How Moyes will make his mark in the transfer market this summer: Fellaini, Falcao, Lewandowski or Ronaldo?
Understandably, focus this past week has been set on Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement and the state of the club he leaves behind. Wayne Rooney currently exists in limbo somewhere between the exit door and the Priory; transfer request in hand with a trail of junk food, fag butts and empty cans left in his wake. Meanwhile speculation over the health of transfer kitty has seen question marks and price tags plastered across the majority of the squad.
With the emotions of Sunday’s home farewell against Swansea City now out of the way, attentions can begin to turn towards how David Moyes will stamp his mark on Manchester United this summer, both tactically and in the transfer market.
Fellaini offers options to the midfield
Michael Carrick has long been the most overworked and, until recently, under loved player in top-flight football. At times he has performed like a one-man midfield for Manchester United, intercepting, retaining possession, starting attacks and even delivering the final ball to the flanks and forward line.
Fellaini has been David Moyes’ most successful signing while at Everton, fulfilling multiple roles to great effect across the team. While some have scoffed at the idea of bringing in the gangly Belgian as a replacement for Rooney, his true value would lie in becoming a partner and rotating back up to Carrick.
With Fellaini sitting deep and playing defensively, the likes of Tom Cleverley and Anderson can drive forward in confidence that the space behind them is covered. Alternatively, playing in place of Carrick at the centre of the park the sky-scraping midfielder can fight for the ball and cause havoc with his awkward frame by stepping up field when required.
His arrival could also free up Phil Jones to focus on developing into a first choice centre-back, with Fellaini able to screen the back four and harass specific opposition players as required, although he does lack the hyperactive energy levels of United’s current utility man.
Lewandowski, Falcao or Benteke to lead the line
Moyes’ record with strikers is patchy at best, but as Pat Nevin stated in a piece for BBC Sport, at Everton he never had the funds of opportunity to sign a frontman of real class and ability due to their high market price.
At United this summer, Moyes could well have the money to bring in a more traditional Number Nine style player to add a new dimension to the frontline.
Falcao would likely be the most expensive target but arguably the most lethal in front of goal, yet at 27 he is perhaps too close to 30 – and Robin van Persie’s age – to be a worthwhile investment. With Monaco having apparently already agreed a fee, any opportunity to sign the Colombian may have already passed.
Robert Lewandowski would be an interesting acquisition if his gaze could be drawn away from his likely suitors, Bayern Munich. Tall and powerful, yet technical, he is adept with the ball in the air or on the floor, finishing chances for himself or creating for others, and has been one of the stars of the Champions League this year at the age of 24. His combination with Shinji Kagawa during the Japanese’s time at Dortmund played a huge part in delivering a league-cup double for Jurgen Klopp’s side in 2012, and a reunion at Old Trafford would be likely offer handsome returns.
A more affordable option may be Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke, who has lit up the Premier League in his debut season in England. Physically imposing yet skilled on the ball, and aged only 22, he would be a signing full of potential yet also able to contribute almost immediately to the challenge of beginning the post-Ferguson era with silverware.
Signing another striker would clearly put pressure on van Persie’s position in the team, but with the Dutchman reaching 30 in August and able to offer far more than just goals, a back up could be a wise purchase. Playing through channels, van Persie could form a formidable trio alongside Kagawa and a more foreboding presence up front. With Danny Welbeck able to play in the hole, on the flanks or up front, the development of the young Englishman wouldn’t be stunted, while Hernandez will have to decide whether he can accept his super-sub role long-term. Unfortunately for the Mexican, his approach play remains a level below what is required of a starting Manchester United frontman.
Baines an obvious choice, but what about Fabio, Büttner and Evra?
After Fellaini, Leighton Baines has become David Moyes’ most recognisable and celebrated import for Everton, and the left-back could also soon be on his way to Old Trafford, after having been a target for Sir Alex for the last two summers at least.
His arrival may see Fabio da Silva loaned out again or even sold, with Alexander Büttner likely needing to seek appearances in left-wing positions further forward to supplement his chances at fullback.
Should Moyes purchase a line leading striker as suggested above, Baines’ crossing would be a powerful new weapon in United’s arsenal, while Evra would offer an alternative threat down the left with his dribbling, box-to-box presence. At 31 though the Frenchman cannot keep playing in such a high-fitness role week-in, week-out forever, and his defensive game has already suffered due to his inability to play three roles down the flank in recent years.
Baines would add security to the left-back position while giving the team a different variety of threat from deep, but all eyes will be on Fabio to see if he can force his way into the team to imitate the progress of his brother, Rafael.
Zaha already on his way; Rooney could stay
While title number 20 was won in style at times this year, as the season progressed magic became hard to find out on the flanks. Nani, Valencia and Young – through injury, confidence and form – all failed to live up to their billing and faded as the months drew on. As Sir Alex Ferguson’s final signing, Wilfried Zaha, will sadly never experience playing under the man who brought him to Manchester, but he could well be the refreshing new addition United’s wing play has been crying out for of late.
Much has been made of David Moyes’ past relationship and experience in dealing with Wayne Rooney, who was given his professional debut at the age of 16 by the Everton boss. All is not well with the England striker-cum-midfielder, who is reportedly seeking a fresh start elsewhere. The arrival of a new regime at the club may yet be the change of scenery he craves, but the player’s true problems lie closer to home. With rumours rife of arrivals to training drunk, bust ups with team mates, chain smoking and self-evident weight problems caused by a damaging diet of deep fried fast food, Rooney must face the challenges within himself rather than seek to run away and escape by finding new quarrels elsewhere.
Having shown his ability to deliver balls from deep and patrol the middle of the field, now may be the time to drop back permanently and transition into becoming a midfielder like Giggs before him. Whether he has the professionalism off the field or desire on it to make such a sift work is another story. The smiles that were once a feature of his on-field demeanour have faded in place of disgruntlement and sadness though, and if Rooney can no longer find happiness in his football, it is perhaps time to cash in and let him go. With Shinji Kagawa United have the ideal Number 10 to build their future attack around in his absence.
Could the Portuguese be on his way back to Manchester United?
Re-signing Cristiano Ronaldo would go a long way to dismissing any talk of low ambition when it comes to David Moyes’ appointment, but the Real Madrid star is far from a instant-win solution to get United back into the Champions League saddle. Much has changed since his departure in 2009, with the former winger becoming a much more direct athlete while United have shifted towards tactics that rely on collective teamwork rather than specialist individuals.
If Ronaldo were to return then a striker may not be necessary; he may even feature up front as a danger man in the air, on the ground and on the break.