Manchester United wasting no time in the transfer market
By Jason Mathias.
As Manchester United yesterday announced the signing of Mexican striker Javier Hernandez, it is clear that the club has no time for standing still. After clinching a deal for Fulham’s centre-back Chris Smalling earlier in the year, Sir Alex Ferguson seems to be sticking to his policy of buying young players and moulding them into players worthy of wearing the fabled red shirt. But is that what the club needs at this time?
Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez (it translates to ‘Little Pea’, apparently named after his green eyes rather than something else…whatever that would be) is a 21-year-old striker currently plying his trade for Chivas in his native Mexico. This season he has netted 21 times in 28 appearances and made 4 outings for the national team, scoring the same amount of goals. Having heard of the signing yesterday, and having no prior knowledge of the player, I immediately hopped onto YouTube hoping for compilations of screamers and solo goals where he dribbled passed half a team. As I do with any player we sign. While I didn’t find that, I was still impressed with the content. He seems equally as comfortable on his left foot as his right, and for a man of small stature (standing at 5’9) there were plenty of headed goals. Apparently the Mexican folk are quite giddy about his potential, so at a reported £10million, he could turn out to be a bargain. Of course, he could turn out to be Zoran Tosic.
The speed of the deal and its ‘out of the blue’ nature always excites me, as it did when we announced the signings of Anderson and Nani just after winning the title in 2007. ‘We’ve just won the title and now we sign two of the hottest prospects in Europe?! Fantastic!’ That’s what I appreciate about Fergie in the transfer market; he doesn’t hang around. It was the same with Rooney, Anderson, Nani and Smalling. Ferguson has acted fast in this case because of the upcoming World Cup. For all we know, Chicharito could win the Golden Boot, and then he’d be worth a great deal more than he is currently. Of course, now this brings a certain pressure on his shoulders as he goes in to the tournament, and it will be interesting to see if he can thrive under that.
In the current transfer market where inflated prices are very much prevalent, Ferguson is relatively reserved in his buying. He was priced out of a deal for Karim Benzema in the summer and blamed the lack of value which is currently dominating transfers. He should know having sold Ronaldo to Real Madrid for £80million a few weeks prior. So the signings of Smalling and Hernandez are indicative of his new policy; buying young players and hoping they fulfil their potential. In his press conference today he confirmed this.
“We like doing these kind of deals. We identify young talent and we’ve been good at that over the years. These are the kind of signings we prefer to make.”
So far this method has had mixed results. Rooney and Ronaldo have obviously gone on to become world class talents, and Nani may well be heading there if he can keep his head screwed on. The jury is still out on Anderson (personally I think he can make it), where the likes of Diouf, Obertan and Tosic are yet to really be given a chance, for different reasons. For me, there’s nothing better as a fan than seeing a young player come through and become a mainstay in the first team, but you have to wonder if it’s the right thing to do when these players are expected to take part so early in their career. Just look at Arsenal. While Arsene Wenger is brilliant at spotting young talent (in most cases), with them forming the spine of his team over the last few years Arsenal have found themselves without a trophy for 5 seasons. With the money from Ronaldo’s sale ready to be used, maybe Ferguson needs to relinquish his tight grip on it and find some players that can improve the team now instead of in 3 or 4 years. But where do we need to strengthen?
Looking through the squad, I think it’s hard to find any major weaknesses. The main concern I have is with central midfield. Michael Carrick seems to have gone backwards this season, and as legendary as they are, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes will have to be phased out soon. So in my mind we should be after a creative midfielder. Arsenal have Fabregas, Chelsea have Lampard, Liverpool have Gerrard, and we have…Darren Fletcher? I’ve wrote about the brilliance of Fletch but what he isn’t is a free-scoring midfielder who will slice open defences on a regular basis. There has been talk of James Milner, and while he is the most improved player in the Premier League this season, is he ready to step up into Champions League football? It’s a risk. Another player linked has been Napoli’s Slovakian international Marek Hamsik. I can’t say I’ve seen him play, but if his stats on Football Manager are anything to go by, he’s quite a talent. I jest of course, but maybe a relative unknown like him being linked is just evidence that there aren’t many players of this type around.
With Hernandez signed (assuming the work permit goes through), there is a plethora of strikers at the club. Rooney, Berbatov, Owen, Macheda, Welbeck, Hernandez, Diouf. I would guess that two would go out on loan (probably Welbeck and Diouf), leaving the 3 senior strikers and 2 up-and-comers. Not that that will stop the press linking us to the likes of David Villa and Karim Benzema. I think Benzema has the potential to replicate Ronaldo (the fat one) in terms of quality, and if he became available following his poor year at Real Madrid, I’d snap him up in a heartbeat. Of course, that would mean saying goodbye to Berbatov, something that might be easier said than done at his age where paying the required big fee would be off-putting for most clubs. Right-back could be a problem, with seemingly no stick-on first choice at the moment. Rafael will almost certainly take on the mantle in the next 2 years, but can we afford to risk his inexperience, Gary Neville’s age or the average but invaluable John O’Shea in the interim? In the goalkeeper position, I truly believe van der Sar might not be done for a couple more years. No mistakes have crept into his game and he looks as good as ever, a testament to his professionalism. I’m quite happy with him as Number 1, certainly for next season anyway. On the wings Valencia and Nani are capable of winning things for the club, and Park and Giggs, with possibly Obertan and Tosic, can provide great back up.
So with Smalling and Hernandez already signed for next season, it gives Ferguson and co plenty of time to find the creative midfielder we’re after to complete the first team. It could be Milner. It could be Hamsik. It could be Gourcuff. Or, with the way things are, it could be an under-21 international.
What do you think of United’s transfer policy? Who do you think we need to sign/what are the problem areas? Please leave your comments below.
/ 1 hour ago
Arsenal travel to Old Trafford for Thursday’s much-anticipated Premier League clash against Manchester United....
/ 2 hours ago
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has said that he has no good news regarding the...