Manchester United are linked with the best players in the world all the time.
That kind of speculation is understandable, based on United's status as one of Europe's elite clubs and their interest in only the best players.
It's also based on United's past record of attracting high-end personnel. Sir Alex Ferguson did it again and again with Roy Keane, Jaap Stam, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Juan Sebastian Veron, Fabien Barthez, Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie among others.
Ferguson was a master at selling United. He could convince the best players in the world that Old Trafford was the place to be over other great cathedrals like the Bernabeu and the San Siro. He could make Manchester—a damp, cold, northern city—seem as appealing as Barcelona or Munich.
He could sell the history of the club because he was part of it. He could offer a prospective signing the chance to join it. A powerful message delivered by a master orator is difficult to ignore.
United have a lot to offer. Big wages, weekly crowds of more than 75,000, regular Champions League football and a genuine chance to win trophies and titles are all part of the package.
But in six weeks, they head into their second transfer window without their ringmaster. The first one in the summer was less than successful. Have United lost some of their allure now that Fergie has gone?
On the surface, not much has changed. United can still offer competitive wages, a huge worldwide following and silverware. But the experienced salesman has been replaced by an apprentice.
David Moyes hasn't had the time to develop the same aura. It comes with authority, respect and success. He may yet acquire it all, but it's not there yet.
On the pitch, United and Moyes are starting to remedy a difficult start to the season. Victory over Premier League leaders Arsenal was the perfect answer to questions about Moyes' record in big games.
But the fans want to see that Moyes can continue Fergie's work off the pitch, too. That means not only blooming young players like Adnan Januzaj, but also attracting new names.
And not just any names, star names.
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