I think this time it is real, it has been slower, more pervasive and is going on over 18 months now. The argument can be made that there was no money to bring in a Ronaldo replacement but when you see the money outlayed on Valencia and Tosic, you’d have to wonder.
His failure to bring on Nani, Anderson and Berbatov also has to be examined. I always remember Anderson in his Porto days as a winger/second striker. The attempted conversion to the Paul Scholes role was and remains a mystery.
Vision, craft and guile were not his strenghts, an aggressive running game was. Nani was Ronaldo lite but still Ferguson has failed to get him to the next level.
Lately he has been covering far more for the deficencies of the team and seems more content to go down the route of the Referee smokescreen which provides grist for the mill of the roving masses of lunatics who seem to burst blood vessels in fits of apopletic rage when Ferguson takes the back page headlines.
Since the dominance began this seems to be the worst football Manchester United have played. The massive over reliance on a massively unreliable striker coupled with a leaky defence and an aging and disjointed midfield, all the pieces seem to be falling apart.
There seems to be a tactical deficency (Mike Phelan) and as everyone knows Ferguson needs a tactically astute Number 2. I think if he does not shit can Mike Phelan and bring in a number 2 that can read the game then that may be that.
In the event that Phelan stays and Ferguson does not win the title or the Champions League this year, he may well bow out.