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It has been just over two years since Sir Alex Ferguson left Manchester United. In that time the club has dropped out of the top four for the first time in 22 years, recruited and sacked David Moyes, recruited Louis van Gaal, spent over €370m on players and scraped back into the top four.
Long gone are days of stability when a poor season meant no trophies and finishing third. The failure to finish in the top four at the end of the 2013-14 season caused panic at the club. The squad was almost completely overhauled and one of the most experienced coaches in world football was recruited to steady the rocking ship.
Di Maria sale to PSG means more cash to burn
With a top-four finish secured last year, it would be easy to think that normal service has resumed at Old Trafford – but they are not quite there yet. With more cash to burn following the sale of Angel Di Maria, they are still keen to add further reinforcements to their ranks, with Real Madrid’s Pepe the latest target to emerge.
Spending more money does not guarantee success but all the evidence suggests that it gives you a much better chance, and United are intent on ensuring that there are no more ‘blips’ on the horizon.
With the current boss confirming that he will not continue when his contract ends in 2017, foundations need to be laid for the future; and for United, that means building an engine that will need the occasional tweak rather than another complete overhaul.
Defence needs adjusting; another Real Madrid player linked
One area that still needs some adjustment is the defence and van Gaal has been criticised for rebuilding the squad from the top down rather than starting with the backline. However, having a strong attacking unit and a solid midfield will ease some of the burden on a defence that has been over-exposed in the last two seasons.
One answer for United could be to bring in an experienced defender to sure up the current rearguard, and Pepe could be just the right man. Having spent eight years at the world’s biggest club, there are few centre-backs better qualified to bring some calm reassurance to the Red Devil’s defensive unit.
At 32 years of age, the Brazilian would not be a long term solution but he would certainly provide an immediate fix to what is consider as United’s one remaining weak spot.
With first choice target Sergio Ramos apparently ready to sign a new deal at the Bernabeu, United have turned their attention to a player who might be keen to take the opportunity to secure perhaps one last big payday in his career.
Why go for Pepe?
Pepe has less than a year left on his contract and may find his first team opportunities reduced with the continued emergence of French youngster Raphael Varane.
With no new contract on the table, he would be free to talk to other clubs in January so now could be the perfect time for the English club to pounce.
Written by Neil Morris
Follow Neil on Twitter @nmorris01
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