Tag Federico Macheda

Tag Federico Macheda

Macheda looks to tour for one last chance

July 12, 2012 Tags: Opinion 22 comments

It is now three years, three months and seven days since Federico Macheda burst onto the Premier League scene, curling home a stunning and hugely significant winning goal against Aston Villa in the third minute of injury time. The Italian youngster’s Old Trafford effort, forever associated with Manchester United’s 2008/9 title victory, hailed the start of what promised to be a fantastic career. It hasn’t quite worked out like that for Macheda in the intervening years.

Indeed, injury, squad competition, a perceived attitude problem and two disastrous loan spells mean that the former-Lazio player has made almost no career progress since that famous Stretford End goal. And if Macheda’s regression has been disappointing, both to player and manager Sir Alex Ferguson, then it is placed in stark relief with two of the United players who first ran to celebrate with Macheda on the day: Danny Welbeck and Jonny Evans.

Now back at United after a short loan spell with Queens Park Rangers last season, Macheda will go on tour with Ferguson’s first team squad to South Africa, Asia and northern Europe this summer, with the 20-year-old still hoping to make a career at the club. It could well be the Italian’s last chance.

“It’s great to be back at Manchester United,” said Macheda, who played six times for QPR without scoring last season.

“When you go on loan you really understand how important it is to play for this club. I’m really happy to be back and I can’t wait for the start of the season.

“Last season was disappointing. In the first six months I didn’t get a lot of opportunities here so we decided it was best for me to go on loan. When I got to QPR things went a bit wrong, though, as I was feeling my ankle a lot. But now I feel a lot better and want to start the season well. It’s a big season for me.”

It wasn’t supposed to be like this, with Macheda joining QPR during the January transfer window; the Premier League loan that was long-over due. The striker made his Rangers’ début on 3 January as a substitute for Heiðar Helguson – by 28 March Macheda returned to United for treatment after an ankle injury brought his season to a premature end. In between there were just six appearances – three in the Premier league – as new manager Mark Hughes preferred January acquisition Djibril Cissé.

Disappointment at the west London outfit was the second winter loan gone bad for Macheda after the striker returned ‘home’ in 2011 to Sampdoria – seemingly against Ferguson’s wishes. In 16 fixtures with la Samp, Macheda scored just once in a Coppa Italia tie against Udinese. Worse still, Sampdoria’s awful form matched the striker’s with the Genoa-based club relegated to Serie B by the end of the campaign.

Add in numerous injuries and the perception that Macheda doesn’t work quite as hard as United’s coaches might like, and the Italian is surely on the precipice at Old Trafford.

But this summer’s tour, which takes in six games across five countries and over 22,000 miles of travel, could provide Macheda with a fresh career impetus, especially with Michael Owen departed and Dimitar Berbatov’s future still uncertain. It’s an opportunity that the Italian simply must take; one final chance to demonstrate that Ferguson’s faith is not unfounded.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Macheda told ManUtd.com.

“It’s always great to visit fans in different countries. You meet new people, you see new cities, you experience different cultures. I didn’t know how big the club was around the world when I went away for the first time in 2009. But I was very impressed by Malaysia, China and Korea. We have great support all over the world and I love being part of this team.”

Whether Macheda remains part of the team in the coming season is still open to question though, even if Ferguson praised the Italian’s potential once again earlier this summer. But it is a career that cannot continue to fester; six months in United’s reserves waiting for an opportunity while Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernández rotate striking duties in the first team can serve neither United, nor player well.

Yet, after failed loans both abroad and in the Premier League neither player nor club’s options are wide. Macheda may find another temporary move within the top division – it is, after all, more likely than the Italian forcing his way into Ferguson’s plans. Equally, the striker cannot afford to be less than first choice at a new club either. It reduces Macheda’s realistic options substantially.

Neither will a sale maximise United’s value in these Glazernomic times, making Macheda’s permanent departure unlikely while the player remains at a low ebb. It leaves fans pondering whether the youngster has regressed from teenage wunderkind to the scraphead in three short years.

Perhaps, not quite yet. But whether Macheda stays at United or departs for pastures new, the coming season promises to the most important in a fledgling career.

From striking riches, to striking woes

December 5, 2011 Tags: , , Opinion 18 comments

Sir Alex Ferguson began the season with seven strikers; the Scot could end the year with just three, and none of them currently in scintillating form. Injuries leave Ferguson with just two senior strikers for Manchester United’s visit to FC Basel in the Champions League this week – Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck – but potential departures may reduce the Scot’s options even further come January. It is a concern for which there is no easy fix as United continues to grind out single-goal results.

Javier Hernandez’ sickening and unfortunate injury during the Reds’ 1-0 victory at Aston Villa on Saturday has reduced the Scot’s attacking options, with Michael Owen also on the sidelines until the New Year, and Dimitar Berbatov missing the next fortnight after suffering a recurrence of an old ankle injury against Crystal Palace. The early injury to Hernandez, who rolled over on his left ankle and is believed to have torn ligaments, will keep the Mexican out of action for at least a month, according to Ferguson. But that could be an optimistic prognosis; those who have suffered similar injuries, including Robin van Persie and Jack Rodwell in recent seasons, spent far longer on the sidelines.

Meanwhile, Owen, who strained his left hamstring in United’s 2-0 Champions League win over Otelul Galati at Old Trafford, is unlikely to play again this side of a busy Christmas programme. With Berbatov set to miss matches against Basel and Wolverhampton Wanderers, Ferguson will fall back on Welbeck, who has only just returned from injury, to partner the misfiring Rooney in Switzerland.

Still, Ferguson chose to reflect on the positives from United’s controlled but ultimately narrow victory over Villa on Saturday evening.

“I thought we deserved the victory. We had great possession at times and I think we were a bit wasteful with chances we had in the second half,” said Ferguson of United’s victory at Villa Park.

“But a win away from home at Villa Park – which is always a difficult place to come – is a good result so we are happy. I think we should be finishing games off and I’d like to do that, but the one good thing is our concentration levels away from home. I thought we controlled the game. Some of our football was good, there were some good performances from the lads and there was a good rhythm in our game. Yes, we could do better in the finishing department but I think consistency will help us in terms of confidence.”

Injuries will do little to help United’s attacking rhythm though, with Ferguson’s side having scored just once in each of the last seven Premier League games since derby defeat to Manchester City in October. It is a period in which Rooney has failed to hit the net, although the 26-year-old Scouser has frequently been deployed in central midfield.

Attacking injury problems could open the door to Mame Biram Diouf and Federico Macheda. Yet, neither made the bench for United’s fixture at Villa, or indeed, has started a game in the Premier League this season, and Ferguson is expected to sell or loan the pair come January. With just 16 matches remaining in the reserve season it will aid neither man to remain at the club.

“The problem is the type of reserve league we have now, it’s really a youth league, and that is a big problem,” added Ferguson after defeat to Palace last week.

“It bothers me in the sense that the level of training we do was let down. For us it was Rafael’s first game, Darron Gibson’s first game, Mame Diouf’s only played four games this season, Macheda only his third game. That’s not enough football to play in the quarter-final of a League Cup I’m afraid. That caught us and I was surprised of the level of fitness of Crystal Palace against us. In terms of match play we were certainly short.

“[Loans] work well for all young players to get game time and that’s what we are looking at for Macheda and Diouf, they need game time, there is no question about that. Every young players wants to play and we have to give them that opportunity.”

Yet, while Macheda remains in Ferguson’s long-term plans, it is surprising Diouf has any future at the club nearly two years after joining for around £3.5 million. In that period the Senegalese striker has made nine United appearances, scoring one goal. In between joining and last month’s disaster against Palace there was the unsuccessful loan spell at Blackburn Rovers, where Diouf scored six times in 26 games. Three of those came in a Carling Cup tie against then Championship side Norwich. Ferguson is unlikely to make any return on the investment.

Macheda, meanwhile, played only his second senior match for the club in the past year against the Championship side. The Italian is still only 20, but suffered for a six month loan spell at Sampdoria, with i Blucerchiati relegated to Serie B at the end of last season. These likely departures leaves Ferguson hoping that his injured senior strikers return soon, and that they hit the ground running.

Four left in United limbo

September 3, 2011 Tags: , , , Opinion 10 comments

A quartet of fringe players, each included in Manchester United’s Premier and Champions League squads this week, may seek to move out of the club on loan once the window opens next week. Although the English summer transfer season closed at 11pm last Thursday night, with no dramatic last-minute deals brokered by Sir Alex Ferguson, players can move to the Championship and certain overseas markets from 8 September. Darron Gibson, Tomasz Kuszczak, Mame Biram Diouf and Federico Macheda may seek temporary opportunities elsewhere, having seen no action to date this season.

Indeed, of the quartet only Macheda is unavailable for permanent transfer, with some surprise that Gibson, Kuszazck and Diouf were unable to find new permanent homes this past summer. Gibson and Kuszazck spent pre-season with United’s reserves, while Diouf was afforded minimal opportunities with Ferguson’s first string on tour in the US. None of the quartet has featured in Ferguson’s squads for Premier League matches to date.

While an ankle injury suffered by Darron Gibson may have ended Aston Villa’s reported interest in the midfielder, the Irishman is unlikely to find a route to Ferguson’s first-team squad, let alone team in the coming weeks. Although the Scot failed to add a marquee signing to his central midfield resources over the summer, Tom Cleverley’s outstanding form so early this season has removed any requirement for Gibson to remain at Old Trafford. Quite why a £6 million move to Sunderland broke down in July remains a mystery, with Sunderland briefing journalists that the Irishman’s wage demands were too high but Ferguson claiming the Wearside club had changed its offer.

Meanwhile, Kuszazck’s inability to find a new club leaves the Pole third choice behind David de Gea and Anders Lindegaard. A mooted transfer to West Bromwich Albion ended when former United stopper Ben Foster joined the Midlanders. CSKA Moscow then failed to follow up a reported interest in the former Hertha Berlin ‘keeper with a concrete offer. The 29-year-old ‘keeper has made just 61 appearances in all competitions during five seasons at Old Trafford; it is almost inconceivable that Kuszazck will add a 62nd appearance to that total.

Then there is Diouf, whose loan spell at Blackburn Rovers last season yielded just three Premier League goals in 26 appearances for Steve Kean’s outfit. No wonder, perhaps, that there have been no takers this summer. Two goals against New York Cosmos during Paul Scholes testimonial appeared to offer the Senegalese striker a glimmer of hope but with seven strikers in Ferguson’s squad the £3.5 million January 2009 acquisition can only hope for sporadic opportunities in the Carling and FA Cups this season.

Macheda faces a different challenge of course, with Ferguson seeking to retain the striker in the long-term. But it is now three seasons since the Italian burst onto the scene with match changing goals against Villa and Sunderland and the youngster must surely now play to progress. Yet there appears to be little chance of the Rome-born player breaking into Ferguson’s first team plans as Danny Welbeck has done to such great effect this season. Indeed, it is a major surprise that United was seemingly unable to find the striker a loan move this summer, with Newcastle United reportedly interested. And while it is likely Ferguson prefers the player to move within England, the Premier League is no longer an option until 1 January 2012.

Each of the quartet was selected in United’s UEFA Champions League squad this week, which includes 24 of a possible 25 players on the ‘A’ list. Ferguson added a further 10 to the ‘B’ group, including first team regulars Fábio and Rafael da Silva, and Welbeck. However, with the Scot able to add unlimited ‘homegrown’ under-21 players to his match-day party talented yougsters including Ravel Morrison and Paul Pogba could be included at a later date. Homegrown players are those who, regardless of nationality, have been trained by United or another club England for at least three years between the age of 15 and 21.

But inclusion is unlikely to proffer any of the quartet significant match time, relegating Macheda to minor cup competitions and the remainder of the trio to, perhaps, even less than that unless a move away is found. In that there is a significant challenge. After all none of the quartet, bar perhaps Diouf, is a Championship-level player and of the major European leagues only Turkey’s window remains open – until 5 September.

UEFA Champions League Squad

Goalkeepers: David de Gea, Tomasz Kuszczak, Anders Lindegaard, Ben Amos*, Sam Johnstone*

Defenders: Patrice Evra, Phil Jones, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling, Nemanja Vidić, Fabio*, Rafael*, Sean McGinty*

Midfielders: Anderson, Ryan Giggs, Park Ji-Sung, Michael Carrick, Nani, Ashley Young, Thomas Cleverley, Darren Fletcher
Antonio Valencia, Darron Gibson, Matty James*, Davide Petrucci*

Forwards: Michael Owen, Dimitar Berbatov, Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernández, Danny Welbeck*, Federico Macheda*, Mame Biram Diouf, Will Keane*

* B List

Macheda double may not save Reds place

July 15, 2011 Tags: Opinion 12 comments

Federico Macheda admitted, after his smartly taken double against New England Revolution on Wednesday night, that he is glad to be back at Manchester United. The 19-year-old Italian striker suffered a nightmare goalless loan spell at Sampdoria last season in which i Blucerchiati was relegated from Serie A in the most traumatic circumstances. Yet for the all the teenager’s promise his has been a frustrating fledgling United career; one that may well not take off this season given the competition in Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad.

Aside from doubts about Macheda’s raw ability at the top-level – a perceived lack of pace has not been resolved – and the youth’s immaturity as professional, Macheda is at best fifth choice for the coming season. After all, Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez are now established as Sir Alex Ferguson’s first choice strike pairing, with the Scot likely to use Dimitar Berbatov in rotation and Michael Owen as an impact substitute. Indeed, Owen has claimed that Ferguson will deploy the 31-year-old former Liverpool player more often in the coming campaign.

It is a level of competition that leaves Macheda fighting with returnees Danny Welbeck and Mame Biram Diouf for a place in Ferguson’s planning this season. That all three left on loan only to return in exactly the same squad position says much for the wealth of options that Ferguson now possesses at Old Trafford.

Should United fail to secure at least one high-profile central midfielder this summer, Ferguson is also likely to pack midfield next season – as the Scot often did away from home last campaign – in the knowledge that it is by far the Reds’ weakest part of the team.

Still, Macheda says he has learned much from his chastening experience in Italy – a move the Italian had pushed for and must now live to regret – and realises that the grass is rarely greener away from Manchester.

“I am very happy because I had a difficult six months,” admitted the former Lazio player, who scored no goals in 16 appearances on loan last season.

“I am not scarred by it. You learn a lot from bad experiences. I couldn’t wait to get back here from Italy, even though it is my own country. There is a different mentality in Italy. They don’t see young players like they do in England. They don’t. I grew up as a man. I have another mentality now. When you leave Manchester United, go somewhere else and come back, you realise just how different it all is. It is better to work really hard and I hope to stay here.”

Yet Macheda faces the very real prospect of intermittent appearances in cup competitions followed by lengthy spells in United’s reserve side if he remains at Old Trafford. Ferguson has seemingly told Welbeck that the 20-year-old England player will be a member of United’s squad for the forthcoming season despite Sunderland’s continued interest.

Diouf meanwhile, following an almost equally disastrous loan spell at Blackburn Rovers last season, will be sold if there are any takers. Inconsistency may well leave the Senegalese striker in the same position as Gabriel Obertan; on the fringes and unlikely to ever get a lengthy run in Ferguson’s side.

If the choice comes down to Welbeck and Macheda for a fifth spot in Ferguson’s striking roster this season then it is no easy one for the Scot to make. Each of his young strikers offers much. After all Welbeck had an excellent start to the last campaign with Sunderland, only for injury to break the striker’s rhythm. Six goals in 26 appearances tells only part of Welbeck’s campaign on Wearside, in which he started many games wide left for Steve Bruce’s outfit.

Yet it is Macheda who has the real eye for goal, evidenced by the Italian’s smart double against Revolution at Foxborough’s outstanding Gillette stadium on Wednesday. If Ferguson retains Welbeck it will be for the youngster’s flexibility; yet it is Macheda that offers the match-winning eye for goal.

The question now is whether the kid, who burst onto the scene with a dramatic winner against Aston Villa at Old Trafford two years ago, can rescue his United career. Others – in particular Giuseppe Rossi and Gerard Pique – have gone on to build outstanding careers despite promising starts at Old Trafford that failed to materialise into a starting place. This fact points to a move away if Macheda is to progress in the coming year.

Indeed, even if the youngster continues to find the net in pre-season Macheda will find himself on the outside come the start of the Premier League season in around a month’s time. Much as the Italian has now realised, as many do, that life is far from rosy away from the Old Trafford family the brave decision may be to push for a loan move away.

This time, however, Macheda will achieve much by remaining in England, as Ferguson had pushed the youngster to do last January. In the winter window West Bromwich Albion failed to solidify an initial interest in taking the player on loan amid reports that the youngster had pushed hard for a return to Italy. It’s a mistake that the newly mature Macheda is unlikely to make again.

“Macheda’s finishes were first class,” said United manager Ferguson after Macheda’s strikes against Revolution.

“He is special. At 19 years of age, we still have great hopes for him.”

It is now up to the player to take his chance.

Macheda: read my lips, four more years

December 2, 2009 Tags: Shorts No comments

Federico Macheda, Manchester United’s exciting 18-year-old Italian striker has today signed a four-year contract extension with the club. Macheda follows Danny Welbeck in signing an extended – and much improved – professional contract with Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. The Italian under-21 international was a substitute as United beat Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford last night.

“We are delighted by the new four year deal,” the Scot said in a statement on the club’s website, manutd.com.

“Everyone at the club recognises the fantastic talent he has and we hope to see that develop in the next years, so he becomes a well rounded player.”

In an equally bland statement Macheda expressed his delight at the new deal. Not least because he’ll now be able to afford the flash cars, bachelor pad and bling that 18-year-old Premier League footballers seems to love.

“I am very happy to commit my future to Manchester United,” he said.

“I really enjoyed myself last season when I came on and I hope to get more chances like that and contribute to the team’s success.”

Macheda on Strachan’s list

October 30, 2009 Tags: Shorts No comments

Former Manchester United midfielder Gordon Strachan wants youngster Federico Macheda on loan, according to the Scot’s transfer target list. Strachan’s list, exposed in the media this week, includes the 17-year-old Italian alongside several other Premier League strikers. The former-United right-winger, appointed Middlesbrough manager on Tuesday, refused to comment.

Macheda hit the headlines following goals against Aston Villa and Sunderland in successive matches last season. The teenager striker is yet to appear in the Premier League this season following reports of a bust-up with Anderson and a poor attitude at training. However, the former Lazio player started United’s Carling Cup match with Barnsley, Tuesday.

It is doubtful that manager Sir Alex Ferguson will allow Macheda to leave on loan, with no senior cover for strikers Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen.

Strachan, 52, played nearly 200 games for Untied after signing in 1984 from Aberdeen for £500,000. The ginger midfielder also played in the 1985 FA Cup final win over Everton and took Scotland to the 1986 World Cup, before being sold to Leeds in 1989.

Macheda and Welbeck under scrutiny

September 23, 2009 Tags: , Opinion 3 comments

United’s principal back-up strikers, the reason manager Sir Alex Ferguson refused to spend big on a new striker this summer – Federico Macheda and Danny Welbeck – have failed to make an impact this season. Despite the departures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, United’s two exciting young forwards’ paucity of appearances this season is stark: Welbeck has made the bench on just one occasion, while Macheda has failed to earn even that honour.

That Sir Alex Ferguson expected each to make an impact on the team this season is not in doubt. To that end Ferguson refused offers to take Macheda, 17, back to Italy on-loan, and talked up 18-year-old Welbeck’s chances of making the England 2010 World Cup squad.

Welbeck, locally raised and a huge Ferguson favourite, is hampered by his frequent growth spurts, which may slow his development. However, it is Macheda’s attitude that is in question. The Italian youngster, who burst on the scene with goals against Aston Villa and Sunderland last season, has already cultivated the kind of celebrity lifestyle that Ferguson abhors.

Ferguson has also objected to the amount of time each spends with their respective national associations. Welbeck has played for both England under-19s and under-21s, while Macheda has been away with the Italian equivalents.

“Welbeck has been called away so much with every single England squad [the Under-19s and Under-21s] that I don’t know if he is our player or their player,” Ferguson told The Times.

“Macheda has been away with the Italy youth teams all the time and has hardly been with us, either. They are away that much with the youth squads, they have forgotten where their real place is.”

It is not the first time that Ferguson has sought to cut younger players exposure to what he deems unnecessary international football. Famously, Ryan Giggs was often injured for international friendly matches during the early stages of his international career. Although denied, many suspected that Ferguson had instigated these squad withdrawals.

Ferguson is, however, demanding total commitment to the United cause from the pair. Rightly so. Ferguson will not allow the cult of celebrity – so enjoyed by younger footballers – to blight the nascent stage of the pair’s careers. Anderson has also been reminded of this rule.

Macheda is likely to start tonight’s home Carling Cup fixture against Wolverhampton Wanderers up-front, along with derby goal hero Michael Owen. Welbeck, meanwhile, may well have to settle for a place on the bench, or in one of the wider positions.

In a strong line-up, Ferguson is likely to bring in Fabio da Silva, Johnny Evans, Darron Gibson, Ritchie de Laet, Wes Brown, Gary Neville, Tomas Kuszczak, Zoran Tosic and possibly even Michael Carrick for the match.

Macheda “must grow up”

September 8, 2009 Tags: Shorts No comments

Italian under-21 manager Pierre Luigi Casiraghi, the former Chelsea striker, has slammed the childish attitude of Manchester United’s 18-year old Federico Macheda. ‘Kiko’, who burst onto the scene with goals against Aston Villa and Sunderland late last season, is yet to figure for United this campaign despite the departures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez.

“He needs to grow a lot, both on the pitch and off it, if he wants to remain a part of this squad,” said Casiraghi.

“As a player he has many qualities, but they are yet to be expressed fully. If he wants to be a football player, then that is a fun job, but he needs to learn to be a real professional.

“At the moment, that is not the case with Macheda. I say this above all in his own interest. An 18-year-old boy has to throw himself around and give himself completely to the case.

“The job of an Under-21 Coach is also to help the players grow. I told Kiko clear as day, these are the rules and it’s his choice on what to do next.”

Macheda’s role in the United team has not been without controversy this season after a very public spat with team-mate Anderson.

Macheda stakes claim for first team spot

July 25, 2009 Tags: Opinion No comments

Federico Macheda’s two goals on United’s Asian tour have thrust the young Italian firmly into the first team picture, manager Sir Alex Ferguson claimed yesterday. After a close range effort against Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, Macheda struck a superb goal against FC Seoul in South Korea yesterday. With United having lost two forwards this summer, the teenager has already staked a claim for the fourth striking slot this coming season.

“Macheda’s goal was excellent,” said manager Sir Alex Ferguson after the Seoul match. “The lad has a real chance and his movement is very good. He does well on the shoulder of the last defender and he showed that tonight with the goal he scored.”

Ferguson is not prone to over-hyping young players but the Scot clearly sees a bright future for the Rome-born forward. The 17 year-old, who is a product of Serie A side Lazio’s youth system, came to prominence with a stoppage time winner against Aston Villa in the Premier League last season. Another against Sunderland a week later sealed Macheda’s place in United folklore.

It is the coming campaign that is likely to be the Roman’s breakthrough in professional football. With United seeking to replace the 41 goals scored by Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, Macheda is likely to be more important to the cause than he could have expected just a few weeks ago.

“If Macheda continues his progress, it will give us a big advantage. Having an extra player like that will do us a world of good,” said Ferguson.

“Macheda is top drawer, a hero in the making, just as Cristiano Ronaldo was. He does not have the lightning reactions of Ronaldo but he is quick around the box and has an eye for goal. It is hard to believe he is just 17.”

While the teenager will probably never possess the devastatingly destructive pace and goals to win games on his own like Ronaldo has in the past three seasons, the Italy Under-19 international’s finishing is reminescent of his reserve team manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Macheda’s rise to prominence is not without controversy though. United paid the player’s former club Lazio a pittance in compensation after his summer 2007 move to Manchester. It’s a move that characterised United’s youth system in recent years – plucking the best young talent from around the world.

“His debut goal for Manchester United is the result of a cattle market where young players are snapped up by rich foreign clubs,” claimed Lazio’s president Claudio Lotito in March.

“It’s unthinkable that a lad of 15 can be bought. Normally these boys are not from wealthy families and they look for alternatives in foreign countries for economic reasons.”

“We knew that he was a great player, we did everything to keep him. We can not allow ourselves to behave in a way which I feel is immoral.”

Immoral or not, nobody at Old Trafford will care if Macheda fires the goals to take United to a fourth successive Premier League title.

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Fergie has key decisions to make on forwards

May 10, 2009 Tags: , , Opinion 2 comments

Sir Alex Ferguson said this week that he has no summer transfer targets on the table and that there will be no major additions to the squad. Minor tinkering with the squad is an understandable policy for the Premiership, European and World Champions, who will likely retain their English crown in the coming week after beating their city rivals today. After all, by his own admision, Ferguson has at his command the strongest squad in his 23 years in charge at the club. Forget Ribery, Kaká, Benzema et al. The club’s strategy is to not fix what ain’t broke.

But one area of the squad that Ferguson may need to make some of the toughest decisions is in the forwards, with question marks hanging over the futures of Carlos Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo in particular. Meanwhile, Berbatov is not without his critics, and the gaffer must choose which of the youngsters Federico Macheda, Manucho, Frasier Campbell and Danny Welbeck to keep, sell or loan out.

The future of the little Argentinean is perhaps the most worrying.  “I do not feel wanted. I feel bad over my situation…I guess what I’m saying is goodbye,” reports today quote Tevez  as saying. And it’s not the first time that the frustrated striker has expressed his belief that he’ll be leaving the club this summer. Ferguson’s refusal to discuss the matter today was telling. Could the club have already decided that spending €34 million on Tevez, despite all his energetic endeavour, is just not worth it?

One player unlikely to move on is Ronaldo, despite sulking after being substituted against City. His future in the white shirt of Real Madrid seems further away than ever, with United, it’s manager and now the player categorically saying that the Portuguese forward will be at Old Trafford next season. Madrid is more chaotic than ever – a fact that must weigh heavily in Ronaldo’s mind. A new President will be elected this summer after the old was kicked out for corruptly winning the previous election. Moreover, interim (although reasonably successful) manager Juande Ramos will almost certainly be removed from his post in favour of a new man once the President is elected. A summer 2010 transfer would seem to be more realistic at this stage.

Meanwhile, which of his four young forwards he keeps on the books will be central to Ferguson’s thinking this summer. The emergence of Macheda and Wellbeck has given the Scot a plethora of choices in the front line. But the balance between maintaining a strong squad – Macheda has already scored two key goals this season – and ensuring that young players get enough games is also key. Sir Alex is likely to loan out at least one of his bright young things.

Ferguson must also decide what to do with on-loan strikers Campbell and Manucho, who are at Tottenham Hotspur and Hull respectively. Neither has overly impressed either – with Campbell getting far fewer games than might have been expected since the return of Robbie Keane and Jermain Defoe to the London club. Angolan forward Manucho has merely used his time at Hull to confirm what many expected already – he’s probably not quite good enough for the Premier league. A season in the reserves beckons.

Dimitar Berbatov – who has been sublime and frustrating in almost equal measure this season – and Wayne Rooney are certain to stay of course. My feeling is that they will probably be complimented by Ronaldo for one last campaign and the up-and-coming Macheda. Money is being reigned in at the club and they will not spend another €24 million (in addition to the €10 million already paid) for Tevez, whom Ferguson has come to regard as not central to his plans.

However, should the board spring a suprise and release funds for a major purchase then Karim Benzema is only an outside possibility. The Frenchman’s signing assumes that Tevez leaves and that the Lyon forward is not picked up by one of the Spanish giants. While Benzema may be a target for both Real and Barcelona, it is move is dependent on both the outcome of Madrid Presidential election and the future of Samuel Eto’o at Los Cules. It’s a complex carousel.

Whatever his choices, with Liverpool and Chelsea certain to spend big in the summer, Ferguson must pick the right four or five forwards to fire United to yet more glory next season!