Had Sir Alex Ferguson really not heard of Michu?

In the build-up to Manchester United’s match against Swansea City in December, Sir Alex Ferguson said he had never heard of the Swans’ free-scoring Spaniard before he signed for them.

But was that a rare admittance of scouting oversight or a cannily-timed fibbed?

Michu was, after all, the top-scoring midfielder in La Liga last season. And as far back as March, both the Guardian and the Daily Mail reported that United were considering a bid.

A month later, Michu was quoted telling a Spanish radio station, “It’s good to see my name associated with Manchester United”.

And then in May, the Metro ran a story suggesting he could soon be on his way to Old Trafford for £8million.

We all know paper-talk is to be believed only when the ink is dry on a contract, and every club is linked with countless players for a variety of reasons and from a variety of “sources” that never prove to be true.

But you would think managers read papers. And even if they don’t – at least not every page every day – there is a section on United’s official website charting every player linked with them in the national press.

Somehow, someway, it seems likely Ferguson would have known about Michu; if only via the results from La Liga.

It is much easier to admit to a mistake you had no idea you were making; because if Ferguson did know of Michu but chose not to act, that is a far bigger error.

So when he told reporters, “I had never even heard of Michu before he came to Swansea. In fact, I think I am going to have a word with our scouting department.” You can bet he didn’t.

I may be doing the manager a disservice. Michu may have remained a mystery to him until he scored a brace on the opening weekend. But if a club as big as United are not paying attention to the Spanish top flight that is a worry.

Sometimes the mind games aren’t reserved for a single opponent. Sometimes they are directed at everyone watching.

United can openly admit to making bids for the likes of Lucas Moura because if the player ultimately opts to go elsewhere, that was his choice. The club tried. They could do no more.

But for Ferguson to plead anything but ignorance in the case of Michu would be to highlight a mistake he probably already regrets enough.

image: © marcel sigg

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