Why Has Manchester United Resigned Itself To Being Outspent?

Sir Alex Ferguson has a practical take on morality. Anything benefitting Manchester United is right. Anything hindering Manchester United is wrong. With Manchester City and Real Madrid suddenly able to outbid Manchester United for players. It should surprise no one that the grizzled Scot spoke out for the little man.

“I said a year ago, when they [the Abu Dhabi United Group] took over at City, that this was possible,” Ferguson said. “Some of the values across the world now are amazing; the numbers that get tossed about. The values of players have shot sky high. I don’t think any of the [big] transfers this summer are realistic but for some reason it has caught fire this summer. It’s an unusual summer and it’s very difficult to get value because of that.”

“We went in for Benzema but, as far as we were concerned, the price tag was beyond his value. If other clubs want to go to that level, that’s entirely their business. We had a value that we thought was fair and we didn’t want to go above that position. Maybe Lyon thought we under-valued him and that’s fine, it’s their decision. They got €42m for him and they will be happy with that because they have done well. All this tells you about us is that we are sensible.”

Ferguson discusses “sensible” spending, but under his tenure at Manchester United, that has always meant spending superior resources to crush the opposition. Let’s look at this decade.

United signed Ruud Van Nistelrooy for a club record £19m in 2001. Later that year, he smashed that record by bringing in Juan Sebastian Veron for £28.1m.

Ferguson broke the transfer record again in 2002, spending £29m for Rio Ferdinand.

In 2004, the club spent £25.6m for Wayne Rooney.

United signed Michael Carrick from Tottenham for £18.6m in 2006, and spent £17m on Owen Hargreaves the next summer.

In 2008, Ferguson broke the club’s transfer record again spending £30.75m on striker Dimitar Berbatov.

When Ferguson wants a player, Manchester United overspends with superior financial resources to get him. It is hypocritical to criticize other clubs, which finally have more financial resources than United, for doing so.

It is interesting that Manchester United are resigned to being outbid for players. They have had two extended Champions League runs the past two seasons and received an £80m windfall from the Ronaldo transfer. If all was well, there should be plenty of cash available.

Is this truly Ferguson, who shows no track record of doing so, finally being “sensible,” or is the tremendous debt foisted on the club by Malcolm Glazer starting to affect the club’s finances?

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