Transfer Special: Rating Manchester United’s Business Post-Glazer

By on June 2, 2010

OldTrafford

By Jason Mathias.

On June 14th 2005, Malcolm Glazer increased his share of Manchester United to 97.3%, meaning he had gained full control of the club. During and after the takeover, protests against his ownership have been strong, and sometimes over the top. The ‘Green and Gold’ movement of the past season has seen more and more fans become involved in the anti-Glazer brigade.

But one thing any fan can’t argue is that money has been provided for Sir Alex Ferguson any time he has required it. Some will say that the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo and failure to spend that money is proof that Fergie’s purse-strings have been firmly tightened by the Glazers. But for me, this has been the choice of Ferguson. He entered a bidding war with Real Madrid last summer for Karim Benzema, and as soon as it went over his valuation of the player, he pulled out. The money was clearly available. And it has been since the Glazers came in. Yes, their ownership has caused many problems off the pitch, but what of the business on the pitch? Has Fergie used the money wisely?

At the close of the 2004/05 season, United has just finished 3rd in the table for only the second time since the inception of the Premier League. And with the Glazers coming in to plunge the club into a mountain of debt, it was all looking pretty gloomy. Two signings were made that summer, and they both remain in the team to this day.

2005/06

Edwin van der Sar – Fulham – £2m

Easily one of Fergie’s best signings of the decade. United has struggled for 6 years to find a suitable replacement for Peter Schmeichel. Fabien Barthez seemed to be the man for the job, but his eccentricity got the better of him, and while Tim Howard showed promise, a few high-profile errors shattered his confidence.  We won’t mention Taibi or Bosnich. VDS came in at the age of 34 and has been fantastic ever since. His experience is invaluable to the team and in my opinion he can still go on for another 2 seasons.

Rating – 10/10

Ji-Sung Park – PSV – £4m

After impressing for PSV in their run to the Champions League semi-final, Park arrived at Old Trafford as cover for the wings, and has kept his role to this day. His work ethic and positional play always add something to the team, even if he doesn’t contribute enough in terms of goals and assists. Played a vital role during the Champions League winning campaign of 2008. He has shown that he wasn’t bought to sell shirts in Asia.

Rating – 7/10

Nemanja Vidic – Spartak Moscow – £7m

A colossal success. After initially struggling to get to grips with the English game, Vidic has established himself as one of the best central defenders in the world, particularly impressing during the 2008/09 season, where he was the main reason for United’s Premier League record of consecutive clean sheets. He has been linked with a move away from the club, but thankfully for the fans he has reaffirmed his commitment to United. Would probably fetch triple the amount he was bought for.

Rating – 10/10

Patrice Evra – Monaco – £5.5m

This deal looked like a disaster after Evra was torn apart in his debut against Manchester City and subbed at half time. But by the 2006/07 season, he had ousted Gabriel Heinze and impressed all with his attacking instincts. Since then he has grown defensively and would now be up there with Ashley Cole as the best left-backs around. His passion for the Manchester United cause and appreciation for its history, as well as his bubbly personality, make him one of my favourite players without question. Ferguson had a fantastic season in the transfer market.

Rating – 10/10

2006/2007

Michael Carrick – Tottenham – £18.6m

This is a tough one. The fee sounded astronomical at first, but then he combined wonderfully with Paul Scholes in his first season and was a big part of the team playing its best football for many a year. He has a tendency to start off each season slightly below-par and then grow as the year goes on, but last season he was nothing more than average over the whole season, not even starting once in the last 8 Premier League games. He possesses great passing and defensive positioning, but doesn’t control games as much as he should. His future is questionable, but prior to last season, he did have 3 very good terms.

Rating – 7/10

Thomasz Kuszczak – West Brom – £2.125m

He came in as back-up. He is currently back-up. He will always be back-up. Kuszczak is a fine goalkeeper who is very capable whenever he comes in for van der Sar. Last season he was in great form, keeping out Ben Foster and making some truly world-class saves. Doubts still remain over his distribution and confidence in the air, but as far as back-ups go, he is very adequate.

Rating – 7/10

2007/2008

Anderson – Porto – £18m

This one is still firmly up in the air. What is definite is that he hasn’t proved worth his fee. Yet. He had a successful first season, leading me to believe he would be our own version of Fabregas. His song remarks the same thing. But since he has been inconsistent. This would be expected from any young player, for the fee and his reputation, you expect a little more. But there is still time. He has all the potential to be a creative force in the first team for many years. Watch this space.          

Rating – 6/10

Nani – Sporting Lisbon – £14-17m

Oh the excitement I felt when Nani and Anderson’s arrivals were announced on the same day. Scouring immediately through YouTube, I thought we had signed two the brightest talents in Europe. We still may have. Like Anderson, Nani enjoyed a decent first season but until last season he was frustratingly inconsistent. In fact, until January, he was more frustrating than ever. But with Valencia given a rest in his first season, Nani grabbed his opportunity and was brilliant for the rest of the season. I anticipate him having a good World Cup and coming back ready to fulfill his potential.

Rating – 7/10

Owen Hargreaves – Bayern Munich – £17m

And the day after the signings of Nani and Anderson, now we’ve got Hargreaves too! Brilliant. Or was it? In his first season he was crucial for us in winning the double, showing why Fergie was chasing him for years. But as we all know, since then he’s been blighted by injury and only played for 30 seconds last season. Should he be over his problems he can play a vital role for us, but at the moment you couldn’t say that one season was worth all that money.

Rating – 6/10

Carlos Tevez – West Ham – £10m Loan

I was never too sure over this one. He had a very good first season for us, but was he worth all that money? The way he conducted himself in his second season still irks me, and since his move to City he hasn’t done anything to diminish my dislike of him. A good player, but £35m worth? Not a chance. I’m glad Fergie didn’t sign him.

Rating – 6/10

2008/09

Dimitar Berbatov – Tottenham – £30.75m

Ah, Dimi. Bought to be the final piece of the puzzle. The Cantona of the modern era. He’s been ok. Not good enough for that fee certainly, but not as bad as people make out. His lazy style will never endear him to fans, but he does provide the odd moment of class. Maybe the pressure of the fee and playing for Manchester United has been too much for him. He’s certainly an excellent player on his day, it’s just a shame that his day comes along as often as a bank holiday. If someone bids £20m for him, I think Fergie would snap their hand off.

Rating – 6/10

Zoran Tosic – Partizan Belgrade – Undisclosed

Another where we have to wait and see. Failed to even impress in the reserves throughout his first season and went on loan to Koln last season, where by all accounts he was very impressive. Fergie needs to at least give him a chance, as he has enough talent to have an impact.                                

Rating – 4/10 (for now)

2009/10

Antonio Valenica – Wigan – £16m

A huge success. There were major doubts that the replacement for Ronaldo was coming from Wigan, but he settled immediately and is certainly one of Wayne Rooney’s favourite players, setting him up for countless headers. Still young too, he can be a mainstay for many years yet.

Rating – 8/10

Michael Owen – Newcastle – Free

Lots of controversy over this one. As back-up he is fine. He was injury-free for the majority of the season and should be happy with his contribution. Owen is a natural goalscorer and that is something we need when Rooney isn’t around. As a free you have to say it’s been a success.    

Rating – 7/10

Gabriel Obertan – Bordeaux  and Mame Biram Diouf – Molde (both Undisclosed)

Two more youngsters to look out for. Obertan was bought for his raw talent which is unquestionable. If anyone can mould him into a first-teamer it’s Fergie. Diouf is a handful and scored a hatful in Norway. Showed that he was a cut above the reserves. We’ll have to see if they can both make an impact when given the chance.

Rating – 5/10 (for now)

There’s a definite pattern here. Fergie obviously knew that he needed players for the first team back in 2005, to regain the trophy off Chelsea. And since he has done that, the focus has very much been on youth and a strategy of hope rather than certainty. But now that Chelsea have won back the title, is it time for Fergie to find more first-teamers again? In this list there are a lot of 6’s and 7’s that can be turned into 8’s and 9’s. As far as those first-teamers go, to me they have mainly been excellent transfers. Considering that the years before the Glazers were trodden with the likes of Kleberson, Djemba-Djemba , Bellion and Miller, it’s been quite the turnaround for Ferguson, and it has resulted in a great period of success. The only question now is whether the current team can keep the run going.

Do you agree with these ratings? Have your say by leaving your comment below.

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3 Comments

  1. Tom Trev

    June 2, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Great article, I think fergie will have to pay ‘over the odds’ for top players in this window to take the title off the champions.

  2. Dan Smith

    June 4, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    Great read, I think that the fan’s view of us not having money is all wrong, Fergie will spend wisely, he always has done!

    The only thing I do disagree with is that our business should be done before the World Cup, prices tend to go up after the world cup to astrinomical figures and I think we could miss out on potential signings because of this.

  3. Dimitar Berbatov

    June 12, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    From a neutral point of view, I personally think Berbatov has been uniteds best player for the past 5 years, and was vital in Man United champions league and premier league wins!

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