Fergie's summer shopping won't keep pace with City's
Alex Ferguson says Manchester United will attempt to bring in two or three new players in the summer, but has conceded he will never be able to match Manchester City's spending power.
"No one can match their financial resources, no one," the United manager said. "We have to accept that and try to do things in a different way. We are good at bringing younger players through, so we'll stick with that, though whether there's a new Paul Scholes or Ryan Giggs out there is difficult to say. Players of that quality certainly don't fall off trees."
UEFA's financial fair play guidelines are supposed to prevent wealthy owners giving their clubs an unfair advantage by limiting the amount of debt teams can run up through spending on players, though Ferguson is clearly not holding his breath.
"I don't see how it can work," he said. "It's not just about the top-line transfer fees, it's about the amount of money clubs can offer in wages. Players are being offered stupid money, the type of sums that are hard to turn down.
"We can make a player a very good offer, but unless he wants to come to United for football reasons, he is not going to say no to stupid money from somewhere else."
Ferguson's argument that there is no value in the transfer market has been undermined by Newcastle's success with some bargain buys from the continent, though he maintains the top end of the market has been "insane for a while now", because clubs with hugely differing resources find themselves competing for the same few players.
"That's what clubs with money like City have created," he said. "They could buy all the players if they wished, and that makes it difficult for the selling clubs to be reasonable."
That said, such has been Cristiano Ronaldo's success in Spain that Ferguson is beginning to regret letting him go 'on the cheap'. "There is still value in the market if you are going to be that successful," he said. "Ronaldo has scored more goals than he has played games. At the time we thought £80m wasn't bad business, but if Real Madrid had known how good he was going to be they would probably have paid £160m. He's been such a fantastic buy for them, maybe we should have asked for £800m."
Returning to more immediate reality, Ferguson sees no reason to alter his opinion that City will now go on to win the league after returning to the top of the table, but says he will kick himself all summer if the title is won on goal difference.
"Newcastle will be a hard game for City all right, but City have had six days to recover from the derby," he said. "Newcastle played on Wednesday night, then had to travel back from London. Losing the title on goal difference would be a nightmare, when you think of the game we lost 6-1 to City, with three goals conceded in the last three minutes. When you consider all the opportunities we get in games there's no doubt we are frivolous at times. Then there was that crazy game against Everton, when we were absolutely stupid. Giving goals away like that is hard to take when you think of how long the season is and how much work we have put in over the months, but that's what could cost us."
City fans could quite reasonably point out that losing at Wigan and not even managing a shot on goal in the derby cost United even more, the small matter of six points, and that's without even mentioning the 6-1 result back in October that gave the first indications a blue moon might be about to rise.
Roberto Mancini, oddly enough, picks the season's other derby, the one in the FA Cup that City lost, as the occasion when he allowed himself to think his side had their opponents' measure.
"I know United did not manage a shot in the most recent derby, but the same was true of the second half in the FA Cup game when we were down to 10 men," he said. "Even a man short we came back from 3-0 down to score twice, but United didn't shoot at all when we were threatening to draw level and I thought then their mentality seemed to have changed."
It could be time for City's mentality to change too, for with two league wins over their Manchester rivals, top spot in the league, more goals scored than anyone else and fewer conceded, Mancini's team has the statistics to back up their title aspirations.
"This year, I think we can say we are the best team in Manchester," said Mancini, who has a knack of expressing himself in English concisely and well. "Now we have two more games in which to prove we are the best in the country."
Sunday Indo Sport