The holiday season is upon us and people around the world are finishing up their last minute shopping and getting ready to usher in the 2013.
Fans of the English Premier League will also hope that their clubs dip their beaks in the shopping frenzy, especially if they are faltering midway through the season.
The January transfer window is upon us — that time of the year when they have a chance to bolster their attacks.
However, for Manchester United’s fans, there’s nothing cooking: “Don’t hold your breath waiting for Manchester United to jump through the transfer window when it opens next week,” said manager Alex Ferguson after the win in the latest round of EPL matches.
Plus, they’re hardly faltering. Sitting at the top with a seven-point lead over Manchester City, the Red Devils are certainly favourites to wrest back the title from their neighbours.
Considering that their defence–even though laden with injuries–is leaky, their attack looks fantastic. Barring the wings, where Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young are the only out-and-out players (with Nani clearly falling out with Alex Ferguson), the rest of the players have been pretty good.
But as is the norm before a transfer window opens, newswires are abuzz with rumours of all the players who Manchester United needs to or is about to buy and which players the club is planning to offload.
“If you believed everything you read in the media, we would have the biggest squad in Europe, not to mention becoming bankrupt. It’s been open season to link us with a stack of players, admittedly some very good ones, but it just isn’t going to happen,” quipped Fergie.
But some fans will still ask the question — is Ferguson right in believing that they really don’t need to buy?
The simple answer is a ‘yes’. SAF is right.
For one, in a desperate attempt to sell or buy players the amount quoted by the clubs are more often than not bloated and second, by the time a new player gets settled into his new team the season is nearing its end and the managers are generally reluctant to try out the new players.
Ferguson himself has never been a huge fan of buying big in the January market and in recent history, the only notable mid-season signings have been Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic.
Robin van Persie has been fantastic since his signing from Arsenal, Wayne Rooney is now the creative lynchpin, Anderson was unlucky to get injured during a burst of fantastic form, Tom Cleverley has cemented his place and Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez have made great impact.
That hasn’t stopped the rumour mills from running at full steam linking players like Wesley Sneijder and Theo Walcott among others to the club. No doubt, United have looked shaky throughout the season and these established players will add much needed strength to the team’s sometimes dodgy midfield.
Sneijder, a box-to-box midfielder and a dead-ball specialist should fit in like a glove and can be an ideal replacement for Paul Scholes, while Walcott with his fiery pace is what United needs on its wings. But one shouldn’t forget that there are players like Anderson and Shinji Kagawa who are on the return from injury and will soon be fighting for their place.
The club has also been battling with injuries to players at crucial times, but slowly their returns have been impressive. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have been back for a while now, while skipper Vidic was imposing against WBA. Rafael has been brilliant all season and should be back in a couple of weeks and Kagawa chipped in with an assist immediately after his return from a 6-8 week layoff.
The obvious argument for those who believe that players should be bought is citing the example of how the club threw away the title last season. Also, the Champion’s League draw pitted them against Real Madrid. United need to be at their very best to keep competing till May, but an emergency buy not only reeks of desperation, but is also not how United does its business.
Ferguson, keep calm and carry on.