Sir Alex Ferguson has once again stated that Manchester United will not spend during the January transfer window, claiming that there is no value in the market. The Scot, who spent around a quarter of the money received from the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer, insists that there will be no new arrivals at Old Trafford this winter.
“It’s still the case – I can’t see any real diamonds,” said Ferguson in his weekly press conference at United’s Carrington training base Friday.
“We’ve got the money – there’s no question about that. I just don’t see that player that can make a difference to us in terms of value and availability.”
Indeed, the manager is a reluctant January shopper even though some of his rare winter purchases have turned out to be key players for the club, including Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Louis Saha and Andy Cole.
“We struck lucky with [Nemanja] Vidic and [Patrice] Evra,” said the boss, of the January 2006 purchases from Monaco and Spartak Moscow.
“It took them time to adjust, but they’ve turned out to be terrific players.
“We signed Louis Saha in the transfer window, he was a marvellous player but ended up with a lot of injuries, and we got Andy Cole who turned out to be fantastic for us.
“There have been success stories for us, but you can’t guarantee that in January because you’re looking for players to possibly play in Europe and that is limited because of other teams’ involvement in Europe. So there’s never a certain success rate.”
But whether players are successful when brought to the club in January is a moot point, given Ferguson’s mantra that there is “no value in the market.” It’s the same one the Scot repeated in the summer to justify his failure a strengthen beyond Antonio Valencia, Michael Owen and Gabriel Obertan. With United having lost five Premier League games and been knocked out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle this season, the decision looks increasingly wide of the mark.
Indeed, value is a new focus for the manager who has always been happy to spend big. United, for example, paid well over market rate for each of Rio Ferdinand and Dimitar Berbatov in recent seasons.
More to the point, Ferguson has always been happy to push the board to spend heavily on exceptional talent. Wayne Rooney joined as a teenager for a touch over £25 million, while Juan Sebastian Veron joined for more than £28 million even though United possessed arguably the best midfield quartet the country has ever seen.
Since the Berbatov transfer United’s stated policy has changed, with the club now only willing to bid on players that will keep a resale value at the end of their contracts. Essentially this rules out any players aged over 26. The purchases of Antonio Valenica, Mame Biram Diouf and Gabriel Obertan fit into this policy, while Michael Owen was a free transfer.
Yet Ferguson is very unlikely to find value in the coming summer, with the World Cup placing a premium on any player who has a decent tournament. With winter 2011 no more likely to offer value-for-money, United’s manager may need to wait until August 2011 to buy unless a change of strategy takes place.
Perhaps the truth is a little harder to take: very few seriously buy into the manager’s proclamation, with the club’s £700 million debt beginning to bite into United’s transfer revenue. So unlikely is another large buy at the club that claims of wealth simply place the Scot on the eponymous emperor’s throne.
For it is the truth that dare not be said.