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Manchester United Change Transfer Policy

The Guardian today has a very interesting article regarding Manchester United’s owners changing the clubs transfer policy to concentrate on signing players under 26. It seems that the Glazer family want the club to only sign players that they can recoup transfer fees on later in their careers. Now maybe it’s me, but I’ve yet to come across a club that have continued to be as successful as Manchester United with such a transfer policy.

Yet, the majority of United’s recent signings over the last few years are all under 26, such as Vidic, Carrick, Evra, Tosic and Nani, So it’s not that big a change in transfer policy. The exception is the much maligned and misunderstood Dimitar Berbatov, who at 27 now seems to be the last player that will be signed above the limit. It would also seem to rule them out of making a bid for Franck Ribery, despite what Bayern Munich may have claimed today.

I have to say, I’m a little surprised about the story if I’m honest. It seems quite unusual for two reasons: Firstly, Ferguson is renowned for being extremely protective over having control over transfer policy at Manchester United. He does not suffer anyone meddling with his working methods, so it’s a big step to hear that the Glazers and David Gill have imposed an age sanction on him. Secondly, what would they do if the world’s greatest player, aged 27/28 suddenly declares his love for Manchester United and wants to join them? Would they only accommodate such a player if he was available on a bosman transfer?

For a club that has an excellent track record of producing top quality players through the youth ranks, probably better than most, it just strikes me as odd that signings will now be judged on their re-sale value. I think it’s a dangerous game to play to narrow your transfer targets to such a specific market. It certainly should concern whoever succeeds Sir Alex at the helm of Manchester United whenever he decides to step down after such an illustrious career.

Tottenham had a similar transfer policy trying to utilise their ill feted European coaching set up between 2004 and 2008 and whilst there is no doubt that the last 5 seasons have seen Tottenham have their most successful period in the Premiership, the lack of older, wiser heads did cost them Champions League football in 2005 and 2006. A couple of experienced signings could have really made the difference to the youngsters in the Spurs camp. Notably, Martin Petrov’s transfer was blocked based entirely on his age. A silly price to pay simply because someone was deemed not to gain in value.

Of course, I’m certainly not comparing Tottenham to Manchester United, not even the most fevered Spurs fan could seriously consider that a fair comparison. There is no doubt that Manchester United are one of the main draws in World Football for talent and could quite possibly sign anyone within reason if they wanted to. Ferguson is already laying the foundations of the United squad for the next 5-10 years with the Da Silva brothers, Tosic, Marcheda and Gibson getting plenty of opportunities to stake claims for the squad.

United’s squad is hardly ancient, but as I’ve said earlier, having a ceiling on the age of your signings could be a dangerous precedent. It’s not like they’re about to become a selling team, but they can’t rule out the need to sometimes look at what benefits the club on the pitch rather than in the bank balance. Whoever follows Ferguson may just find that a balancing act too far.

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  1. davpsurs

    April 24, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Never mind the Transfer policy what is happening to Utds players Nearly collapsing on the pitch players Vomiting . This will only make people wonder is there Energy drugs being used Nani has nearly collapsed twice this needs investigating before we could be back to sudden deaths both times on Television. Also Evre is Vomiting on the pitch this is know bug and the other major sine of Energy abuse is late goals its this policy that wants dropping .

  2. joe

    August 29, 2009 at 4:27 am

    go Man U go…. You are the best.

  3. allen

    June 20, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    there is no point TORRES cum to MU.. idiot fergie would not afford to get TORRES signature.. I think Park Ji Sung is good enuf to replace Ronaldo.. Fergie is ridiculous..

  4. mani

    June 20, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    i dont like this policy.

  5. petr

    June 20, 2009 at 8:54 am

    The point is overall player and squad cost. Manchester United are close to being run at a loss – due to interest expense, not revenue – and player costs are the biggest controllable item. If Berbatov plays for 6 years, his 30MM transfer fee will add 5MM/year to his salary, and he’s not selling that many shirts. How many players can you afford like that in a squad as large as MU’s?

    Second, Ferguson is near retirement and we’ve seen that managers want to sign their own players. The Glazers can’t afford a lot of contracts like Berbatov’s if the next manager decides Berbatov and others aren’t “his” kind of player.

    Young players are simply cheaper, both to buy and to pay. People can slag off Wenger all they want, but at some point Arsenal are going to have zero debt, a large supply of young, capable players, and a full, up-to-date stadium in London. With a decent manager they’ll be able to run indefinitely at at least their current level. Who’s really looking forward to competing with them then?

    This is the intersection of the economics of a heavily leveraged club and a manager nearing retirement. The Glazers are taking advantage of the Real Madrid project to tighten their grip on the club, as is their right. Ferguson’s age doesn’t give him any leverage to complain at this point.

    p.s. David Gill doesn’t have a speaking part in this movie.

  6. anton

    June 20, 2009 at 12:09 am

    i’d bet on benzema. if anyone.

    limits are an excellent idea. players in their prime are currently over-valued.

  7. Siddhant

    June 18, 2009 at 11:13 am

    hey….i have an doubt …….. IS ANYBODY GOING TO MANCHESTER UNITED THIS SEASON ?? ( 2009-10 )

    TORRES OF LIVERPOOL …….who ever

    is Any body comming to Manchester united ????????????

    Plzz tell me plzzzzzzzzzz

  8. Bryan

    June 18, 2009 at 2:55 am

    Man utd have just won 3 Premierships on the trot and been in the final of the Champions league final in 2 successive seasons and are clearly the best team in England and possibly the world. All this despite carrying Ronaldo for most of last season. Next season we will be stronger and easily score more goals, than last year, which was one of our lowest ever goal returns as the team will not be focused on one player.
    I firmly believe that the transfer policy is 100% correct as Sir Alex can spot and develop young players with world class potential as he always has done without bankrupting the club.

  9. brn442

    June 17, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    What a sure way to become a perpetual feeder club. When Wenger decided not give Pires a 2 year contract because he was over 30, Arsenal struggled for years to replace him. Same with Moyes when he didn’t give Brian Mc Bride an extension. Good Luck to Utd if that is true.

  10. Tyson

    June 17, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    This is Fergie we are talking about United have never bid for the likes of Kaka or Messi or anybody of that caliber but there are many many good players out there and the team you form is always much more important than any individual player.

    I think his handicap at best is loosely implemented but even if it was enforced as long as he is capable of putting together a well oiled machined it wouldn’t really matter.

  11. DoublePivot

    June 17, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    Scott, I would think twice about that. My team, Spurs, has long been concerned about players that are young and players who can be made into a profit. It hasn’t helped us get any closer to the top four. While it’s good to concentrate on players like that, sometimes you need to buy someone with experience. Just ask Wenger about how successful kids are.

  12. Scott

    June 17, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Its not the Glazer families transfer policy to buy players under 26…its Sir Alex Fergusons!! And its a very smart policy when you have the quality of coaching that United has…plus you can mold players to a single team ethos which pay off in later years

  13. LVS

    June 17, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    Guess that would have ruled out van der Sar however many years ago. What a ridiculous policy.

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