Who would Ferguson have signed for Manchester United?

Manchester United manager David Moyes and chief executive Ed Woodward have come under fire this week for what some sections of the press and the fanbase perceive as failures in this summer’s transfer market.

The Scottish boss, newly appointed to replace Sir Alex Ferguson who retired in May after 26 years in charge at Old Trafford, signed just one senior player this summer – his former protégé at Everton, midfielder Marouane Fellaini.

The 25-year-old Belgian cost United £27.5 million in the late hours of deadline day on Monday but Moyes had also been hopeful of signing his former Toffees teammate Leighton Baines.

Once the proposed deal for Baines fell through – Everton rejected at least three bids from United for the England fullback – United then turned their attention to Real Madrid’s Fabio Coentrao but, once again, this move was unsuccessful on deadline day.

Flash back to July and Moyes had spoken publicly about his hopes of signing Barcelona midfielder and former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas and this failed endeavor to sign the Spaniard seemed to set the tone for United’s disappointing summer.

The Red Devils then failed in bids to sign Fabregas’ teammate in Catalonia Thiago Alcantara who instead signed for Bayern Munich, and again with Athletic Bilbao maestro Ander Herrera who United had been linked with the weekend prior to the deadline.

An ‘internal investigation’ has been suggested in the press with other commentators coming forward to assert their belief that United require the services of a sporting director but, with the finger of blame being pointed at Moyes and Woodward predominantly, I wonder who Sir Alex Ferguson would have signed?

Ferguson, throughout his 26-year reign, always bought the best players – usually the rising stars of the Premier League.

Going all the way back to his £1.2 million signing of Eric Cantona in 1992/3, the likes of Andy Cole, Teddy Sherringham, Dwight Yorke, Rio Ferdinand, Luis Saha, Alan Smith, Wayne Rooney, Edwin van der Sar, Michael Carrick, Carlos Tevez, Dimitar Berbatov, Chris Smalling, Ashley Young, Phil Jones, Wilfried Zaha, Robin van Persie and now Fellaini have all come from other English clubs.

Of course, Ferguson had a strong record of importing top foreign talent – Ruud van Nistelrooy, Juan Sebastian Veron, Fabien Barthez, Jaap Stam, Cristiano Ronaldo, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Nani, Antonio Valencia, Javier Hernandez, David De Gea and Shinji Kagawa to name but a few - but his preference was always to sign the best players from other Premier League clubs.

This was proven once again with his signing of Van Persie from Arsenal last summer – United pushed the boat out with £24.5 million to bring the PWA and PFA Player of the Year to Old Trafford after he became unsettled at the Emirates. The Dutch ace won the Golden Boot last term for the second year in a row and United reclaimed the title.

Last year’s Player of the Year was Tottenham’s Gareth Bale who signed last week for Real Madrid on a world record breaking transfer fee of £85.3 million. This is the kind of player Ferguson would have ensured United signed before anyone else.

Those who would argue Bale’s dream was to play for Real Madrid are missing the point – a manager as astute as Ferguson would have pointed to Cristiano Ronaldo who he molded into one of the best players ever to play the game before allowing him to follow his dream in the Spanish capital Ferguson could have convinced Bale to step up from Spurs to United and then continue his development at the English champions before heading abroad.

Those who would argue Tottenham would have never sold Bale to a domestic rival should look at the sales of Berbatov, Carrick, and Sherringham – if the price is right, the club will always sell.

Looking at David Moyes’ signing of Fellaini, it’s clear United have acquired one of the best players in the league last season but I wonder if Ferguson had have still been in charge, whether United wouldn’t have gone out and bought the best player in the league.

image: © Jan S0L0

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