Do Manchester United need Wesley Sneijder?
Paul Scholes may have left a huge pair of boots to fill in Manchester United’s midfield, but Alex Ferguson may not have to add a big-money signing to his squad if their performance in a captivating 3-2 Community Shield win over Manchester City is anything to go by.
While Ferguson has apparently made several attempts to lure Inter Milan and Netherlands playmaker Wesley Sneijder to his outfit during the break, United’s second-half comeback at Wembley suggests he may have found one or two replacements closer to home.
Trailing 2-0 at the interval, Ferguson threw Tom Cleverley into the fray and the youngster made an immediate impact with his crisp passing and movement which kept City on the back foot until the final whistle.
Cleverley’s mature performance capped an excellent pre-season buildup for the 21-year old midfielder, who has now been called up to the England squad.
Brazilian midfielder Anderson, inconsistent since joining the English champions in 2007, also provided plenty of eyecatching moments and had a good spell of form in last season’s run-in. He could be a valuable asset this term in United’s bid to win their 20th league title and reach their fourth Champions League final in five years.
Having signed Ashley Young from Aston Villa to boost the already strong-looking flanks where Nani, Antonio Valencia and the seemingly evergreen Ryan Giggs offer a plethora of options, does Ferguson need to splash 40 million pounds or so on playmaker Sneijder?
The 27-year old attacking midfielder is undoubtedly an exceptional player but whether he would hit the ground running at United, in line with his price tag, is another matter.
Early ordeals suffered by the likes of Thierry Henry, Diego Forlan and more recently Edin Dzeko suggest that even the most talented players sometimes need time to adapt to the Premier League’s torrid pace, which Sneijder would have to cope with instantly.
His arrival at Old Trafford would add depth and leave Ferguson somewhat spoilt for choice , but it may also require a tactical rethink and force the Scot to modify his preferred 4-4-2 formation that has worked so well for United over the years.
If Sneijder was to become an automatic starter straight away, it is hard to imagine Javier Hernandez, Nani, Anderson, Young, Antonio Valencia and Giggs all getting as much playing time as they would like to, and it would almost inevitably peg Cleverley back to the fringes.
The Dutchman’s arrival would no doubt make the ever so fierce competition for a spot in United’s starting eleven even stronger, but it could also disrupt the team’s finely balanced structure and chemistry. Inter built their team around him and Ferguson may not be willing to do so to the same degree.
So, should Ferguson gamble with Sneijder or stick with what he has got in his quest to add more silverware to his already bulging trophy cabinet?
PHOTO: Inter Milan’s Wesley Sneijder gestures as he celebrates after winning the Italian Cup final soccer match against Palermo in Rome May 29, 2011. REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito