Sir Alex Ferguson has voiced fears that the “kamikaze” spending of wealthy football club owners will continue until the realisation dawns that money does not guarantee success.
The Manchester manager, who officially unveiled summer recruits Javier Hernández, Chris Smalling and Bébé – acquired for a total of £24.4 million – on Tuesday, was careful not to identify by name those clubs he believes have drained the transfer market of value.
But with Manchester City due to take their summer spending close to the £130 million mark on Wednesday by completing the £24 million signing of Aston Villa midfielder James Milner, the Abu Dhabi-funded acquisition strategy at Eastlands would appear to be the prime focus of Ferguson’s remarks.
With United and Chelsea each having spent just under £25 million, City have far outstripped their rivals. Almost £350 million has been spent at Eastlands since Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan acquired the club in 2008. And while City manager Roberto Mancini has lavished £28 million on Yaya Toure and £24 million on David Silva, Ferguson has opted instead to shop at the lower end of the market, concentrating on youthful promise. The Scot admits, however, that the mammoth spending elsewhere is unlikely to cease in the near future. He said: “It doesn’t seem to abate, that is for sure. Over the last two or three years we have seen very wealthy owners become part of football clubs and therefore go on this kamikaze effort to spend their money. “It is amazing the amounts of money that are being bandied about in the present day game. You may think it could be dangerous, but you think they have that kind of money and, if they have it, they are certainly using it. I don’t see it abating.
“I think the kind of spending we are seeing at the moment will be here for two or three years, until such time as they understand you can’t necessarily achieve all the time by spending.” United have stood by as their European rivals have battled to secure the services of the likes of David Villa and Mesut Özil this summer, prompting claims from supporters that the club’s £716.5 million debt has led to spending restrictions being imposed by United’s owners, the Glazer family. Ferguson insists United remain capable of competing at the top end of the market, despite his belief that there is little value there. “We could have bought one or two players for a lot of money in the summer, but I didn’t necessarily see that they were going to make the difference that makes us really so much better.
“Take away the money, the issue is that the actual players we looked at maybe would not have done what [Eric] Cantona did for us, for instance, or [Wayne] Rooney or [Cristiano] Ronaldo. That is what I am talking about – to make that quantum leap to another level. “There will be a time when we have to buy a more mature player, but at the moment it is a young player’s club. Those young players will grow old too, though, and in 10 years’ time, we will be looking to replace them. “But hopefully they will be there in 10 years’ time – that is the object of having a long-term vision for the club. “Having young players does introduce a loyalty and a spirit that will serve us well. You see that with Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville. “Young players develop if you are looking after them properly.
How we treat players is important. Maybe the difference is that other clubs don’t have the consistency in manager and staff that Manchester United has.” Ferguson refused to rule out spending more before the Aug 31 transfer deadline, but said that the quality already within his squad dictates recruitment. “When I take away all the young players, I have that squad of experienced players. That is a good bit of experience for me to rely on. They are my back up.”