There was a time when United were the press’ favourite team to write about at times like this but with new money like Chelsea and Man City on the block and our financial situation it appears our place has been usurped yet the papers will still speculate.
For the past two summers we have been greeted with the same refrain from Sir Alex, ‘The transfer market lacks value.’ And whilst some of us have grown tired of it, it can’t be denied. When Liverpool were splashing £35m on Andy Carroll and Chelsea £50m on the disinterested Fernando Torres, Sir Alex must have felt vindicated as both clubs brought in two undeniably good players but for well over the realistic fee.
Whilst he may have been right, there comes a point where you will have to join the masses. For years Arsene Wenger has stood by his philosophy of not spending massively and whilst Arsenal fans sing the praises of their club’s financial standings their trophy room remains the ideal place to hide for a game of hide and seek.
For the lack of value in the transfer market, we cannot become like Arsenal and stand by whilst others strengthen and thus stagnate.
At the end of this season we will find ourselves in a position not unfamiliar to Sir Alex during his 25 year spell at Old Trafford, we will NEED to strengthen regardless of the outcome of our endeavours this season.
Ryan Giggs has agreed an extension to his deal that sees him remain a United player until 2012 but surely then he will sadly hang up his boots whilst Paul Scholes may choose to do so in June. Gary Neville has already called time on his United career and it appears that Edwin van der Sar won’t be persuaded into staying on for one more year. Add to that the likelihood that Owen Hargreaves won’t be at Old Trafford in August, Rio Ferdinand’s on going injury problems and a number of players who may be sold and you can see why Sir Alex may need to delve into the supposed war chest that the Glazer family has set aside for him.
Over haul/recruitment at Old Trafford is nothing new at United on a large or small scale.
In 1989 Sir Alex splashed the cash bringing in the likes of Paul Ince and Gary Pallister to lay the ground work for his spell of dominance at the club. In 1995 with key players Hughes, Kanchelskis and Ince all leaving Fergie’s Fledglings filled the void. In 1998 Yorke and Stam were brought in ahead of us doing the treble and more recently we swooped for Anderson, Nani, Tevez and Hargreaves, all of whom played their part in our Premier League and Champions League double that season.
Whilst in many of those instances the team was freshened up, this season has an air of summer 1995 as it appears we have to get it right.
Hughes and co. left after Jack Walker’s millions drove Blackburn to the title so it was integral that we properly set up to ensure that they didn’t become a bigger threat than they were and we didn’t allow a gap to form. The inclusion of the Fledglings prevented this and whilst we have talented youngsters in reserve it is believed that dipping into the market will be the answer this time around rather than relying on youth.
Roman Abramovich looks to be back in love with football again and is throwing money around Stamford Bridge. With quality signings like David Luiz already in and moves for Neymar and Alexis Sanchez being touted they will continue to be a threat. We can mock Man City endlessly but with their funds, when they finally do get it right in terms of manager and players they will be a problem. Liverpool seem rejuvenated under Dalglish and with their owners willing to spend £35m on a relatively untested Andy Caroll you get the feeling they trust Dalglish enough to allow him to spend big.
Our problems are clear enough but whether Sir Alex does in fact have the £100m or £165m to spend is a different matter. He himself said he is looking to bring in 2 or 3 players and as long as his shortlist consists of a top quality goalkeeper and a quality midfielder I honestly think we will be fine.
The squad we currently have despite it’s deficiencies is doing ok and doesn’t require an influx of new faces like Man City will probably attempt to bring in this summer so if we continue to commit to youth like we have and promote the talented youngsters we have in reserve it will negate the effect of our rival’s spending.
Despite Sir Alex stating he’ll have to be carried out of Old Trafford, realistically he knows he won’t be around for very much longer thus the investments he makes now will have a bearing not only in the short term and the remainder of his spell here but also for whoever inherits the team.
The ground work for another dynasty has been laid in the signings of Hernandez and Smalling who at a combined fee of £17m will be on most lists for ‘signings of the season’. With Rodwell, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Neurer, De Gea and Young if we are infact looking at them we are setting ourselves up for the future. They are all players who have their best years ahead of them something in line with Sir Alex’s transfer practice thus they will not only develop as players but at their age they can learn how to be United players.
With those around us strengthening and us getting weaker with departures, this summer is looking more important with every passing day.