Paul Parker

United targets over-priced

Paul Parker

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The big question this summer centres on how Manchester
United should spend the money they are to get from the sale of Cristiano
Ronaldo to Real Madrid.

£80 million is a huge amount
of money but such are the inflated sums demanded once selling clubs know it is
United who are interested, it is difficult to name a single player linked with
a move to Old Trafford who is actually worth what he is being offered for.

Take the £40m price tag that has been slapped on Karim
Benzema's head. Surely the Lyon striker cannot
be worth that much? For that kind of money, you expect a proven world-class
player, a must-have addition to any squad.

I haven't seen enough from Benzema, or Franck Ribery for
that matter, to suggest either is that kind of player. But cut the prices being
talked about - to about what both were worth two years ago - and it's a
different matter.

Whether the £80m for Ronaldo comes United's way in
instalments is yet to be seen, but even if it comes in one lump sum, United are
under no obligation to spend it all at once.

But it's clear that United do need to spend some this
summer.

Alex Ferguson may well have brought through a great crop of
youngsters in 1995, but the current lot is not in the same league.

Fourteen years ago, stalwarts Mark Hughes, Paul Ince and Andrei Kanchelskis left the club,
prompting fears the boss had lost the plot and United were about to enter
free-fall.

I was in the side that lost to Aston Villa on the opening
day of that season, leading to the now infamous "you'll win nothing with kids" comment from Alan Hansen.

But we went on to win the Double that season, thanks in no
small part to the contributions of those youngsters who went on to dominate
English football for years to come.

Ferguson
has always invested in youth, but I just don't think what he has at his
disposal at the moment is capable of emulating the likes of Beckham, Neville,
Butt, Scholes et al.

It was different back then. Players were treated differently
- more was demanded from youngsters and people were not afraid of having a go
at them if they did not pull their weight. There was an expectation to see them
bounce back and prove people wrong if any criticism was levelled at them.

Those players were mentally tough, and it showed in how that
season panned out. But the current crop don't seem to have the same mentality.

A prime example is Nani, who should be ready-made
replacement on the right for Ronaldo, but he still has a lot to do - he needs
to improve about 50 per cent - before he can assume his
Portuguese compatriot's mantle.

He's been at United for two seasons now but has shown little
sign of improvement during that time. He needs to start reminding the club of
the reasons - 14 million of them - why they bought him in the first place.

On the other flank, Zoran Tosic has shown much promise,
especially for Serbia
in this summer's Euro U21s, but I don't think he is ready to make the step up
just yet. That said, the only way he'll improve is if he is around quality
players - much like the kids benefitted from Eric Cantona in 1995 - and being
involved with the first team next season will only help to bring him on.

Up front, Danny Welbeck has performed in fits and starts
only and you cannot hang a hat on him at that level. Likewise young Italian
Federico Macheda.

However, one player who stands out from the rest of the
youngsters is Fraizer Campbell. Which rather begs the question: why are United
selling him?

Campbell
is an old-fashioned striker - he never stops running, he knows where the goal
is and he respects his team-mates. I've seen enough of him to think he deserves
a chance at Old Trafford.

In my opinion, it's too early to sell him. Is he really
going to improve at Hull
City? I'd like to see him
stay and be given a chance.

If any of the youngsters deserve a run in the first team -
not just a game here and a game there, but a proper run of four or five games -
it's Campbell.

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