Earlier this Summer Sir Alex Ferguson stated that there would be no more summer signings for his Manchester United side following the captures of Antonio Valencia, Michael Owen and Gabriel Obertan. On the face of it the signing of two wingers and a new centre-forward looks like a very positive move, but lest we forget the departure of two key forward players. Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Real Madrid was without doubt the biggest move of the summer. The replacement of Ronaldo has been the hottest subject of the summer and looks to be here to stay for the forseeable future.
The reason why Sir Alex’s statement rings true today is that following the close of the transfer window this week, he has stuck by it. In fact, prior to the home win against Arsenal he further reiterated the point stating the following in his pre match notes: “We have the right squad and I trust them. It is an insult to suggest I could lose faith in my players. I have explained our strategy, based on my confidence in our squad with a few new faces and more eager beavers on the way up, and I have no intention of abandoning it.”
Many United fans have been left disappointed by this statement following the fortunate win against Arsenal. Clearly the result was extremely important but for a club of United’s stature the manner of it is also vital to the fans as the expectation around Old Trafford is always that of good attacking football. The performance against Arsenal was clearly lacking.
The Old Trafford faithful have never demanded that money be spent purely to bring big name players in the manner of Real Madrid and their so-called Galacticos but what they do demand is a team which competes for major honours on both the domestic and European fronts. Following the closure of the transfer window it is up for debate whether United do in fact have a squad to do just that.
There is feeling around Old Trafford that the Glazer family may finally be tightening the purse strings to recoup some of the debt which was used to buy the club in 2005, and £80m received provides the perfect opportunity to do just that. This rumour has been quashed by both Ferguson and Chief Executive David Gill with the former stating the following: “The bulk of the fee we got from Real Madrid is still there and it seems to be burning a hole in the pockets of a lot of fans.”
This is not the place to speculate on the Glazer family as they have always provided the funds for transfers as and when is needed so it would be foolish to state this is the case. What can be drawn from the facts is that United struggled against one of their title rivals despite gaining the three points and have not made a move at the end of the transfer window to attempt to rectify this. This is something which has disappointed many of the fans.
Despite the immediate frustration of not signing someone before the deadline there is no doubt that the fans will still be backing their most successful ever manager. They know to write off Ferguson and United is foolish – many have done in the past and gone on to regret it. On the face of things the start has been okay – nine points from a possible 12, a win against a title rival and a 5-0 triumph away to Wigan. For traditionally slow starters this is not bad. There is no doubt the performances have not been convincing but this is also a side which has faced early disruptions. If both Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic play consistently in the heart of the defence there will be a much more solid base from which to build.
Ferguson also has very high hopes for last season’s deadline day signing – Dimitar Berbatov – to shine in a role much higher up the pitch – the player insisting he wants to become the ‘focal point’ of the United attack. We have seen this in bursts already this season in tandem with Wayne Rooney and if these two players can hit it off like Ferguson expects then United will have a partnership to rival any in the Premier League.
There are many ‘ifs’ surrounding United this season – the fitness of Ferdinand, the form of Berbatov, the midfield – which suggests a team in transition and on the cusp of winning trophies but not necessarily favourites. There is no doubt United are still in with a chance this season but it hinges on a couple of uncertain factors. However, if Fergie can execute his plan with this squad and indeed win that unprecedented fourth Premier League title in a row it may well be his greatest achievement.
Manchester United Club Focus
Welcome to Manchester, Michael – July 29
Goals from midfield the order of the day – August 5
Respect the consistency – August 12
Injury plague piles pressure on forwards – August 18
Usual slow starters living up to their reputation but is there cause for concern? – August 22
Enter the Champions – August 25
Anderson and Vidic pledge their allegiance – August 28
Win fails to hide Rooney’s need for a wingman – September 1
Ferguson sticking to his guns – September 4