Sir Alex Ferguson admits Manchester United’s new signing Bebe was a mystery even to him, and that for the first time in 24 years at Old Trafford, he has purchased a player he has never seen in action.
It came as a real shock last week when United announced the signing of the 20-year-old, who had only joined Vitoria Guimaraes five weeks previously from third-tier side Estrela Amadora. Further intrigue followed when it emerged that Bebe had been homeless as a youngster.
United paid £7 million to activate a release clause in the forward’s contract as reports indicated that Real Madrid were also interested in making a deal. Such was the club’s haste, Ferguson concedes he was unable to see his new signing in action.
“On this occasion I didn’t watch him,” Ferguson said. “It is the first time I have done it. Normally I see plenty of video footage but our scouting department is very good and sometimes you have to go on instinct.
“Our scout in Portugal was adamant we must do something quickly. You look at the material. You look at their age and whether they’re bringing pace, balance, desire to play. You got to trust your staff at times, so I sent David Gill down there to do the deal.”
When asked at a press conference on Wednesday what were his best attributes, Bebe replied: “I am fast, I kick well and I score a lot of goals.”
While United have invested in youth this summer, with Bebe, Javier Hernandez and Chris Smalling all presented to the press on Tuesday, neighbours Manchester City have once against exercised their considerable financial muscle in the transfer market.
The club confirmed on Tuesday they have agreed a deal to sign James Milner from Aston Villa, building on the previous captures of Mario Balotelli, David Silva, Yaya Toure, Jerome Boateng and Aleksandar Kolarov. Their spending is in excess of £100 million this summer and although Ferguson did not mention City by name, he has questioned the amounts being spent in some quarters.
“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,” Ferguson said. “It is amazing the amounts of money that are being bandied about in the present day game.
“Some people may think it could be dangerous. But if they have that kind of money, they are certainly using it. I don’t see it abating. 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.”