Sir Alex Ferguson has insisted that Manchester United supporters will witness the progress made by Bébé, who will make his first team début against Scunthorpe United in the Carling Cup tonight. United paid Vitória de Guimarães £7.4 million in August for the 20-year-old winger in one of the most surprising deals this summer.
Claiming “exceptional circumstances” provoked the deal, Ferguson admits that the winger’s signature is a leap in the dark. The deal has been the subject of significant scrutiny, both by supporters and the media in recent weeks.
But Ferguson says that early criticism of the player is unfair and the fitness work undertaken by United will pay dividends this season.
“We have a scout in Portugal where we asked him about this young player playing in second division in Portugal,” Sir Alex told CNN International today.
“There was a complication apparently in his contract which allowed him to leave to go to Guimarães and he’d only played three of four games and our scouts insisted that we should sign him.
“It was a bit of a leap into the dark really because we hadn’t seen him play, we sent down one of our scouts down with Antonio from Portugal to see him play in the last game before we signed him and then he comes up and says ‘there’s something exceptional here, we’ll maybe seeing something really special’, and so we took the gamble – we took the gamble.
“I think Real Madrid and Benfica were starting to move in, it was one of those instinctive things, you have a smell about something and you take it.
“Physically, he wasn’t ready, hasn’t done a proper pre-season, so the last few weeks since he’s joined, we’ve been working on him physically. He’s now played one reserve game and he’ll be involved in the team tomorrow at Scunthorpe and you’ll see the progress now.”
Bébé made his reserve team début against Aston Villa last week. Ferguson was speaking to CNN International: