Bids reveal United’s weaknesses

July 8, 2010 Tags: , , , Reads 47 comments

Manchester United’s apparent bid for Wesley Sneijder, together with ongoing interest in Karim Benzema and Mario Ballotelli, is a better indicator of the squad’s current state than Sir Alex Ferguson’s public statements of happiness. Huge shortcommings in central midfield and attack were brutally exposed towards the tail-end of last season.

It’s a problem Ferguson at least recognises but whether the Scot is allowed to repair his ageing squad is another question altogether. The club’s £;20 million bid for World Cup superstar Sneijder hardly bore the hallmarks of authenticity, much akin to United’s late, undervalued, offer for Benzema last summer.

After all the market price for Sneijder has been set with City spending £27 million on Barcelona reserve Yaya Toure and even more on the brilliant Spaniard David Silva. Sneijder’s form is better than either, having won a treble with Inter Milan last season and guided Holland into the World Cup final.

Inter, quite rightly, stood firm and the player himself has indicated his preference to remain in Milan. Already on a wage superior to anybody at Old Trafford and winning trophies by the bucketload, why would Sneijder move? It’s a fact that United almost certainly already knew, having resisted the option to include the Dutch playmaker in Real Madrid’s deal for Cristiano Ronaldo last summer.

Indeed the bid for Sneijder now smacks of grandstanding from the club’s management, who have failed to sell out Old Trafford’s allocation of season tickets this summer, with executive seats again well down on last season too. No surprise then that Inter President Massimo Moratti described United’s interest as “an advertising campaign”.

Ballotelli, however, is available following a series of clashes with Jose Mourinho last season and a public expression of love for Inter’s crosstown rivals AC. Inter simply want to start an auction.

The talented Italian has plenty of critics in Milan, not least because the forward’s temperament is more that of a hormonal teenager than professional footballer. But with Manchester City sniffing around there’s little chance of United succeeding with a bid – if the interest is at all genuine. Take the speculation with a large pinch of salt.

While United supporters should drop any hope of signing Sneijder, Ballotelli, or indeed Benzema as Rant argued last week, Ferguson has at least revealed his hand. The World Cup has taught us nothing if not that ball retention, the playmaker and the 4-2-3-1 system are king at the highest level. Ferguson it seems has watched.

The club’s complete reliance on Rooney as the lone spearhead in the all but the games Ferguson is confident of winning handsomely was unmasked after the striker’s injury in March last season. Hope that Dimitar Berbatov will come good or that Javier Hernández can hit the ground running in England is no kind of strategy on which to base a season and Ferguson knows it.

The paucity of both goals and creativity from central midfield was perhaps an even greater problem though. Six of United’s losses last season came when Ferguson’s side failed to score. If the bus is parked, United’s strategy dries up with Paul Scholes playing deeper – and slower – than ever and Michael Carrick permanently out of form.

Anderson, Darren Fletcher and Owen Hargreaves will compete with Carrick for two deep central midfield slots next season, leaving Ferguson reliant on Darron Gibson to provide flair from midfield. Few believe the Ulsterman is the ‘world class’ option United requires.

But with Silva already off the market and Sneijder’s “heart in Milan,” Ferguson is left with few options even if he has the money.


Zi Indefatigable - July 8, 2010 Reply



jezz09 - July 8, 2010 Reply

Sneijder Just Said he wants to stay in Milan, but the official bid is at least a sign for optimism

Karan Ajmani - July 8, 2010 Reply

awesom article !! great read…sneijder deal is nothing but a publicity stunt!!

JayBee - July 8, 2010 Reply

What about a bid for Ozil? Creative, good eye for a goal, in the last year of his contract so ‘could’ be affordable, I’m sure he’d jump at the chance.

Fergie are you listening?

bruce thomas - July 8, 2010 Reply

The bid was only cosmetic — to give the appearance of business a usual. It looks as of we have money to spend, when we bid for players who we have no chance of signing. The Glazers have shafted United.

Redsmoke - July 8, 2010 Reply

It’s ridiculous to see the harping on Carrick for having an off year. what is he the first person in all of football to have a bad season?

granted he isn’t an attacking MF and we do need help there, but to write him off completely negates what he has done for United in the past.

I hope Carrick has a great season and you lot eat crow lots of it.

I do agree that these 2 bids didn’t seem sincere and were made to cover the fact the club has no money and can’t sell tickets.

Kings - July 8, 2010 Reply

I said last summer that we should have included Sneijder in the Ronaldo deal, especially as Madrid were keen to get rid of him, we could have got cash plus a top quality player in return for the sale of Ronaldo. Big mistake.

Joe DiMaggio - July 8, 2010 Reply

Everything I was going to say has been said already by other commenters. This reported interest in Sneijder is laughable for so many reasons.

Keep up the good work, United Rant.

ben - July 8, 2010 Reply

ozil is the man for us. get him in for 20-25 mil and khadera (spelling?) for 12mil. job done

Kings - July 8, 2010 Reply

Ozil looks a very good player and apparantly is available for around £18m as he is in the last year of his contract. He’s only 21 so that would definitely represent value for money.

dan - July 8, 2010 Reply

manutd don’t have money to buy anyone !!

redevil_83 - July 8, 2010 Reply

there are some young playmakers for grab out there and funds pending, SAF should definitely consider a move for one IMO. otherwise we start the season with the same question we ended with last season – if something happens to wazza, where will the goals come from. assuming we stick to the 4-5-1 formation we sure need an attack minded playmaker who can dictate play and add goals. and sorry, darron gibson is definitely NOT that answer.

worst case scenario, pin your hopes on chicarito to provide back up goal support, and stick anderson in the CAM role alongside fletch and carrick/scholes/hargo in the center of the 5 men mid fld. and wish that anderson can realise the potential we all believe he has when we fisrt bought him. don’t waste him as a defense minded mid flder, c’mon SAF!

Triggs - July 8, 2010 Reply

Wow! Look how cynical we have become.

All we probably did was make a polite enquiry about a couple of players at Inter and now the sky is falling in (again).

fready - July 8, 2010 Reply

“The club’s £;20 million bid for World Cup superstar Sneijder hardly bore the hallmarks of authenticity, much akin to United’s late, undervalued, offer for Benzema last summer.”

Why do you think the offer for Benzema was undervalued? Maybe you should ask Real Madrid if he was worth the money?

Also I thought the bid for Sneijder was reported at 29 mill pounds… Which seems a fair price.

as - July 8, 2010 Reply

i see the idiot wagen has struck again, this has nothing to do with tickets or stunts to cover up etc, its a guy making a bid for someone even thou its unlikely to go though- is barca chase for fabs or reals for gerrard a stunt, no, and neither was this. You morons aint ever satisfied unless utd failing…im gona love it when we get our big recruit in, you lot be crawling back under the rocks you came from.

bman - July 8, 2010 Reply

I think these articles are becoming a little monotonous and excessively pessimistic. If United doesn’t publicly bid for somebody, you say it’s because the club is completely broke. Then when strong rumours do emerge of United looking to buy expensive players, you say that just shows how bad the current squad is, and the club should be willing to pay any amount of money. Does it not occur to you that City has to pay a premium because it’s a crap club with no history of winning anything, and is not in the Champions League? What do Tevez, Adebayor, Yaya Toure, and Silva all have in common? They are all players that didn’t want to leave the clubs they were at, and stated a desire to go to the likes of Chelsea, Real, Arsenal, or Barca before ultimately ending up in City.

In any case, it’s always risky to draw too many conclusions from transfer rumours, because really we don’t have a clue what’s going on.

RedScot - July 8, 2010 Reply

@ Bman you talk too much sense, not allowed on blogs!
Take a few ciders and mixed up drinks and a few bubbles you will get in the groove.
Yer spot on.

D - July 8, 2010 Reply

Every Club has weaknesses. No one thought Inter Milan was a threat to us or Barca before last season.

United is still one of the best in the world…crappy USA owners or not. Yes, they don’t spend their way out of problems like Chelsea or Real Madrid but they turn to their youth first, which is great by me.

Sneidjer would be great but I choose to be positive. Carrick, Anderson and Scholes are reasonable alternatives.

D - July 8, 2010 Reply

Great point Bman. Sneidjer statement could just be a plant by his representatives to up his price at Inter. Sir Alex has never said a word about him. The negativity of these blogs are sad…

Devilton - July 9, 2010 Reply

What’s doubly painful about the Sneijder transfer is that WE had the chance to bring him to united. Real wanted to get rid of him, they wanted Ronaldo. We could have bundled him into the deal and gotten a class player for a fraction of his true cost.

Instead, like Torres, like Robben, like Ronaldinho, we missed the boat and now there’s all this talk about making a bid which in truth will never materialize, or realistically even get accepted.

Instead we’ll buy some relative unknown who represents true ‘value’ as Fergie says while teams around us are busy getting stronger buy paying premium.

Do I sound pessimist? Maybe, but last season showed how reliant we are on Rooney. God forbid he gets a long term injury and we need to rely on Berbatov or Owen to get us 20 goals a season, cause I don’t see that happening.

ja - July 9, 2010 Reply

Unfortunately, you can probably remove Hargreaves from the list of midfielders. But I agree, this is a propaganda stunt to make it look like there is money available for transfers. Exactly as it was with Benzema last summer.

wiuru - July 9, 2010 Reply

I feel SAF has a plan we cant bring in someone and break the wage structure all that will create is dressing room unrest ! A lot of what we are reading is Agent and poor journalism mischief . If we are worried now, then the next transfer window will be a nightmare . I hate to say it but we may have to settle with a little less ,bide our time whilst the younger lads bed in .We do not have the financal clout of Citeh , Barca RM etc .We are United and we can overcome setbacks . Our Team needs us its supporters behind it wholeheartedly .

Ella Patterson - July 9, 2010 Reply

Calm down folks
Sneijder will not leave Inter after such a season
His agent is trying to negotiate a new pricier contract
Ozil will not play well in the PL as he is not physically robust enough
Who out there who is AVAILABLE is better than what we have got?
Give Gibson etc a chance

Kiran - July 9, 2010 Reply

I hope we don’t sign any big name overseas over priced players. Why stop the development of cleverley, macheda, hernandez etc in favour of these over payed prima donnas.

thecourtenayboy - July 9, 2010 Reply

Playing Anderson in his natural attacking midfield role could be an option next season. Would be a good opprotunity to show us all what he can do in his favoured position, if he doesn’t cut it, then maybe we take a loss on him.

Second idea…this one is potentially laughable but what about playing Berbatov in central midfield? In my opinion he just isn’t a striker, he doesn’t have the natural attacking instinct of a striker and simply doesnt get enough goals when playing up front. He doesn’t run around enough to really play any position in the Premiership but if he can replicate the style of Fernando Redondo in his Milan days then he’d be an asset to the team…though I don’t even know why I’m writing this cos deep down I know he’s a sack of **** and not good enough to grace the red of United!…It’s a last chance option at least.

What do we think’s happening with the goalkeeper position? Not long ago we were being linked with every goalkeeper in Europe. Now that we’ve sold Foster, all the talk has gone away!

And one last thing. Is it just me who thinks we should offload Neville and Scholes to trim down the wage bill? They must be on nearly £200k a week between them…if the clubs being run as a business, surely those two should be close to leaving so more wage funds can be made available or so that cut backs can be made.

Ed - July 9, 2010 Reply

I keep hearing this but I’ve seen no evidence Anderson’s natural position is in an attacking midfield role. He’s never played there for United and Ferguson clearly doesn’t trust him there. I’d bet its never going to happen for that reason alone.

Ed - July 9, 2010 Reply

Scholes and Neville are at United for one final season… I’d say van der Sar will also retire next summer. United might buy a keeper then but not right now. Ben Amos will be third choice this season.

As for Berbatov in central midfield…. I really don’t think so!

UnitedBen - July 9, 2010 Reply

Hahahaha quality line!!! “…though I don’t even know why I’m writing this cos deep down I know he’s a sack of ****”

nelsinho - July 9, 2010 Reply

i don’t think darren gibson will be or will ever play behind rooney. i think despite a lack of goals anderson is a better option in the number 10 role than gibson because with anderson he won’t just wait to get the ball and shoot from long range.

Bill - July 9, 2010 Reply

Good article. Prediction for 2010-11: no big name signings, and 2nd in the PL, QF CL and a cup win in either the FA or Carling Cups. 4-5-1 system to be used for the majority of the season.

Jacob - July 10, 2010 Reply

Wow, is that Paul the psychic octopus? I feat those predictions are guaranteed certainties. Except for the part about us winning a cup. No chance of that either I’m afraid. We’ll be steadily linked with a string of big-name players of course, with none ever materialising.

“Hold on Scholesy, don’t reach for your pipe and slippers just yet. How’d you feel about playing on for another four years? It would really help us out. Giggs, Neville and Van Der Sar have already agreed. Whaddya say?”

Craig - July 9, 2010 Reply

Did anybody notice that midfielder from Ghana, Prince Boateng?

manc - July 9, 2010 Reply

just read your analysis,total bs,shame on u,a supposed man utd fan,ya trash the club just becos u hate the glazers,making up stories of woe for the past few weeks and thinking u know more of the club than sir alex.pls tell me how making a bid to buy sneijder is a weakness on utd’s part,and by the way the bid was for 29 million pounds.I dont like the glazers one bit, but if u think this is the best way to go,trashing utd along with it, shame on u.

Ed - July 9, 2010 Reply

If you don’t agree with me that’s fine but what gives you the right to question what kind of fan I am? Instead of reading the papers and believing the spin that comes out of the club, you’d do well to get some some real information. The weakness is in United’s squad… and financial situation. But I guess you just didn’t get it.

Redsmoke - July 9, 2010 Reply

Well said Ed.

How dare anyone supporter of United not believe what the club says. no way you could a true fan if you question the club.

redevil_83 - July 9, 2010 Reply

‘Redsmoke’- good to see you around here

Redsmoke - July 9, 2010

What up mate? been ages.

Alfonso Bedoya - July 9, 2010 Reply

Fans like you are the Glazers biggest asset. You will swallow what ever your told, supporting their ownership with the deluded notion that what’s good for the Glazers is good for United. Even a bid of £29 million for Sneijder was doomed to fail… and anyone paying attention would know that. One of the few honest things Ferguson has said lately is that the market is inflated, and after the season Sneijder’s just had… why would he want to leave Inter?

So… was this even a serious bid… or just a bit of fan diplomacy?

We’re constantly being told that we’re interested in Benzema… a player that didn’t want to play for us last year, and who would need to take a punishing pay cut to fit Uniteds wage structure this year… what chance of this?

You’re right of course… we don’t know what’s really going on… but there’s more than enough evidence available to make any rational fan very suspicious and cynical… and more than just a little worried.

Bill - July 9, 2010 Reply

I think Fergie will have to get more out of the likes of Anderson and Carrick with his famous man-management skills. Watch him push Gibson too as the creative midfield player.

UnitedBen - July 9, 2010 Reply

I liked the article and agree. We seem to not even dare compete for the top players anymore. I personally feel we need a replacement for Hargreaves, a top draw creative midfielder and a top class striker. Depending on what happens with Vidic perhaps a proven defender too. While I will ultimately support United and Fergie, it seems he is hoping for Nani, Macheda and maybe Anderson to come of age to save us.
The striker situation is simply bizarre, we have Rooney (class) and then Berba – Not worked out, Owen – Injured too much, then the kids Macheda, Welbeck, Hernandez, King – Unproven on a consistent basis.
I just prey Fergie knows what he is doing because I think we did the very best we could with the squad last year :o( I dont think I’m being pessimistic, just realistic!

Ted Perechalli - July 10, 2010 Reply

Darren Gibson is being overrated. He is not true Manchester United pedigreee YET. A long way to go.

Ashish - July 10, 2010 Reply

The fact of the matter is that nothing is going to stop the likes of city and Madrid from bidding and paying over the top for players they want while we on the other hand will be finding ourselves slowly,but very surely running out of funds needed to strengthen the team in the near future unless something dramatic happens with regards to the ownership.We are relying on kids who may or may not be good enough to strengthen the team and to keep us on top.Now I am not sure how far we can go on like this.

Bill - July 10, 2010 Reply

Both Anderson and Gibson haven’t set the world alight yet, but remember the case of Fletcher, who wasn’t up to it for quite a while but Fergie persisted with him and he’s now one of the best CM in the PL.

Ashish - July 10, 2010 Reply

With Ando you have a point but with Gibson,well the jury is still out as far as he’s concerned but for all you know Carrick could come back in form again… where does that leave Gibson?

Ed - July 10, 2010 Reply

This is very true but it’s easier to turn yourself into a hard grafting player than something a bit more special. Can Gibson learn the vision of a playmaker or improve his technique? I have my doubts. Not that he doesn’t have a future but IMO he’s no Paul Scholes.

wakey - July 12, 2010 Reply

“The club’s £;20 million bid for World Cup superstar Sneijder hardly bore the hallmarks of authenticity, much akin to United’s late, undervalued, offer for Benzema last summer.”

Late and undervalued bid for Benzema. Seriously if you are going to write articles and make claims of ‘False bids’ get your facts rights.

United bid BEFORE Real. Real were busy trying to buy Villa for £45mill but Valencia were messing them around (and would later mess Barca around in the same way) and United had already lodged their bid and had it accepted and then Real realising that their Villa deal was going to be hard to get pushed through decided they couldn’t afford to lose their 2nd choice so gazumped us. Benzema had already said Real was his preferred destination so there was no point just matching the offer as we would have lost out (especially as the tax laws allowed Real to offer much more in wages) and there was little point getting into a bidding war with Real and then paying way over the top for a player so we lost out

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