This morning I read a little article that suggested Eden Hazard could come to Manchester United, choosing United over their now roaring neighbours Manchester City. My heart lifted. Anything I've seen of Hazard has been impressive and better judges of talent than myself have raved about the man. And yet deep in my stomach there wasn't happiness, there was depression. If Hazard did choose United, it would not be for the right reasons. It would be because the United team is weak. We need Hazard more than he needs us. In his eyes he would walk into our squad as a new star. At City he would be just another in a line of world beaters. Great.

The questions this brings up are simple, is United still the attractive home of football it once was. They've always had extreme competition. Sadly the best players in Europe and South America grow up dreaming of Barcelona and Real Madrid. Cristiano Ronaldo had everything most players would ever want at United, but he fantasised about the pure white shirt of Los Galacticos. If the newspapers are correct, United would enter the market for players but realise it was hopelessly futile as hearts where set on Spain long before anyone even knew they were available. Ozil, Sanchez, Fabregas, not all United targets but three examples of top class players that Barca and Real simply chose and acquired. No mess, no fuss. They wanted so they took. Manchester United have never had that power, or if they have its never been used.

When Roman Abrahamovich took over Chelsea, the power of United's appeal fell even in its own country. Chelsea took United targets like Robben, Ballack and Mikel (one of these things is not like the other) right from under their nose, and in the case of Mikel out from the club itself. They did so by offering more money, it’s a simple strategy but it works. And we can shout and claim we don't want those money grabbers anyway but the fact is we never really had the choice.


And now it's moved closer to home, Manchester City have the highest spending power in the entire world. In the space of a few years they have went from nothing to the verge of being the English champions. They've went and bought anyone they wanted and done so with huge amounts of cash. You can hate it, but it's happened and in the summer they will take the best squad in the Premiership and they will bolster it. The good players will be sold, replaced by great players and next year the task will seem insurmountable to catch them.

Don't get me wrong, Manchester United is an amazing option for the vast majority of footballers. Their appeal far outweighs your Arsenals, Liverpools and Spurs. There are players who will be linked to United and dream of pulling on the fabled red shirt, players like Shinji Kagawa hopefully. But when it comes to the crème de la crème United just cannot compete on a level playing field.

This leaves United in a hole, left far behind by money sucked from the club to pay off obscene debts and interest. And no matter how hard they try the don't have the same name value of Barcelona and Real Madrid to 90% of the world’s footballers. So even if the Glazers hand over a huge war chest, a bounty never before seen, United will still be outspent by those around them as Ferguson is left to take the scraps of European football. It's depressing, but its reality. So roll on the summer transfer window, the endless speculation of players United will never have a chance to buy. They'll take the bright lights of Spain or the big cash of City. Sadly, the only thing United can offer now is an easier route to first team football.


If you agree, disagree or just want to abuse me you can find me on Twitter. @David_TPL


Tags: Barcelona, City, Hazard, Kagawa, Madrid, Manchester, Real, United

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Have to agree with most of this. You quite rightly say at the end that "the only thing United can offer now is an easier route to first team football", which, for me, begs the question: if United can't get the biggest names, why are the youth and reserve players that the club already have not getting regular games. I know Pogba is a fool, and TC23 has been injured, and we can roll out excuses like we need experience to win the league and the young lads are either not ready or not good enough, but this must surely now be the time when Ferguson (and the fans) forgets about marquee £30m signings and turns to his youth academy. There's surely a couple of stars in there somewhere. 

All the more reason to have a world class youth academy, aka Barca.  Can you imagine Messi, Iniesta or Xavi ever leaving Barca for financial reasons. No chance. Maybe they'll get a transfer when they are surplus to requirements but having been raised there since kids they feel at one with the club and the fans.

Bring in kids, teach them a style and philosophy throughout all age groups right up into the first team and you'll reap the rewards. This method is not only financially sustainable but provies a stream of new talent every tear coming up the ranks so while a club with money might go out an purchase individuals capable of winning A title, youth development promotes a club with much greater ambitions

Good article.

The problem with relying heavily on youth is that you are always taking a punt to some extent. If it was easy to bring through young players and turn them into stars then all clubs would do it, even City. Logic, history and probability dictate that very few youngsters will go on to be world class.

One simple question - How many world class or even genuinely good players have emerged out of our academy since the fledglings? None. Zero, Zilch, Nada, Shoonya!!!
I have been beating my head on this forum for more than a year now that in todays world it is impossible to win trophies on the basis of youngsters alone unless you are Barcelona. Even they have spent big on Villa, Sanchez, Ibra, Masch, Alves. So they Arent afraid to spend big if the quality player is there. But I feel it's totally down to SAF that we haven't spent big on SUPERSTARS!! I don't mean Young, Jones or DDG but massive names like a Toure, Aguero, Mata, Silva, Benzema. SAF says we have money then why don't we spend it on big money signings??? They buy you trophies not young players with potential. Enough of buying for the future if our present isn't sorted.
Even today SAF has mumbled about "VALUE FOR MONEY". He is speaking absolute nonsense there. So Ozil for 13m, Sahin for 8m, Vidal for 8m, Arteta for 10m wasn't value for money??? Or were Young for 16m and De Gea for 20m value for money??? It's really depressing that Villa, Stoke and Sunderland have a higher net spending than us in the last 5 years not to mention City, Chelsea, Spurs, Liverpool. Very depressing for the "BIGGEST CLUB IN THE WORLD".

The press shouting of Uniteds decline every year does'nt help players opinions,win or lose,but I think its only slightly part of the problem.Harry Kewell seems to come to mind.

Oh and Hazard is way,way over-hyped.You honestly think fergie is after him after making noises about him,no chance.Fergie is looking for someone else and his name isnt (thankfully) Hazard.

I don't even think Fergie is after any player nor is he going to sign anyone in summer. He will mumble nonsense that this is Andersons breakthrough year, we have Cleverley, Carrick is immense, Fletcher back will be a new signing, Scholes will be like a new signing, Giggs can play there. So we have plenty of options there. I fear that he has completely lost the plot when it comes to signing players. I am not calling for his head, never will, nobody has but we need someone at the club who will manage the transfers just like CQ did with tactics. He trusts the old guard too much and is very much into Giggs' arse while we all know he should retire gracefully this year and not extend his contract. I bet that we won't spend on a big superstar this summer whereas we need superstars in our squad. Even if signs players they will be Bebe/Hernandez type picked up from nowhere. I repeat Fergie has lost it when it comes to signing big money players. AS A UNITED FAN I WANT AT LEAST 1 SUPERSTAR SIGNING THIS SUMMER WHO COSTS AT LEAST 25-30m.

"Enough of buying for the future if our present isn't sorted."


I don't know whether spending big is necssarily the answer but this statement pretty much sums it up for me. I'm all for bringing in young talent with potential but you have to get the balance right and at the moment the balance is wrong. I.e. we have too many youngsters relative to players with genuine quality at their peak. I made this point last summer during the whole Sneijder/De Rossi debate and since then we have only increased the number of youngsters in the squad relative to players with genuine quality at their peak.

I honestly think it will take a trophyless season for Fergie to address this issue. If QPR can get a result and Utd beat Sunderland (both unlikely imo) then it will be the jammiest title win yet - one that masks a major underlying issue at Utd.

City will be stronger next season despite already being stronger than Utd (imo, regardless of who wins the league). This summer will answer the key questions - i.e. are we building a squad just to compete on all fronts in a few years time after Fergie steps down or are we aiming to compete on all fronts now? 

We might only just miss out on the league but we were nowhere near good enough in Europe. In fact, that was the most embarrassing season in Europe since we were mauled 4-0 by Barca back in the early 90s - and there were understandable reasons for that. This year we were lucky not to be mauled even worse than that by the likes of Bilbao. Lets not forget that we could have easily lost that tie by 5 or 10 goals over two legs. Barca or Madrid would have absolutely destroyed us if we played like that against them.

Having read the article and all of the comments above, I can see a lot of suggestions but no real definitive answers. Yes United need a few new players, but who? Some say Hazard isnt up to it, others say the same about the rest of the suggestions, but does anyone know exactly who we need and if we can actually get him? Does Fergie even know this answer? I think this is and has been the biggest problem over the last two years. Players have floated about in the transfer market but Fergie wont gamble. Why? Well presumably money is tight, and spending must be beneficial, therefore each signing must be almost an instant hit, ie the risk on De Gea, so Fergie has a serious headache. The options? Well I'll let ye pick ye're own ones. Personally, the players I think we need are out of reach. Without Fletcher we've lost a ball winner, Tiote and De Jong are two great options, but more than likely out of reach. As an out an out centre midfielder, Cabaye looks perfectly suited, but, again, I dont think he's retrievable. Creatively, there's plenty around, but are they good enough? Modric, Martinez, Hazard, Gaitan, the entire Athletic Bilbao midfield???? A risk would be taken with any of them, but I think it's time Fergie put his neck on the line again, because if we don't change, as Red_Indian suggested with the excuses Fergie will make that we have the cover, we'll be in a worse off position next season. 3rd in the league, if we're lucky, group stages of the Champions League again, maybe a Carling Cup? This is reminding me of a team 40 miles south... You need class to develop youth ie Cantona, Keane, Robson, Pallister, Yorke helped out the likes of Becks and Scholes etc and this will come with the best players playing with them. Manchester United is still the biggest club in England, we just need to splash out a bit to remind everyone. Patience is a virtue, but United fans just don't accept it.

We have been patient for 5 years now. It was in 07 when we last spent on a central midfielder.How long should United fans just keep waiting for the dream signing while the boss keeps blabbering about "Value for money". All other clubs just keep nicking off our targets. We all know United were interested in Silva, Benzema, Villa, Ozil, Schweinsteiger,Sneijder, Huntelaar, Nasri etc. SAF just wasn't manly enough to put a punt on one of them. Bar Schweinsteiger everyone was realistic and gettable if he was courageous enough to splash cash. Madrid bid 30m for Benzema. We bid 23m. How were we going to get him?? The boss just doesn't take risks when it comes to big signings but spunks 7 mon a tramp Bebe.I am sure we won't spend on a CM who is on his peak 25-30yrs. Even he we buy a cm he will be a 20 year old picked from obscurity. I feel that our transfer policy of buying young and buying for resale value should be abolished. It doesn't help when youngsters like Ronaldo or Rooney want to move to more glamorous destinations when they realize their worth. Scrap this "BUY YOUNG" policy and spend on players on their peaks. Only then success is possible.

We offered 23 million for Benzema and we were outbid. We simply don't have the money to match other teams. Thats why Stoke have outspent us. Because Stoke haven't been loaded with debt and interest payments.


When you do find a cheap option (Ozil) he's already taken, we could have offered a hundred million but he was going to Real. That was a point I made above.


The only hope we have is for the scouts to do their jobs and find more Chicharitos. Players who others haven't identified yet (so they're cheap) but still have the potential to be class.


I want us to buy experienced heads but we can't. Anyone great will have 5-6 clubs banging down their door offering more money than we can afford, or better taxes or better weather. Thats what I'm saying, we're left with scraps and potential and no matter how many times we say Sneijder or Hazard nothing will change that until the debt issued is solved.

Can I get an answer why teams like Aston Villa, Sunderland, Stoke have a higher net spend than us?? Not to mention City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs. Even Arsenal spend as much as we do. Many say Glazers have money. We have plenty of money. Even the boss defends the owners. Then why don't we spend big?? Last summer was the only time we spent big. Barcelona won the European double but still spent 40m on Sanchez and 20m Cesc. We had this overconfidence that since we won the league and reached the CL finals with the current set of players, we don't need to spend. But the boss didn't realize that our european opponents strengthened and spent. City spent and won the league.
Now either the boss is lying to us about money or he is just afraid to spend big after getting his hands burnt with Berba. But he should realize that such blunders do happen and that shouldn't stop you from spending big again. Madrid got mugged with Kaka, Barca got with Keirreson. But they moved ahead and spent big on better players while we kept chasing after cheap deals like Smalling, Hernandez, Owen,Obertan etc.

Simple. You got £80million for Ronaldo. Its not like you've not spent a lot, just recouped loads from that one deal



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