Ferguson’s comments on transfers, and he’s not stupid

This post was long overdue, but for some reason we never got around to posting this.

It has become a matter of common knowledge by now that Ferguson has made comments that our business is done for the summer.

“It’s the end of our business, so forget all these stories about who we’re supposed to be getting.”

That’s what he said to sum up his thoughts on our business in the current transfer window. The crux of what he said lay here:

“Everywhere in England and in Europe the players’ values have shot sky high. I don’t think any of the (big money) transfers that you see happening are realistic but for some reason the market seems to have caught fire this summer. It is a very unusual summer and difficult to get value because of that. It’s always been the case that Manchester United have to pay a bit extra. But this summer we were not prepared to do that because we have got some very good young players. There didn’t need to be a kneejerk reaction to losing Cristiano Ronaldo. We did very well to keep him for six years. He wanted to go, and we allowed him to do that. We shouldn’t panic because one or two players are leaving. I think we have a very, very good squad with good young players in all positions.”

Firstly there are two things regarding United’s business that have impressed me this summer:

1. We’ve looked to do business with clubs without dragging our feet or making too much fuss. We told Madrid to take it or leave it, or something to that effect. [Personally, I suspect it is the result of groundwork last year which forced Madrid’s hand. But it’s obvious there has been thought put to Ronaldo’s departure, based on that premise.] We were firm in our dealings regarding Benzema, and considering he went public with his preference for Madrid over United, there is really no point in crying over the Benzema transfer.

We monitored Valencia throughout last season, presumably, as a replacement for Ronaldo. Whether he stacks up to Ronaldo or not, is open to debate. The main point is that United were looking for a winger with the knowledge that Ronaldo will be leaving. According to Wigan owner Dave Whelan, Ferguson had seen Valencia play ‘practically every match’ last season. If a player can force Ferguson to monitor him so feverishly then, I have to give the player the benefit of doubt. It’s impossible to anyway find a direct replacement for Ronaldo; no one, bar Messi, comes close to him.

2. The second thing that impressed me about United’s transfer activity is that Ferguson seemed determined to get a striker and a couple of attackers that he rated at the least, well before pre-season got underway. Even while we were locked in negotiations with Benzema he had a plan B in the form of Michael Owen. Now, I must say I was underwhelmed at his choice of a fall-back option, and I made those emotions known not too long ago. I would have preferred someone like Huntelaar but, going by the details of the deal with Owen, we know we are paying for what we’d get from him. The question of how big a gamble the Owen deal represents, will be apparent when the season gets underway, or based on his pre-season at the club. But that’s besides the point I’ve been making here. His three signings were made before the pre-season, and it’s quite possible Ferguson rates team chemistry the key towards rebuilding the side.

The first point made, regarding not dragging our feet over contract negotiations, segues into another interesting example. One of Douglas Costa. When I came across this article by a Brazilian football broadcaster/pundit, questioning if United are being conned over Douglas Costa, (link via Unitedrant) I felt there may be some truth over Ferguson’s comments about inflated prices instead of the obvious “he’s trying to bluff the market into submission” reaction.

Of course, Ferguson could go ahead and splurge. But on whom? There is Aguero, but with Berbatov and Rooney, that’s asking for a tactical nightmare trying to fit first teamers at once. Playing Aguero wide forces us to waste him on the flanks whilst playing Rooney out wide to accommodate Aguero is unacceptable in a season where most people expect him to be played in a central role; Rooney himself made numerous references on that count. The only player I could think of is Huntelaar. But my contention is our problem area is in central midfield, and not in attack.

But let us return to the point of immense controversy. Ferguson’s comments, that our business is complete, has been met with a lot of backlash, some measured, some angry, some hysterical. There are also those in the in-Fergie-we-trust camp. It has divided opinion widely, but none of the backlash even compares to Ferguson’s sale of van Nistelrooy in the summer of 2006. Even then, Ferguson tested waters briefly, as the Carling Cup win in the 05/06 would testify, with great success.

Ferguson tactically altered United last season, which forced Ronaldo into a more orthodox role of a winger. The system was to accommodate Berbatov, and possibly, ensure a new winger could slot into that position more easily than getting a wide attacker to play, what we shall call, “the Ronaldos role.” Hence Valencia. The only thing that system lacked was for a midfielder who could dominate, move forward into the box and contribute to the goal tally (in the role of the Scholes of old, and Frank Lampard). Berbatov needs more players to go forward to support him, and it is quite possibly the main question mark over the current squad.

I am not particularly big on statistics, but I find it necessary to provide some data of our top four goal scorers in the 2005/06 season, versus the 06/07. I will also list the top four goal scorers of last season for some perspective. (stats are for all competitions)

In 05/06 goals scored:
Ruud van Nistelrooy: 24
Wayne Rooney: 19
Louis Saha: 15
Cristiano Ronaldo: 12

In 06/07 goals scored:
Cristiano Ronaldo: 23
Wayne Rooney: 23
Louis Saha: 13
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: 10

In 08/09 goals scored:
Cristiano Ronaldo: 25
Wayne Rooney: 17 20
Carlos Tevez: 15
Dimitar Berbatov: 14

Stats source: Soccernet

The comparison between 05/06 and 06/07 is fairly instructive in that one player notably, in Cristiano Ronaldo, stepped up significantly to score 23 goals. Berbatov who’s averaged about 22 goals for Spurs, could conceivably step up in his second season at United while Rooney, injury notwithstanding, could even perhaps step up if the side is built around him. Both those projections are not a major leap of faith if one thinks about it. Back in 2006/07 we had an ‘old codger’ in Solskjaer step up to the plate to share the goal scoring burden, this season that onus falls on Michael Owen. Again, even assuming he’s injury prone, it’s not entirely a major leap to expect 10 goals from Owen. The rest would have to be made up by Valencia et al. This system can fail however on one count, and that is what I’ve already mentioned — we need a central midfielder capable of chipping in with goals. Despite this we still have a first XI good enough to mix it with the best.

We may not win the title this time. But with this side we cannot conceivably finish out of the top four, as a lot of the naysayers would have it. In all these years since the Premier League’s inception we haven’t done it. Not even when we had a train-wreck of a midfield in 05/06, manned by John O’Shea and Giggs. I see no chance of that happening this time either.

Liverpool are likely to lose Alonso to Madrid. Barring a right back, they haven’t addressed their problem areas yet. Speculation abounds over their lynch pin, Mascherano. Chelsea have made a top signing in Zhirkov and will be a threat for sure next season. But Terry’s possible departure for Man City could well put a spanner in their works, not to mention, the question marks over Ancelotti’s abilities in a league foreign to him. Arsenal are in the lookout for their elusive defensive midfielder, and although their first XI could challenge anyone, their depth remains questionable.

Of course, we speculate, we doubt and, as concerned fans, it’s a natural reaction following the departure of the greatest star of our generation. But once again, the constant that remains and matters, and is arguably the envy of all clubs, is Ferguson. He may have mellowed a bit, but he hasn’t lost the ability to rebuild and mould sides. There hasn’t been an instance where he hasn’t bounced back. And the evidence of time, makes it a very, very important factor to consider in our speculation. Despite his successes in Europe, he may have never really made it his own. But he sure knows how to win the league. He may never be known as a tactical genius; I never considered him one, and to this day I question a lot of his tactical decisions, but, I never doubt his ability to coax and cajole the best out of the men at his disposal; I haven’t seen much, in all these years, to make me think otherwise.

The key to some of Ferguson’s success is his ability to not be swayed by emotion that we fans get caught up in. It divorces him from the emotions that could bring many men down. He has known one way to satisfy us fans, and that is by doing things his way, even things that haven’t been always popular. His pointed remark in the conference was a case in point, “I can only placate fans one way and that’s by not being stupid.”

We won the league last season, but the hurt and humiliation at Barcelona’s hands resonates more. SAF has often used failure to fire him up. Perhaps we may not challenge for the title. Perhaps we will only have a Carling Cup to show for all this bluster. Maybe we will graft our way after all. But the day I would really start worrying about United would be the day Ferguson departs. I will have the odd concern; perhaps criticising him for a bird-brained substitution. But worry is reserved for far greater potential pitfalls than anything I could foresee this summer.

334 Comments

  1. @Grognard: Also tickets purchased last year should be reduced because of the mid-season cut in VAT has effectively meant supporters have felt no benefit, other than with their cup purchases which is another rip off, the Glazers are abusing the fact that they are in a monopoly position which in turn is taking advantage of the fan on the street.

  2. @Scorp: Right now nobody is going to convince me we are better than both Chelsea and liverpool. Are we better than Arsenal? Not if Rosicky comes back healty and they get Huntelaar. They to have a suspect midfield and their back four and goal keeping is suspect but players like Arshavin, Fabregas, Nasri and Huntelaar are all world class. And they should score goals like they are going out of style while we struggle to get goals due to inadequate service. If we were to get Young then perhaps we could nip in for third. Man, Ronaldo is so irreplaceable, we should never had allowed him to go without a great and expensive contingency plan. We are royally screwed.

  3. @Stephen: It’s your typical unethical and sleazy American business model. The Glazer’s are royal cunts. I fucking hate the bastards. 😑

  4. @Stephen: he did play at left mid in the reserves right. I agree he has to play left back and push Evra for that slot,thats his natural position.There was no competition for left-back last season.

  5. @Grognard: I definitely think we have a better squad than Arsenal. We have a better defense,a better goal keeper, a better mid-field bar Cesc, we have a better attack with Rooney,Berba and Owen. Arshavin is better than any of our wingers, I’ll give Arsenal that. Also there is a big if regarding Huntelaar’s transfer and it is going to be his first season.
    We have a better squad than Liverpool and Arsenal. Liverpool might have a better first team mid-field but they can’t play with that team for an entire season. We definitely have a better squad and that should help us.

  6. @Grognard:
    When the odious Peter Kenyon offerred Beckham to Madrid for a paltry Β£25m the normally strait laced Perez rolled around with laughter in disbelief. He even tried to negotiate the price down. This image still haunts and irks me. πŸ‘Ώ

  7. To Madschester United
    You don’t come to manchester United and not have high expectations of you. Anderson has not scored a goal in TWO years, he only runs at full pace with the ball, and has proved incapable of dictating the tempo of a game. I like Nani, I was just illustrating the point that Man Utd have no seasoned goalscorer from the middle of the park.

    Aguero may not be Ronaldo 2.0, but he clearly has all the attributes to become one of the top players in the world. And if we are so eager to demand 80 million for our best player (who happened to be the best player in the world), we cannot consider 40 million for a mecurial talent, who actually wants to play for us, and has all the potential to develop into the best player in world football too much. If the money were coming out of pocket, then yes, I’d be on the side of caution. But i rather we invest that money in a player than handing it over so willingly to the glazers as seemed to have happened.

    SAF says he doesnt want to overspend, yet layed out 18 million on a player not worth more than 12, if that. He lied to the fans, yet again, in saying we reinvest the money in the team. The squad is overrated. We struggled for goals last season and struggled against teams Liverpool were mopping the floor with in the latter part of the season. When teams went at our defence we often crumbled and lucked out that many strikers in the EPL are poor finishers. Are we a crap team? Of course not, but we’re not as good as we think.

    Many people thought Ronaldo would develop into a great player, maybe not this great, but an excellent player nonetheless. He was on the radar of every major team in europe, so it’s not as though he was an unknown quantity. Teams had been scouting him for years and Obertan from what i’ve seen is decent, but no Ronaldo in the making. And let’s not forget, for every Ronaldo, there has been a djemba.

    So I’m not being gloomy, I’m looking back at the past season and making my judgment from that. I HOPE i’m wrong and I am a fan of the team no matter what happens, but i am not one for empty optimism.

  8. If we ended the summer signing a mid who is more aggressive and faster than carrick i would be happy because we have the right blend of good vision/passing in carrick and good pace and power in who ever that wld be
    any good and realistic suggestions????

  9. @Grognard: It is available for players. Fergie doesn’t want to spend it. Well, he does, but not as much as the other clubs are asking. If the Glazers have said to Fergie that he could have it to spend, we would bloody well know about it by now, because he’d have resigned. I’m sure Fergie made it very clear he would only sanction the Ronaldo transfer if he was given the money to invest. We already tried to spend Β£30mil on Benzema…. so the money is there.

  10. @Traverse: Im with you on that. I think that fergi just doesnt want to shoot his wad(100+mil) now when teams are jacking the price. He has the luxury of using this season to see good or see off some of our youth and will be the last yr for his golden oldies. and next yr he will have the cash (125+mil) to “rebuild” the team one last time.

    I think it is a wise decision. Truthfully he has lucked into it and gets one more chance to make a whole new team. that amount of money can buy a great team if he spends wisely.

    though i hold reservations about the glazers and the debt i have to think that fergi would have left if the money were gone to interest payments. I think that this means that we will get to enjoy a good few mor years of SAF at united. if the glazers were dismantling his team in his supposed last two years then i would bet on him leaving. with this cash he sees an opportunity to have one more go at building a team.

    I for one cant wait for this season to see who will make the cut ando, nani, welly, kiko,evans, the twins, valincia and oberton ect… all have a chance to save us some money at their positions and as we see the swansong of nevil,vds,gigs, and scholes you know that we will splash cash on class next yr where needed.

    I would love to see aguero and silva right now but not at the expense of nani and roony.

  11. @NicoQB: Yea i fancy him, i find his facial hair turns me on.

    Oh, you meant fancy him as a player! Well, over the years i think its fair to say fergie doesnt buy the same player twice, much like me and having me time with another women but thats another story πŸ˜‰

    I dont want him, the only mid fielders i want at united are de rossi or cana. If it isnt any of these two i dont want them.

    Fergie wouldnt buy him back anyway.

  12. @Dan: funny how footballers are always compared to women! It seems many of them are likely to fuck you over, but you still love them!

    I know there’s next to nought xchance of him coming back, but by god he’s a classy player when he plays well.

    I divived about both Cana and DeRossi – All aspects of Cana’s game are not held in high reagrd except for drive and tackling. Maybe just what we needed, but would we want a genuinely average player but for his steel? DeRossi is a bit the same stiry, except that I don’t know much about him except of his habit of missing crucial penalties!

    No really, quality Defensive Midfield Generals are a rare breed nowadays…

  13. @NicoQB: How can you say de rossi is average if you “dont know much about him” πŸ˜•

    De rossi is a bloody god, and i would wank to my self dry if we ever got him! i generally prefer De rossi to essien, essien is one the best midfielders in the world, top 3 certainly, but something about him rubs me the wrong way, while de rossi rubs me, the right way πŸ˜‰

  14. Shock Announcement 😯 😯 Grognard has positive thought:

    Well I have to say that the more I read and the more i piece things together the more i am convinced that United will make a move for Ashley Young. Especially now that young has been quoted as saying he would prefer a move to United over rivals Chelsea. DUH! No shit Sherlock. Why would he want to go to Chelsea and compete with Zhirkov and Malouda.

    If United indeed are going to make a move for Young, it was helped by the signing of Downing as his direct replacement. I could see United going for him and it would not surprise me if they traded a player or two. I would be upset by this but I also could see the possibility of Villa getting Nani in return or some other player or possibly getting a player like Welbeck or Macheda on loan. We shall see. Nevertheless, I have sneaky suspicion this deal will happen before the season begins. United need a top player to service these forwards with crosses and passes. Young fits that bill perfectly. And if we were to go after this player or Hernanes, I would definitely call of the dogs although I still think the summer spending would not be adequate. πŸ˜€

  15. @Dan: I know it’s none of my business, but I must question your sexual orientation. Far too much references to the male organs/genitalia for my liking, lately. πŸ™‚

  16. @Scorp: I think we are a better and more well rounded team but from an attacking point of view, we are not as good right now as Arsenal. Yes our keeper and our defense is superior but as long as a team has an Arshavin and Fabregas as well as a Rosicky, Nasri etc, they will be able to provide service to the strikers as well as score themselves.

    Face it, they have more world class players than us at the skill positions. And if they indeed get Huntelaar, then they will be awesome offensively. I still think that van Persie, Eduardo and Bendtner are a pretty good strike force. Their Achilles heel is their CB’s and their totally useless goalkeeper who I rate as the worst keeper in Europe. Honestly, I think he is that bad. The good thing for Arsenal though is their attack can help hide some of their defensive deficiencies and they will not struggle for goals. Now if we were to get Ashley Young like the rumors suggest, then yes, I would pick us for third, but no way do I see us finishing first after losing Ronaldo and Tevez.

  17. @Cyclops-Red: The Beckham thing will always be a blackmark in my books and it was the first time I questioned Fergie. He let his personal feelings and biases literally force out a player who was great for us and who bled for the team. I couldn’t care less about his wife and his personal life. As I saw it, it never interfered with his professionalism and desire to play the game.

    And before Beckham I had to swallow the fact that Fergie admittedly blundered by letting go of Jaap Stam. After Beckham he got into it with Roy Keane, another big mistake considering how important Keane was to us as a leader, and the final straw was his terrible treatment of van Nistelrooy after RVN had a training ground argument with perfect and never in trouble Ronaldo. He had to embarrass RVN and bench him for the Carling Cup final and thne played head games with him until he virtually gave him to Real. Tough shite to tolerate. Fergie has his favorites and they seem to be able to get away with murder and then he has hid doghouse gang which can’t seem to get a fair shale from him. Although I personally wanted Tevez gone because he is not good enough, I do believe him over Fergie. I just wished he would just shut up about it and move on. Fergie says he texted him many times. I doubt Fergie even has a Blackberry and knows how to use it yet alone text anyone.. Old codgers are not into modern forms of communication. I think he is full of it.

  18. @Roge9: Beautiful mate, just beautiful. If I was in the same room with you I would give you a big kiss and a hug and I’m not even gay. You said it beautifully. It amazes me how not too many can see things from our point of view. What we are saying is not intended to be gloomy, it’s intended as a realistic analysis of the situation. It is looking gloomy and what i hate is the misinformation and lies that are being fed to us like we are all naive little pillocks with shite for brains.

    I don’t buy that crap they are feeding and your reasoning over why would should go for Aguero is dead on. Fergie is a massive hypocrite. He is most responsible for elevating the prices in the current market. So before he condemns everyone for that, he should look himself in the mirror. A classic case of the pot calling the kettle black I think. πŸ˜€

  19. @Anthony Los: That central midfield position is the one position more than anything else that I wanted addressed this summer. We have no defensive grit and pace and no play maker who can score the odd goal and service our forwards. It’s recipe to disaster having to live with another season of the slow footed Carrick being teamed up with the average Fletcher, the old and slowing Scholes and Giggs and the way to useless Anderson.

  20. @Traverse: You know nothing about what goes on behind the closed doors at Old Trafford mate. You have no idea what exactly has happened to the money because United do not feel any of us are obligated to know. We may have the money for players but Fergie has gone cheap and senile or the glazer’s have indeed pocketed and plan to use it for their debt payment. None of us are privy to that information so all we can do is speculate based on the little evidence at hand.

  21. @gator: No player that comes here will ever jeopardize Rooney’s role in the team. As for Nani, hell, Park is higher up the ladder than him right now. Aguero coming would not hurt either player.

  22. @Dan: De Rossi is a great player but unfortunately he is not interested in a move to England and Fergie doesn’t know he exists. And I would personally love a shock move for Veron although I know that wouldn’t happen. The way we play now would finally be the perfect fit for him where back when he first arrived, we played fast wide old school English football. Veron is far more awesome with continental Italian style of play and pace. He was a classy player and the kind of play maker we are real need of.

  23. Villa got Downing. My mind, hope and belief now goes to the fact that United will buy Ashley Young. Oh please Fergie, please! I beg you. If you get Ashely Young the things Ill do will make Dans thoughts about De Rossi look like the most heterosexual thoughts in the whole universe! 😳 :mrgreen:

  24. @Grognard: And neither do you! If your entire argument is ‘you don’t know what’s going on’, then you don’t either!

    Fergie has given us the evidence…. He is still the manager, he bid Β£30mil for Benzema.

  25. @Grognard: with berba and ron in the team he was sacrificed to the left last season. and i think that aguero is so class that one of them will be wasted on the wing.

    Grog You have probably seen aguero more than i recently. would he be wasted wide? I just see him as a like 4 like with ronny but preferring the second striker role. i think we may give our youngsters a chance to be great then spend (this years cash, the 80, and next yrs cash= abt 125-140) on a new look including aguero and …?…

    young would be nice, dont give them nani though. give them oberton or loan them someone

  26. I would love to get CQ back as well after/when they fail in the world cup.

    Iknow he traded us off TWICE but i think he is worth a go and tell him he can have a yr or two guaranteed when fergi leaves. if he doesnt produce bounce his ass. but we could have used him in fergis ear in rome might not have helped but i dont think Phlem is helping at all.

  27. I think we have class players that let ronaldo do everything because he could. and if given a push and made to perform w/o him they will. if not we can replace them but i think we should give them a chance.

  28. @Traverse: We made a last ditch, half hearted attempt at a player that had no intention of playing for us!!
    In a sense we did the same with Tevez, knowing full well he’d already made up his mind. (cunt that he is!!)
    It’s clearly a show for us peons to absorb ourselves in and was never meant as a move that had any intent to secure him!!

  29. @Traverse: I didn’t say I knew what was going on. I did say that hypothesis on everything is based on the evidence at hand and common sense speculation. So stop putting words in my mouth and accusing me of something I’m not guilty of. πŸ™„

  30. @gator: I see our situation now as being near identical to the one in 2006/07 season. That season the players stepped up and whilst i cant say im exactly pleased with the squad we have right now i do have faith that they too will do a job because for me we have a better team now than we did in 06/07.
    If the players like berbatov, nani and anderson do not step up then they we have to say sorry and goodbye and replace them. For me i think this year will definitely be a transitional season but i see next season involving a possible complete clear out. Lets say we expect schols, neville and edwin to definitely retire next season, with the likes of the 3 i mentioned above with hargreaves on what you might call their last strike which you could say a final season of unimpressive displays could result in them being sent packing.
    Thats about 7 possible players we could see on their way out next season and they will need to be replaced or the youngsters we have will step up replace them. This for me is why we arent buying much this season, give the fosters, tosics, nanis, andos, their chance and see how they do, if they dont produce then we know we need more players coming in. Saving money with next season in mind isnt the best thing to do imo but thats what i feel they are doing assuming the money has been saved and not spent on debts. Next season could prove to be more crucial than this one, and fergie will look with next season in mind like a good manager will do, that for me is my only explanation as to why we arent spending big this season. Hopefully the youngsters can perform cos they could save us a hell of a lot of dough.

  31. @gator: Rooney played out wide at the end of the year for a few games. What about the rest of the season? Hardly sacrificed, was he? We played 4-4-2 last year consistently, except for the big games where we went from negative, unambitious 4-4-2 to ultra-negative 4-5-1. Rooney played up front all season, with berbatov as a strike partner and ronaldo on the right side of midfield. Sure, ronaldo is granted freedom from that position, but park and the centre midfield were the equalizers for that. The idea that rooney had to play out wide to accomodate ronaldo, or that he had to track back to cover for ronnie, is bullshit.

  32. @Grognard: That’s right mate, it’s “circumstantial evidence”. Which in my book, rates better than pure fantasy!!

  33. @gator: Yeah, they offered to make he “ball boy”. πŸ˜† πŸ˜†

    You remember when he made that tackle with his head?? ……. well, …..??? πŸ˜† πŸ˜† 😈 😈

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