(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Sir Alex Ferguson announced that he does not plan on signing any new players to his 2009-10 Manchester United squad today at Carrington.
During a press conference for his three new signings, Antonio Valencia, Michael Owen, and Gabriel Obertan, Sir Alex declared that the transfer market had become too inflated.
"There are some amazing numbers being talked about, not all of them realistic. It is very difficult to get value now," Ferguson said.
"I feel we have a good squad, which meant there was no need for knee-jerk reactions. We asked about Benzema and we had a value for him. Lyons have done well because they got 42 million euro but I think we took a sensible view."
Few around the footballing world would have imagined that Sir Alex Ferguson would admit that certain players are becoming too expensive for a club like Manchester United to buy. And yet the market as it is right now is at a point that it never has been in the history of European football.
Player contracts and transfer fees are becoming more and more inflated with every new 'Galactico' going to Madrid and every new citizen who wishes not to be paid like a normal denizen.
What all of this means is that the market has become too expensive for any team except for Manchester City and Real Madrid. And that, my fellow football fans, is quite a depressing prospect.
It is not as if Manchester United do not have enough money to buy a player, but the club has decided to be more prudent in its spending; ostensibly with the view that the inflation in the market will be a temporary phenomena.
Ferguson's declaration is designed, more than likely, to inject confidence into the players he already has on the squad. Just because Sir Alex has not added a 'Galactico' to his roster does not mean that United will not be in the running for all of the trophies next season. I will break down the options by each third on the pitch.
The Red Devils' strongest dimension on the pitch is its hard as steel defense. Three of the current back four were chosen in Goal.com's all-United team of the past decade. Patrice Evra (LB), Nemanja Vidic (CB), and Rio Ferdinand (CB) are all rated amongst the best in the world at their respective positions.
All three should be healthy and ready to go for the next title defense. The one weak link in the chain is at right back in John O'Shea. This is no slight on O'Shea but his talent is not commensurate with his peers. It appears as though Ferguson will be relying upon a combination of O'Shea, Brown, and Rafael to hold down the position. United is also rock solid in goal with Edwin Van Der Sar and Ben Foster.
The Manchester United midfield is also incredibly strong even without FIFA World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo playing on the right. Most of the success of this unit will be dependent upon the healthy return of Owen Hargreaves, who has been out since last October due to more issues with his knee.
Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher as of today would be the opening match starters in central midfield versus Birmingham City August 16th.
The wing positions will be an interesting job for Sir Alex as he has many options available to him. Does he go with three strikers? Or does he move Hargreaves out to one of the wings and inserts either Anderson, Park, or Giggs as a central midfield, with Valencia playing the right wing?
Then there is also the question of what to make of Luis Nani. His performances during the 2007-08 campaign made United fans fall in love with his back flips. The 2008-09 season was the complete opposite, leaving many in the Red Army dreaming of selling him.
Which one will show up? The player and the manager expect the 07-08 player, and as a United fan, I hope they are right.
United's final third took the most beating during the 2009 offseason with the departures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, leaving a bevy of goals to be scored by the players who remain on the roster. Many including yours truly are tipping Wayne Rooney to have a career season in goalscoring now that he will be allowed to play in his natural position.
I am going to go out on a limb and also argue vehemently that Dimitar Berbatov will score a lot more goals as United's No. 9 this season. Berbatov, despised by some United supporters for not running around like a crazed fool *cough* Tevez *cough*, helped United win the title last season with vital goals and assists following the club's involvement in the FIFA Club World Cup.
Michael Owen is also expected to be among the goals this season with improved service and his own natural eye for goal.
Whether United are truly done in the market remains to be seen. I would personally like to see the Red Devils sign Ashley Young of Aston Villa and/or Fabian Delph of Leeds United.
After all, Ferguson has admitted that he likes to tell porkies to the press during press conferences. Whatever happens United fans, do not expect the club to shrink into anonymity because it refuses to pay over the odds for any player.
Respect your club for its prudence.