Manchester United's manager Sir Alex Ferguson has been widely reported as saying he definitely won't be making any transfer signings in January.
Now that view is open to debate. The original article was published in the Mail, but the statement seems to have been muddied along the way from an original interview Sir Alex gave to Eurosport-Yahoo.
In that interview he was actually asked by "The Dugout", "As you approach the New Year are there areas of the squad you would like to strengthen at all?"
To which Sir Alex replied:
No, no, the January transfer market has never been the most successful market and that's proved itself over the years. You get very few big transfers. All the big transfers are done in the summer.
That doesn't sound like a "No, definitely not."
In fact the line Sir Alex trotted out is pretty similar to what he has said in the past as reported by The Mail:
In 2006 he said that the January transfer market was over-rated. He ruled out any moves in 2008. And in December 2009 he said, "I don’t see any value in the market and that’s why I didn’t buy anyone more in the summer."
On his birthday (31 December) in 2010 he ruled out any signings. And, being consistent, in 2011 said he would only buy if someone United have always been interested in became available.
While the facts pretty much corroborate his long held view, he signed the following players in past windows:
2003-04 Dong Fangzhuo and Louis Saha
2005-06 Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic
2008-09 Zoran Tosic and Ritchie De Laet
2010-11 Anders Lindegaard
2011-12 Frederic Veseli
So his reluctance is not quite accurate, but his statement about value and big money transfers may be. After all, Fernando Torres (£50 million) and Andy Carroll (£35 million) both moved in January 2011. So, its OK if money is no object.
So when will the next big signing arrive?
Well, if you take Sir Alex at his word, not before next summer. However, he has indicated on more than one occasion that he will sign players who he thinks represent value, whatever time of year it is. And the Glazers have always supported him.
There are a couple of other reasons not to buy anyone right now:
- The squad is pretty much fit now that the longer term injured defenders are back. United have made it to Christmas top of the League without Vidic
- In the last two matches United have played some of their best football of the season and Robin Van Persie is fully integrated into the team
- Most of their rumoured major targets are Champions League cup-tied, so they will not happen until the summer
So of all the likely transfers that Sir Alex would consider, who might be available in January and represent "value" as he would regard it?
And as an added interest, who might Sir Alex promote from within, if he can't get that player?