For a club like Manchester United, love them or loathe them, they are certainly expected to be winning the big trophies and attracting the star names. Yet after a quite frankly dismal display in last season’s Champions League, and indeed the Europa League, and losing out on the league title to formerly noisy now successful (not to mention not short of a bob or two) neighbours Manchester City, United fans have begun to question what is going on, and why are the club not making bigger moves in the transfer market?
An age-old reflex when things are not going well at Old Trafford seems to be to blame the owners, the Glazers, yet United’s equivalent of God, Sir Alex Ferguson, has offered his unwavering support to the Americans, and shot down claims that they are using the club as a cash cow and ultimately bleeding them dry.
Fergie points to the trophies won since the Glazers have been at the helm, including titles and a European Cup – which judging by the display last season might be the only one for a while – and says they have been ‘great’ for the club. Fans, of course will point to the massive debt of £437 million the club are now in and the crippling debt-related fees which have currently cost an eye-watering £550 million, and the lack of big money supposedly not spent on players.
Obviously this debate has been going on far longer and is far deeper than this article can go, and there will be no changing the opinion of certain fans or employees of the club, with the latest point of contention being the £150 million share plan now mooted by the owners. Yet one thing cannot be ignored – United are a huge club and were long before the Glazers decided to make a quick buck from the Red Devils.
What seems to be alarming is the fact that people now do not consider United as the front runners to sign the biggest and best players – the bid United tabled for RVP was met with raised eyebrows from many, and the club were not really considered serious candidates for the player.
The bid itself clearly shows that Fergie does have money to spend this summer, but just how much is debatable? They could sorely use a player like Luka Modric, who looks set to leave Spurs, but for money few feel United could afford. Granted the club have signed Powell and Kagawa, but are these payers who will win a Champions League?
In the age of Oligarchs and Sheiks, Glazer supporters will say that United cannot look to compete with such ‘silly spending’. Yet for a club with such a turnover and fan base, not to mention designs on the biggest prizes of all – two seasons in a row without a trophy is something out of the question for Ferguson and his players, money much be spent and teams must be revitalised. Yet the question that now lingers is an uncomfortable one for those at Old Trafford – just how far is Fergie being allowed to do so, and more vitally, how much money is he really able to spend?