Saturday, January 09, 2010

Fergie set to gamble on unproven striker...

Ahead of this afternoon's Premier League clash with Birmingham City at St Andrews, the United manager has been speaking to the press. Ferguson was one again questioned about the depth of his squad, and for the first time he has admitted he has concerns. Ferguson was also questioned about the owners' growing debt mountain, this follows on from news earlier on this week that the Glazer family are once again trying to refinance their debts, this time with a reported £600m bond issue.

Ferguson has so far been a dream manager for the Glazer family; he has managed to maintain his unparalleled levels of domestic success on the pitch without as much as a murmur about a lack of transfer funds.

Despite concerns of many within 'the game' and importantly the fans', Ferguson continues to support the club's owners and insists there's money to spend in the transfer market.

However, in what is turning out to be a very interesting season with the top teams all dropping points, the champions have been hugely disappointing on too many occasions; last weekend, the club was embarrassingly knocked out of the FA Cup by League One outfit, Leeds United - it really doesn't get much worse than that.

United's squad has been tested with a catalogue of injuries to key defenders like Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, but it is the forward options that are giving the most concern. For the first time Ferguson has admitted if anything happens to Wayne Rooney then the champions are in serious trouble. It's a rather obvious conclusion to arrive at and frankly if the manager had suggested otherwise he'd have looked stupid.

If we are to believe Ferguson, then there is money to spend, but the manager has given fair warning there will be little or no transfer activity in the current window as far as the champions are concerned. Not for the first time, Ferguson reiterated his somewhat dubious claim that he can, if he so wishes, spend the £80m from the sale of Ronaldo last summer. But Ferguson’s assessment has to be set against expert analysis of the Glazers' growing debts and speculation that the manager's ability to spend is limited.

According to Ferguson, money isn't the issue - lack of value is the real problem - and it's fair point to make with Europe's big guns quoting crazy prices for potential transfer targets. Rivals Manchester City and Chelsea have the financial power to out-muscle United in the transfer market. The arrival of oligarch Roman Abramovich at Chelsea and City's oil rich owners have made a major impact, one that is being felt not only in the Premier League but across Europe; both clubs have the financial power to match their owners ambitions and presently, with the current ownership regime, there's nothing United can do about it.

City are slowly but surely starting to lose their long standing joke tag. Chelsea have become a real force; which just goes to show, money can buy success - by the same token, without it, manager's like Ferguson will struggle if he cannot compete at all levels of the transfer market.

Later today United face in-form Birmingham City, and make no mistake the champions could easily come unstuck on what is likely to be a tricky playing surface. The champions will once again be without Vidic and Ferdinand in the heart of defence, but the big story of the day could well surround new signing Biram Diouf. The manager has confirmed the Senegal forward, who was signed from Norwegian club Molde, could experience his first taste of English football. The fans' will be hoping the manager's confidence in Diouf is well placed and that this early baptism of fire doesn't turn out to be a mark of desperation on Ferguson’s part, due to the lack of quality alternatives up front.

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