I don't know about you lot, but when Gary Neville speaks, I listen. The man was the most proficient Scouser wind-up merchant in the recent past, but his punditry has been first class. Personally, I'd love him back at United and not wasting his time with the England team.
As part of Sky's build up to releasing the revised rerevised fixtures, Gary had an interview where he spoke, among other things, on Sir Alex's midfield policy. The full interview can be found here. When asked if David Moyes must look at strengthening midfield, the former club captain had this to say:
Last year Michael Carrick was outstanding, playing virtually every game.[...]Tom Cleverley played well in there, and they have Anderson, Ryan Giggs still there.
Okay. That's a nice way of saying we have two central midfield options. However, let's move on...
What Sir Alex Ferguson was great at was sitting back and saying to himself: 'OK, if I buy a couple of midfield players, what about Tom Cleverley? I need to get Phil Jones into my team so, if Rafael is playing right-back, I've got Vidic, Ferdinand, Smalling and Evans at the back, where am I going to get him a game?'
Now, I could be talking out of my hat here, but the way he frames it - not "What Sir Alex must have thought", not even "What Sir Alex clearly felt" but a matter of fact "What he was great at" - indicates to me him just saying something he knows as fact. So when Sir Alex mentioned value in the market, that phrase that gives us fans nightmares during the transfer season, it is entirely possible that we was evaluating not just the financial cost, but the knock on effect it would have on younger players.
The jury is still out on Tom Cleverly, while Anderson is probably running on empty. Nick Powell is far too young for us to pass judgement on, though he seemed unaffected by the stage of the (meaningless) UCL group stage matches. Jesse Lingard has been taken on tour. It is one thing when someone like (sigh) Thiago comes along - but with all reports pointing to him signing a deal with Bayern before the week is up, maybe it's time to take stock of who exactly is needed for this team. Maybe Fellaini, or Strootman, or some other talented central midfielder. Or maybe the answer, like many times before at this club, lies within.
Weigh in with your views - with Thiago all but gone, who would you like to see partnering Michael Carrick (and Tom Cleverly in a midfield Trio, maybe?) and who would you move on? Who's impressed you, and who's time is up? Should we even go for a purchase now that the 'perfect fit' Thiago is out of reach?