Despite it being denied, Holland’s master midfielder Wesley Sneijder has reportedly snubbed the advances made by Sir Alex Ferguson stating that he wanted to stay at the San Siro. Chelsea and England free transfer Joe Cole did the same, preferring to consider offers from a number of other clubs. Another half a dozen high quality targets never made the move to Old Trafford despite being consistently linked with the club. There could be a host of reasons why anyone with real ambition turns down one of the world’s leading clubs, including the alleged lack of funds in United’s coffers, but there could also be the surprising possibility that one of the problems could be Sir Alex himself!
Without wishing to be disrespectful to some, footballers are not generally known to be the sharpest knives in the kitchen but they do have a natural, instinctive knowledge of how the game works. Even if they don’t, their sharp thinking, smooth talking agents certainly do. The club may now be the victims of the huge success that Ferguson has obtained over the last 20 years,
Put yourself in their boots for a moment. You commit yourself to a 3 or 4 year contract to a manager who you know full well that the odds of him still being there at the end of your first season are slim. What will your position at the club be for the remainder of your contract under a new, as yet unknown boss? Will you be prepared to take such a risk with your career especially if you are still in your early to mid twenties?
Sir Alex himself has never tried to hide the reality of his fast approaching retirement, his own words a couple of years ago were clear enough “I cannot see myself being a manager once I hit the age of 70”. That day will be here at the end of next year and it could be putting the club in a much more difficult position than it was prepared for given the fact that there are clubs, both in the Premier League and in Europe, prepared to throw the sort of unimaginable money at available players such as Manchester City is reported to paying Yaya Toure.
Obviously, no manager can ever be guaranteed of remaining in his job forever, as has been seen during every other season, but Ferguson’s impending departure must surely add another factor to the equation. While a chance for a move to a club like United is normally grabbed with both hands, an attitude of ‘better the devil you know’ can be understandable until a replacement for Sir Alex is known.
There has to be many other aspects to this dilemma and to suggest that it’s the one and only reason for the club’s apparent inability to snare any of it’s targets will be ludicrous. It could partly explain however Ferguson’s frequent claims that “there’s no value in the market” and the decision to put his faith into a pool of talented youngsters for what could be the final season of his glory filled quarter century at Old Trafford.
Would you accept a job knowing that your new boss is on the verge of retirement?