It has been almost a decade since Sir Alex Ferguson retired and Manchester United have tasted nothing but short-lived success.
Their last Premier League title challenge came under Fergie, their parting gift in the form of a landmark 20th English league title – extending their own record.
In the years since, United have won occasional cup competitions – the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Europa League once each – but have not come close to winning the two trophies that matter most – the Premier League and the Champions League.
Money has been spent in the transfer market and a few signings have been successful – Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a great season, Bruno Fernandes has been lucky for years and others have played well in patches – but most have been newcomers. And are gone. (or stuck around a little too long) without ultimately improving themselves or the club.
United’s last masterstroke in the transfer market was the capture of Robin van Persie in 2012, which was the decisive factor in their demolition of Manchester City in the 2012/13 title race. Since then, there have been many flops that cost a lot of money. So far.
Even just months into his United career, Casemiro is already the club’s best signing since Van Persie completed that controversial switch from Arsenal in search of silverware.
The Casemiro deal seemed to have come out of nowhere at the end of the summer when United failed to agree a deal for Adrien Rabiot, although international teammate Fred later hinted that it was at least in the works for a while. Is. But eyebrows of skepticism were initially raised as to why Real Madrid were willing to let him go, why United were paying such a high price for the 31-year-old this season, why he chose a new club. Will mark the start of a new rebuilding plan and is United just one of those who are likely to be flushed by someone looking for the last big contract of his career.
It took him a while to command a place in the team as Erik ten Hague ensured he had the management of what was expected at first, but Casemiro quickly put all such concerns to rest. Rejected.
He won it all multiple times with Real Madrid and his parting comments about moving on in search of a new challenge were not empty words. Casemiro has played with the hunger of a player trying to reinvent himself in United colours.
The five-time Champions League winner was not bought to score goals but that sublime stoppage-time header against Chelsea in October to salvage a point summed up what he is all about, with a never-say-die mentality. And the determination to never be defeated was demonstrated. It’s a spirit that characterized United teams for nearly 30 years under Ferguson, but has been largely absent since then.
Casemiro was only a sub in Manchester City’s 6-3 derby win earlier this season, but he has started every Premier League game since and United are all the better for it. is seen He makes the team stronger together, providing a foundation for others to perform.
After assessing the United squad in the summer, ten Hague had his heart set on the ‘number six’ and has now dubbed Casemiro the ‘perfect one’.
“He has shown a lot of leadership and football skills,” the boss told club media this week. “He’s holding the team together and then he’s also very important in our ball play. Winning the ball and passing the ball to the right player, as he scored the third goal. [against Nottingham Forest]”
For the first time in 10 years, Manchester United are starting to look like their old self again. Casemiro won’t make the headlines if and when success returns to Old Trafford, but he may have made it possible for others to do so. Sometimes that’s the most important thing.