Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes his current squad is ready to embark on a new period of Premier League domination.
United are just one point away from securing a record 19th league title, having beaten Chelsea 2-1 at Old Trafford last weekend, and Ferguson is confident the squad’s blend of youth and experience has reached just the right balance to ensure future success is assured.
“Over the last decade, we’ve worked upon bringing young talent into the club, like Wayne Rooney, Chicharito, Anderson and Nani,” he said. “But that doesn’t dismiss the fact that we like to produce our own young players and I think there are several players in the present youth team who are doing really well.
“The likes of Ryan Tunnicliffe and Ravel Morrison, you see some of them doing very, very well, so we’re always going to put an emphasis on young players coming through from the youth team. That will always be the case.
“We’ve got some excellent young players of good ages. Like, for instance, Chicharito, who is 22, Jonny Evans and Darron Gibson, who are 23, and Chris Smalling who’s 21.
“So, yeah, we’ve got a good nucleus of young players in the club which gives you the foundation to be able to protect the future and know it’s going to be alright.”
However, while the season’s end will undoubtedly see United overtake Liverpool’s league title record, for Ferguson it will also result in an uneasy sense of déjà vu.
Edwin van der Sar has confirmed he will hang up his goalkeeping gloves after the Champions League final on May 28, leaving a huge void for Ferguson to fill.
Manuel Neuer, Maarten Stekelenburg and David de Gea have all been linked with a summer move to Old Trafford and, having struggled for years to fill Peter Schmeichel’s shoes, Ferguson knows it is imperative he gets the decision right first time.
“It’s going to be terribly difficult,” said Ferguson. “It’s like when Schmeichel left. We made some horrendous mistakes and then eventually, when we got Edwin, we got back to the level of having a top goalkeeper.
“But hopefully we’ll not make the same mistake again. I think we’re OK this time.”