Saturday, May 29, 2010

Transfer alarm bells ringing: Is Jose Mourinho about to scupper Fergie's plans?

Jose Mourinho will be unveiled as Real Madrid's new coach on Monday (as predicted on this blog a few weeks ago). The news comes as no great surprise, but nonetheless there's good reason why United fans should be concerned: It is expected Mourinho will make a move to sign Nemanja Vidic and quite possibly soon to be out of contract Joe Cole too.

Mourinho is a big fan of Joe Cole - a player he converted from circus act into a serious performer, one who is fit for the biggest of stages.

Vidic won few fans over earlier on this season with some of his antics at a time when there was much talk about a possible move to Spain or Italy, but there's no doubting the Serbian's importance to the squad, especially as it looks like Rio Ferdinand's days could be numbered in the top flight given his continued back problems.

Even before it was known Mouriho was Real bound, it was clear to many observers Ferguson needed at least three new proven additions to the squad: a new striker is top of the shopping list, closely followed by a play-maker and a new centre-back. If Vidic goes and Cole signs for Jose, then Fergie's problems will be so much the greater because it could be argued the United manager will need to find two new centre-backs.

Failure to strengthen adequately last summer proved to be costly to United. In terms of squad building, the club stood still - Valencia was the only bright spot - this at a time when ageing players like Neville, Scholes, Giggs and Van der Sar are still key components of the first-team. But in a season in which the previously accepted 'top four' all went backwards, Fergie got away with it, but for how much longer?....

If and it's a very big IF we are to believe David Gill, United's CEO, Fergie has money to spend this summer on new players, but with the World Cup just around the corner the latest speculation suggests Fergie will not be adding proven quality to the squad apart from the possible arrival of Joe Cole.

It seems something within the corridors of power of Old Trafford has changed since the season end, because back then Fergie hinted the squad needed strengthening, since then the manager has done his level best to dampen expectations when letting it be known we might only see one addition to the squad.

Added to the mix there's been much talk about a possible takeover by the Red Knights, however, the Glazers and David Gill have gone out of their way to state publicly the club is 'not for sale' and there's no transfer restrictions as far as potential transfer targets are concerned.

You have to wonder why the Glazers took the unusual step of making that statement, one that was announced on the very same day an interview with David Gill appeared in the Independent. Could it be that just perhaps season ticket sales have fallen through the floor and that is why Gill has so publicly gone on record claiming the manager has money to spend?

Gill and the Glazers need to understand the fans are not stupid: until the manager starts to spend and starts acting like a manager of a club with ambitions of matching Europe's biggest clubs in the transfer market, the fans will not fall for this PR offensive.

On the future of the Glazers, it is to be hoped the fans take direct action and do not renew their season tickets this summer. If enough supporters do not renew then the Glazers would soon be out of Old Trafford. Actions speak louder than words.

Perhaps fear of a mass walk out will be cited as reason for not spending at some point in the future. Personally, if it was a choice of getting rid of the Glazers or Fergie spending heavily this summer then I'd opt for the former rather than the latter.

Irrespective of the contents of David Gill's interview this week in the Independent, the noises coming out of Old Trafford via the press suggest little or no money will be spent this summer on recognised quality signings, and if that scenario turns out to be true, it will mean United will have stood still for the second season in succession and that will confirm the club are well and truly on the road to nowhere.

'United must sell players to pay debt'


  1. Scary post for Red Devil fans everywhere. Vidic is my personal favorite player on the roster, it'd really suck to see him go. I would contend that I think Berbatov is going to play better next year, just because I think this was sort of a "settling in" year for him. In the past, he always looked so confident on the ball. Whenever I saw him on the ball at United, he looked absolutely terrified. I think he'll come out next year feeling the heat, but he may be able to cope a lot better than a lot of people are expecting.

    Here's my blog:

  2. Hey Willy, why would our sorry sad Berbatov "play better" after one-and-a-half seasons of "stettling-in"? All the more so because, as you say, he'll be feeling even more heat. Ferguson could afford to be more patient with Nani and Fletcher (and maybe Anderson?) because they are young. It's imperative to dump Berbatov now while he's worth anything at all. I would hate to lose Berbatov, too. The only centre back who could come close to replacing him is Brede Hangeland who is a lot less aggressive. As for Joe Cole, didn't Gill say, again, that the club will keep to its age policy? Or does a 'free' transfer not count?

  3. Ivor,

    The age thing is used very selectively, think Owen.

  4. ...You can also think of Scholes, Giggs, Hargreaves, and Neville with the "age thing." I was just trying to support Ferguson's comments about how Berbatov will stay here, and not go to (as rumored) Bayern Munich. He's also just barely 30, so he's still got at least three years left in him. I think he's the perfect compliment to Roo, who is a power striker, as he is more of a finesse striker, if you will.

  5. Chelsea fan, sorry to intrude on your blog..
    have the glazers not spent since they arrived? or is the problem that you havent replaced ronaldo? cause surely that was fergies decision, at the time the euro was freekishly high to the pound, and city and madrid had inflated the market...
    as for the debt, its not even half the worth of the company. considering your huge revenue, then that high levels of debt are acceptable.
    i am sure united could add 40 mill to any transfer sales if you wanted this season.

  6. Not new caliber players will mean we have stood still. I dont believe we had the money what so ever. The 40m from Ronaldo money is being serve for debt. If there is 95m why dont we spend it instead of mentioning we had the money. Oh god. I dont believe until we buy anyone who are of high standard.

  7. Zag,

    Read today's Guardian story (see link at the foot of today's blog post) "United must sell players to pay debts".

  8. As venal and greedy as the Glazers may be, we can all agree that's its 100% imperative for us, them and all the club's sponsors that United MUST keep finishing in the top four to keep the gravy train flowing. United have to spend some dosh on a quality central midfield. A quality hard-man and a clever distributor of the ball are the minimum we need. Someone like Suarez or Dezeko would be nice, but Macheda, Hernandez and Owen may get the job done if they can count on someone like Hazard, Dufour or a fit Joe Cole slotting in as a threat behind them. The problem with Nemanja is whether he actually, genuinely wants to be with United or not. Does anyone knows how many years Brede Hangeland has put in at Fulham? He's one of the few adequate replacements I think would be available. We're really not going to get much for Berbatov, so he can be trotted out there for unimportant games and as a substitute when we have a big lead.

  9. Reason I said that about age was that at this morning I just saw David Gill on Republic Deportivo (which is a Spanish language sports show out of Miami) saying, in a very very agitated way at a press conference, that no one under 27 would be bought. I, too, think they'll sign Joe Cole if the price is right and he's fit enough... So, we'll see!

  10. Ivor,

    Brede Hangeland is a decent shout IMO. Regarding the club's age policy, I cannot believe Gill said the club wouldn't be signing anyone under the age of 27 - it simply doesn't make sense. The club's age policy relates to players who are 29 or over, i.e. they won't under normal circumstances be signed. In the case of Michael Owen he was signed on a free. There is no lower age limit, so why he'd say UTD won't sign anyone under the age of 27 I simply do not know.


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