Sir Alex needs to learn from Wenger’s woes.

by Jonathan Daniels

Friday, December 9th, 2011

This morning Sir Alex woke hoping to find that last night was simply a terrible dream, hoping that his Manchester United team had not become the first finalists not to make it out of the group the following season. But last night was no dream, and Thursday night appearances on channel 5 are the embarrassing reality. As a toothless United team nervously struggled and failed to penetrate in behind the Basle defence to produce a vital equaliser. So how did this happen?

United began their night at St Jakob Park in confident fashion, playing at an incredibly high tempo which left Basle struggling even to get a touch of the ball. However a Basle breakaway in the 9th minute resulted in a goal from Marco Streller and the unearthing of United’s frailties. Chris Smalling’s poor positioning resulted in a collision with Vidic that allowed Shaqiri the space to cross. While David de Gea was unable to produce a save when it counted most.

Phil Jones, a star since his summer move, looked nervous throughout and his anxiety was shown to all as he struggled to fight off tears when conceding a second half free-kick. As United’s younger players searched for composure the emphasis was on the experience of Rooney and Giggs to produce, and neither did.

Sir Alex’s faith in youth has paid huge dividends during his long reign at Old Trafford, but last night’s events suggests that the mantra “you’ll win nothing with kids” may now be a firm reality. The Manchester United manager recently claimed that he wouldn’t sign anybody in January as there were only two or three players in the world that could improve his midfield and they were not available.

However an early exit from Europe’s premier club competition demonstrated that certain areas of his squad are desperately lacking in reliable and experienced professionals. After the game Patrice Evra stated:”I play for Manchester United to play in the Champions League but some players dream of playing for United in any competition and you have to respect that.” Evra’s comment can only be aimed at United’s new younger players alluding to a belief that some of them are simply happy to be at the club.

If Sir Alex needed warning of the consequences of relying on youngsters to replace his most talented veterans he need only consult his former title adversary Arsene Wenger. Fourth place and the riches of the Champions League look impossible for the once mighty Gunners. Wenger’s refusal to reach for the cheque book has left his squad inexperienced and lightweight after the loss of a string of star players. Sir Alex’s refusal to invest in a replacement for Paul Scholes has already resulted in a drop through the Champions League trapdoor and further failure is threated unless Sir Alex asks David Gill for the Glazer’s cheque book.

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