relief all round at Old Trafford, then. For a minute it looked like Manchester
United might not be able to field a full team next season, and would have to recruit
some 13-year-old ringers from the local park.
they have splashed £16 million on Antonio Valencia (pictured). Who cares whether he is the
right player? He's a player. And
given the summer they have had so far, United will be grateful to get anybody
It is the
kind of signing that must make Arsene Wenger pound his fists in that ineffective way of his. The Arsenal boss and his scouts
comb the world for emerging talents in the hope of landing a bargain. United
just wait until a player is good, then they buy him.
A couple of
years ago, Wigan signed Valencia
for a fraction of the price they received from United. But having just had £80m
dumped into their bank account in exchange for Cristiano Ronaldo, does it
really matter if United overpay by £10m or so?
lack Franck Ribery's X-factor, but Valencia is
quick, skilful and young, and Fergie knows he can do the business in the
roughly the same price United paid for Serbian duo Zoran Tosic and Adem Ljajic,
and less than they paid for Nani.
So a winger
with a proven record of success in the Premier League seems like no bad thing -
but then you have to be a certain kind of club to compensate for £32m of shaky
spending by splashing out another £16m.
the big fish of the Premier League, snapping up Valencias, Carricks and Berbatovs
from their smaller rivals.
football's great white shark
encounters a blue whale of a club when it comes to dealings in Europe.
have already sucked Ronaldo from their clutches like just another
piece of plankton, and are now busy hoovering up all United's main transfer targets.
struggle to sign players who have already established themselves as
world-class. Is it the weather? Is it the prospect of getting kicked by Joey
Barton? Or is it that top stars hate Richard Keys?
the reason, United find it difficult to compete for those blue riband players. They are to Real Madrid what Tottenham are to them. And given Tottenham's status as a frequent laughing stock in the transfer market, that's not a good thing for Fergie.
his major signings involve bringing players of obvious quality to a
bigger club (Valencia,
Wayne Rooney, Ruud van Nistelrooy), or taking expensive punts on talented
youngsters who may or may not be the next great thing (Ronaldo, Anderson,
seems that when faced with competition from La Liga's
giants, United are unable to land that big catch (yes, broken metaphor alert - the
clubs have just morphed from fish into fishermen).
2003 Ronaldinho snubbed United to join a Barcelona
side that had just finished sixth, and this summer Ribery, David Villa and
Karim Benzema appeared to go off limits as soon as Real Madrid expressed an
might yet end up at Old Trafford, but only if Real decide they don't want him. He will be the scrawny trout that
Florentino Perez chucks back into the river.
the Premier League is demonstrably the strongest domestic competition in the world, its top clubs still lack the same allure as a transfer destination as Madrid, Barcelona or even Milan.
Still, ED suspects
United will survive, especially with the £16m outlay being widely seen as just
the starter for 10 of an epic spending binge.
United's largesse with Burnley, who yesterday splashed out a club record £3m fee
to bring in Steven Fletcher from Hibernian.
Fletcher's record of one goal per
three games in the SPL hardly suggests a world-class talent, he is almost
certainly a more significant signing than Valencia.
While Valencia becomes just another component of a
30-man squad - virtually interchangeable with Park Ji-Sung or Nani - Fletcher's performances could very well determine whether or
not Burnley survive in the top flight.
fails, Burnley cannot just conjure more money
to sign another striker - they are stuck with what they have.
Fletcher might be the most important purchase Burnley ever make. Nobody is going to say that about Valencia and
- - -
QUOTE OF THE DAY: How I was tapped up on multiple occasions then screwed more
money out of my club then ignored my wife's
wishes, by Nemanja Vidic: "My wife Ana is unhappy with our lifestyle in
Manchester but I am not going to change my mind as I am happy with the team and
Manchester and the club's ambitions
for next season. I got offers from Milan, Barcelona and Real Madrid
and I played a very honest game - I disclosed all these offers to my boss Sir
Alex. He reacted quickly. I was told he was raising my pay to bring it to the
level where my reputation is in the Premier League and Europe.
and Real Madrid made their offers, Barcelona
came in - they wanted to pay 30 million euros for my services but after Sir
Alex's move, I am definitely staying
until my contract expires in 2012. I don't care that I will still not be paid as much as my
good friends Rio Ferdinand or Wayne Rooney but I guess I will be at the same
level as Berbatov and Carrick."
FOREIGN VIEW: An estimated 50,000 people turned out at the Bernabeu
for the presentation of Kaka by Real Madrid yesterday. All they were missing
was Sky Sports News's ace reporter
Jim White telling them they were the best fans in the world.
COMING UP: It's a
belting line-up the Wimbledon quarter-finals,
while on a football note the proper Jim White (not the abovementioned
irritatingly enthusiastic one) will be dropping some pearls of wisdom.