There have been many debates surrounding who has the best transfer record, Rafa or Fergie?
It's not an easy question to answer, there are many elements to consider. Trophies, time spent at the club, progress of the player, and the club. With that in mind I went back to 1986 to review Fergies track record in the transfer market.
Then after completing that, we'll compare his record over the last five years with Rafa's. And then just for good measure we'll throw in Wenger's record for good measure too.
Alex Ferguson, as he was known as in 1986, spent a miserly £60k on his very first signing to the club. Liam O'Brien came in as a midfielder of some class from Ireland's Shamrock Rovers...
(It might be prudent to to make note, that the year in question refers to all transfers at the club between July 31st and July 31st of the following year, i.e. Nani signed for Manchester United on 02-07-07, but is included under the 2006 to 2007 signings.)
1986 IN (3) £1.16m 1986 OUT (5) £0.72m
1987 IN (5) £3.57m 1987 OUT (1) £0.00m
1988 IN (3) £2.25m 1988 OUT (6) £1.47m
1989 IN (8) £5.41m 1989 OUT (3) £0.40m
1990 IN (1) £0.65m 1990 OUT (8) £0.20m
1991 IN (2) £2.25m 1991 OUT (5) £0.25m
1992 IN (5) £6.05m 1992 OUT (6) £1.93m
1993 IN (2) £1.50m 1993 OUT (8) £0.50m
1994 IN (1) £6.00m 1994 OUT (12) £12.10m
1995 IN (8) £8.25m 1995 OUT (12) £5.85m
1996 IN (2) £3.50m 1996 OUT (4) £4.50m
1997 IN (3) £15.75m 1997 OUT (19) £6.40m
1998 IN (3) £17.00m 1998 OUT (5) £1.80m
1999 IN (5) £17.80m 1999 OUT (9) £1.75m
2000 IN (0) £0.00m 2000 OUT (12) £8.00m
2001 IN (6) £57.60m 2001 OUT (14) £28.20m
2002 IN (3) £31.50m 2002 OUT (10) £2.00m
2003 IN (10) £53.10m 2003 OUT (15) £40.00m
2004 IN (3) £20.00m 2004 OUT (10) £3.85m
2005 IN (4) £17.50 2005 OUT (16) £6.50m
2006 IN (5) £65.60m 2006 OUT (8) £15.20m
2007 IN (2) £0.00m 2007 OUT (14) £19.50m
2008 IN (3) £37.00m 2008 OUT (6) £0.00m 2009 IN (3) £19.00m 2009 OUT (8) £83.5m
TOTAL IN (89) £392.44m TOTAL OUT (216) £244.12
So there's Alex Ferguson's entire transfer record since becoming manager of Manchester United in 1986. He has spent an amazing £392.44m over 23 years.
It's interesting to point out that the real spending power of United only started around 1994, two years after the advent of the Premier League, so take from that what you will.
And in that 22 years as manager United have won 10 league titles, five FA Cups, three League Cups, and the Champions League twice.
20 major trophies in 22 years, a truly phenomenal record that will ensure that Alex Ferguson will go down in the record books as one of the all time greats.
Next up, Rafa....
Rafael Benitez took over at Anfield in 2004. And made Josemi his first official signing...
Since then Liverpool have spent the vast majority of time being the bridesmaid, up until this season anyway. Having launched their first serious challenge to the league in some time, many feel that Liverpool are now poised to challenge for the league over the next few seasons.
2004 IN (07) £25.55m 2004 OUT (10) £10.50m
2005 IN (15) £36.90m 2005 OUT (16) £9.50m
2006 IN (11) £44.80m 2006 OUT (20) £13.63m
2007 IN (05) £22.50m 2007 OUT (13) £19.90m
2008 IN (07) £40.30m 2008 OUT (08) £30.75m 2009 IN (04) £40.00m 2009 OUT (13) £41.10m
TOTAL IN (49) £210.50m TOTAL OUT (80) £125.38m
Liverpool's trophy haul has not been as impressive as one might have hoped considering the spending over Benitez's five years in charge, the Champions League in 2005 is joined by the FA Cup in 2006. But it is generally felt that Rafa was starting afresh, and that he wanted to put his own imprint on the club.
But maybe that's being unfair to Rafa. Liverpool fans often point to the progress their Spanish manager has brought to the club. And there is little doubt that Liverpool are closer to winning the league this year than they have been for some time.
During his five years at the club, Liverpool have finished...'05 5th, '06 3rd, '07 3rd, ''08 4th '09 2nd.
Liverpool are firmly established as one of the Premiership elite, and are guaranteed to finish in the top four almost every season, so expecting them to challenge for the league at some point is not a far stretch for the imagination.
As we're comparing two of the best managers transfer records in the league, I thought it might be prudent to include Arsene Wenger as well.
Along with Ferguson, the duo are by far the longest serving managers in the league.
Since taking over at Highbury in 1996, Wenger has in a large part transformed football as we see it today.
His teams always play exquisite football, and many managers have tried to copy the Frenchman's style and fluidity that all of his teams are famous for.
But perhaps his greatest influence has been off the pitch. He has helped lengthen the careers of many players at Arsenal, the likes of Tony Adams and Dennis Bergkamp are now regarded as legends in every sense of the word.
With the science that Wenger brought to Arsenal, almost every team in the Premiership has gone on to copy his methods, bringing a newer more effective, efficient approach to their training methods.
He began his time at Arsenal by snapping up Remi Garde and Patrick Vieira...
1996 IN (11) £20.25m 1996 OUT (16) £10.12m
1997 IN (02) £00.80m 1997 OUT (14) £00.75m
1998 IN (07) £13.80m 1998 OUT (06) £04.87m
1999 IN (06) £22.85m 1999 OUT (14) £29.03m
2000 IN (10) £35.00m 2000 OUT (13) £31.70m
2001 IN (05) £15.25m 2001 OUT (05) £04.27m
2002 IN (04) £06.60m 2002 OUT (23) £05.46m
2003 IN (07) £16.00m 2003 OUT (14) £00.01m
2004 IN (03) £01.00m 2004 OUT (15) £02.60m
2005 IN (09) £32.35m 2005 OUT (16) £13.70m
2006 IN (08) £11.90m 2006 OUT (15) £27.60m
2007 IN (04) £13.20m 2007 OUT (07) £07.50m
2008 IN (08) £30.80m 2008 OUT (04) £15.80m 2009 IN (02) £10.00m 2009 OUT (05) £41.00m
TOTAL (86) £220.80m TOTAL (162) £194.41m
And despite not winning a trophy for three seasons, Wenger's record over the last 12 years is fantastic.
Three league titles and four FA Cups (including two doubles) have cemented Arsene Wenger as one of Arsenal's most successful managers of all time.
Now the bit you've all been waiting for...
The three managers records since 2004....
Alex Ferguson IN (19) £159.10m OUT (62) £128.50m
Rafael Benitez IN (49) £210.50m OUT (80) £125.28m
Arsene Wenger IN (34) £ 99.25m OUT (62) £108.20m
Of course there are varying factors to consider, the size of the club's wage budgets, the general club turnover, matchday receipts, inflation...
As it stands, Chelsea have the highest wage bill in the EPL at £130m per year, United are in second place with £98m, and Liverpool and Arsenal pay out £79m and £77m respectively.
Their nearest Premiership rival wage-wise is Newcastle United who pay out £62.50m.
What you can take from these statistics is that success breeds success, and all the trappings of an amazing war chest go with it.
In general it is felt that United are the club with all the money, not so as you can see from Liverpool's spending. And far from being a club where youth is king and that they spend very little, Arsenal also spend a massive amount.
In a nutshell, the spending of these three teams reflect their positions on top of the league. Manchester United are kings for the moment, but Liverpool have proved that they have the money to match them.
And if Arsenal want to renew their battles for the title with either team they'll have to match their spending.