Window shuts with Reds still short



The transfer window has shut after one of the quietest periods in recent memory, with Manchester United’s activity symptomatic of the Premier League. Yet, United’s investment is also increasingly emblematic of the Glazer family’s ownership of the ‘world’s biggest club’. It’s a strategy that has left United short of quality both domestically and in Europe.

Indeed, United will exit the transfer window with just 24 players, including perennially injured Owen Hargreaves, on the Premier and Champions League ‘A’ list, supplemented by a further 10 players on the ‘B’ list. The ‘B’ list can be expanded at any point, with unlimited players under the age of 21 from United’s reserve and youth teams permitted.

This was, according to Sir Alex Ferguson and his immediate boss chief executive David Gill, to be the season of youth, with United’s academy produce supplemented by acquisitions Chris Smalling, Javier Hernández and Bebé at a cost of just under £25 million.

Early season fixtures have clarified the position: this is, in fact, to be the season of enduring experience, with hope that United’s younger acquisitions from abroad will develop at a more rapid pace than, say, Zoran Tošić and Ben Foster, discarded from the squad this summer.

The investment strategy, dictated by the owners’ increasingly strained financial position and the pressing need to pay down debt, essentially leaves the club with the same squad as last season, Hernández being the player closest to regular first team action of the new acquisitions.

United, of course, went close last season, taking Chelsea to within a point of the Premier League title. Yet inconsistency in the team’s performances were exposed in seven domestic league defeats and an early exit from the FA Cup at the hands of arch rivals Leeds United. The Carling Cup was of little consolation.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of United’s campaign – certainly for Ferguson – was the club’s exit at the quarter final stage of the Champions League. The Scot has now, with more than a hint of revisionism, blamed the defeat on bad luck, while ignoring Bayern Munich’s outstanding first leg performance and stirring late Old Trafford comeback.

Ferguson, the realpolitik pragmatist, is hardly likely to say anything else, especially armed with the knowledge that investment will not match United’s spending of previous eras when the Scot broke the British transfer record on five separate occasions.

Thus the Scot dismissed fears of financial hardship, declaring the market to hold no value, while telling fans, with more than a hint of condescension, that they didn’t really want a big name signing anyway.

It’s a claim that both ignores the team’s immediate needs, assuming the goal is to compete on four fronts, and the market dynamics this summer where value is in fact to be found everywhere.

In terms of United’s squad, the most glaring omission is in central midfield where weight of numbers hardly compensates for the fact that Paul Scholes has still not been replaced. The midfielder’s early season form will not mask this reality when the Champions League begins in mid-September and Scholes must rest.

United, as Ferguson has already noted, is short of goals from central midfield and will operate without an attacking midfielder playmaker in either 4-4-2 or 4-3-2-1 formations that the Scot is likely to deploy this season.

Ferguson needs Anderson to discover his fitness and best form quickly. It’s almost two years since the Brazilian could claim to own both. The Scot must also draw Michael Carrick out of the year-long slump that has robbed the former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder of far too many key assets.

Then there is the Hargreaves question. The player will surely never play for the club again, leaving Darren Fletcher as the club’s only genuine tough-tackling defensive midfielder. Suspension, injury and burnout hold a constant fear.

United has acquired defensive cover in a sensible move by Ferguson, whose side suffered in that department at times last season. Smalling though is no experienced campaigner, leaving United’s manager reliant on Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic’s fitness remaining on a more even keel than at any time in the last 18 months.

Up front Ferguson has an embarrassment of riches, assuming Rooney rediscovers his fitness and form permanently. Hernández’ acqusition will, hopefully, reduce the burden on United’s talisman.

Michael Owen will rightfully be restricted to a bit part role, while Dimitar Berbatov’s early season promises much. But few supporters will now count on the Bulgarian to maintain it throughout the season.

In wide areas Nani and Antonio Valencia – eventually in the Portuguese winger’s case – boasted outstanding seasons last time out. Each will offer an attacking threat from wide that is equal to almost anything on the continent. The replacements, Ryan Giggs, Ji-Sung Park and Gabriel Obertan offer adequate cover.

Yet Ferguson enters the season with more questions hanging over his squad than is comfortable. Certainly more than at the height of United’s success.

Hope, they say, is no kind of strategy.

What may save the club’s season, at least domestically, is the failure of United’s rivals to improve key areas. Chelsea essentially replaced like-for-like in swapping Joe Cole for Yossi Benayoun, while Ramires will add much-needed quality at the base of Carlo Ancelotti’s three-man midfield. Perhaps the biggest victory for the Italian is the return of the truly outstanding Michael Essien from injury.

Meanwhile, Arsenal has strengthened in central defence but failed to acquire a goalkeeper, which will surely cost Arsène Wenger points this season.

City, being City, will surely fall short of the Premier League title as £130 million worth of new acquisitions bed in.

In Europe though Barcelona has done outstanding business, replacing the ineffective Zlatan Ibrahimovic with the Spanish goal machine David Villa. Javier Mascherano is surely an upgrade on the hopelessly overrated Yaya Touré.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid has also found real value in recruiting the brilliant playmaker Mesut Özil, along with Sergio Canales and Sami Khedira for little more than €30 million.

The activity during the window points to a tight race domestically, where Chelsea must be considered favourites. A probable knock-out round exit awaits United in Europe.

For the owners that scenario remains economically acceptable. After all, United was the biggest grossing club in the Champions League last season despite the early exit and revenue is the Glazer family’s only concern.

Fans might just think differently come may.

A ListB List
1. Edwin Van Der Sar12. Chris Smalling (HG, U21)
2. Gary Neville (HG)20. Fabio Da Silva (U21)
3. Patrice Evra21. Rafael Da Silva (U21)
4. Owen Hargreaves26. Gabriel Obertan (U21)
5. Rio Ferdinand (HG)27. Federico Macheda (U21)
6. Wesley Brown (HG)31. Corry Evans (HG, U21)
7. Michael Owen (HG)33. Bebe (U21)
8. Anderson39. James Chester (HG, U21)
9. Dimitar Berbatov40. Ben Amos (HG, U21)
10. Wayne Rooney (HG)42. Magnus Eikrem (U21)
11. Ryan Giggs (HG)44. Joe Dudgeon (U21)
13. Park Ji-Sung45. Oliver Gill (U21)
14. Javier Hernandez48. Will Keane (U21)
15. Nemanja Vidic
16. Michael Carrick (HG)Loaned
17. NaniCameron Stewart
18. Paul Scholes (HG)Joshua King
22. John O'Shea (HG)Danny Welbeck
23. Jonny Evans (HG)Mame Biram Diouf
24. Darren Fletcher (HG)Daniel Drinkwater
25. Antonio ValenciaMathew James
28. Darron Gibson (HG)Thomas Cleverley
29. Tomasz KuszczakJames Chester
30. Ritchie De Laet
Manchester United 'A' & 'B' Lists. HG = Home Grown. U21 = Under 21 on 1 January 2010.

* Ferguson can name an unlimited 'B' list of players classed as U21.

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  • Zombie Cucumber

    Every club has questions hanging over it and no squad is free of weakness.
    I think this year’s team is better than you suspect.

  • http://twitter.com/nikos_storey Nikos

    Cant agree with main supposition here. Far too many presumptions and innuendo.

    Whilst I agree that we are a tad short in CM, we have to accept that Ozil was poached by Real given the player’s desire to go to Spain (tax reasons I presume and not the “greatest” club anecdote). I was more surprised that Fergie did not sign a prenup with him months before the WC given his interest in us.

    This however does not mean we are short – Cleverly is a prospect but the decision to gain experience at Wigan is a good one given Scholes’s last season and early season form; Anderson is raring to go, and I still maintain Carrick has the fight in him – If fans get off his back and realise what he has brought to the club since Roy’s departure, he may be able to recapture his game which combines the reading and intercepting of a Mascherano and the eye for a pass of Scholes.

    To lay the blame solely at the feet of the Glazers is cliche and not taking into account the facts at hand (they are not going anywhere soon); A squad with one of the finest defences around (with Rio due back in tandem with a fully fit Wes and Raf), a wealth of talent in midfield (you rightly mention the astute Valencia and the second coming of Nani) and 2 of the best forward players in the league in Wayne and Berba has now been complemented by close to £30m of talent. The average age is now around 26-27, and the team can now boast a fine blend of experience and emerging talent (Obertan, Gibson, the twins, Smalling, Hernandez, Evans et al). When Fergie says there was not value to be had – I for one believe him, and expect yet another tremendous season perhaps regaining the league with a fully fit defence and taking Barca, Real and Chelsea all the way in Europe.

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk/members/admin/ Ed

      Nikos – Just so we’re straight on the facts – £24 million spent, £14 million brought in for a net spend of £10 million. Minus net spend of £55 million last season.

      As for value I submit Ozil £12 million, £Khadira 12 million van der Vaart £8 million offered great value. Not that I’m saying United should have bought these players. Just that value does exist.

      • http://twitter.com/nikos_storey Nikos

        Im as disappointed about Ozil as the next red, but the fact is the money was there and he chose Real. Fergie surprised me by not wrapping it up earlier, talent there for all to see. Vaart would not add to the squad IMO – he operates slightly further forward as perhaps a “10″ meaning his play would intercede on Berbatov’s false 9 role and slow the play down considerably. Ozil was more akin to a “Scholes replacement”, a creative “8″ which I agree is much coveted. Anderson was the hope, but it appears he has gone backwards – Fergie giving him 1-2 seasons more to adapt before making decision.

        (Note also, Yaya Toure rejected a move to OT in favour of Eastl….I mean £200k a week…..)

        • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk/members/admin/ Ed

          Nikos – oh dear, “the fact is the money is there” – you sure about that fact? Go prove it… because I have a ton of financial statements from the club that say very differently.

  • Josh

    That B list is actually 10, not 12, as Cathcart has gone to Blackpool, and you forgot to remove Wellbeck (though you did also include him on the ‘loadned out’ list).
    I think the obvious concerns are the lack of a new playmaker and the role of youth. I know it’s early days, but like you say, we’ve seen little or no evidence of the youth policy.
    However, I don’t necessarily subscribe to the notion that Scholes can’t offer a lot across the course of the season (which I’m not suggesting you subscribe to, Ed). If he can manage 30+ games, why not? Zanetti is 37 and he played 55 times last season for Inter, and they didn’t do too badly.

  • TIME

    It would be nice to read an article for once that offered a critical look at the squad which would include the plus points. great gk, superb defence partnership of vidic, rioo. evans is great. how good is evra, rafael was fabulous last season and had ribbery in his pocket. scholes has been such class, so has giggs again this season. who wouldnt want then in their team. we have pace and power, creativity and agility. and goals.

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk/members/admin/ Ed

      Time – wouldn’t really be a critical look then would it. More an article of praise. United has tons of great players, I mention many. But they’re not the areas of concern.

      • John Smith

        I don’t think you understand the meaning of criticism if you think that it must always be negative.

  • TIME

    i mean to add the praise to the drival you have wrotten. United have a great squad, I think SAF should know more than any of us.

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk/members/admin/ Ed

      Time – I certainly wouldn’t want to “wrot” any “drival” sounds awful.

  • TIME

    areas of concern then…………none really.

  • bruce thomas

    AON = Americans Out Now

    GO GO GO GO GO

  • redevil_83

    i for one completely am on board with the writer’s views here. i’ve been harping on the same issue all summer long with my other united mates but sadly like most, they appear rather too optimistic than practical. i have hope and full support to the red devils that they have a smashing campaign, we re-take the league and play great football. but since the squad is basically the same as we had last season and whilst we did not address our areas of improvement, i suspect there is reason to believe we could come up agonizingly short again. when i go into a united match i expect good football and wins. but when i step back at the end of the season, it is very fine details that separate you from being champion. heart and courage can only take you so far, and there’s no denying that united CM area is still the same as last season with a yr added on. maybe SAF will realise by the time december window rolls around and we will strengthen.

    hope is no strategy – well said.

  • shane

    eikrem muda fukaz!!!

  • cantilever_moaner

    Hope is indeed no strategy, lets hope our squad stay fit and hope Chelsea blow up like they did last year. Otherwise it could be a long year !

  • a.parker

    We only bought carrick in 06 and berba in 08 and won the lge both years, we on bought barthez in 00 and won the lge so thou we didnt do as much as some ppl wish which i get, we still got a strong enough team to win it this yr especially with the purchase of chicharito. Liverpool only bought a bunch of aging average lads in poulsen, konchesky, miereles etc, benayoun aint anything and pls can some1 tell me who squillaci, chamakh, koscielny is, no body that who…we have enough talent to win bck our title.

  • KC

    If Man United were still the PLC, or even the Red Knights as the new owners, for sure we would have had different players coming in during the transfer window. My point is that Glazers are the cancer that needs to be removed.

    • John Smith

      Why do you say that? The Red Knights couldn’t raise the money to buy the club so how would they raise more money than the Glazers to buy players. That bunch were a joke. Good riddance to them. The plc weren’t any better in terms of funding transfers and their restrictions on the wage bill meant SAF had to buy dross like Miller, Kleberson, Djemba-Djemba, etc.

  • Matthew N. Gravis

    Mascherano isn’t even half the player Yaya Toure is, blue or not.

  • Julian

    Fully agree with the article. There is no doubt United are under resourced in terms of quality to regain top spot both domestically and in Europe. Yes we have a bunch of promising youngsters to which have been added a few more promising youngsters. Without doubt we needed a quality midfielder and probably a right back and a goalkeeper as well. Even the striking department has questions over it. Rooney is, of course, fine and Berba is showing some form commensurate with his perceived status as a top quality player. When he puts in a performance against one of our main rivals we’ll know he has at last “arrived”. As for the rest, Owen is really over the top and Macheda merely yet another promising youngster. However, its the midfield that’s the biggest concern. Yes, all will be ok if say Anderson and Carrick have great seasons to back up the consistency that Fletcher gives us. Gibson is also in the promising category and no more at this juncture. Hargreaves, whom we have sorely missed, may never play for us again. Scholes and Giggs will have to be used sparingly despite their early season prominence and so on. The cupboard is not bare but we could find ourselves very thin on the ground at crucial times if everyone doesn’t come to the party.

    But, at the end of the day, this is all about the Glazer finances. Yes there is cash in the bank, including much of the Ronaldo money, but this is largely earmarked to pay down part of the most expensive debt. The policy is to acquire young, promising, players with good re-sale value in three or four years who will not demand excessive wages. The latter is fundamental to the Glazer plan which relies on costs, in which wages are the biggest item, being curtailed.

    It’s a challenge which Fergie no doubt accepts and probably relishes. Can he succeed on what is, compared with our major rivals, a shoe string budget ? That’s the question.

  • Neil Weston

    I think that the squad is plenty strong enough and has improved in relation to all of our competitors except maybe City. However, City don’t look like they are able to make a team out of thirty expensive and grumpy players.

    You seem to think that SAF should buy players to placate fans. That’s nonsense. He buys players to maintain or improve the competitiveness of the squad and he’s clearly done that. We’ve never bought marquee signings under SAF and hope that we never will. We have a squad of players who are committed to the club, who fit into the ethos and who are winners.

    I know that you want to see the hand of the Glazers in everything to do with the club but the facts are that we did well in the transfer window. We have improved relative to the competition and we had money to spend. It’s all good.

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk/members/admin/ Ed

      Neil – where did I say Ferguson should buy players to placate fans? This article is an honest assessment of where the squad is at. Agree/disagree as you feel fit, but don’t put words into my mouth to try and make your point. Frankly it renders pointless any points you might have.

      As for the “facts” that we did well in the market… that’s your opinion and depends on three untried players coming good. Here’s one fact – the money spent was £10m net.

    • John Smith

      Neil, I tend to agree. The squad is about the best in terms of depth and options but I would have liked a resolution to the Hargreaves issue. I’m not sure of the legalities of terminating his contract, paying him off and getting in a replacement but that’s the only thing I would have done differently.

      I don’t understand the people who force themselves to see doom in everything that United do. How can they enjoy life looking for the dark side of everything that happens at the club. The paranoia must keep them awake at night. Unfortunately, there seem to be a few of them around and they all seem to write blogs. Maybe it’s a trait of bloggers.

      Like you, I think we have the squad to do well. We’ve improved the squad, of that there is no doubt. Chelsea have got worse and I don’t think anyone can argue against that either. As the window is now shut I’d make us favourites. Very astute spending from SAF and Gill. I’m very happy.

  • danniitronix

    There is little value in the market for United because it is UNITED.

    - top players are more often than not at top clubs; so there is no chance in hell that a top club will sell to United unless the price is outrageous, i.e., where there is no value. For example, we would never get Gerrard, Mascherano, Fabregas or Essien, these clubs would never sell. We wold also never get the likes of Viall, Toure or Silva since the prices are inflated and we do not think they are worth that money, i.e., they represent no value.
    - as for Ozil, he didn’t want to play for United, or rather preferred to play under the best manager on the planet and current UCL holder because Moany was having a clear out of the crap stock
    - van der Vaart is an example of point 1. No chance in hell would Mourinho sell VdV to us, or Chelsea or Arsenal. 8m to Spuds is fine as it represents no risk to Mourinho or RM re: their ambitions for this year. He has both Diarrias, Alonso, Khedira, Gago and Ozil- plus CR who can play in the middle if needed. VdV is complete surplus stock.

    The point rather is that Fergus does not want to pay over the odds. Look at Arsenal, Chelsea and the Vermin, how many hollywood signings have they made? None.

    Taking City aside who have distorted the market like the Chavs did a few years ago; there simply have not been any “monster” signings in Europe except for 40m Villa to Barca

    Look at the NET spend for and the ranking is as follows:

    1. €122m – Manchester City
    2. €81m – Real Madrid
    3. €47m – Zenit St. Petersburg*
    4. €31m – Rubin Kazan*
    5. €28m – Barcelona

    City aside, no English clubs and Barca only spending 18m net more that United.

    So look at the top transfers and ask yourself who would come to United:

    1. €40m – David Villa ( Valencia – Barcelona) – no fucking chance
    2. €32m – David Silva ( Valencia – Man City) – no fucking chance / not worth the cash
    3. €30m – James Milner ( Aston Villa – Man City) – not worth the cash
    4. €28m – Mario Balotelli ( Inter – Man City) – not worth the cash
    5. €25m – Angel di Maria ( Benfica – Real Madrid) – no fucking chance

    Basically, either the supreme quality is overvalued or the players would not come to United. Citeh aside no English club has managed to attract serious world class quality.

    Now if your point is that Fergus is now convinced himself that he has to be a cheap skate because he has been nudged by Malcolm to tighten the purse strings, then that is something else.

    But clearly, there is no value for Manchester United unless you want to pay over the odds, which itself may not be a bad things – somethings you need to loss-lead in the short term to enable long-term gains: Chelsea paid way over the odds and plastic or not, they have silverware so that is a defensible strategy, just like Citeh. Same as RM for Galacticos mark II; Benzema a classic.

    As to the general point that we have come up short agree that in midfield we have but there are no targets that represent fair value or would come to United. That fact that Milner went from Villa to Citeh for 30m is simply astonishing. Again 30m, read again, utterly amazing.

    I would have preferred Cleverly to stay and fight it out against that shithous Gibson and Mr. Spinless Carrick and Turd Head Anderson because apart from Fletch and Scholes, we have no consistent performer. Also agree with you about the tragedy that is Hargreaves.

  • Julian

    Did we really attempt to get Ozil ? At 12m he was a bargain. What about Van der Vaart ?

    As to squad strength, we have quality players who do not need to prove their credentials. In that category are Vidic, Evra, Fletcher, Rooney, Valencia. The other quality ones have question marks – VDS (age & durability)Brown (injury prone, consistency) Ferdinand (now injury prone?) Carrick (consistency) Scholes (age, durability) Giggs (same) Berbatov (consistency and effectiveness over whole season), Nani (same as berba)Park Ji Sung ( quality or merely a useful squad player?). Anderson still remains a prospect only and has quite a bit to prove and Hernandez (a very good prospect but how much playing time will he get?) Owen (sadly a has been)and JOS (not really good enough as a full back and perhaps an emergency utility only). The rest are prospects only with a lot of inexperience at the top level.

    So all in all, by this assessment, we have only 5 experienced quality players whom we can rely on without any questions hanging over them.

  • http://twitter.com/dosdamt Dosdamt

    I agree with the previous poster. The inconsitency in the transfer policy and the players on the pitch is a huge challenges – having players with ‘potential’ but no play time is incredibly frustrating and wastes that potential. The financial pressure to remain in the Champions League is incredible on the club at present. Not making the Champions league would chop circa £40m out of the revenue of the club. That would be brutal. And while it is clear that Arsenal / Spurs are the most likely to be ousted by Citeh, let us not underestimate the impact of a paper thin squad may have on our campaign.

    Last season we had no defence for several games, and we’ve plugged that gap, and granted that was an exception set of circumstancs – but there’s nothing to say that, or something similar, won’t happen again. What happens if Rooney, Berbatov and Owen all end up injured. We’d be playing Kiko and Chicharito – sure, they’ve got an eye for goal, but would they score consistently?

    Until the Glazers go, the club can’t have any type of freedom from the absolute financial expectation that Champions League must be achieved every single season. A few more seasons of neglect while those around us enhance and entrench their squads with real quality will cause United significant issues.

    • http://twitter.com/nikos_storey Nikos

      Dosdamt

      As with my response to Ed above I see no evidence for your assertion. We have arguably the finest squad in the premiership – different to Chelsea in that Ferguson is once again thinking about creating a “new era” with his obvious emphasis on youth. Whilst I can see the line of thought that we have not “replaced” Ronaldo with a superstar, one must remember how we reclaimed our title 4 seasons ago – buying young (Ronaldo, Vidic, Evra etc), unearthing talent and letting leash…

      Again, the best defence in the league with Rio/Wes back. An array of talent in midfield with Park Obertan Val Giggs Nani vying for two winger spots; Carrick Gibson Flet Scholes likewise and up front Berba Roo Mach Chicariot and Owen. Fergie is clearly looking to create a new team which can be successful for many years to come; Fans need to stop obsessing about Glazer and the finances and get behind the lads – our style of play will prosper regardless – and it is vital that we trust Fergie to do what he does best – Win !

      • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk/members/admin/ Ed

        Nikos – I don’t see any evidence that this squad has really progressed from last season. In fact four players who appeared in more than 120 games between then last season – Giggs, Scholes, Neville and VDS – are a year older, a year closer to retirement. Few of the kids have progressed – Obertan played nothing, Diouf shipped out already, Cleverley not with the squad this season, Rafael currently on the bench. Macheda cant even get in the squad. Hernandez may yet add something but time will tell. There there’s the injury problem which was forseeable and not addressed. Rio and Wes still injured and history says that will continue, Hargreaves only really a formal announcement away from retirement.

        Essentially this is the same team that was short domestically (7 PL defeats) and in Europe last season. Winning the Carling Cup is probably the absolute minimum acceptable for a club of United’s stature.

        The obsession as you like to call it is that the Glazer family financial starvation of this club has begun in earnest and it is affecting United’s strategy and it will affect success on the pitch.

        • http://twitter.com/nikos_storey Nikos

          “Obertan played nothing, Diouf shipped out already, Cleverley not with the squad this season, Rafael currently on the bench. Macheda cant even get in the squad.”

          But doesnt this say it all??! The squad is oozing with talent, and Fergie himself says it is has been his toughest squad in terms of decision making in last 2 decades. We have width we have creativity and we have goals – in fact my only major concerns are a) the fitness of Rio (who I think has been mightily unlucky espec with the Heskey training collision) and b) the anxiety Rooney displays when things are not clicking for him. He lacks positional maturity which has the effect of reducing Berbatov’s impact in many a game, meaning that the latter is insanely abused and the former is more concerned with showing “passion and commitment” by playing more often that not in the right back position. When he kept ahead of Berba he scored a hatful.

          Issues such as these – and the fact we often played with De Laat or Carrick in defence last term – are more pressing and influential than the fact the Glazers are there (milking us for sure) but before, IMO, they will eventually leave of their own accord.

  • http://twitter.com/nikos_storey Nikos

    Ed – you’ve not really addressed anything I’ve said with your obsession with the Glazers. I actually said the money “was” there. Ozil chose Real – Fergie responded with the (probably silly gamble) signing of Bebe, £7.4m.

    Ta

  • uncleknobheadforfucksake

    ‘julian’ our quality players are rooney evra and vidic

    nani is getting there rio is probably no longer there and fletcher and valencia will never be there

  • http://twitter.com/dosdamt Dosdamt

    Well, let’s be clear – while the inconsistency between transfer strategy remains (buy young potential) vs don’t actually play youth (i.e. why in holy hell is JOS playing if Rafael is fit), the fact is the youth will not develop. They won’t – game time at the top develops players. I believe Fergie’s hand is almost forced because of the financial situation – bottom line, no Champions League, no cash, no club.

    If Fergie knows he can rely on the steady-eddy style of players such as JOS to do a job, he isn’t going to risk playing a youth player with potential but who will make mistakes. We’re in a position where we cannot really take risks. Evolution vs revolution – and evolution is slow, painful, and if you get it wrong, then you go extinct. I don’t use this kind of rhetoric lightly.

    I think your assertion that we have a wealth of talent in midfield is hopeful at best. Anderson is coming back from a serious injury and serious doubts remain over the lad’s mentality – I think he thinks he has made it. You have *never* made it at United, IMO – you need to prove you are good enough to pull on the shirt each and every time you play. Turning in the odd performance isn’t good enough. Carrick is off form and needs game time to get back into it. Scholes can’t carry the team all season – the same is true of Giggs. Nani is just starting to get his act together, but again, you can’t expect him to carry the team. I’m not convinced Gibson is good enough for United.

    Up front, Owen won’t stay fit, Macheda isn’t getting games, and likely the same will be true of Chicharito if Berbatov and Rooney are fit. So they won’t develop – remember, back in the day we had Cole, Yorke, Sheringham and Solskjaer in their prime. A couple of seasons ago we had Judas, Ronaldo, Rooney all in form and developing rapidly.

    I’m not asking for a superstar; where there are clear issues in the quality, consistency, depth and age I expect them to be addressed with capital outlay. The club, in my opinion, cannot sanction significant capital outlay simply because it doesn’t have the cash and doesn’t have any credit options.

  • danniitronix

    Ed said:
    Nikos – I don’t see any evidence that this squad has really progressed from last season. In fact four players who appeared in more than 120 games between then last season – Giggs, Scholes, Neville and VDS – are a year older, a year closer to retirement. Few of the kids have progressed – Obertan played nothing, Diouf shipped out already, Cleverley not with the squad this season, Rafael currently on the bench. Macheda cant even get in the squad. Hernandez may yet add something but time will tell. There there’s the injury problem which was forseeable and not addressed. Rio and Wes still injured and history says that will continue, Hargreaves only really a formal announcement away from retirement.

    Essentially this is the same team that was short domestically (7 PL defeats) and in Europe last season. Winning the Carling Cup is probably the absolute minimum acceptable for a club of United’s stature.

    The obsession as you like to call it is that the Glazer family financial starvation of this club has begun in earnest and it is affecting United’s strategy and it will affect success on the pitch.

    Agree with this Ed, although I think it is at least arguable that Fegus does genuinely believe that he cannot extract true “bang for your buck” out of the current market notwithstanding that he may not have the funds so its easy for him to perpetuate this myth but its this inconsistency of policy that just smacks of amateurism.

    Fine let’s go for youth, 100% behind that – I would rather us get bummed 0-5 without out youth being blooded rather than out old duffers being over-run and over-fought.

    This is about transition and you simply cannot mover forward with old stock. In this sense football is like a business, in order to maintain success you need new stock to ensure that the return is high.

    The barren years when Le Arse (invincibles) and the Chavs (two with Monay Ho) took the title were just as much to do with some great fuck ups in the transfer market as with the brilliance of the Arsenal squad and Moany’s superior management; our failure to support Ruud, support Rio and support Keane and Scholes. Don’t even get me started on the goaly issue during those years …

    This is more of a Fergie management issue rather than a Glazer issue.

  • Julian

    If money was no object Fergie could easily have brought in two or three class players to strenghen the squad. It’s not so much the transfer fee but more to do with wages, I believe. Cost curtailment whilst improving revenues and at the same time remaining competitive is what this is all about. In any event its not Fergie’s decision as to whether or not the club can afford a player it’s Gill’s. Gill has most probably told Fergie that the focus is on younger players with potentially good re-sale value and lower wage aspirations. Now that’s not Fergie that’s the Glazer plan for the next few years. They rely totally on Fergie accepting the status quo and weaving some managerial magic in firstly identifying the young players with potential and then weaving them into a team containg a smattering of quality players at around their peak and hoping the whole thng works, is sustainable and achieves at least a modicum of success. It’s a challnege and a gamble and Fergie loves both of those.

  • ivaninspain

    I quite like our squad and many players are coming of age and others will crawl in, get minutes and break into the first team. I wouldn’t have signed Ozil. What’s he done? 3 good WC games against what oppostion? What did he do against Spain?or Khedira for that matter. Or Schweinsteiger? By the way the player RM wanted the most was Schweinsteiger but Bayer Munich laughed straight at them.
    We just want to see SAF spend, or the Glazers spend. But seriously who would you buy? The only criticcism I have of SAF is that Rafael should be in the first team line up. He’s the future right back and unless we want him to fuck up
    for inexperience like he did against Bayern then he should get as much experience as possible, O’Shea will do as a sub.
    The real question is, how is Hargreaves? What chances are there of him coming back soon if at all? If he’s on the road to recovery, if, say, he’s back in a month or two in good shape then we stand a great chance of doing something brilliant. Why else loan Cleverly to Wigan?we’ve been in worse scenarios like in 2005,6 when people here wanted Reo Coker.
    Chances are will sign in January. Remember the last two greats that came at Xmas?

    • Josh

      You Ozil analysis is not entirely true. He had a great U21 Euro’s last year. He’s clearly a great young player.

      I don’t think it’s simply about spending, more about strengthening key areas.

      • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk/members/admin/ Ed

        Josh – which is the point I’m making here. I’ve never said United needs to go out and match City’s spending. Far from it, but there are issues with the squad that I believe will be found out when it comes to the crucial games. By the way I said something very similar last summer too. Didn’t address it then either.

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk/members/admin/ Ed

      ivaninspain – well let’s correct that Ozil analysis, which clearly comes from somebody who didn’t watch much international football outside of the World Cup. Ozil was outstanding at U19 / U21 level for Germany over the past 3 years, and throughout last season with Werder – topped the assists table and scored 11 goals from midfield.

  • Julian

    It’s not an issue of bringing in new players and spending crazy money on them, just for the sake of it. Fergie has brought in three for this season and those signings tell the story. Hernandez undoubtedly looks a very good prospect but perhaps, as he settles in, his time on the pitch will be limited. Smalling is a prospect, perhaps even a good one and that’s all at this stage. Bebe is an unknown quantity – even Fergie hadn’t seen him play. What these players have in terms of quality and immediate value to the squad is really questionable at this stage – understandably so. In effect, there have been no signings which can actually strengthen the first team right now for the challenges faced this season. All are prospects for the future who are unlikely to start many games.

  • uncleknobheadforfucksake

    fergies whole investing in youth shite has been going on since about four years before thr glazers, except then it meant investing in yoth that wwere dead certs, ron and wayne, not maybes, nani and anderson, unlikelys hernandez macheda and definately nots like smalling bebe and obertan, would we sign a rooney in the current setup, we’ll see with rodwell, LKHFaffing

  • RobDiablo

    Unregistered User said:
    [1] The Red Knights couldn’t raise the money to buy the club so how would they raise more money than the Glazers to buy players. [2] That bunch were a joke. Good riddance to them. [3] The plc weren’t any better in terms of funding transfers and their restrictions on the wage bill meant SAF had to buy dross like Miller, Kleberson, Djemba-Djemba, etc.

    [1] You can’t know that. I read (and believe) that the Red Knight WOULD not raise the money to meet the inflated valuation demanded by the Glazers; that is very different from being unable to do so.

    [2] In your opinion. Your farewell my yet prove to be premature.

    [3] Interesting, revisionist view of United’s history: Sir Alex was forced to buy duds he didn’t want, so he can’t be blamed. I presume he still gets to take credit for the good buys, though?

  • Bill

    Rafael Van Der Vaart for £8 mill, Bebe for £7.4 – WHAT THE DEUCE!

    No value in the market :-)

  • Just1n

    Unregistered User said:
    Rafael Van Der Vaart for £8 mill, Bebe for £7.4 – WHAT THE DEUCE!

    No value in the market :-)

    muhaha i was just about to post that.

    Makes a mockery of the no value brigade.

  • bman

    I’m fairly satisfied with a transfers and I think our squad is very competitive. With Scholes and Fletcher we have two of the best central midfielders in the PL, although I’m definitely a bit worried about depth there if we get a few injuries. Would have been nice to see Cleverly stick around, but it’s surely better for him and us for him to be seeing real action with Wigan. Some young players need more practice, like Macheda and Bebe, some are already polished and need experience, and I think Cleverly already looks like he needs experience more than polishing right now.

    I was never interested in Van Der Vaart, he would add little or nothing to us. Meireles I would have liked much more, but I’m happy for SAF to keep his powder dry and go for Defour and/or Rodwell in the near future (I have a feeling we might nab Defour in January, SAF has been more a January signer the past few years). Ozil looked like a good fit for us, but who knows what happened there. Maybe SAF just didn’t rate him that highly, maybe he had his heart set on Real, and maybe United was just turned off by the circus of agents and advisers he had around him, as the club seems to have low tolerance for that crap, especially after the Tevez experience.

    I don’t have a major problem with our signings strategy. All the sensible clubs, like Chelsea and Arsenal, are trying to base the player recruiting strategy on getting talent at a younger age, it’s just sensible. We have spent decent money recently on Valencia and Berba, it’s not like we never sign anybody above the age of 21. I just don’t think the club is tempted to push the boat out on a marquee signing because the prices are fairly inflated these days. Players that should go for around £10-15M go for £20-30M. Let’s see how much Silva actually plays at City, for example.

    The reality is that we spent big money on Berba, Hargreaves, and Anderson, and nobody would be complaining if those signings had been really successful. I don’t think the problem is the amount of money we’re spending, just that some of the choices haven’t worked out that well, at least not yet. Our supposedly dreadful midfield (which has won everything in the game, by the way) has very expensive players like Carrick, Hargreaves, and Anderson in it, all bought recently under the Glazers. That’s about £54M worth of central midfield talent I think, so if you’re unhappy I don’t think it’s fair to say its for a lack of spending.

    Meanwhile, Gibson looks good, Anderson might come good too. Everybody slated Fletcher for years until it was blindingly obvious that he was actually a very good player; I’m not saying Gibson will be the next Lampard, but the criticisms of him look exactly like those made against Fletcher at his age, and at least Gibson bangs in the goals fairly often. I reckon he looks like a valuable member of the central midfield rotation, if not necessarily a star.

    I think we are too critical of our midfield, have been for years. We slate in-house talent like Gibson and Fletcher because we get to see them warts and all as they develop, not when them come wrapped in a huge price tag with an expensive PR campaign telling us they’re the next Zidane. We obsess over Scholes age, and if he has one bad game say he can’t hack it against the top sides anymore. In reality, he’s unplayable at the moment, if he was ten years younger you wouldn’t attach nearly as much importance to his off days. Obviously he can’t go on forever, but for the time being, let’s enjoy the fact that we have this stunning player who poses such a tactical nightmare to opposing teams: he can ping the ball anywhere on the pitch from a really deep position. You need a player like Park to shut him down, playing a defensive role in what’s supposed to be the creative attacking midfielder’s position. Not many teams have that kind of player, it’s a big problem even for the top teams because they usually have a great attacking midfielder, and have to choose between letting him play his own game or shutting Scholes down.

    Most of all, people underestimate just how great a tactician Fergie has become in recent years. He’s one of the most creative and flexible in the game. In reality we rarely play a normal 4-4-2 even when it looks like we are set up that way: often Giggs or Nani on the left is tucked in so much they are essentially playing in the center, with Evra roaming forward. Fergie is content to play an incredibly lopsided shape that way, with Valencia providing all the width on the right. It shouldn’t work, but it does. That’s also why O’Shea gets the nod ahead of Raf so often, btw, because Fergie wants him back there defending to counter-act the lopsidedness.

  • bman

    Generally speaking, Fergie’s great strength is that he’s a player’s manager. He doesn’t rush to get in somebody new if one if his players has a rough season or even two (like Carrick and Berba) the way a manager like Redknapp or Benitez would. He makes do with what he has, and doesn’t get somebody for a position until he’s found someone he really likes. He waited ages to get new defenders until he could get Evra and Vidic, cos he really fancied them, same with the midfield and Carrick and Hargreaves. We played half a season with Giggs and O’Shea in the middle, and actually did quite well, until he get the players he wanted. And I think the same thing is happening now (I think that he does like Defour a lot, and is probably willing to struggle on until he can get him). Buying players too quickly ruins the team spirit, and team spirit is one of the pillars of United’s perennial competitiveness.

    That’s why I like Mourinho as Fergie’s replacement. He might be more defensively minded, but he’s great at making do with what he has (making a fairly defensive player out of Eto for example), and for sticking by players, which is why both Fergie and Mourinho’s players would die for their managers. Even the players with whom things didn’t work out or end well — Veron, Ruud, Beckham, Forlan — all wax lyrical about Fergie and United afterwards. With the exception of Tosser Tevez.

  • danniitronix

    Just1n said:
    muhaha i was just about to post that.

    Makes a mockery of the no value brigade.

    That was the price for Tottenham – if SAF gave Moany a call, you can at least double that, IF Moany would sell to United at all.

    No way in hell would we ever get RVDV for 8m – that was one of the points I was trying to make to Ed. TO speak of value as a uniform concept that applies to all clubs is far too clumsy.

    Again, 30m for Milner, ffs ?!

  • Spike

    True Danni
    Agent on phone …Who, Oh hello Alex, yes, he’s available *mental note, hike up price another 10Million* yes. yes 18Million is a good deal for him, Bayern were ready to pay 21!.

    ffs!

  • danniitronix

    Spike said:
    True Danni
    Agent on phone …Who, Oh hello Alex, yes, he’s available *mental note, hike up price another 10Million* yes. yes 18Million is a good deal for him, Bayern were ready to pay 21!.

    ffs!

    Indeed, and that is the point about value – to use a Moany phrase, even if you a shopping in Aldi if united are at the counter, you get offered Waitrose prices. End of.

  • Just1n

    danniitronix said:
    That was the price for Tottenham – if SAF gave Moany a call, you can at least double that, IF Moany would sell to United at all.

    No way in hell would we ever get RVDV for 8m – that was one of the points I was trying to make to Ed. TO speak of value as a uniform concept that applies to all clubs is far too clumsy.

    Again, 30m for Milner, ffs ?!

    I hear what you are saying but i don’t agree with it. For sure certain clubs will try and get top dollar from us for there players. Clubs like Spurs and Lyon are known for there tight bargaining skills.

    We have a history of dealings with Real Madrid. We sold them Ruud and Beckham on the cheap and got top dollar for Ronnie. As a result of this relationship i don’t believe RM wont sell us a player. Does not make sense.

    Besides Levy at Spurs is maybe a better negotiator than what we have at the club. Maybe we sell high so that SAF can get a kick back… to pay for horse feed.

  • danniitronix

    Just1n said:
    I hear what you are saying but i don’t agree with it. For sure certain clubs will try and get top dollar from us for there players. Clubs like Spurs and Lyon are known for there tight bargaining skills.

    We have a history of dealings with Real Madrid. We sold them Ruud and Beckham on the cheap and got top dollar for Ronnie. As a result of this relationship i don’t believe RM wont sell us a player. Does not make sense.

    Besides Levy at Spurs is maybe a better negotiator than what we have at the club. Maybe we sell high so that SAF can get a kick back… to pay for horse feed.

    heinze too – agree horse feed, a few cases of burgandy and some Chivas thrown in – maybe that’s why we sold Pique (now a top 5 defender in the world so the media say) for a couple of cans of Special Brew and a mouldy potato.

    we would have bagged Berbs for 25m were it not for Citeh screwing us over; never mind they lost over 13m on Robing-Ho.

  • Tuo

    Diouf should have been given an opportunity to prove himself this season in manutd other than sending him on a season long loan deal which he has been awesome already. i believe the squad is fine. More opportunities should be given to Anderson this season to rediscover his old form.