Saturday, January 29, 2011

Transfers: 'No value'? Why United have to start spending and soon...

With just a few days to go before the January transfer window closes, Ferguson has said that there will be no new signings. The news didn't come as a great surprise, but nonetheless it was disappointing all the same.

A couple of weeks ago Fergie hinted that United were indeed hoping to sign someone in the January window, but the identity of the player concerned remains a mystery; there was talk of a possible loan move for Kaka, but it was nothing more than a rumour.

However, despite his repeated assertion that there's 'no value' in the transfer market, the clock is ticking and the danger is that Fergie's inaction will cost United dearly one way or the other; if you do not continually improve the squad, the danger is performances on the pitch will be affected and no one, especially Ferguson needs reminding on that score.

Critics will tell you that Ferguson is something of a hypocrite with his 'no value' comments, given how many times United have broken British and world transfer records, both on the buying and selling front. The real problem is that Ferguson's hands have to a great degree been tied by the club's owners, who themselves are cash-strapped.

Despite currently being top of the Barclay's Premier League, everyone knows that United need to bring in long-term replacements for Scholes, Giggs and Edwin van der Sar. Scholes has just this week hinted that he might not be hanging around for another season, Van der Sar is quitting; Giggs is the only one of the veteran trio who will definitely, subject to all being well, still be a United player next season.

United recently signed Anders Lindegaard, the Danish goalkeeper has been labelled as the "new Peter Schmeichel", which brought a withering response from the 'Great Dane' who laughed off the suggestion and worse still hinted that his fellow countryman is nowhere near good enough for the Premier League and especially Manchester United.

We've also been hearing rumours that Wes Brown, Gary Neville, Michael Carrick and Michael Owen will all be leaving in the summer. Factor in the speculation surrounding Patrice Evra AND Wayne Rooney then you really do start to wonder, what if anything, Ferguson has up his sleeve...

According to reports, Real Madrid could be the destination for Evra and Rooney and if that is the case, it may well, in part explain, why the England striker hasn't yet reached the heights of last season; Rooney has been very, very good in some recent games, but the spark isn't quite there and at times this season he has played with the look of a man who is playing with a burden on his shoulders - which is quite understandable, given his contract wranglings and the furore that followed - but is there more to it than that? We will only find out this summer...

For now though, Ferguson will soon have to stop trotting out this tired "no value" line and instead he will have NO option but to get busy in the transfer market or else United will stagnate and be overtaken by the likes of Manchester City.

It hasn't all been bad in the transfer market over the last few seasons, Berbatov, has so far this season lived up to his hefty price tag. Valencia had done well prior to breaking his leg, Javier Hernandez looks like very good business along with Rafael da Silva.

United's Brazilian defender, could in fact be part of the solution concerning the big issues facing the manager in central midfield. Rafael, can run all day long, he can tackle, pass, shoot, dribble and he's quick. In short, Rafael might not have the guile of a Scholes or the cunning of someone like Mezut Ozil, but he's more technically equipped than either Carrick or Fletcher and sooner or later Ferguson will have to bite the bullet and give the Brazilian a chance in central midfield. Why? Because Ferguson might not have any other option.

Even if Rafael is eventually pushed into a more advanced attacking position, where he's quite obviously best suited, Ferguson will still have to bring in at least three top-class performers.

United may well lose Evra this summer and the player earmarked as his replacement, Fabio, still has a lot to learn, so United might well need a new left-back.

If Peter Schmeichel is right about Anders Lindegaard (is he a good judge?) then a new keeper should be on the manager's shopping list.

If Rooney leaves, United will obviously need another world-class striker.

United also need to bolster midfield with some genuine proven quality.

To put it mildly, Fergie's "no value" comment is wearing thin, but by the time next summer comes around it is to be hoped this line has been consigned to history, but do not hold your breath.


  1. Oh dear.

    1. By your own admission, United's most pressing concern is the long term replacement of Scholes, Giggs and VDS. This was always extremely unlikely to happen in January. The vast majority of marquee and long term signings are conducted in the summer. Most people agree that prices go up significantly in January (whilst the availability of true quality tends to go down).

    2. Anders Lindegaard has not been signed as a replacement to Edwin VDS. It's been made pretty clear that he has been signed to add depth to the goalkeeping roster, along with Amos. Kuzcsak will be moved on. Eric Steele and Rene Meulensteen have both come out and confirmed that Utd's #1 GK target over the summer is Maarten Stekelenberg, followed closely by Manuel Nueur. The coaching staff have said publically that big game experience is essential and a repeat of the aftermath of Big Pete's departure is unthinkable.

  2. Continued…..
    3. You need to let your obsession with Ozil go. We didn't sign him and it seems we were never in for him. Most likely because we would find it very hard to fit him into our tactical system. Ozil primarily plays as a low working trequarista. He wouldn't fit into a traditional 4-4-2. And could probably only find a role in a 4-5-1 in place of the deep lying striker such as Berbatov. He may slot into a 4-3-3 but it doesn't change the fact he is much more of a second striker than a true midfielder. And let's just round the Ozil recap off by reminding ourselves that he only had eyes for Madrid. Many people counter SAF's assertion of there being little value in the market by pointing out that VDV went to Spurs for 8-10m. However it has been well published that Madrid were offering VDV at 18-20m to teams they considered European rivals but half that to those they didn't. That's why no other notable clubs went in for him. VDV of course is a true second striker if ever there was one and that's not something we really need. He is not a goal scoring midfielder like Scholes used to be, despite the misconceptions to the contrary.

    4. The idea that United will have no choice but to play Rafael in central midfield because he is superior in that role to Carrick et al. is absolutely absurd. We all recognize that the two areas which need addressing in the summer are a creative central midfielder and a versatile left sided forward. But any signings in this area are likely to be part of a well thought out and long term recruitment strategy. A recent analysis revealed that United have the most stable squad in Europe over the last 10 years or so. This is a major part of their success. It must also be noted that Anderson has made considerable progress this season and is showing signs he will be a long term fixture in the middle of the park. Hence his reward of a new 4 year contract.

    5. Your articles are nearly always hyper critical of Ferguson and in particular his transfer strategy. You did much the same over the summer, going so far as to suggest that United had little chance at a trophy without major signings. Although there is still a long way to go until the end of the season, the teams league position, goalscoring and defensive records should give you pause for reflection. Throughout his career SAF has been a target for the 'transfer muppets' and oft criticized for buying young developing talent rather than big stars. To date, he has been proved almost unanimously correct. Whilst your record in this regard (judging by your blogs) is almost entirely to the contrary.

  3. 1) I haven't stated anywhere on my blog that replacing the veteran trio needed to happen in January. I don't know how you've arrived at this consensus regarding higher fees in January.

    2) Regarding, Lindegaard, I don't have an opinion on him, but I wasn't that impressed with him yesterday. IF it came down to whose opinion do I trust on this subject, I'd take Schmeichel's over anyone at OT right now. Furthermore, I cannot see the logic in signing a new keeper if he's not viewed as a long-term replacement for VDS. Don't we already have enough backup keepers? It's like saying, we haven't signed Bebe (..Explain that one when you get a minute) to be Nani's long-term replacement, he's just a reserve...

    3)Firstly, I don't have an obsession with Ozil. It's true that yes, he only had eyes for Real Madrid, but it's also true that United believed they had him in the bag at one point.

  4. Please do not try to patronise me about tactics and thanks for the info on VDV and second strikers, but quite honestly, I do understand the difference between Scholes etc.

    Unless your name is Manchester City you cannot have too many good players and making them work together in your system (s) is an art. For example, who would have thought Mourinho would have been able to accommodate (if that is the right word) Ozil in one of his teams? But he has done so, at the expense of Kaka (at times) this season. Fergie is no Jose, but he would have found a way of building around such a talent, because that is what the great manager's do...

    You might be right about VDV, that would make sense and to be honest I haven't read that theory anywhere else... but it does make sense i.e. Real were not willing to do cut price deals with rivals such as United.

    What I will state and this is for the umpteenth time, is that United and Fergie missed a golden opportunity to negotiate with Madrid for first-option on ALL of their Dutch players when we were involved in the Ronaldo sale. We could have asked for first option on Sneijder, who was sold for just 15 million Euros. We didn't ask for first option and in stepped Jose...the rest is history.

  5. 4) Regarding the future and in particular what happens with Rafael and the likes of Carrick. I thought I'd my point very clearly, but seemingly not.

    IF and it is a big IF, we are to believe media speculation, then United could be about to offload up to 10 players this summer that number could well include Carrick.

    For the record, I don't rate Carrick and I don't rate Fletcher and for what it's worth, I think Rafael is technically better than both of them. IF, Fergie sells Carrick and IF he's unable to find genuine affordable quality then he MIGHT NOT have any other option but to push Rafael forward. (PS I've used caps to emphasise, not because I'm angry - just want to underline my point.)

    5) Some of my articles ask question of Fergie and some of his actions, but when he's done well I praise him, but I certainly don't go out of my way to kiss his backside like many other United related sites often do...

    Take the Blackpool game this week; I slaughtered Fergie for getting his formation and selection completely wrong in the first-half; I applauded him for getting it right in the second period. I'd like to add that I watched that game with a few time-served Reds and my post-match comments were derived from a unanimous consensus that Fergie had initially got it hopelessly wrong on the night at the outset.

    Regarding these so called 'transfer Muppets', I think you will find that I have questioned Fergie for not being decisive enough over the likes of Sneijder; apart from anything else, he was available for the right money and he is world-class. Worse still, Fergie stands of accused of failing to even think it through, i.e. the Ronaldo sale was a golden opportunity to get that first option…

    Regarding the actual transfer fees, I don't blame Fergie because clearly he isn't involved in negotiations. Take the example of Rio, at the time of those talks to bring him to OT, Leeds were on the verge of administration - and yet Peter Kenyon told the world that United were ‘cash rich’ and we yet we STILL paid £30m – a world record for defender. Go figure. We had previously paid out £30m (cash) for Veron and not long after we gave Lazio, Stam, but didn't receive a penny for nigh on three years...again, go figure...

    I think the point that I'm making is twofold: United do not always get it right when it comes to big money signings and it's not always Fergie's fault on that score.

    Regarding the actual fee, personally, I don't care if United sign players on free transfers of pay over the odds (as we so often do, take Bebe..) but the really important thing is that quite obviously it has to be the right player.

    Finally, United might well have the most stable squad over the last 10 years, but it is one which has now stagnated. If any other recent Premier League season we'd be out of the running by now, even Vidic has stated this recently. Lord knows what a team like Barca would do to United. Fergie has much work to do and only time will tell if he still has the ability to rebuild another team. It won't surprise you to learn that I'm not that confident, mainly because there are so few obvious replacements for Scholes...

    Your comments are most welcome btw :0).

  6. With the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, Real Madrid, ready to spend whatever it costs for players, when will the market have real value? The above football teams will always ensure that the market remains over inflated. Will that ever change? It doesn't appear so. In fact the likelihood of more teams being owned by mega rich owners will only continue the same trend. Yes, no value in the market is now a very weak excuse, and actually threatens the future success of what is considered one of the best (if not the best) teams in the world. Waiting for 'value' in the market is extremely dangerous for the club and short sighted by the manager. It isn't rocket science. There may never be 'value' in the market ever again.

  7. gopikanta,

    If United do need to find somewhere in the region of 10 new player this summer, then it will be fair to ask quite how the buying policy has left United in such a predicament... there has been missed opportunities and frankly, a club like United shouldn't be in such a state.

    I'd also add that we have contributed to market inflation with the likes of: Rio, Veron, Berbatov, and of course Ronaldo.

    We cannot really complain about high fees - we have been part of the problem - but the difference is under the Glazer regime, we don't have the money or is that Fergie isn't allowed to spend it? Take your pick...


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