If you turn on Sky Sports News between 7pm and 10pm you will see that they have thawed out Jim White from his cryogenic hibernation. This can only mean that silly season (otherwise know as the transfer window) is almost upon us. Whilst Jim uses his incredible talent of turning even the most insane of transfer rumour into a momentous news story, clubs are beavering away behind the scenes to improve their squads for next season. From a United point of view, this means that in the space of three months we will be linked with almost every footballer to lace on boots last season. Occasionally one of these rumours becomes reality (and I stress the occasionally), but more than likely Fergie springs a fast one on us all.
The summer of 2010 saw Fergie splash cash out on Chris Smalling, who was barely out of non league football, and Javier Hernandez, who at that point only Mexicans had heard of. Both players were young, but we needed established talent didn’t we? Where are the Mesut Ozil’s or the Wesley Sneijder’s? Where were the Karim Benzema’s or the Joe Cole’s? Fergie’s lost it! You don’t win anything with kids (I thank you Alan Hansen!)! If you know a group of United fans, I’m 100% positive you heard at least one of these shouts. But that wasn’t all, Fergie then shocked the footballing world by paying £7m for the littlest hobo a.k.a Bebe. Outrageous! Laughing Stock! Stitched up!
Whilst the jury is still obviously out on Bebe, Chris Smalling and Javier Hernandez both played key parts in securing us our 19th title. Now I’m not for one minute trying to say that Fergie gets it right in the transfer market all the time. We ‘ve had our fair share of transfer flops over the years to prove that point. The point I am trying to make is that Fergie is building. Over the past X amount of years, Fergie has gradually snubbed the more established, name player for young, promising stars. Sir Alex is not just thinking of the now, he is thinking of two, maybe four, maybe even six years down the line. He is thinking past his own reign as the greatest manager alive and is thinking of securing the clubs future for his successor.
The emergence of Chelsea and Manchester City as clubs who can afford to fork out £100m a season to strengthen their teams, Sir Alex realised that Manchester United couldn’t keep up with that spending. So the only other way to keep us on top is to buy these players BEFORE they are established stars, potentially costing the club a small fortune in transfer fee’s and wages. Over the past few seasons we have brought in the Da Silva’s, Anderson, Nani, Smalling, Hernandez, Obertan and Bebe to name a few. We have also promoted Jonny Evans and Darron Gibson from our youth ranks, with Danny Welbeck, Kiko Machida and Tom Cleverley seemingly ready to break through next season. Add on this that Wayne Rooney and Antonio Valencia are still only 25 years of age.
If we add to this the likely signings of David De Gea, arguably the worlds most talented goalkeeper of his age; Phil Jones, a highly regarded centre back who has been lauded as a future England Captain and turned down both Arsenal and Liverpool to come to OT; and Ashley Young who is already an established England International, you have the makings of a squad for the next 5-10 years. Not just a team, but a SQUAD. When was the last time Chelsea brought one youngster through into the first team? They started it with the McEachran kid this season who made a handful of subs appearances, but before that you are looking at John Terry as the last one to come through the ranks!
Whoever takes over the hot seat from Ferguson in the next two, three, four years will be stepping into one of the most impossible jobs in all of sport. Not only will they have to deal with the pressure of managing one of the biggest clubs in the world, but they have the enormous task of following the greatest manager of all time. No small task. Ferguson realises this and his leaving present to man taking over his job is to set him up with a squad with the potential to continue our tradition of success for the next decade.
So my message to all United fans who are flying into a blind panic when we don’t sign a Sanchez or a Modric, calm down, Sir Alex has a plan and from where I’m sitting, the future is very, very bright.