On a dry Wembley night at the end of May Barcelona pointed out some glaring differences between themselves and the English Champions, Manchester United. And this week United have returned the favour. The difference in question this time concerns the club’s transfer dealings. Unlike our Spanish friend in Catalonia, Manchester United have once again carried out the simple task of expressing their desire for a player, agreeing the fee with the club in question, and have captured their second signing of the summer, in what looks to be a good move for all parties.
So while Barcelona scrummage around in their pockets for loose change, and stall transfers using unwanted youth players as pawns in their ridiculous negotiations, or even go on about a player to the point he is unsettled but never stump up the cash, Sir Alex Ferguson has bagged another promising player to add to his side and will surely move on to looking at other positions in need of strengthening.
The capture of Ashley Young was a great one for United. I will avoid falling into the trap of saying he is a promising young winger, because I don’t believe that is his best description. Yes he is only 25, but Young is about to enter into his best years as a footballer which is why it is a good time to have signed him. Rather than purchase an inconsistent youngster who has to learn the game, United have purchased a player who is stepping up to the international scene and has been well educated in top flight football, with big thanks to Aston Villa. And the fee I think is a fair one. For United, they get a player for a true value, and what looks like a steal in today’s over-inflated market, and Aston Villa get a good figure to try and replace the attacker, especially considering Young had only a year left on his contract.
The criticism of Theo Walcott and Aaron Lennon has always been that they lack the consistent end product, but with Young you have a player who willingly takes on his man and has a quality pass on him too. He can play on the right, left or through the centre, although I think the latter would not be his best suited role, and depending on how Sir Alex plays it, I imagine Rooney and Chicharito will be occupying that position. And teaming up with Monsieur Rooney adds another good prospect into the mix as the two will arguably be playing for club and country together. So if it works at Old Trafford, it will hopefully work at England level. I say this with Barcelona in mind, with Xavi/ Iniesta/ Villa as my blueprint.
And its another example of the fact that the wiley old fox Ferguson still knows what he is doing. Yes, United have an abundance of wingers, and Nani and Valencia may wonder where they figure in all this, but Sir Alex is very much looking to the future. One criticism is that he hasn’t done anything to replace the departed Paul Scholes, although there seems to be no rush, also considering Scholes’ waning appearance count: the ginger maestro put in his lowest appearance tally since 1997, bar the dreaded 05/06 campaign when he missed half a season with blurred vision. And with three candidates identified as replacements in Sneijder, Modric and Nasri, I think we can trust Sir Alex on this one. And his latest signing may be a premature replacement, for the remaining member of the golden generation at Old Trafford.
At 37, one would think Ryan Giggs’ days are numbered, and maybe Ashley Young provides that proven cover when the Welshman does decide to hang up his boots. With Valencia still not back to top form following his injury, and Nani throwing in as many duff performances as he does world-beating ones, Young may be the solid performer United are looking for.
So, it looks like United know what they’re looking for in this transfer window and seem to be executing their plan without any fuss so far. Reports suggest that the club will break the 80m barrier this summer, suggesting that a central midfielder and goalkeeper are shoe-ins to be coming through the Old Trafford doors.