Would Fergie Have Gambled On This Boy?

Posted: September 2, 2015 in Football, Manchester United, Opinion
Tags: , , , , ,


When Sir Alex Ferguson was beaten to the signing of Brazilian wonder kid Lucas Moura he decided the football world had gone mad.

At the time Moura was 19 years old and eventually went to Paris Saint-Germain for a fee of €45 million, which was about £35 million back then. He hasn’t done much since but then he has been injured and he does have time on his side.

This is what Ferguson said: “I find it quite amazing that a club can pay €45m for a 19-year-old boy. When somebody’s paying €45m for a 19-year-old boy you have to say the game’s gone mad.”

Now, unless you have been visiting Mars for the past few days, it won’t have escaped your attention that Manchester United have just paid £36 million for…….wait for it…….a 19 year old boy!

Having said that, he does appear to be pretty good and even has a clause in his contract related to winning the Ballon d’Or.

So what has changed between Lucas Moura going to Paris and Anthony Martial going to Manchester? What has suddenly made United part with the kind of money that, previously, they would have kept locked away in the dusty vaults?

One change is that Ed Woodward is now “in charge” of transfer dealings. Not that long ago he told anybody, who was prepared to listen, that United could buy any player as money was no object. This transfer window has proven that he was only half right, money doesn’t appear to be an object. So he bought Martial without a moment’s hesitation, which was in itself unusual, as he lost out on other signings due to his propensity for dithering.

Another change of course is Lord Ferg himself. He is no longer manager and has no say on transfers any more. King Louis has taken over his mantle and he sure doesn’t mind spending someone else’s money. The other difference between the two is the perception of time. Fergie had already been there years and still had a few left, so was more frugal. The most we can expect, (probably), from van Gaal is three years, so he wants to bang as many drums as he can in his short reign.

Martial, if he goes on to win the Ballon d’Or at some stage, could turn out to be one of the bargains of the century. On the other hand, he could turn out to be another David Bellion or Gabriel Obertan. Nobody really knows, so it is a bit of a gamble.

It is not, as Thierry Henry is quoted as saying, “a massive gamble”.

In my humble opinion, speaking as one who was against his purchase from day one, a massive gamble was Angel Di Maria. For me he was never going to be cut out for the Premier League. He fell over all the time in La Liga which is not renowned for tough tackling defenders and, when he realised he couldn’t hack it in England he sneaked out of the back door having told United fans he wanted to stay and fight for the club.
At £59.7 million, this was a massive gamble which didn’t pay off. He was sold for around £44 million which represented a loss of £15.7 million.

In his time with United Ferguson also managed to lose a considerable amount of money. He didn’t spend silly money on players, he spent money on silly players.

Fortunately for him and United, over the years he made far more correct decisions than wrong ones and made far more money for the club than he ever lost.

When you look at purchases like Martial, compared with the non-purchase of Moura it would be interesting to hear what Fergie thinks now that he can give a detached, though still probably biased, opinion.

I suppose someone will ask him one day.


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