David Moyes has no new weapons to deploy and instead must contend with a big question mark over the future of Wayne Rooney as he looks to mastermind Manchester United’s title defence in his first season in the Old Trafford hot seat.
This time last year,it had been an entirely different story for Alex Ferguson as he prepared to unleash prized new signing Robin van Persie,whose 26 league goals were to propel the club to a record 20th English championship.
Twelve months on,however,and United may have a new face in Moyes after Ferguson’s retirement,but their shopping bags lie forlornly empty apart from a young Uruguayan defender.
To compound matters,their neighbours Manchester City have rubbed it in by splashing the cash to bolster their squad.
A tricky series of fixtures means United will play rivals Chelsea and Manchester City,as well as bitter foes Liverpool,by the end of next month but United,who open their campaign at Swansea City on Saturday,are unconcerned by the lack of new blood.
“I think it has been a slow transfer window,” midfielder and coach Ryan Giggs said.
“I said City had done their business early on but other than that,there has not been a lot of movement. It could be a hectic last two weeks (of the transfer window). We will just have to wait and see.
“If we sign someone – great. If not we will just get on with it. We are quite happy with the players in our dressing room. We won the league with those players and we are looking forward to the start of the season.”
While last year’s runners-up City have forked out around 90 million pounds ($140 million) on Spanish duo Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negredo,Brazil midfielder Fernandinho and Montenegro forward Stevan Jovetic,United’s only buy is Guillermo Varela.
They have made no secret of their desire to sign Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona but the midfielder has said he is happy to stay at the Spanish champions.
Varela,20,was not even on the bench for Sunday’s 2-0 win over Wigan Athletic in the Community Shield although another newcomer Wilfried Zaha – who was signed by Ferguson but arrived at Old Trafford under Moyes – showed promise at Wembley.
Moyes classed the trophy as another piece of silverware for Ferguson as it was his predecessor’s team who had won the league to set up the game against FA Cup winners Wigan but anything from now on will be down to him.
While Van Persie’s two goals against Wigan showed Moyes has inherited a class act,the Scot has also been lumbered with a troublesome Rooney situation that just will not go away.
Despite endless repetitions of the “he is not for sale” mantra,Moyes encounters a barrage of questions on the subject whenever he faces the media after Ferguson said at the end of last season that the England striker wanted to leave the club.
Rooney himself has not spoken publicly on the subject,although Chelsea have openly been chasing him and the saga has continued to bubble on as the striker trained with England the day after missing the Community Shield with a shoulder injury.
The line-up against Swansea could provide some clues as to Rooney’s future,particularly as he started England’s friendly against Scotland on Wednesday,but the questions seem likely to continue into the new season.
There are other issues to be settled too,such as how Moyes – who never won a trophy in more than a decade at Everton – will fare at the very top level of the game.
“People are questioning everyone. They are asking whether we can win the trophy again. Can we still be champions? That is not just about the manager,it is the players as well,” said United captain Nemanja Vidic.
“Can the players perform the same way as they did before? We are trying to train hard to show what we can do.
“We have a good work ethic to start with. We have trained well. Everyone wants to put themselves back into contention to win a trophy. I see the hunger. That is going to be important if we are going to win a trophy.” ($1 = 0.6440 British pounds)