Jul 14, 2009

Has Ferguson done enough?

You've probably heard by now that Manchester United pocketed a fair sum when they sold Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid. In the immediate aftermath of the deal there was breathless speculation about how Sir Alex Ferguson would spend the cash -- would it be Karim Benzema? (Nope, he went to Real.) Perhaps Franck Ribery? (He's apparently going nowhere.)

Not even close. Fergie plumped instead for a 20 year-old Frenchman who no one's ever heard of for the grand sum of 3 million pounds, and signed free agent Michael Owen. (He also signed Antonio Valencia from Wigan for a reported 16 million pounds, though that transfer was long-expected.)

Has he done enough? He thinks so. Hopefully, some United fans can chime in and let us know what they think. But there's a case to be made either way.

In the 'against' column, United have lost the second-best player in the world (behind Messi) and a very bitter talismanic striker, and replaced them with a player who barely stood out at a mid-table provincial team, a kid who was sent out on loan by his team in France last season and a former England hero who was seriously expected to join the likes of Hull or Stoke this off-season. That's hardly going to be enough to keep up with an ever-improving Liverpool and a hungry Chelsea, is it?

But then there's the other view. Obertan is one for the future, perhaps, but between them Owen and Valencia might make up for Ronaldo's flair and goals. Valencia certainly has his moments, while Owen's goal-scoring record has held up remarkably well throughout his career. Then you have players such as Anderson, Wellbeck, Macheda and even Nani -- youngsters whose time Ferguson hopes has arrived. Even if just two of those players break through this season, the case could be made that United will be stronger in the coming season than they were last year.

Time, of course, will tell. Some observers don't believe Ferguson's really finished shopping this summer. But even if he has, one thing that United fans -- and fans of rival teams -- know all too well is that for the most part second-guessing Sir Alex is a fool's game.


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