2004-2006: FORGOTTEN YEAR UNDER SIR ALEX FERGUSON

From 2007 until 2011 is arguably one of the greatest years for Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson management. During this year,  United had won 3 consecutive Premier League equalling Liverpool record of 18 league title, had reached 3 UCL final in 4 years winning 1 of them in 2008 and losing 2 of them against Guardiola Barcelona which had been hailed as the best club team ever, unbeaten in the UCL for 2 seasons and has one of the best forward lines in the world football Wayne Rooney, Christiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez. However, before the success from 2007 until 2011, Sir Alex Ferguson had a gloom year 3 years before. In Sir Alex Ferguson’s time, Manchester United had a tough period from 1986 until 1993 where Ferguson was nearly sacked before finally landing the elusive league title in 1993 and from then on Fergie had created a dynasty with United. During this time too, Fergie had managed United to become the first English team to win the treble in 1999.

The treble-winning team in 1999

In 2004, a skinny player named as Christiano Ronaldo made his debut. But before that, they are the departure of David Beckham and their unsuccessful attempt to buy Ronaldinho. In the league they do not have any success for 3 consecutive seasons as in 2004 they were denied by Arsenal Invincible and in the next season, Jose Mourinho Chelsea had been able to emulate the United record of winning 2 consecutive Premier League title. Their failure to win the title in 3 seasons is the first time for Fergie since 1993, they also had been poor in European competition where they were knocked out by FC Porto in 2004 and AC Milan in 2005 in the second round and in 2006 they had failed to escape from the group stages. Adding further to insult, they were in the last place in their group which means they are not progressed to even the UEFA Cup competition also the first time in Fergie time since 1993.

Christiano Ronaldo making his debut against Bolton Wanderers

Although Fergie had won the FA Cup in 2004, during this period from 2004-2006 that is the only trophy that Fergie had won. It a far cry from the high standard that he had implemented in United during his managerial time. Like in 1986 from 1993, where Fergie is building his squad, this period too where Fergie did the same thing. Unlike at the beginning where he is creating more of the British style team which emphasizing on 4-4-2, in this period Fergie is building a team that suits the continental style. He starts to emphasize more on 4-3-3 which is used commonly by the continental team. Jose Mourinho Chelsea team who is dominant during this time also emphasizing more on 4-3-3.

Jose Mourinho Chelsea emulate United achievement of winning 2 consecutive Premier League title

Like a winning team which had philosophies of building from the back, he had bought 3 players that will be key players in future, goalkeeper Edwin Van Der Sar, defender and left-back Nemanja Vidic whom will form a great partnership with Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra whom also will be the key player after 2006. He also bought a potential player like Wayne Rooney in 2004, Park Ji Sing in 2005 and finally in 2006 he had bought Michael Carrick. From 2004-2006 too many high profile player like  David Beckham, Roy Keane, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Juan Sebastian Veron, Fabien Barthez, and others had left the team from 2004-2006

With Rooney and Ronaldo, Ferguson team had the potential to be one the best as both Rooney and Ronaldo are keep improving each season and finally had a bought a stable goalkeeper in Edwin van der Sar. After the departure of Peter Schmeichel, Fergie had bought many goalkeepers like Tim Howard and Fabien Barthez but not one of them is deemed to be stable enough as both of them are making crucial mistakes in the big game especially in the UCL knockout stages. Tim Howard had made a crucial error that led to United knocked out by FC Porto and Fabien Barthez also is prone to error goalkeeper.

In Edwin Van Der Saar, Fergie finally had a good stabile goalkeeper

With a good forward line, a stabile goalkeeper and also a good defense and a midfield, finally Fergie had a team that is good enough for the Premier League and also for European stages. The time however did not come in 2006 as Fergie team was at their best since 2003 however against they had been stopped by Chelsea in the league and the FA Cup. However, starting in 2007, United had a team that Fergie had built was nearly 2 years had been able to unlock his full potential. Fergie won the Premier League in 2007, however, in European competition they had been knocked out in the semi-final by AC Milan. However, things did not end, in the following season Christiano Ronaldo had shown his tremendous potential by scoring 42 goals the highest goal scored by a winger for United since George Best, with the additional purchase of Carlos Tevez in 2008 United had front 3 that able to interchange and play in any area of the attacking third, with a strong defense, and playing with the fluid 4-6-0 formation, United had won the Premier League and won their 3rd UCL title by beating Chelsea in final. United will add the Club World Cup in some year and 2009 United had won their 3rd consecutive Premier League becoming the first English team to win 3 consecutive league titles 2 times.

The league title taster sweeter as United had equaled Liverpool league title haul of 18. However, the most unfortunate part is United unable to become the first team to successfully defended the UCL title as they had been beaten by Barcelona in the final in 2009. That failure had put a sad ending on otherwise a great season for them. Many critics had said that from 2004-2006 will be the final curtain call for Fergie however Fergie had used this period as a stepping stone for him to build a team that not only able to dominate England but also in Europe, Their rise however also coincident with the rise of Guardiola Barcelona who had beat them in 2009 final.

However, the United team of 2007-2009 is voted as the 2nd best team ever in all-time best Premier League below Liverpool of 1977 -1978 team. If they had managed to lift the UCL title for a second consecutive time in 2009, then they are no doubt that this team will be the best team ever. The failure of them not winning the second consecutive title does not diminish the fact the team of 2007-2009 is the best United side ever making the time from 2004-2006 as the forgotten year under the Fergie era.

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