Man Utd Focus - Does Moyes have the strongest Premier League squad?
Manchester United have for a long time been credited as having incredible strength in depth, and under Sir Alex Ferguson more often than not headed into a new season boasting the strongest squad in the Premier League. The retired Scot was a pioneer of the rotation system that is so abundant in modern football, but is the squad that he left new manager David Moyes the strongest in the land?
There is little doubt the set of players left by Ferguson was bettered by no other side, after United cantered to a record 20th league title, but the summer transfer window may have changed this. Last season's 11-point margin demonstrated the superiority of the Old Trafford outfit over the rest of the league, but the strengthening of rivals Manchester City and Chelsea ought to close this gap.
José Mourinho's return to Stamford Bridge will knit the dressing room to a level perhaps not seen since the Portuguese's last stint at the club, or at least since Carlo Ancelotti's first season in charge. The West Londoners have brought in two potentially excellent young players in 22-year-old Germany international André Schürrle and highly-rated 20-year-old Marco van Ginkel. Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku are expected to make an impression after spending time out on loan, while Michael Essien will also return after a year in Madrid.
Chelsea have been widely mooted as favourites for the title, which would only be further increased if they manage to prise Wayne Rooney from Old Trafford, or hijack Tottenham's attempts to sign Anzhi Makhachkala's Willian. The likes of Eden Hazard and Oscar have a year of Premier League experience behind them, while a much improved David Luiz appears to have been kept out of the clutches of Barcelona. Monday's clash in Manchester will be a good barometer of how the two clubs are shaping up for the season.
Neighbours City have splashed out on four big money signings, acknowledging that United need catching before the gap widens further. Spending is already almost double that of last year, with Fernandinho bringing energy to midfield, Jesús Navas width that was previously lacking, and Álvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetić an enhanced goal threat and guile up front. The difficulty for new boss Manuel Pellegrini will be keeping his players happy as he rotates, especially in attack, which was something Ferguson was so adept at during his reign.
Moyes meanwhile is still yet to make a signing of his own, and appears set to target former Everton charges Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines. Both would strengthen United's squad, lending significance to the final week of the transfer window. However even without any further additions Moyes has a deep and talented pool at his disposal, including a backbone of experience and a plethora of young players that will only improve. David de Gea, Phil Jones and Rafael da Silva are maturing into dependable first teamers, while Wilfried Zaha has impressed so far and Adnan Januzaj is an exciting prospect that seems set to win valuable playing time.
There is stability at Old Trafford that is perhaps absent at City and Chelsea, who have no guarantees that their signings will gel. Sir Alex Ferguson built up a nicely blended squad that will be competitive for years to come, and should Moyes add a central midfielder of Fellaini's capabilities to his ranks, he could consider himself to possess the strongest squad once the transfer window shuts.
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