Wednesday, September 01, 2010

United's failure in transfer market likely to be costly...

Ferguson has spoken more than once recently about "lack of value" in the transfer market; this at a time when neighbours Manchester City have been spending big. The United manager didn't really help himself when he elected to splash out £7.4m this summer on Bébé - a relatively unknown Portuguese striker and worse still Ferguson admitted he'd never even seen the lad play before telling David Gill to sign him.

Over the course of the last twelve months it's worth noting that contrary to Ferguson's lack of value comments, some of Europe's most sought after central midfield players have been available for not much more than United paid for Bébé and around the same amount the club shelled out for rookie defender Chris Smalling.

United failed to make a move for Wesley Sneijder who was sold to Inter Milan for just 15 million Euros. The club then failed in their 'reported' pursuit of Germany's World Cup star Mesut Ozil who joined Real Madrid this summer for around £12m.

The Red Devils latest transfer failure happened late yesterday on transfer deadline day when United did not make a move for Rafael van der Vaart - who it has been confirmed became available for a knockdown £8m.

The Real Madrid star was expected to join Bayern Munich, but when that deal broke down the Dutchman was offered to Spurs for just £8m. Whether or not Van der Vaart was offered to United doesn't matter - the club has to be judged by their inaction.

United cannot realistically expect Paul Scholes to continue to be the main creative force all season; at 35 it is surely asking too much. Michael Carrick has been pretty much reduced to a bit-part player and rumours suggested he would have been a pawn in a mooted deal that would have seen Everton's Jack Rodwell moving in the opposite direction. However, insider reports suggest Everton want £27m for Rodwell, so no doubting we will be hearing Fergie bemoaning on the sidelines about "lack of value" in the market in the not too distant future.

So Fergie will have to go with what he's got and no doubting some fans' will be questioning the manager's decision to allow Tom Cleverley to join Wigan on-loan at a time when the engine room is lacking quality in-depth and with question marks hanging over the future of Michael Carrick.

It's difficult to see United sustaining a serious challenge on all fronts with a creaking midfield having failed to strengthen this summer, that failure is likely to be costly when it comes to winning the really big prizes in the short-term.


  1. What would Van der Vaart add to the squad? It's not just the lack of value in the market, it's that Ferguson clearly feels that these players are not better than the players he already has. He has put his faith in Scholes, Anderson, Fletcher, and Carrick... not to mention Gibson. Why would United want to take a player that was surplus at Real and a benchwarmer for his country?

  2. 27 million pounds for Rodwell just goes to show how the market is distorted. When clubs offer this players, the price is dictated by who is buying. Van der vaart was offered to Tottenham for 8m after a Bayern 18m deal fell through. Otherwise I doubt they would have let him off cheap.

    Am sure if a smaller club would have bought Bebe, they would have been offered a much cheaper price.

    The moment Man u gets interested, every other club gets interested and the price sky rockets. I entirely agree with Fergie.

  3. You are correct. Schneider, Van der Waart, Ozil, Mereiles, all these midfield "Generals" or paymakers, that is missing at United. Carrick has gone down, so has his confidence, only resort to quick short passes. Anderson still raw, unrefined, although an energy bundle. Neither Fletcher not Gibson are those types. Hargreaves will no longer be, obviously. Perhaps United should try Berbatov in an AM/playmaking role and have Rooney, Hernandez or Owen upfront. But "as is" United is weak and worse when injuries come up unexpectedly or expectedly. Leaves only Reserves like Eikrem and oft-injured Petrucci who are closest to such roles, now that Possebon gone and Cleverly on loan. SO, we should all hope and pray that by January, Fergie see the light of day and something is done. Rodwell? Defour? Perhaps. Hope not too late, though. But it does not look encouraging. Methinks the Glazers have not allowed more funds, what with PIK interest jumping up another 2 notches! Frankly, the norm per season is 20-30M, so that was already spent. What President Gill says is baloney, for public consumption, so as not to make the natives restless, so to speak. STILL, United MAY make it, given the fighting spirit that lies beneath. Seems like attack is the only defense to take to ward off midfield weaknesses. Personal opinion, people!

  4. Chad,

    Ok, so United have better players than Ozil, Sneijder and Van der Vaart? Sneijder was surplus to requirements at Madrid...

  5. Paul,

    The market can be distorted if you are going for the wrong player, ie young and English. The point is you have to seek out good value when you don't have much to spend. I'm not quite sure Bebe and Smalling fit into this category.

  6. Barry,

    Fergie will be judged by what happens on the pitch at the end of the season - personally, I don't see us winning any of the big prizes. Mistakes have been made at United in relation to the transfer market. Why didn't the club negotiate for Sneijder when doing the Ronaldo deal?

  7. James,

    Clearly Fergie thinks so. Ozil had a great World Cup and was relatively cheap. Van der Vaart at 8mil does represent good business for Spurs. Sneijder had a resurgence of form at Inter, so I guess hindsight is 20/20 on that one.

    Still, unless United plan on offloading the likes of Anderson and Gibson, bringing in another midfielder just limits everyone's chances. If you are saying that one of our midfielders should have been sold in favor of Van der Vaart, Sneijder, or Ozil then that makes more sense.

  8. James, I agree. Why not add Schneijder at the time plus the 80M. Could have been done. Supposedly this Bebe has playmaking talents. Well, won't see that for another 3 months at least. Takes that long. Actually, in another season or two, United has a whole bunch of possible future superstars as Petrucci (the new Totti), Ravel Morrison ("fergie's secret weapon"), Pogba, Brady, Eikrem (Ole's favourite but he us diabetic, mind you) and others. See Cleverly more than Gibson, actually. And hopefully Anderson does a "Nani" and shows that he is the real deal. But Hargreaves? What a sad story... We'll know today how far, if he is included in the 25-many squad or not. Oh yes, that Possebon sale, I think it is linked to United getting Ganso later on.

  9. Chad,

    I'm not trying to do Fergie's job.

    What I'm clearly saying is the midfield problems that have been apparent for a few years now have not been addressed and Fergie has missed several opportunities to do just that.

    I'm also saying he's in serious danger of being ridiculed over his lack of value comments in ref to Bebe in particular.

    IF Anderson and Carrick were good enough everyone and his dog wouldn't be questioning United's midfield...

  10. I can't believe it. Van der Waart to Spurs for 8M and United gets Bebe for what is it, 7.4M and we won't see him in action this year.... ?? Carrick, you better start getting those long pinpoint passes a la Scholes in. Your last chance! Anderson, do a "Nani" now and shows us what you really got! That'll save the day....

  11. Barry,

    Regarding the future 'greats' that you've mentioned. Fergie once said "potential means nothing" - and he's right. The point being, these lads have to prove their worth on the big stage. But then you take Cleverley for example and what happens? He get's farmed out to Wigan because his path is being blocked by an expensive / questionable signing in Michael Carrick and of course the club cannot be seen to loan out a £19m player because it will impact negatively on his already transfer dimishing transfer value... In another similar case, we had to give Everton Saha for nothing just to take him...

  12. Why Van der Waart? Well, Fletcher and Gibson are certainly not playmakers with talent send defence splitting passes a la Scholes. Carrick hasn't done it this past year, he's playing "afraidy cat". body language shows no confidence even this season start. Anderson? Well, at least he has it in him, but yet to show it regularly. That leaves the reserves and Ole's been pushing Eikrem hard on Fergie, it seems. But watching Fulham bypass the midfield with ease in its attacks isn't pleasant to see. Imagine what Chelsea, or Arsenal will do. I shudder to think!

  13. I find it hilarious that no activity in the transfer market on deadline day is seen as 'failure'. Did Arsenal sign anyone? Did Chelski? No... Sir Alex clearly believes he has the players in the squad to last the season and I think he is right.

    Also, don't forget the 25 player rule. Signing Van Der Vaart would have meant sacrificing someone else from the initial selection... signing anyone else would have meant that...

    On top of this, I think SAF has rather proved himself time and again that whilst we may not understand his movements or plans, they ultimately tend to come out in United's favour. Unless you want to be the next Alan Hansen in proclaiming our squad incapable of winning anything? Perhaps we should revisit this story at the end of the season.

  14. Barry,

    I think you could be right about Carrick, his confidence could well have gone.

    I also think you're right to question United in midfield. Fulham were able to get at our back four too easily. The problems in midfield are not simple to address. The combination of Scholes and Fletcher isn't brilliant really. Scholes and Keane struggled against the best and that was a few years ago; clearly Fletcher is no Keane and Scholesy bless him cannot carry on for ever.

  15. Spoon,

    Glad you find it funny. I think you are right; come back at the end of the season. Something did happen yesterday, our midfield strength-in-depth was effectively weakened by allowing Cleverley to leave on loan.

  16. Spoon,

    I will agree with you on one point. Our rivals (excluding City) haven't really added to their squads, which is good from our perspective.

    But with that said, I still believe our midfield is the weakest area of the team.

  17. Well, the miracle I hope for is Hargreaves, actually. Now that is a game changer! His free kicks, pinpoint passing (played winger role for england, remember?), no-holds barred defense-ing, his dynamism. Realistically, I doubt it, signs have not been encouraging and definitely, he is still in pain. He's back at Carrington grounds and today we will know IF Fergie sees in him a player that will finally get it together. Think he'll be cut and wait for January more! Hargreaves and Anderson bonded well on the field in the past. So, now we pray that no one gets injured, and Scholes plays mostly. OR the strikers scores goals by the half dozens a la Chelsea to cover midfield weaknesses. We need generals, not water carriers! But that won't happen, a crisis is bound to happen, it always has. It is at that time that we will know what United is made out of. Until then, it is squeaky bum and edge of the seat times, folks!

  18. Barry,

    "We need generals, not water carriers!"... I couldn't agree more.

    While not wanting to write off Hargreaves I fear it is the end for him.

  19. This blog's more interesting than the comments on the message boards at United's own site. Most of them totally inane. The mentality of a lot of them never ceases to amaze me. I stopped commenting or posting there. Trying to find better grounds.

  20. James,

    I think the same of Hargreaves. Sad endings. But miracles do happen. And it ain't over until it's over, or the lady sings the blues, they say. Like Fergie commented, it seems more a psychological barrier, confidence thing. Psychomatically induced. He's just gotta overcome the threshhold of pain and get on with it, even if it'll be shortlived. Better going down with a bang than a whimper...

  21. Barry,

    Anything 'official' is usually pants where United are concerned. You won't find sanitised shite on here, shite yes, but not sanitised... :0)

  22. Barry,

    I'm not sure what the future holds for Hargreaves. Reading between the lines, I think United made mistakes when trying to rush him back too soon. But I agree with you, if he were able to somehow come back fit that would be a miracle.

  23. I agree, its very sad. Scholes is the only quality creative midfielder at United. With regard to a defensive mid-fielder, while Fletcher has proved many (including me) wrong with his blood-and-guts displays, he is still a long way from Keane or Essein. We need a mid-field that can compete with the likes of Xavi, Inieste, Busquettes, Messi. While the 90's mid-field of Giggs, Keane, Scholes, Beckham would definitely be in that category, what we have now is a long way off

  24. i think its like last year,sir alex is looking to chelsea and arsenal or liverpool and sees that they havent improved their squads to much ,so he knows he can be competitiv without spending big..

  25. Hargreaves is done. I cant see him being in the 25 man squad. His knees are shot. Its a real shame cos Hargreaves at 100% is as big for us as Essien being back for Chelsea but I think the guys career is over. I dont expect him to play at all this season and one more injury setback is enough to make him retire at the end of the season when United decide against renewing his contract.
    Having said that IF he did come back what kind of state would he be in? Knee injurys like his change players. I would expect him to play less often than Scholes and Giggs due to tiredness and problems maintaining fitness on those dodgy knees. Plus mentally the guy would be wrecked. All in all the guy is done at this level of football.

  26. Our signings have been poor in truth. Have you seen the Sky TV advert where that guy finds a genie lamp and wishes for Sky and to play for Barca then you see him in a press conference holding up a Barca shirt? Thats what happened with Bebe. He won a competition to play for Manchester United.
    Same with Smalling really although not to the same degree. I used to get very nervous when Ben Foster was kicking the ball. It felt as if he kicked it to the opposition in our half more often than he cleared it forward - I get that same uneasy feeling whenever I see Smalling. Like the guy is gonna mispass or give away a penalty at any moment. Really think he is out of his depth.
    Hernandez is looking promising but already there is so much expectation on this kid and I fear that this will hurt him. He could have a good season for a kid new to english football but due to the expectation brought on by his world cup performances we will expect him to play at the same level as we expect from Berbatov.
    We dropped the ball on the likes of Snjeider, Kjaer, Lucio, Ozil and Van Der Vaart - hell even Huntelaar for £13m would have been promising. Still think that guy could excel in english football.

  27. Jay,

    Fulham exposed the combination of Scholes and Fletcher. We have learnt nothing from our midfield failings, or so it seems

  28. Toshe,

    But if United want to compete seriously for the big prizes surely we cannot ignore the problems in midfield which Barcelona exposed so efficiently?

  29. Dave,

    I agree with you about Hargreaves, Smalling and Bebe.

    Instead of talking about new signings and being optimistic we are left talking about what might have been.

    It also should be noted the club have ensured there was an announcement about the ticketing arrangements for the Rangers game - that is today's BIG news... funny it was released the day after the window closes; with nothing to talk about I guess the club's spin doctors were kind of hoping we'd all forget about the lack of quality signings and instead we'd be consumed with this 'gripping' ticket news concerning Rangers.

  30. I for one think our rivals have in fact done a fairly decent job this window. The Rentboys kicked out for Ballack and Cole in typical Abrahamovic fashion and brought in Ramires and Benayoun. The Goons are still shite defensively but still have a fairly decent poacher in Chamakh. The Scousers have signed two fantastic players in Cole and Raul Meireles. That said, I still think it will be between us and Chelsea all over again. Unless Anderson steps up or Hargo gets that darned knee of his fixed, we could be in for a repeat of last season.

  31. Slightly off topic, but how many goals did we score from free kicks last season? I can only remember Giggsy and Nani scoring one apiece. Hell, I can't even recount too many occasions when we tested the keeper from a 25-30 yard dead ball situation. It really is disturbing, considering the consistency with which Fat Boy and Drogba convert these opportunities.

    Sigh. Why oh why didn't we sign Ozil or van der Vaart?

  32. I have been a United supporter since 1956 and I feel this is one of the weakest teams we have had.
    With Rooney looking only a shadow of his former self, Bertatov still spending most of the time holding his head in dismay and Owen just not good enough, our strike force sipmle lacks the force. The midfield is weak fullstop. Without wanting to criticise the great Scholes, he passes sideways much too much for my liking and his tackles are atrocious. Ferdinand, who I consider the best centre half, on the ground, that United have ever had is increasingly injury prone. Unless the above can carry the team, the season looks bleak. I don't think we can win anything unless youngsters like Pogba, Petrucci, Morrison, King and Fournacier are given a go and succeed.

  33. Dela,

    I have to agree with you on your points about our rivals'.

    Regarding us and the Renters, I hope your are right.

    I was pleased to see City losing at Sunderland and hopefully Gary Cook et al will get trigger happy and fire Mancini and then the managerial merry-go-round will start up again and City will revert to type... you know the rest.

  34. Tor,

    I agree with you about Rooney, but didn't you see this loss of form coming because I did? Nonetheless, you are quite right, the forward line and especially midfield aren't up to the job - not when we are expecting to compete seriously on all fronts.

    Scholes has been excellent so far and I cannot really find fault apart from his tackling which has always been dire.

    Regarding Rio, personally, if and it's a big IF, I'd have been in Fergie's shoes I'd have done what Wenger would have done in a similar scenario - that is he'd have got rid and for good money 12 months ago when the writing was on the wall with his injuries mounting..

    Regarding the youngsters. Potential means nothing - especially when the path to the first-team is being blocked by average squad players and there's a few of them right now.

  35. Dela,

    I cannot answer your question right now about free-kicks. But, yes, Drogba can be deadly in front of goal.

    Regarding the missed opportunities - if you read other blogs and even some comments on here, some United fans appear to be not that bothered about missing out on Ozil et al. The mind boggles...

  36. James Ryddel writes another negative piece on Fergie.....Shocker!

  37. Regarding your comments James. I agree with most of what you say. I too think that there is a fine balance value wise between when to sell a player and keeping him. I do see similarities between situations today and 1994-5. We had youngsters with great potential then and I think we have now. The difference is that Fergie was willing to take a chance then and apparently not now. He is getting old and perhaps relies too much on the opinion of Scholes, Giggs, Neville and co. But his record is great and who would replace him??!!

  38. In my opinion Ozil is a superb playe, perhaps the best to come along at such a cheap price, for a long long time. I could not believe we did not go for him. But as with many prospective attacking midfielders in the last few years the shadow of Scholes looms large. He will certainly come back and bite us big time as I always thought Robben would, another we could have had relatively cheaply.

  39. Tor,

    Fergie has been a great manager and I have no idea who can replace him. Mourinho has hinted he might fancy returning to England, but I'm not sure he's the right man for United. Yes, Jose is the best, but his tactics can be very dull. However, he did a fine job with Inter and Chelsea though and no one can deny it.

    Regarding these younsters. I have my doubts about their ability because if we take Ronaldo as an example, he came to the club and was given his chance and the rest is history, the point being he was good enough. If you really are good enough then you will make it even at a club like United where the competition is fierce.

  40. Tor,

    I think United were trying to sign Ozil, but he had the pick of Europe's biggest clubs and so it came as no surprise he opted for Spain. It was ever thus.

    Can I also ask why didn't we ask Real for first option on Sneijder 12 months ago when we were negotiating the Roanldo deal? That was another big mistake.

  41. James,
    As long as Paul Scholes is at the club no top attacking midfielder will be signed. Even Cleverly has been shunted sideways, so that only the inept Gibson, the erratic Anderson and the past it Garrick rival him for the position. Nani seems much more effective on the right wing and Valencia has only a right foot, leaving always a look in for Giggs. Raphael needs only to make one error and he is dropped for the combersome O'Shae, leaving Neville a return when he is fit enough. Until these once great players finally step aside for good, United will not move forward.


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