United signed Valencia, but their intent to go blitzkrieg on the transfer market suffered a blow when Benzema opted to go to Real Madrid. Reports say they were willing to pay £6m more than us. This can mean either of two things: one, we were trying to play hardball with them while staying firm in our [new found] commitment towards not getting fleeced. Two, we didn’t really expect Madrid to act so quickly so as to have gazumped us to this bid.
If it was the second it’s a shame. If it was the former, I’m not sure how to react to it; I am torn between lauding them for not paying £32m for a largely unproven, albeit talented, 21 year old and expressing bafflement over their refusal to budge on £6m when we have £90m lying around. [Correct me if I’m wrong, but Fraizer Campbell’s this close towards completing a £6m move to Hull.]
Personally, whilst I liked Benzema, the player, I never really found his general demeanour endearing. For one, he seemed to favour a move to Spain more than England. He was known to be moody, although I wouldn’t rate that quite as important as the first reason.
It’s obvious Ferguson loves the player, and what Ferguson likes he tries his level best to get. Predictably, a good performance against us — in particular, his blinder of a goal in the 07/08 Champions’ League encounter when surrounded by gazillion red shirts — nailed it for the manager. Only on this occasion, Ferguson didn’t get what he wanted. It’s also unlikely waiting a year for his target is bound to work this time; unlike RvN, Berbatov et al.
Our current situation resembles that line from the Rime of the Ancient Mariner: ‘water water everywhere, not a drop to drink‘ (More like money, money everywhere, not a player in sight.) Of course, there is still enough time to bring in two players to get us going before things actually escalate towards desperation but it would be a stretch to expect to bring in everyone by the cut off pre-season training date that is July 13th.
We have been linked with the likes of Aguero and AS, the Spanish newspaper, have us linked with Huntelaar. Bringing in Huntelaar should be easier, provided Ferguson really wants him. Hell, if he really wanted him, he would have come in long before Madrid even had a sniff. Aguero gives us star power, real creative energy around the box, although, if Rooney is to be played in his preferred role, the Argentinian would have to be played out wide.
Despite all this transfer talk, I really have two major concerns that need to be addressed. Which is what I want to end this post with.
1. Rooney needs a full season where he can play in a central role. I think Ferguson has little excuse to sacrifice Rooney this time round. There’s no Ronaldo to ‘accommodate’ in this team anymore. Rooney plays in the role he plays for England. No dicking about sticking him in the wing. Most of Ferguson’s rebuilding exercises have revolved around switching focus and building the side around that focus. It could be based on a good strike partnership, like the side of ’99; or relying on the interchangeable play of the front attackers, [the 2008 side with Ronaldo as a focal point]. This time attention obviously shifts to Rooney, and he needs to be played as a number ten. So why am I talking about Rooney in the midst of discussing transfer targets? In order to ensure Rooney does not get played out wide, we need to ensure there is enough credible depth on our wings. We have Valencia and Nani (and a rookie in Tosic) as attacking wingers (Park is a defensive midfielder, and Giggs is not a left winger anymore). We clearly need reinforcement there. Aguero might help, but his talent could be wasted out wide. So one more decent winger should fix that worry.
2. A box to box midfielder, or an attacking midfielder who’s capable of scoring from midfield.
The first one ties into the lesson learned from our defeat against Barcelona. Despite our success, we haven’t really got a midfielder who can grab the game by the cliched scruff of the neck. We have Hargreaves, but he’s not back until January. And I really won’t believe his fitness reports until I see him on the pitch. True Fletcher had his moments, but doubts still linger over his consistency.
The second part, regarding the need for a creative attacking midfielder, sort of ties in to our need to spread the goals around this season instead of relying on a couple of players. But this is an either-or requirement. I wouldn’t want both to be signed simultaneously. This would mean Carrick would be marginalised, or if we were to go for a 4-3-3, Rooney would be forced to plough a lone furrow on his own — again, not something I’d want.
Anyway, that should be enough tactical analysis from my side for the day. for general transfer stories, half baked thoughts during the day, you could either find me here, or in the comments section of this post.
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In other interesting tidbits, Scott sheds more light on the scouse delusion.
And 101 Great Goals has a three part video link to MUTV’s Ronaldo tribute video. To be honest, despite my strong opinions over the deterioration of his attitude over the past year, there are still enough clips in the video to make me relive some of those special moments with fondness; especially the parts where he was a scrawny, little teenager.