MANCHESTER UNITED 4
Fletcher 31, Giggs 38, Higgingbottom (og) 53, Park 84
For many the abiding memory of Manchester United’s final match of the season will be of the green and gold clad supporters once again venting their frustrations at an ownership structure which looks set to continue.
Following the final whistle the United support were lavished with the usual praise from Sir Alex Ferguson and were treated to the customary lap of honour by the United players and backroom staff. The green and gold scarf was a prominent fixture on those fans who stayed behind after the final whistle. Whether any of the players wished to adorn themselves in one of these scarves in the style of David Beckham is certainly an issue which will have been quashed prior to the players circling the field, but may not have been far from the thoughts of some of the playing staff.
For the 77 minutes which Wayne Rooney was on the pitch he played with the usual verve and spark which, despite being unable to find the net and give himself a chance of the golden boot, was illustrative of a fantastic personal season for the England man. Rooney must surely wish that there were others around him to carry the burden of inspiring the team in the close encounters when it really matters. Under the current ownership and financial structure of the club it may, however, be unlikely that Rooney will in fact be aided by the services of a real high profile signing. Much hope is being placed on the shoulders of Nani to provide that spark and creativity to win matches if the clubs ownership does not provide the required funds for summer signings. Although the match-winning ability of Nani has been in existence in recent weeks, his performance against Stoke suggested a lack of real consistency. The Portuguese was bright throughout but his final delivery and decision making lacked real conviction.
Currently it is unclear as to whether United can rely on Nani to achieve this consistency throughout next season. If the fans are to get their wish of a change of ownership and a cash injection someone like Nani will surely benefit from another creative midfield player or a forward to play off Rooney who can share the burden and enable the Portuguese to continue progressing. The Stoke encounter was another frustrating outing for Dimitar Berbatov as has been the case throughout much of the final weeks of the season. The Bulgarian was again guilty of missing two clear cut chances which continues to add credence to the argument that he may be on his way out of Old Trafford. Due to the clubs huge debts, according to reports United will have to raise the cash if they are to make any significant summer purchases with Berbatov in many peoples’ eyes the likely candidate to be leaving. If things were different the Bulgarian may be given another season alongside a new signing,something which may indeed help the former Tottenham man as it will alleviate the pressure on his shoulders. #
Unfortunately for Berbatov and others such as Michael Carrick, who was an unused substitute against Stoke, for this side to progress under the current financial constraints means that their days at Old Trafford could be numbered. The subdued nature of the final day of the season at Old Trafford is not something that either the fans or this current crop of players are used to but if the right blend of changes is not achieved this summer it may be something that will become a regular occurrence.