Every year, well before the end of the competitive season, rumours connecting big players to big clubs worldwide begin to circulate. With the growth of the internet, fans now have more access to everything football related than ever before. This influx of information is wonderful for sparking debates among fans and getting the latest news. On the other hand, with too much contact with the footballing world, fans tend to start believing untrustworthy sources and over-hyping players.
Manchester United have recently completed the signing of Victor Lindelöf, and look to carry that momentum into the summer. Rumours suggest that José Mourinho is prepared to poach James Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata from his old club Real Madrid, as well as any number of other players. Whomever United do bring in, the onus will be on the players to perform up to standard. It’s important, however, that the fans and club itself provide the player with a smooth transition to their new environment.
When Manchester United announced the signing of Victor Lindelöf, Manchester United fans worldwide were ecstatic. With Eric Bailly only expected to progress, Lindelöf seems to be a perfect match. The combination of a rugged ball-winner with an intelligent ball player will inevitably draw comparisons to Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidić. What fans must remember is that theirs was a staggering partnership: one which didn’t concede a goal in all competitions for 14 matches over four months.
Lindelöf and Bailly are both undeniably very talented footballers. Everything suggests that they will become a solid tandem in the middle of defence. But with the shadow of Ferdinand and Vidic looming large, the two newcomers need time to leave their own mark.
Old Trafford is one of football’s greatest palaces. The stage, the fans and the club are the stage that many players aspire to reach. Yet it seems that when some players step out at the Theatre of Dreams, it may be too much for them to handle.
When Memphis Depay signed for Manchester United, it seemed to be the perfect fit. Memphis had just come off a wonderful season for PSV Eindhoven, as well as a strong World Cup under Louis Van Gaal. Unfortunately, Old Trafford was just one leap too far for the young Dutchman. With bags of tricks at his disposal, Memphis was never able to produce consistent performances for the and joined Lyon back in January.
Should Ivan Perisic join Manchester United, a similar fate could befall the Croatian. He has always had talent, and he could be the final piece in the puzzle for United. That much pressure on a player who has always struggled with consistency could prove too much.
Leaving their own legacy
In the current Manchester United squad, there are many fan-favourites. This season’s Player of the Year, Ander Herrera, along with Antonio Valencia and David De Gea have all come on leaps and bounds with the fans in recent years. When these players joined, however, there was a lot of debate surrounding their quality. De Gea is now one of the best goalkeepers in the world, yet it wasn’t long ago that fans were calling for his release following a string of errors. Herrera joined with little to no expectations from the fans, and now he could be a future captain.
Just the list of United’s number sevens over the past few generations is a sight to behold, let alone all of the great talents to have graced the club over the years. Since Cristiano Ronaldo, however, no player has been able to live up to that legendary number. Angel Di Maria appeared to be the perfect fit, but not even the dynamic Argentine could fit the bill. Filling the shoes of Manchester United players of old is too daunting a task for most footballers. Rather than instantly comparing signed players to past legends, fans should be excited about how they may affect the future.
It will be nigh on impossible to live up to one’s predecessors at Manchester United. Like many big clubs worldwide, they have too much history and too many heroes for one or a handful of players to fill their shoes. It is much more sensible for the new signings to be their own men and focus on their own game. The fans should afford them that opportunity.
This club is still a work in progress. The term “next Ronaldo” has been thrown around too often in recent years. Adnan Januzaj, Memphis, Di Maria and more were not able to fill the void left by the Portuguese. Sir Alex Ferguson and the class of 92′ are long gone, and Manchester United are searching for an identity. Mourinho’s plan will most likely come to fruition, but it takes time. The players must acclimatise without fans putting them under unbearable pressure before they even put on the shirt.