of Tevez and Rooney, and Fergie may buy an out and out striker, especially if Saha continues to spend more time on the treatment table than on the pitch, but the reality is, as is becoming evident in the last few games, both Tevez and Rooney are talented enough, and clever enough, in footballing terms, to inter change between playing up front and in the hole, creating space for the other player to exploit, and getting the team goals. In fact Rooney may benefit from playing more games as an orthodox forward, where he will surely get more goals and improve his game.
There can be no doubt that United feel that they have missed out in the past, particularly after ’99, in stamping their authority on the world games, as Real Madrid or AC Milan have done, and will be looking to rectify that. The purchases made this season, and no doubt in the future, will be designed with that in mind, as well as allowing them to compete at the top of their domestic league. This season may be a stepping stone to a new red dynasty, one that has been a long time coming.