Last night’s shocking result was a double whammy for Ferguson. Not only was his team shown up by an average Basel side, United now will also have to suffer the humiliation of playing in the Europa League for the first time. These are not good times for a club that prides itself on being the first English team to win the European Cup.
The 2-1 loss at Basel was just that – A single loss. United did not finish in 3rd place just because of this loss. The warning signs were visible long before. The silly goals conceded against Basel and Benfica at home coupled with their performance in the EPL finally caught up with them. For a team that has been grinding out 1-0 results, defensive stability is paramount. If you are not going to score more than 1, you need a tight back 5. At Basel, United didn’t.
Nor did they have a sound defense against the likes of Newcastle, Swansea and Everton. The only difference was that those opponents were not good enough on that day to capitalize on a shaky defense. Basel was.
Expect the “Glazers Out” campaign to get reignited. Fans will point their fingers at the club owners who allegedly did not provide enough funds for Ferguson to bolster his squad. But on paper, this United side is still pretty good. Injuries to key players have certainly not helped, but oppositions are still vary of United.
Ferguson is possibly one of the culprits, having not brought in a midfielder or two to add some genuine flair and quality to the other-wise mechanical and efficient side. Cleverley and Anderson were supposed to benefit from having less competition and more game time, but with the duo out for atleast half the season, has that really worked out? Maybe United does not have second choice midfielders that are world class, but apart from City, Barcelona and Madrid, who does?
What will really happen
United have never been known to buy players as a knee-jerk reaction. Ferguson is facing yet another challenge in his glittering career at Old Trafford and like all of them, he will face it practically. There will be some activity in January, but don’t expect him to sign a big name midfielder. I think this season was supposed to be a “work in progress” and although results like this will hurt him, he will not abandon his plan altogether.
With a few tweaks and a few leaps, Ferguson will, in a year or 2, put out another talented side from the ashes of failure. That has always been the way the big man works. He has seen off Chelsea’s riches and Wenger’s invincibles. Maybe Manchester City will be too big a challenge for him. But I were a betting man, I wouldn’t go to the bookies yet.