Manchester United manager David Moyes stated in his first press conference last Friday that he would not discuss the potential transfers of players under contract with other clubs.
The Scot appointed to replace the retired Sir Alex Ferguson gave his first conference with the press in his official capacity and discussed a range of issues, including potential incomings and outgoings at Old Trafford this summer.
On the agenda, of course, was speculation surrounding Wayne Rooney’s future to which he insisted the English striker would remain at Old Trafford next term as a Manchester United player, despite suggestions he could be sold after allegedly handing in a transfer request at the end of the season, according to Ferguson.
Moyes also answered claims the Red Devils are hoping to bring fans’ favourite Cristiano Ronaldo back to Old Trafford from Real Madrid this summer.
"When people have contracts at other clubs it's wrong to speak about them. But this club is always interested in the best players,” stated Moyes.
This is a clear statement of intent – the intension to operate with integrity in the transfer market, which, of course, is admirable. But will the new United boss remain true to his word?
Negotiating deals for top players oftentimes requires the kind of public relations approach and mind-games Ferguson built his reputation on. Of course, the long-serving United boss was nowhere near as disrespectful as, for example, the top Spanish clubs – both Real Madrid and Barcelona, often through their ‘mouthpiece’ news outlets like Marca are constantly talking about players at other clubs.
The most recent example is Tottenham’s Gareth Bale who both Real Madrid president Florentino Perez and sporting director Zinadine Zidane have been talking up for months on end in the hopes of putting pressure on Spurs to sell no doubt.
Prior to that there were similar situations, transfer sagas, involving Luka Modric and Arsenal’s former captain Cesc Fabregas.
The players, the manager and associates of the ‘interested’ club will talk and talk and talk about a player who is under contract at another club, turn the player’s head effectively, and then, when they eventually do make a formal approach to the player’s club, the deal is much easier for them, the fee sometimes cheaper, and the transfer goes ahead, despite the reluctance of the player’s club to sell him.
In July 2012 Ferguson spoke about Robin van Persie to the press, despite the Dutch ace still being under contract with Arsenal.
"I don't know what Arsenal's thoughts are because they're not giving anything away. It's difficult to say why they're operating this way. I can't give you any more information. We just have to persevere,” he told reporters in an official press conference.
Manchester United had, by all accounts, put in a bid for Van Persie which Arsenal had felt was derisory and way below his valuation – in the end the Golden Boot winner transferred to United for just £24 million which, compared to other fees for lesser talent, is a bargain for United.
Will David Moyes keep his word? It’s a nice idea – courteous and noble, as an idea – but if Moyes wants to bring the best players to Manchester United he will likely have to be media-savvy just like his predecessor and use the press to his and United’s advantage whilst negotiating.
In fact, even while he was saying he wasn’t going to talk about players, he was still leaving the door open to the possibility that he could be after Ronaldo – he didn’t confirm nor deny reported interest. By his admission, that leaves room for speculation to persist.
In relation to heavy speculation he’s hoping to sign Thiago Alcantara from Barcelona, Moyes responded:
"Some things are confidential but I am doing everything I possibly can to strengthen the current English champions."
Perhaps his plan is to just continue to 'not talk' about ‘confidential’ dealings in the transfer market concerning players under contract at other clubs that is not prepared to deny he is interested in. That ought to work.
image: © Jason Gulledge