The Veron Factor! Do United Really Need A Superstar Like…

…Wesley Sneijder? Alexi Sanchez? Pastore? Messi….ahem!?

It’s amazing to think that this summer it is a full ten years since United’s last bone-fide superstar signing (And some may say only transfer of it’s type for the club) In 2001 Sir Alex saw fit to sign who many felt was the best central midfielder in the world: Argentine silksmith Juan Sebastian Veron. Twenty-eight million pounds later and United had acquired a genuine world superstar. Other players have indeed costed United more over the years since, but they did not have the global profile that Seba did.

At that time, Veron was my favourite non-United player in the world. He was the only reason why I bothered to watch Serie A. He could do things with the ball that did not seem human. He could thread passes into his forwards with a control of the ball that seemed it had been created by witchcraft. His grace as he moved around the pitch seemed like a manifestation of art. Veron didn’t play at football’s pace….Football played the game at Veron’s!

When we were linked to him and it seemed like he would join United I almost soiled myself! Could we really sign a player of such standing? A player every team on the planet wanted? You have to remember that in 2001 we were still in a relatively new era of success for MUFC. It felt that it was only 5 minutes ago that we were begging Mark Robins to bury a ball on a windswept day at the City Ground to try and keep us in the 1990 FA Cup. This was the sort of thing the common member of The Faithful was used to back in the day. We had our heroes of course: The Robsons, The Cantonas, The Keanes. But truth is we were NOT used to having a ready made genius who strutted his stuff all over planet. Players had become legends at the club for their exploits, but this was an indication that we would try and buy success, and aquire thoroughbred pedigree rather than potential.

The story of Veron is a fuzz…with it ending with his acrimonious sale to Chelsea just 24 months later. He has often been muted as ‘the right player for United at the wrong time’. If Veron had been a United player now he would be our Michael Carrick…but a world class version (no disrespect to Carrick meant!). Its easy to point to why he failed. Yes he couldn’t play with Keane that well. Yes he struggled with the English pace. Yes this and that. But ultimately, for a club team that played a rigid 4-4-2 as we did back in the early 90s, he just wasn’t fully suited. It was a poor buy by Ferguson. The manager got stung. And as soon as he had the chance to sell he did with little fuss. I was gutted the day we sold him. We should have kept him another season. But like many I was blinded by his talent, as opposed to his general use to our team. You could say he was the original Dimitar Berbatov.

So the transfer window bursted into life yesterday as United moved to secure the prodigious defensive talent that is Phil Jones. Rated as one of the top teenage talents in his position in England, he is more the route that Fergie has taken over the years…even when he splashed the cash. Even when Rooney was signed he was much more ‘potential’ that anything else…not the ready made talisman. Everytime I read that were in for a ‘big name’ I often think back to Veron. About what buying this sort of player taught us. If you buy a Ferrari you know what you’ve acquired. But there is no guarantee that it wont get a punctured tire. Everybody recognises that we could do with a Veron type signing now…and that player seems to equate to Wesley Sneijder to many fans. The fever which has been created by a player who has had no official contact with the club is amazing..some fans losing their minds in delirium at the thought of him wearing our Red. But as in 2001 as I was when we nabbed Seba, these fans are more bothered about the name than they are by what the team needs. They want that damn Ferrari, because a BMW estate just isn’t sexy enough. Sneijder would directly effect Rooney’s position in the hole. Is he the player our style of midfield needs? Or would he represent a sea change in formation that MUFC play? This sort of transfer is loaded with issues from the off.

As it stands, I still think we would be third in the que after City and Chelsea for his services, purely on the issues of wage. Yes…if it is his dream to play for United then we will be in poll position. But I don’t believe in fairytales. Many fans are looking for a complete squad overhaul…yes, of a squad that won the title by 9 points and trotted with general ease to a Champions League final. No mean feat in my book. Last year was a great season…but many wish to ignore this glaring fact. A signing of  Sneijder, or Sanchez, or Pastore would represent to many of United’s younger fanbase (and I do think there is a generational divide on this matter) that we had pure ambitions to chase down and murder Barcelona. They want a statement of intent. A revolution rather than evolution. “Yes” They say! “Burn Gibson at the stake. Destroy Jonny Evans. Break John OShea in half”..and then you get the classic line: “They are not United class” …Yet if you had first hand experience of our last uber signing then you will realise that our success has been built more on the proverbial John OSheas and that mentality of a deep squad, rather than say Chelsea’s mentality of spending £50m on a solitary player..when they could have bought nine Chicharitos for the price.

I’m not saying I would turn my nose up at a global signing in the Sneijder mold…far from it. But I’m wise enough after 27 years of United support to know that not everything that glitters is gold. There is alot of choice out there for the manager…and it will not surprise me to see him bring in a leftfield signing to replace the legend that is Paul Scholes. A player who is not on any of the fans radar.

Spending money is indeed essential in modern football. But trusting the brain of Sir Alex is more important to me, and protecting our holistic approach to squad building for success.

For this is the Manchester United way.

About Steve Ferguson 886 Articles
Steve Ferguson had taken over & re-branded The Faithful MUFC website back in the summer of 2014 and is now the owner and editor of the site. Steve, from Ashton-Under-Lyne in Greater Manchester, is a 35-year-old life long Manchester United fan, travelling over the globe to see the Reds play. Steve has been lucky enough to be at both the 1999 and 2008 Champions League finals, seeing Manchester United lift the biggest trophy in the World, none more exciting than that faithful night in Barcelona in 99. The website is a blog, but also hopes to deliver the latest Manchester United news from around the internet too, linked up with our growing twitter account which is @TheFaithfulMUFC, give it a follow as we will follow you back as soon as we can.


  1. An excellent well written article. I am a first time visiter to thi site and this article will make me come back for more. Good work.

  2. Amen.
    We make superstars, not buy them.
    Although ironically, i loved watching Veron at OT. Just not when Keano was in the side too.
    My worry about Sneijder is that the Veron/Keane thing could well happen with Sneijder/Rooney. All a bit too similiar. Hard to say i’d turn him down… but i’d rather the money went on Modric or Nasri

  3. could agree more, if you says this “We make superstars, not buy them. ” my sidekick option ..yeah we need a badass Ninjas in our midfield #MUFC .. and Keisuke Honda is one of a kind , he’s potential , he’s calm, can be deadly in the dead ball situation … and ..he’s probably cheap

  4. Mike i think u represent what many 30 somethings MUFC fans think. I too loved Veron..but i also see the danger signs in a signing like Sneijder. Modric is my choice. Hes what the team needs. Nasri would also suffice but he wont leave Arsenal imho

  5. Good article,
    I agree Sneijder wont go to MU not because of the transfer fee but because it will break the wage structure. If he does leave,it will be to Chelski not city.
    My question is, how comes Barca can buy big players, expensive players with big salaries and keep the Barca tradition, style of football and win everything?
    Therefore it is not an impossible task.
    But I trust in SAF……………
    p.s I agree with getting Honda, anyone seen Norwegian midfielder called Singh,left footed alot of skill and great shot, everyone wets themselves about wiltshire,he make 2 good passes in a game and hes compared to Maradona!reminds me of another bag of wind…jo cole

  6. tbh i dont want to see evans or o’shea leave as they offer important cover and experience. but brown can go as can gibo.

    but i do agree that a player big name could flop and for me its not about chasing down barca as tbh its impossible because they are more than just talented players, they are a well oiled machine.

    its about adding quality where we need it.

  7. i read all man united blogs, websites, portals etc…but i have to say that this is quite possibly the best mufc fansite around…just keep up with the good work pal 🙂
    and about the article, in some parts i agree with you Rob, but even a blind man can see that we need a top class midfielder. carrick is good (many of you might not share the same opinion) but he’s freaking slow to match the EPL tempo…he might be good in italy, but he’s just too slow for EPL…he need too much time to get rid of the ball and he can’t make a quick decision, something that wesley sneijder or luka modric are capable of doing…they are very intelligent, and i strongly believe that they can fix our midfield problems. SAF got the best out of our current squad, it’s time for transitions. btw, i think we should not forget tom cleverley, he had a great season in a struggling squad like wigan’s.

  8. first things first.. Loved your post mate.. There’s the true United flavour to it.. Toally agree wid you..even if we couldnt land worries..I trust Fergie…n am pretty sure he is building a team tht can match de brilliance of Barca after our C/L loss… He has always emphasised on the European succes of clubs like Ajax,RM,Bayern,AC Milan n nw Barca n stated he would like to see United in that bracket. Its eminent now,, CHANGE IS THE WAY FOR UNITED… MUFC <3

  9. A nice read indeed. Brings back memories of times long past.
    It would not surprise me if SAF went out to buy Steven Defour from Standard Liege. He’s been looking at Defour for a few years now, and he could see him as the next Paul Scholes.

  10. brilliant article, first in ages, leave the business to sir alex, who time and again has proved us all wrong. in fergie we trust.

  11. Brilliant article mate, and I wholeheartedly agree with the point that your making here. I’d rather we let Cleverley grow into the Scholes role than trying to buy Sneijder because thats what we do best.

  12. An excellent article, thanks!
    Anything is possible, but I don’t expect to see any of Sneijder, Modric, Nasri, or any name signing. Surely not. I guess we’d all like to know the story behind the Sunderland bid. If that doesn’t go through then it’s not likely that we will add more than De Gea, Jones, Young, a returning Cleverley and possibly one other young player.

    Yes, we have lost experienced players. No, I’m not worried. Sir Alex, the family of quality staff at United, and the remaining senior players will carry on challenging on all fronts.

  13. I must’ve been one of only a few who was underwhelmed when we signed him.. And I was an HUGE Serie A fan throughout the mid-late 90’s. 

    Keane played in the position (deep-lying midfield) where Veron’s supreme passing ability we would’ve made the most of but without the tactical defensive awareness he would struggle and he did. We tried to accommodate him in a more offensive role but he just wasn’t penetrative enough around the edge of the box and common consensus was that he couldn’t adapt to the pace of the game as well.

    As for Sneijder… Fergie has great contacts and a fantastic scout out in Holland. He would’ve been ours already pre Real/Inter if he really wanted him. Same goes with Van der Vaart.

    Thanks for taking me back a bit. An excellent well-written article as well! 🙂

  14. excellent post. I posted this on a forum about 3 days ago. I was thinking about so called ‘marquee’ signings, and it occurred to me that veron was the only one to come from abroad. van nistelrooy is a slight exception, but he didn’t come from sunnier climbs.. all others. hat have been bought are either younger players with potential, established players but not marquee signings, or players playing in the premiership… that is why we shouldn’t expect someone like sneijder, but someone like defour may arrive, if not modric or even nasri, however unlikely the last 2 are..

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