Tuesday 20 March 2018

Gill expects a busy summer

Rio Ferdinand addresses fans during Manchester United's Premier League victory parade through Manchester. Photo: Press Association
Rio Ferdinand addresses fans during Manchester United's Premier League victory parade through Manchester. Photo: Press Association
The Manchester United team wave to fans on an open top bus during the 2011 Barclays Premier League victory Parade past Old Trafford, Manchester

Simon Stone

Manchester United chief executive David Gill will head for his holidays towards the end of June hoping to have charted the future for Sir Alex Ferguson's team.

Despite typically wet Manchester weather and Saturday's chastening Champions League final defeat to Barcelona, thousands of United fans lined the streets for a trophy parade which at least lifted spirits.

As their players headed off for various international commitments, a holiday or, in Edwin van der Sar's case and possibly Paul Scholes' as well, retirement, Gill and manager Sir Alex Ferguson set to work on constructing a squad ready to face the emerging threat of Manchester City and capable of defeating Barca.

"It will be a busier than usual summer this year," Gill told MUTV.

"I will be going away at some point in June and be back for the start of our tour but I will be on with player stuff for the next few weeks I am sure."

The first task will be to discover Scholes' intentions. Out of contract this summer, the 36-year-old claimed last week not to have decided whether to accept Ferguson's offer to extend his career by another season.

Although his own comments from the parade bus this morning indicated at least the potential to carry on, there have been plenty of contrary opinions and a firm announcement is still awaited.

"Reaching 19 titles is not something you ever think about. All you want to do is win something," he said.

"To go on like we have done is a great achievement. Now we want to stretch our lead even more.

"The challenge will always be to get the next one. This one is out of the way now. We will celebrate it today, have a nice summer, then think about winning the next one."

The 'we' in Scholes' statement could refer to the United players or the club as a whole given the length of time he has been at Old Trafford.

If there is anyone less inclined to speak to the media than the midfielder, it is Dimitar Berbatov.

He did not speak to United's in-house station, the only outlet allowed on the bus this morning, and is yet to offer any opinion at his failure even to win a place on the Red Devils bench at Wembley on Saturday.

The Bulgarian was in jovial mood this morning as he took photographs of United's first parade since 1999.

However, it is impossible to believe he could be content with a situation which ended with him being overlooked in favour of a striker, Michael Owen, who was not called into action at Wembley, even when United were desperate for a goal at the end of their 3-1 defeat.

Owen reiterated a desire to remain at Old Trafford, although it does seem unlikely he will be offered a new deal considering new England international Danny Welbeck is expected to return from a largely successful loan spell at Sunderland and other new signings are being mentioned as well.

Ashley Young, Wesley Sneijder and Luka Modric are the men most linked with a move to Old Trafford, although it is hard to imagine more than two of those players will end up at United for the start of next season.

Atletico Madrid's David de Gea seems certain to arrive as Van der Sar's replacement, in addition to Lens' teenage defender Raphael Varane, who has been touted as a potential United purchase for a number of months.

That should at least give Ferguson's squad a fresher look as they assess the challenges which lie ahead.

And, whilst they might have ended up getting rather wet, the general view of the United squad was one of delight that the bus tour went ahead in recognition of their record 19th title, providing them with an uplifting experience to end their club campaign.

"It's crazy," said Rio Ferdinand. "We didn't expect so many people to turn out.

"The last couple of days have been disappointing for us and it could have been a bad summer.

"But this has picked us up. If someone had told us at the start of the season we would win the Premier League again, we would have taken that."

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