While there’s been a great deal of speculation, both in the media and amongst supporters, as to the motivations for Wayne Rooney wanting to leave Manchester United, the only word from the man himself centered around his doubt about the club’s future.
On the surface, it appears those questions have been answered, otherwise we likely wouldn’t have seen Rooney pen a new, long-term contract and afterwards comment, in so many words, that he heard what he needed to hear.
On top of that, reports have emerged that one of the selling points in Rooney’s decision to re-commit himself to the club for the long haul was that Sir Alex Ferguson would have at least £100m to spend on transfers.
However, actions speak louder than words, and until we see more substance come out of the regular mass of speculation about who Manchester United ‘are interested in’, ‘are tracking’, ‘will make a move for’, ‘are reportedly close to a deal for’, etc., then one can only proceed with cautious optimism, at best.
But if the reports are indeed true, will the Glazers keep their word when the time comes to spend?
If next summer comes and goes with few new additions and little money spent, we’ll see a lot more than Rooney want to leave.
So, whether it’s £60.4m, or £75.2m, or £98.31m, it is a must for the owners to make good on their promises to spend and strengthen.
Frankly, it’d have been a lot more reasonable to not put a concrete figure out there, simply because there are people out there who will bleat and moan if the spending for January and next summer comes out to 85m.
And for my part, as nice as it would be to spend that much money, it’s not the dollar (well, they are American, after all) figure that is of importance to me when it comes to showing the club’s ambition. What I look for is making optimal use of what money there is available to address needs for both the short term and the long term. And hey, I’d be a liar if I said it wouldn’t be nice to have a Luis Suarez, or a Wesley Sneijder, or a Manuel Neuer, but those are just added bonuses.
Look no further than Real Madrid this summer. Normally, Real might not be the best example of how to spend in the summer, but they’re a worthwhile example here.
Last summer, Real bought Ronaldo, Kaka, Karim Benzema, and Xabi Alonso, and in total, spent well over £200m on new additions, only to finish second to Barcelona in La Liga and get knocked out of the Champions League in the round of 16.
This summer, Real spent more than most, but they went more for value instead of spending haphazardly.
Benfica attacker Angel di Maria was their most expensive purchase, and he was joined in Madrid by assist machine Mesut Ozil (oh, what could have been?), midfielder Sami Khedira, and former Chelsea defender Ricardo Carvalho, along with Getafe winger Pedro Leon and teenage sensation Sergio Canales. The total sum of those purchases? Less than a third of what they spent the previous summer.
Look at how the new additions have panned out thus far. Real are top of La Liga coming into today, a point ahead of Barcelona, and with three wins from three group matches in the Champions League, they’re well on their way to securing top spot in Group G.
And several of their new additions are a major part of that early success. Ozil (sigh…) has thus far been every bit the stat monster he was at Werder Bremen, scoring a goal and recording three assists in seven La Liga appearances (six starts) and netting once and assisting on two more goals in three Champions League appearances (two starts). Di Maria has scored twice in seven La Liga appearances (six starts), and he scored the winner in Real’s away win over Auxerre in the Champions League. Carvalho has been a regular in Mourinho’s starting XI, and he even scored a rare goal to hand Real three points against Osasuna. Khedira has appeared in every Real match thus far, starting five of seven league matches and all three of their Champions League matches.
Now, the Jose Mourinho effect can’t be understated, and it’s safe to say that he is an upgrade over Manuel Pellegrini, but that’s the kind of return you want on your investments.
If Fergie can spend £75m and get that kind of return, I certainly won’t have any complaints.
Of course, it’s only reasonable to ask whether or not Fergie will actually take full advantage of the money that he reportedly has at his disposal now. He spoke negatively about the value in the transfer market this past summer, even when there were players in positions of need that were available for more than reasonable prices, so what will he do when the time comes to spend again?
And it’s also reasonable to ask where this big ol’ transfer kitty is coming from, with the huge debt hanging over the club and the lack of action post-Ronaldo’s sale.
But, though I’m no financial whiz, there’s no doubt that the money is there for the Glazers to spend if they really want to spend it, even if it means they don’t take nearly as much to pay themselves for a little while.
Of course, to offset some of that spending and the new wages that will be taken on, some selling will have to be done, and it remains to be seen who’ll have to make way for new arrivals when the time comes. Along with the potential retirement of some of our old heads and the likely departure of Michael Owen, this could be the last season at United for the likes of Michael Carrick, Anderson, Park Ji-Sung, and some others.
So then, will we see these words backed up with actions when the time comes, or have we been set up for a letdown of epic proportions?
If it’s the former, in the end, the Rooney banners we see right now could be replaced by ones of thanks. And if it’s the latter, well, I don’t think he’ll be the only one to sever his ties with the club.
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