Poor Sir Alex Ferguson. He has been so used to getting things done his way over 25 years of unbridled success that the last few months can’t have been easy for him to swallow. Losing the Premier League in such dramatic circumstances when Manchester City came from behind in the last minutes of the season at home to Queens Park Rangers won’t have gone down well with a man used to success on his own terms.
Frequently last season Sir Alex commented about his club’s new, straitened circumstances. Manchester City had changed the game with the deep funds from Abu Dhabi sheiks. United, Fergie whined, could no longer compete.
This comes from a man whose squad includes players such as Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov; there won’t have been much change for 90 million pound on that trio alone.
Then United missed out on a highly rated Brazilian player. You could imagine Fergie, ever the accomplished media conductor, preparing his lines before unleashing with both barrels. Surely FIFA, opined football’s own knighted one, to look at a situation where a football club was paying 45 million pound on a teenager.
Of course, when United signed a certain Wayne Rooney from Everton for just shy of 30 million quid there was no mention of FIFA. Fergie was Sir Alex, he was manager of Manchester United and that’s what United did. They spent big because the market demanded it and their fans expected it.
Now the wealth has moved elsewhere, to City and Paris Saint Germain among others, Fergie is finding his new role of pleading poverty a tough one. United are no longer the club the big names automatically gravitate towards and, for Fergie, it hurts.
He is left chasing Robin van Persie. How galling it must be for the great man to have to resort to pleading with Arsene Wenger to sell last season’s top scorer. How frustrating to know that United’s best hope of a big name signing is a 29-year-old with a history of injury problems and no resale value.
It remains to be seen whether the van Persie deal is done or not. But you can’t help but wonder whether, in an ideal world where United were still the top dogs, they would have put in so much effort on the Dutch striker.