If transfer rumours are to be believed – and they can obviously never be, Manchester United may set a record for fielding the oldest team in the history of English, possibly European, football next season. Just imagine the following lineup taking the field at Old Trafford: Van Der Sar, Neville, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Raul, Scholes, Ballack, Giggs, Owen, Berbatov.
Without even bothering to tally up the aggregate age of that lot, you can be certain that it will not be short of experience. There’s an old saying in football that teams are a reflection of their own manager making this a perfect mirror image of 68 year old Sir Alex Ferguson. It will also leave television pundit Alan Hansen with no excuse to repeat his famous line that “You can never win anything with kids”.
It’s never going to happen of course, but it does show how ridiculous the headlines flying around this week have been. “Ferguson considers a bid for free transfer Michael Ballack” and “United looking at free agent Raul” There has been so much of this type of rubbish involving United this summer that fans can be forgiven if they begin to wonder whether David Beckham may also be on the way back to Old Trafford.
Despite club CEO David Gill repeatedly insisting that Sir Alex has as many millions as he wants available for transfers, he is obviously not believed because as soon as anyone becomes a free agent, Manchester United are immediately linked to them. Perhaps it’s Fergusons surprise signing of Michael Owen last year that prompts football journalists to be on their guard in case another rabbit is pulled out of a hat by the wily old United fox.
Whatever the case may be, it does not fill the United faithful with a lot of confidence when they hear about one free transfer after another being speculated about while nobody of any significance is ever secured. To make matters more confusing, mixed messages have frequently been sent by both Gill and Sir Alex, first emphasizing that there’s a large pool of young talent at the club which will be given an opportunity, then quickly followed by assurances that Ferguson has got the finances to sign anyone he wants.
A confusing situation to say the least, one which will not be resolved until Sir Alex announces the signing of one of the many big names linked to the club. The distinct impression one gets however is that it’s not likely to happen. The bigger possibility is for any one or more of Nemanja Vidic, Dimitar Berbatov, Michael Carrick, Ji-Sung Park and to a lesser extent Patrice Evra being cashed in for a lot of badly needed million pounds.
Despite all the wild rumors, that, sadly, is the realistic situation at Old Trafford today.
Are free transfers beneficial for Manchester United?