I have sung the praise of Javier Silva and Marc Cruz on this blog before but this month showed why they deserved all the plaudits.
The first one to shine was Silva who scored the winning goal in our 2-1 victory against Burnley while we were down to ten men. He then scored the lone goal of the game one week later against Aston Villa to keep us top of the table.
Cruz, for his part, completely dominated our continental and intercontinental fixtures. With our qualification to the Champions League’s knockout stage on the line, he led by example, scoring two goals and collecting one assist in our 5-0 thumping of Partizan. He continued his fine form in the Club World Cup, scoring 4 goals in the semi-final, and one more in the final.
When I let go of Javier Hernández one year ago, the fans gave me flak for it – and still do – after the Mexican had an impressive year, but I haven’t regretted it one bit. Cruz is a superstar and he has already jumped ahead of Silva in the strikers’ hierarchy with the Argentine a close second. When I signed Agüero on a free two years ago, I never expected him to be third on the depth chart but that’s where he has ended up. I’m seriously considering selling him in order to offload his salary.
Although we were slow to get started, the team is finally getting its groove back. The winter transfer window is fast approaching but we are stacked in every position. My main concern is Jonny Evans who refuses to renew his contract.
It shouldn’t really matter since Riccardi is a far better player anyways, but he seems to be a bit injury-prone. If Evans is gone and Riccardi returns to the infirmary, our next full-time CB is Chris Smalling. With all due respect to Smalling, he’s a temporary fix, not someone that I’d like to rely on for months at a time. I’m currently in the running to sign Raphaël Varane who will be a free agent in July. I’ve been keeping tabs on him since I took the United job but he hasn’t developed as much as I expected, the fact that he stayed at Lens all this time has probably played a part in that.
My second option is Antonio Lombardi at Aston Villa. He was my backup option when I was negotiating for Riccardi. Only a lack of funds prevented me to sign both. But now his value has probably doubled since he is a key player on this resurging Villa team. This transfer window will be interesting, to say the least.
The yearly football awards have been announced at the end of the month and I’ve been particularly pleased with our club’s showings. None of my players won the Golden Ball but were in the top 3 - if not the winners - for all categories. It shows that I’m doing something right at this club.