Manchester United claimed their 20th league title just over a week ago courtesy of a Robin van Persie hat-trick but United, and Sir Alex Ferguson, are already looking towards next season and how the squad can be improved.
The 71-year-old might have just won his 13th Premier League title but he is not resting on his laurels ahead of what should be another busy summer for the club.
Despite Ferguson insisting that United already have a solid foundation thanks to their youth in the squad, he is still very keen to add quality to the team and keep United competing for silverware.
“Hopefully, the players we bring into the club in the next year or so will be of the quality we need,” Ferguson said.
“We’re competitive in the market – we’re not Chelsea or Manchester City in terms of money but we’re competitive.
“We’ve been doing a bit of work on recruitment over the last three or four months, targeting who the players are that we feel could enhance us, make us better or help us maintain the level we’re at.”
But the onus must be to bring in a central midfielder given the startling dependency on Carrick this season combined with the impending retirement of Scholes and potential retirement of Fletcher as well as another unimpressive year from Anderson.
As has always been Ferguson’s way at United, he will only make a move in the market if the player he wants is available. We don’t typically panic buy. And given the strength of the youth flourishing at the club such as Powell and Januzaj, promoting a youngster is often the first choice for Ferguson.
“You have to look at the structure of the club at present, in terms of the number of first-team players we have at 23 or under,” he continued.
“David De Gea, Rafael, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Alex Buttner, Nick Powell, Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck, Shinji Kagawa and Chicharito are 24. Jonny Evans is 25 and Wayne Rooney is hitting his peak at 27.
“Older players like Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand may be coming towards the end of their careers, but these younger players are the foundation for the next five or six years, irrespective of the players breaking through, like Adnan Januzaj, the Belgian boy, who’s really looking very good.”
It’s not the first time Ferguson has been publicly praising Belgian wonder kid Adnan Janujaz who has had a phenomenal rise in the past from the U18s a year ago now that he has been given a squad number with the senior team and he looks a genuine first team prospect.
But it seems Zaha won’t be the only arrival to United this summer according to Ferguson and his forward thinking attitude is what makes him such a special manager. An anecdote from Bryan Robson is all the evidence you need.
Robson paid a visit to Ferguson after United had wrapped up the title. He said: “I went into his office after the Villa game and he was not talking to me about how we’d played on the night and won the title, he was talking about next season and how they can improve.
“That’s the way he is – and the rest of the Premier League beware.”
Always looking forward. Never settling. That is why United have dominated the Premier League era and look set to do so after 20 years at the top. The future is bright. The future is red.