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The lost leaders go in search of a consolation prize
There is no such thing as the wrong sort of silver. So Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsne Wenger will declare today in mutual reverence for the FA Cup. The competition represents not only tradition but also their last chance of wrestling a trophy from the season now that Manchester United and Arsenal have been knocked out of the Champions League.
It might be a little severe to claim that romance is the last refuge of a scoundrel, but each manager has had to flinch at the realisation that they cannot treat any prize with disdain. When Chelsea consigned United to third place in the Premiership last season, Ferguson stood at Old Trafford and spoke of wanting to win the FA Cup for the fans.
Perhaps he also wished to ward off any hostility from them, but the fact remains that the two clubs who were considered the joint-leaders of English football before Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea scattered them, have not been able to disregard the supposedly peripheral honours.
Victories over Millwall last year and Southampton, in 2003, brought the FA Cup and some respite to, respectively, the United and buy a canada canada goose coat 1000 bulbs goose jacket Arsenal managers.
This time at least one of them will end the season with no trophy at all. In gentler days, Wenger could fail to deliver silverware to Highbury between 1998 and 2002 while hearing little more than sighs of regret. There will be harsher noises if he draws a blank now, even if it is no more than 10 months since his team made history by completing the Premiership programme undefeated.
As the Frenchman appreciates, such achievements teach a crowd to be demanding. “This is certainly the season when the expectation has been higher than ever, so the difference between that and the reality would benefits of canada goose jacket be greater than ever,” said Wenger when forced to consider the possiblitity of defeat at Bolton this afternoon.
A fourth FA Cup of his burlington coat factory canada goose coat tenure at Arsenal might relieve some of the pressure not only on him but also on the Highbury hopefuls who are at a delicate stage. Wenger has had no option but to turn to youth. He is so straitened in his budgeting that 13 members of the Premiership have outspent him in the transfer market since the end of last season.
Despite claims that the manager will be given some 30m for new acquisitions in the close season, he does not sound like a person who expects largesse. “If we need to bring in one or two players at the end of the season we can do that,” he said carefully.
The only spree has come in the influx of youngsters and that factor explains the genuine uplift when so many of them stood firm before Arsenal came through a penalty shoot-out at Sheffield United in the last round of the FA Cup. Wenger asks proudly, too, if any other team in Europe’s major leagues could win comfortably with five players aged 21 or under in the line-up, as Arsenal did while beating Portsmouth 3-0 last weekend.
By his account, the construction of the 357m Ashburton Grove ground is constraining the manager. “For a period we will not be able to compete in the transfer market,” he said flatly. “That bright blue canada goose jacket is why we prepared the young players. There is a double advantage: the financial demands are not so high and you can give them the values of the club during the time they spend in the academy.”
This is not empty talk when rising talents have the quality of 17-year-old Cesc Fbregas or 19-year-old Gael Clichy, but youths cannot be counted upon to keep Arsenal to the fore. Wenger implies that the injuries to Sol Campbell have done terrible harm.
The England defender is the one high-quality centre-half at Arsenal and that is a sign of limited means. Wenger boldly assembled his double-winning team of 2002 after raising 52m through transferring Nicolas Anelka, Marc Overmars and Emmanuel Petit. He does not, however, wish to take such radical steps again, even though Arsenal could cash in by selling Ashley Cole to Chelsea and bringing through his natural successor, Clichy. “I think blue doesn’t suit Ashley,” the manager said dryly.
Any criticism of Wenger will be mitigated by recognition that, with Thierry Henry injured, he takes a rather callow group to Bolton. It is probably Ferguson who most needs to add the 2005 FA Cup to his CV and a trip to meet the improving Southampton carries the highest priority now that all other targets have been missed.
United, after all, have a plentiful supply of everything except excuses. Wenger calculates that Ferguson has spent around 100m on attackers alone since lifting the Champions League in 1999. He meant only to show that finance does not guarantee success and it is true that Ferguson’s greatest difficulty lies in figuring out what to do with his means.
The loss to free-scoring Real Madrid in the 2003 Champions League quarter-final convinced him that United should play with just one centre-forward, but his team has since gone no further than the last 16. can you pick the most expensive canada canada goose coat 1000 calorie bariatric diet goose parka They could not even score against AC Milan in either leg this year.
Ferguson rightly comments on the progress to be expected from youngsters like Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, but the passage of time will also demand that, before long, he replace Roy Keane and others. It is a worry as well that Paul Scholes click more, who is regarded as the most gifted best canada goose jacket for skiing Englishman of his generation, has been unable to sustain his form of late.
Ferguson could decide he did better and pleased the crowd more when he used an attacking 4-4-2 system that carried more risks and delivered buying cheap canada goose outlet jacket online more goals. He would certainly receive unstinting approval from visiting supporters to St Mary’s.
In the present structure, with Ryan Giggs and Ronaldo starting their runs from deep positions, support sometimes does not reach are there any canada goose outlet stores the lone centre-forward Ruud van Nistelrooy swiftly enough. It will be intriguing to see if Ferguson now corrects that.
Ferguson, a traditionalist at heart, would enjoy retaining the FA Cup and fans who watched United win it in style might see the old trophy as a new start.