Manchester United are the world's most popular football club. As such, the club has used its commercial pulling power to dig itself firmly in the riches of global sport so much so that they can now afford to sign a couple of world class players every summer transfer window and still remain well within the stipulated financial limits.
It's a muscle that the club that has so rarely flexed with Sir Alex Ferguson rarely stretching the $30m mark for any player. Such was the frugality of the old boss that it we often struggled to remember our reigning record signings. Dimitar Berbatov, at $35m was the largest outlay Sir Alex spent on a player in all of his 27 years in charge. Admittedly, the Scot did pay what were at the time huge sums for players such as Andy Cole and Juan Sebastian Veron but for every huge chunk splashed out was a bargain for an Eric Cantona (1m) here or Dwight Yorke there (12m). Sir Alex loved to mix it up. His sides often amounted to a mixture of raw talent and pure genius.
At the height of the emergence of Manchester City in 2012 to add to the already developed challenge from Chelsea, fans got frustrated with the Glazer family for apparently hoarding the club's financial resources at the expense of the football team. It did not go down well with fans that for instance Cristiano Ronaldo was replaced by signing Antonio Valencia, Gabriel Obertan and a Michael Owen on his last legs. Sir Alex sold it to the fans that he did not see value in the market cue confirmation of fears that the old Scot was truly in bed with the owners.
The arrival of Louis van Gaal has been punctuated by a plethora of world class players in quick succession in a manner that is unprecedented at United. Radamel Falcao and Angel Di Maria arrived as genuine world class players at a time when we had all but given up competing with Real Madrid for the best players in the world. Whereas the Spanish giants remain the big fish in the transfer pool, there was a feeling that the shackles were finally off and that United could attract the best players in the world....more shockingly, even without Champions League football. With another 150m available to spend in July, we could yet be on the verge of another summer clearout of players ahead of the next league season.
Word from the club to journalists who have undoubtedly been briefed by the hierarchy at Old Trafford is that United are now more than ever willing to tap into their sheer financial strength to bring in the very best players in the world regardless of their age and price. Succinctly put, if a 28 year old who is among the very best is available for huge money and a 22 year old with huge potential is also available for a modest sum, United will sign the 28 year old for huge money.
It's a seismic shift in transfer policy that could easily see United boast of the very elite squads on paper man for man in the near future. The implications in all this could be damning as far as to the England National team (albeit who cares?). Will it rob us of the odd cult hero though? Shall we still be able to relate so fondly with some of the players that will don the club's famous shirt? Shall it feel the same as when we had an Ole Gunnar Solskjaer or Patrice Evra in the side? Foreign signings but who felt like Academy lads to us because of the really low transfer fees involved in their purchases.
We've been lucky to have a relative continuity of squad with a lot of older heads hanging around until the new lads establish themselves at the club to take over. Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney embody that at the club currently, and so we do not yet have to undergo the embarrassment of naming a player as captain who could be off in the summer.....much like what Arsene Wenger endured in attempting to keep his players.
You would imagine or at least hope that in the frequent turnover that will soon characterise the club, the scouting system shall be alive to the talents both at home and abroad that do not necessarily command huge transfer fees but could easily be cult heroes at Old Trafford!
*Finally, if you haven't realised by now that this article is a means of killing time off in this International break, then you really do love reading this blog.
Labels: MANCHESTER UNITED