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Fergie takes veiled swipe at his rivals' spending

Alex Ferguson took a swipe at the "kamikaze" spending in the Premier League yesterday just as Manchester City were taking their summer outlay to £130m with the capture of James Milner from Aston Villa.

The signing of the England midfield player will take Sheikh Mansour's transfer spending past £350m in just under two years since he bought City, with the Arab billionaire having committed in excess of £1bn in his bid to turn the club into a leading force in European football.

Ferguson did not mention City, but as they are the only club in Europe to have spent heavily this summer, it was clear who the United manager blamed when he was asked to explain why he saw no value in the transfer market, a situation he says has contributed to his decision to invest in youth.

United's critics may argue that Ferguson's complaints offered a convenient foil for the perceived financial constraints brought about by the club's £716.5m debts.

But speaking yesterday at the official presentation of Javier Hernandez, Chris Smalling and Bebe, the young trio signed by United for a combined sum of £24.4m this summer, Ferguson said: "Over the last two or three years we have seen wealthy owners become part of clubs and therefore go on this kamikaze effort to spend their money.

"It is amazing the amounts of money that are being bandied about. You may think it could be dangerous. But you think they have that kind of money and if they have it, they are certainly using it. I don't see it abating.

"I think the kind of spending we are seeing at the moment will be here for two or three years, until such time as they understand you can't necessarily achieve all the time by spending."

Ferguson may have decided that there were no established stars available this summer who could help the club to "make that quantum leap to another level" -- as he believes Eric Cantona and Cristiano Ronaldo did -- but in Bebe's case, the Scot certainly appears to have taken a leap of faith.

The United manager revealed yesterday that he agreed to sign the little-known Portuguese striker from Vitoria de Guimaraes for £7.4m last week, despite having never seen him play.

A recommendation from Carlos Queiroz, the Portugal coach and Ferguson's former assistant at Old Trafford, and a favourable report from his scouting department were enough.

"It's the first time I've done that," he said. "You've got to trust your staff."