The latest in ridiculous transfer stories is the one about United’s bid for Liverpool’s Fernando Torres. Much as we rate the Spaniard, it’s not a deal that makes sense. There’s been talk about Liverpool’s reported financial situation that will force Liverpool’s hand. But let all that talk not fool you. Liverpool will be absolutely mad, and even absolutely mad would be a gross understatement, to sell them to any of the other three top clubs in England, let alone United, whatever their financial situation maybe. In fact they would be crazy to sell him, full stop. There is the debt situation, but it is surely not even close to that faced by Valencia.
To sell Torres would mean regression in all Benitez might have achieved so far at Liverpool, and it is conceivable to say that it could result in the manager himself quitting the club. It all makes for a nice little read on a Sunday afternoon, but I wouldn’t pay too much attention to that. If that ever happened, Liverpool would go down in history as the club run by cretins bigger than Mike Ashley.
I’ve made some murmurs about my cynicism over our transfer strategy, following the record Ronaldo transfer, briefly in the comments, but I need to expand on that a bit more.
The above Torres example is just one in a line of a dozen names trotted out in a period of 4-5 days. Any footballer that can kick a ball becomes the next Kaka, Maldini, Messi, followed by quotes from unnamed sources spilling the beans over said players’ interest in joining United. Said players’ clubs will come out with statements that basically say that it would take crazy money for the club to let their players leave.
Another player whose transfer is taking longer than normal due to the transfer fee is Antonio Valencia — a classic case of the selling club knowing the buying club is flush with cash.
In short, £80m will make clubs add another 20m quid on players’ asking fee. It’s the nature of the transfer market, and has often been United’s undoing.
United’s — or rather, Ferguson’s — history in going after replacements for star players has been mixed. Whilst he was largely credited for the golden generation following the sale of Hughes, Ince, Kanchelskis, the buys following the Beckham sale were largely forgettable, save for a certain Portuguese lad from Madeira. Other famous names from that rebuilding exercise included luminaries such as David Bellion, Eric Djemba-Djemba, Kleberson, and Alan Smith. In 01/02 we also saw Jaap Stam replaced by Blanc. So it can’t be said that Ferguson is a master at immediately replacing big players with another set of stars that can slip seamlessly into the void.
He is great at rebuilding sides, remodelling the system to work around other players. But he takes time for it, and regardless of what we do in the transfer market this summer, to expect success this season is rather unrealistic. If we manage to buy a couple of players and not skip a beat then I would doff my hat to Ferguson for a remarkable feat. However good a side maybe, changing a system following the departure of a star player, and still going on in a great run takes some doing from the manager.
Ideally, finishing transfer activity before the pre-season would help greatly. However, as history has shown, we haven’t been great at it — be it due to our perception as a ‘rich’ club, or due to our executives’ inability to play hard ball.
By a lot of accounts, we have a list of transfer targets drawn up upon Ferguson’s recommendations. Villa is unattainable; reports claim he prefers Spain. I’d say, with our experience with Spain lovers we shouldn’t waste too much time with him. Karim Benzema is another; Ferguson is an open admirer of the Frenchman’s talents, but in the past he’s claimed his dream is to play for Madrid/Barcelona. I’ve seen very little of him claiming interest to play for English clubs. Of course, in modern day mercenary footy, these quotes matter little, but the lad for all his talents has shown tendencies to throw a strop or two. I wouldn’t straightaway rule him out, but if Lyon’s reputation in selling their stars is anything to go by we shouldn’t waste too much time with them either.
This brings us to some other obvious names. Franck Ribery is once again a Spain lover — as if it doesn’t get cold in Bavaria. But whilst it’s tempting to go for him, there is a danger of over paying for him. I would really be pessimistic over his signing.
That leaves us with no other obvious stars left to go for. Most of the others are clearly off limits to us. We’d have to rely on our past policy of going for rising stars with undeniable talent, but not yet world class superstars. This is a high gamble strategy that has paid off for us, but it isn’t an exact science either that guarantees instant success.
We can talk about the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Aguero, Huntelaar, Sneijder etc, all we want, if it’s instant transfer activity that we crave it may or may not happen soon enough. [I think it will be longer than we expect] And, if it’s continued success on the pitch, we crave, there needs to be a bit more patience on that front.
Meanwhile all we can do for the moment is to look around watching paint dry or perhaps, watch the Confederations cup. Speaking of which, how boring was yesterday’s opening two matches? Those interested in goings on in the Cup might want to look up SL’s coverage on the Confederations Cup. Who knows, the tournament might throw up a few surprise stars!
Anyway, I’ll end my waffling for now, over to you folks!
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