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TOP 5: United’s Premier League Summer Signings

Robin Van Persie

Shut up, I’m not crying

Has a striker ever been able to be so calm about taking just so many touches in the box? Has a striker ever been this saucily impressive in his first season?

United fans might argue over the merits of one salt-and-pepper fox, Jose Mourinho, but we’re all agreed about another. Van Persie’s first season at Manchester United went about as well as the [operation yewtree]little boy inside him[/operation yewtree] might have hoped. Having toiled karmically at Arsenal, as punishment for some unknown but obviously grave sin in a previous life, Van Persie was tired of his struggle. There were two obvious options, Manchester City or Manchester United. This was a rare move, where it wasn’t simply about money, but about the tradition of football meaning something to a player. Not content with joining some fairly obvious mercenaries (hello, Samir), or some fairly obvious incompetents (hello. Roberto), he elected, wisely, to trust his peak years to the greatest manager of all time. United were no longer the financial top dogs, and the team was clearly unbalanced, what with there being an absence of matter in the midfield. But it was of no import, as with Van Persie’s consistency and Ferguson’s squad alchemy, United wrapped up the title with as little fuss as could be hoped for.

It might well be his only Premier League title, as Manchester City spend £100 million this summer, and the returned Jesus Christ, Jose Mourinho, is back at Chelsea, but at least he finally has one, and at least United gave City one more bloody nose.

Cristiano Ronaldo

We all know the drill. Manchester United played Sporting Lisbon in a pre-season friendly, and was so impressive that the players convinced Alex Ferguson to sign him on the journey back. This was a summer when fans were more or less assured that Ronaldinho was theirs, ready to join a Kleberson-led samba revolution. It wasn’t to be, but in the long term United did better out of it than any of us could have expected.

Watching his first competitive game against Bolton Wanderers, where he came on as a substitute, was nothing less than thrilling. In just a cameo, he was able to display his ludicrous footwork, his self-belief, and an ability that hasn’t seen before or since in a Manchester United kit. What we didn’t know then was that he had a desire to be the best player of all time which would drag United along in its fallow years, or be a talisman while they collected Premier Leagues as a by-product of their consistent excellence.

Teddy Sheringham

Apparently when his dad told him who had put in an offer to sign him, he couldn’t believe it. While few United supporters would have doubted he was fantastic for Spurs in the Premier League, they could have been forgiven for doubting what he might bring as Manchester United aimed to finally do themselves justice in the Champions League. After the heady heights of aiming for a £15 million Alan Shearer in a previous time, Manchester United had picked up a thirty-something Teddy Sheringham.

Like Ronaldo, it might not have been the most auspicious start to a career – he won absolutely nothing in his first year and the chants around the away grounds didn’t let him forget it. He even missed a penalty in his first game for United, against Spurs. However, just like Ronaldo, without him they would not have won the Champions League. All this from a man who lets people call him Teddy.

He is also remarkable in that, unlike everyone else on the list, he is the only player to have left United on his own terms. Keane had his meltdown, Ronaldo put an extra year’s shift in before going to Real Madrid, and Solskjaer had his knees end his career for him. Sheringham, though, turned down United’s contract offer to return to Spurs, who were offering him a longer contract.

Roy Keane

If you think that David Gill and Peter Kenyon were a bunch of hapless administrative clowns, letting player after player join clubs despite United having such cash and cachet, be thankful you’re not a Blackburn Rovers fan. And not just because you’d have had to suffer Kenny Dalglish as manager. On a Friday afternoon in summer 1993, Blackburn and Dalglish had agreed a £4 million fee with Nottingham Forest and a contract with Keane. Annoyingly, the paperwork wasn’t quite correct, and the office had been locked up for the weekend – the move was put on hold until Monday morning. Oh, blast!

Cue Alex Ferguson calling up Keane, deciding that potentially the best midfielder of his generation was worth the cost of a bit of overtime*, and getting the necessary work done on the Saturday. It might all have ended in a mildly pathetic, if inevitable, flurry of recrimination between Keane and Ferguson – neither United nor Keane’s body were able to keep up with his own ego. But until then he was second only to his manager as the most important, enduring presence in an era of unprecedented Manchester United success.

*This is not an endorsement of overtime in general, only in football. Real life overtime is never worth the effort, hence the length and quality of this piece.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

If you’re going to support Liverpool but play for Manchester United, there’s only one thing you can do to become a hero.

Murder Michael Owen! No, not that. This.

Alexander is the author of A Diary of Love and Hate – The Premier League Season 2012/13. Follow him on Twitter.



  1. aaronDS says:

    this Fabregas drama will carry on till August . I hope we try to get another midfielder by then . Some one like Ben Arfa . hes a class act . just needs to around the right players . kagawa n a potential Fabregas with Carrick for support . 5-10 mil for him . Cheap effective signing . Well spent . Cabaye would be ideal , but how much wpuld he cost 15 – 20 . Id rather get Fab for 30 .

  2. WilliamAR says:

    @ Wayne

    I never said united bidding for top players is an insult to our intelligence, I said united bidding for players that are impossible to get is an insult to our intelligence. read carefully before reacting. Fabregas with 3 years left at his boy hood club, hometown and although playing out of position is playing with messi xavi, and iniesta is fair to say that fabregas is an impossible target. and actually if you follow deloit, forbes and all the other major financial sources like i do you will find that united have repaid there existing debts fairly sperraticly. 50% is pretty loose as it’s fluctuated over the years under the glazers due to the change in climate and floatation of the club on certain markets and changes in marketing and sponsorship deals. you’ll see united’s financial situation is much better than you think.

  3. Costas says:


    We still had defending minded midfielders like Flether and Hargreaves and they played a significant part in games where United didn’t have a lot of possession. I’ve noticed a notion among fans that the team can build a midfield in the Barcelona mould but I am not sure that would work with us. Imo we cant defend just by retaining possession. Especially when we play against sides that can match us in that department.

  4. Dan-young says:

    ben arfa, fellaini, luis Gustavo .. what the hell happened to ambition. lets become the next arsenal, great fucking idea!

  5. WilliamAR says:

    this is an article that might interest some people in regards to uniteds debt and what we can and cant afford. I’ve actually looked at all the stats on this article and projections and can tell you this is pretty correct.

  6. Imran says:

    Fabregas is not impossible to get, he’s a barca lad so has some attachment to the club. The only reason he’l leave is if barca want to sell. Thats What is happening. Fabs representatives must’ve told the club that he’l be open to a move if barca are ready to let him go, so the club has gone ahead and bid for him. And as barca want to buy silva, who won’t be cheap there’s a big possibility they’l accept a reasonable bid.

  7. whiteside85 says:


    I honestly believe they wouldv had dialogue wiv his people to make sure he’d be interested in a move before lodging a bid, happens all th time

  8. Sparkz says:

    kanchelskis says:

    “However, having two quality passers side-by-side in Carrick and Cesc would obviate SOME of the need for such a presence. Look at the Barca model – they’ve achieved great things without having any particular physicality in their middle three. Indeed, a trio of Carrick-Cesc-Kagawa could almost be seen as a Busquets-Xavi-Iniesta ‘lite’.”

    True, but we don’t play in the Spanish League which isn’t as physically demanding.

    Nobody’s asking for an out and out DM with limited ability on the ball. They need to be good on the ball no doubt. But if you look at most sides these days, their midfield is a combination of silk and steel.

    Madrid have Khedira, Bayern have Martinez, Juve have Vidal. Closer to home, City and Chelsea have Toure and Ramires.

    The likes of Carrick, Cleverley, plus AM’s like Kagawa and Janujaz- all fine with the ball at their feet. But there’s games where we can get overpowered, and a commanding presence will help.

    However, let’s be honest – how many players fit that skill set and are available? Not many that I can think of. Don’t even have anybody coming through from the Reserves that fits that skill set – Tunni isn’t ready for the step up yet (and I’m not 100% sure he ever will be).

    Worst case scenario, we hope Moyes cracks the whip on Anderson and he finally becomes the player we hoped – because he’s the only one of our current midfielders that comes close to being able to fill that powerful role.

  9. aaronDS says:

    @ william & wayne

    Well for all the reasons that Utd actually bid are none of our concern , we have a squad with RVP KAGAWA , VIDIC , DDG , ROONEY(yes him too) , RIO . thats 6 world class players who Utd BID for and got in somehow , Irrespective of what were thinking . Do youl remember when we bid for DDG similar to RVP , it took a while , But they came up with the goods .

    Off late Utd have messed up some signings mainly due to the fact that we probably dont accept bullshit(agent fees ridiculous wages etc) as part of a negotiation but I guess last years transfer buisness has been good enough for me , yes we dont have a natural spanish wonder CM but we did win the league . the prob this year is only one my friends , and Yes its bigger than Scholes replacement . Its adjusting to not having SAF at the helm chewing his gum anymore working his magic .

    Wel be ok . but this first season is a test . lets go easy on Moyes . I think hes done fantastic till now . Not as eccentric as other managers but hes here for a serious job and looks to be buzzing in confidence and calm .


  10. wayne says:

    you’re whole comment was how Utd don’t want top players directly under the first line about Utd putting in bogus transfer bids you wrote this

    It’s all just to waste time to make people think that they are trying to improve the squad in order to not come under fire from the supporters and media.

    The only conclusion i can get out of that is you think Utd have no intention of signing players to improve the squad am i misreading that in someway.?.Transfer dealing was way more stringent before the Glazers took over,it’s doubled under the Glazers.I know Utd’s situation is much better than most fans think but that doesn’t change the fact Utd’s wage bill has hovered around 50% of revenue for years and to get involved with fucking idiots who don’t care about losing millions every year would be suicide
    Don’t see the Fabregas situation the same as you,yes he’s with his boyhood club but he’s mainly getting overlooked and so far hasn’t been a good fit.Fabregas is a top player so i’m sure he can’t be happy with the way he’s been treated and if the rumors are true he’s not very impressed with the Neymar situation.Barca have large debts and are broke if Fabregas is surplus to requirements i could see Barca selling.For Utd to have tabled another bid tells me behind the scenes either from Barca or Fabregas some encouragement has been shown.

  11. WilliamAR says:


    I see what you’re saying with naming our top players but it just seems far too unlikely for me due to fabregas being at his boyhood dream of a club. it’s his home town it’s pretty much where he belongs and although I would love to see him here I just think it will be a matter of the new barca manager manager when they appoint one, telling fabregas how important he is and he will replace one of the 2 geniuses in the middle so they will play him in a slightly different role till then. fabregas is far to in love with that club to want to leave. if he was given a choice i recon he would say if he has to move then so be it but he would prefer to stay at barca, and i think that will be enough for barca to not want to sell him particularly with 3 years left on his contract. if he had 1 or maybe at most 2 years on his contract I’d say we had a chance but with 3 years left and considering the guy loves it there i don’t think we can get him this season. that for me makes him an impossible signing this season at least.

  12. aaronDS says:

    I do agree that Fab has given Utd enough hints to put in a second bid . The first bid us usually just to get attention . Barca would definitely told Utd as a formality . Hes not for sale . But informally Bid 30 mil and then we talk !

  13. denton davey says:

    WilliamAR @ 14:45: “we have to understand with oil rich owners is there comes a point where they will not want to spend their own wealth as all of them are business men who actually want to make money and not loose it,”

    They are decidedly NOT businessmen – Roman is a “thief” while the Qataris/AbuDhabis are just playboys whose families control their country’s wealth. Making money is secondary – or even tertiary ! – for these people. They are so rich – so unbelievably rich – that their football “projects” are just baubles. This means that clubs like Monaco/PSG/ManShitty/CSKALondon and so on are all in a very perilous situation – the Malaga and Portsmouth precedents should be seen as great worries for their fans. If the rich guy loses interest then – boom ! kapow !! – the club is fucked. Tony Fernandes, who owns QPR (and installed ‘array in the job to fritter away more millions after Mark Hughes showed himself to be the dumbest bugger in the transfer market [again ! ] ) was making this kind of noise towards the end of last season after ‘arry hadn’t produced a miracle but had spent thirty or forty million quid and given dead-average players huge pay-days. In today’s economy, money gets made fast – incredibly fast – but these guys can lose it at the whim of a dictator (as has happened to a few “oligarchs” in Putin’s Russia or else in a “democratic spring” that is always bubbling under the surface of the petro-states in TheGulf.) My point – long-winded, to be sure – is that while the going-is-good the petro-clubs look to be all-conquering but they are quite literally built on foundations of shifting sand.

    “city haven’t replaced tevez and balotelli with better players in fact in the whole they are not as good and none of them have premier league experience.”

    I completely agree with this point – Super/MadMario and Carlitos are a cut above Negredo, Jovetic, Navas and Fernandinho. They were not bought as direct replacements – quality-in/quality-out – but as squad-depth. One of them might come good but none has the upside of Mario or the proven track record of Carlitos. They’re just b-list players at the the Kolorov/Nasri/Milner/Barry/Lescott level – all of whom have blown hot-and-cold but are just not consistently good enough at the very highest level.

    “I can only see united winning the league at a canter again as we have a far better squad as we can play in multiple situations and styles with a squad that shows much more depth. as for the transfer market getting that one key midfielder we need would be a bonus but if we don’t i still think we’re far too good for the other teams.”

    I’m optimistic – but not mad.

    I reckon that UTD have the best keeper, the best squad-depth, and quality-attacking players to rival their rivals (if not out-shine them).

    BUT there are some worrying cracks in the foundation of Moyes’UTD.

    First, of course, is the over-reliance on MC16;

    second, is RVP’s injury record;

    third, is the on-going pantomime concerning TheWayneBoy and his petulant desire to be the main man;

    fourth, is the very worrying deterioration in the play of Nani/AV7 and the health/fitness of CaptainVidic and BigManSmalling; and,

    fifth, the uncertainty about the playing roles of Chicharito and KagawaBunga.

    If all these questions are answered in the affirmative then I, too, share your view that UTD can win #21 in a canter BUT, in all likelihood, some of these issues are not likely to be so answered which means summat like “there’s trouble at mill” (if you get my drift). And then, of course, there’s the sheer unpredictability of refereeing decisions (as in Nani’s red card against RM, LittleRedRafa’s second yellow against Bayern a couple of years ago, the non-call when Didier Drogba was off-sides by four feet, and so on

  14. denton davey says:

    Wayne @ 16:03: “For Utd to have tabled another bid tells me behind the scenes either from Barca or Fabregas some encouragement has been shown.”

    Guess what ? I agree with you on this and, indeed, on most things – just not AshleyYoung or Dimmy !

  15. WilliamAR says:


    I understand why you think my first statements seem harsh but in reality that’s how british media and fans act these days. I actually have a small suspicion that Moyes thinks our squad is already good enough and although he has stated that we are a little light in midfield i don’t think it’s an urgent thing for him. He has also gone on to mention how he’d like to use players like nani and how he feels we have the squad to play in a few different senarios and formations and play with variety but have that core style if you like. We have to remember that the guy is under huge pressure simply due to replacing Fergie so sometimes the appearance of being active is what’s required. I’m not dismissing your views because I could be wrong buy that’s the picture i’m painting at the moment. If united make no signings in this transfer window I will feel i was right but if he does make that big signing a lot of people want then i’ll eat my shoes lol I will even make a video of it and post it on here lol

  16. aaronDS says:

    @ william

    Yes exactly why im not optimistic just hopeful of seeing him in a Utd Shirt . I think the way were going after him is unique , you could say Woodward has his own style , but I guess coming out in the open and saying we bid a second time , when Fergie would just quash those rumors ever so calmly ( No , we havent bid for him . Blank face ) sounds a bit different and serious .

    What Im saying is I doubt Utd are thinking of what the fans will think at the moment . It looks to me , they are going in for a player thats confused but not being an absolute sob like the White Pele , Imagine If barca do accept a bid .. As a player at my boyhood club Id try my best to stay but with the worldcup and all choosing more playing time at a reasonable club the mammoth size of a MANUTD would not be such a diff decision . If it was me Id leave for Utd only to go back in say 3 yrs . no harm in that .
    (Its so weird being a common man .. now what does Fab think )

  17. WilliamAR says:

    @ denton davey

    you make some good points to be honest in regards to our own unanswered questions and i too will be interested to see what happens in regards to them. as for the oil rich teams using the teams as baubles I cant say i’m too sure on that. if you think about it man city have rocketed up the earners list and so too have chelsea and that’s because of the one basic thing that every business man thinks of, PROFITS. Yes they do give out this image of just splashing the cash but all of them have shown this at the beginning of taking over their respective clubs but as chelsea proved, it does ease off as at the begining all these clubs have to spend big initially to accumulate. city,PSG,monaco are all still at the beginning of their journeys with these rich owners so spending is the theme at the moment as they are trying to overtake the super powers of football like United,Real,Barca,Bayern, and so on. image is one thing but business is business.

  18. King Eric says:

    wayne. I know it’s laughable isn’t it. Just a pr stunt. Yeah and what IF Barca did accept the bid? We’d look right cunts.

  19. TheCANTONA says:

    WilliamAR says:

    @ Wayne

    I never said united bidding for top players is an insult to our intelligence, I said united bidding for players that are impossible to get is an insult to our intelligence. read carefully before reacting.

    LOL. i guess u must think the same about RvP last season. if we have money (we do have) and the player wants to come then its NOT impossible. United have made it clear we want the player and we made second bid (which show u we HAVE that kind of money). Its all up to fabregas now, whether to come back to play and lead the biggest club in england or stay at his boyhood club warming the bench while keep waiting xavi or iniesta to decline in 2 or 3 years to come.

    WilliamAR says:

    this is an article that might interest some people in regards to uniteds debt and what we can and cant afford. I’ve actually looked at all the stats on this article and projections and can tell you this is pretty correct.

    i’ve read the blog. funny its contradicted all the bollocks u said about our debt made us cant compete financially with another big clubs.

  20. WilliamAR says:

    @ aaron DS

    I think all fans of their respective supported teams would say if it was them they would do this and that but to be fair to fabregas he is at his supported club so his outlook is slightly different to ours. lol

  21. aaronDS says:

    @ Denton davey

    ” First, of course, is the over-reliance on
    second, is RVP’s injury record;
    third, is the on-going pantomime
    concerning TheWayneBoy and his petulant
    desire to be the main man;
    fourth, is the very worrying deterioration in
    the play of Nani/AV7 and the health/fitness
    of CaptainVidic and BigManSmalling; and,
    fifth, the uncertainty about the playing
    roles of Chicharito and KagawaBunga”

    those are some good points .

    As for Carrick I feel hes the kinda guy thats not gonna get injured , but we really do need a replacement . Is that a big enough name like DeRossi or smaller like Say Gustavo or Scott parker (lol)

    I feel Rooney will stay and DM will get the best out of him . but hed probably leave next year .

    As for RVPs injury record .. lets pray for that one not to happen !

    We do have a problem with Tony7 and Nani though . Moyes sort it OUt !

  22. WilliamAR says:

    @ the cantona

    no it actually tells us how our future prospects make us better off than our bidding rivals in terms of repayed debts. the point i was making was simply to illustrate how better financially we are than Barca and madrid and other big spending clubs. It basically back’s up what i said and what you have just said in regards to us having good spending power. so we agree to an extent. lol

  23. Kagawa26 says:

    On the Gustavo point – we should go for him as we could probably get him for around 10 million and he’s got European experience, is only 25, and will want to ensure he’s in the Brazil World Cup squad. He’s a defensive midfielder – the screen, if you will – who could start next to Carrick to allow our forwards more freedom. He would be cheaper than Fellaini and is the same age, and more technically accomplished

  24. nairobired says:

    Rooney needs to be sold and the club move forward. the moment we get fab and fellaini, it should be game over for rooney.
    I don’t know why people have this notion that sell rooney to chelsea and they automatically give the title to chelsea. We didn’t win the league because of rooney, infact we have never won the league because of rooney. EVER. He was very poor last year and if he even gets if mojo back, doubt it, it only benefits chelsea if we are then weak. If we get fab and fellaini, we will be stronger and have two class replacements, one of who is arguably better than rooney.

  25. Kagawa26 says:

    And for those who say that Gustavo isn’t good enough for Bayern and therefore isn’t good enough for us, should we limit ourselves to players who have already peaked. One line of thought is that Pep at Bayern will almost definitely try to introduce a possession game, like he did at Barca. This would be the only reason for him to buy Thiago given the midfielders he already has. In this case Gustavo is not the kind of player that would fit into his system, but he would fit into ours. This is not a question of him being not good enough for Bayern, it’s a question of Bayern not wanting his type of player. I think we should put a bid in for him, as he’s value for his price and if we sign another he would not need to be guaranteed first team status.

  26. NBI Red Moyesy says:

    @ WilliamAR – great post.

  27. NBI Red Moyesy says:

    If people are saying that we tabled a second Barca bid because Barca encouraged us rather than to try to tempt them, then United must have encouraged Chelsea to make a second bid for Rooney.

    I just don’t buy that a second bid is because there is encouragement. It’s can be the Club trying to force the issue and occasionally unsettle the player and show a serious interest.

    Arsenal have made 2 bids for Suarez and agreed a price for Higuan previously, it does not mean those Clubs will sell or are encouraging Arsenal’s interest.

  28. wayne says:

    Chelsea have not submitted a 2nd bid yet and the first one at 20mill was a piss take,so unless Chelsea come in for a serious bid their just fucking around.Liverpools valuation of Suarez is between 50 and 60 mill knowing Wenger he probably offered 25 to 30.
    So there’s a big difference with clubs fucking around with silly bids also in both cases Suarez and Rooney want out,it’s a totally different scenario to the one Utd face.There’s been no public indication from player or club that Fabregas is available yet Utd decided to send Woodward home and make two bids at decent money.

  29. The Hound says:

    Listening on bbc sport the deal with Fabregas sounds very doubtful. I just want this bloody pre season done with and United to get down to business. I think we’ll be waiting another year to sort out our midfield problems or getting someone more low key than Fabregas late in the window.

  30. dannysoya LOVES USAIN BOLT says:

    Just to demonstrate how critical it is that we absolutely MUST get two proper midfielders in, Michael Carrick reportedly has a slight groin problem. Although its nothing major, it’s a sign that we are basically dependent on a 32 year old whose body is breaking down little by little every day. Could you imagine starting Anderson and Cleverley at the bridge or the emirates or the etihad or in a big champions lge game? Absolutely ZERO defensive cover in front of the back four and they aren’t world class passers of the ball either. And yet some of you will tell me that you are ok with this midfield. Have to get two midfielders in. It is an absolute MUST.

  31. Scott says:

    Al_Ameen – Cantona wasn’t a summer signing.

  32. RedLion says:

    Why leave your childhood club, hometown where your family and friends live, you play daily with your world cup winning teammates, plus Messi who happens to be a good friend of his also. Plus Barcelona is a beautiful city with great weather! Thiago was a possibility, but i do not see Cesc leavin Barcelona.. Truth is, we should have gone full throttle for Isco, who was affordable, available and will become the next Iniesta.

    Christian Eriksen (Ajax), James Rodriguez (Porto) look very good and dont get mentioned often.

  33. soccerisfootbal says:

    we definitely need two CM, unless we expect fletcher to regain his fitness long-term and get back to previous performance levels, which seems unlikely.

    funny how sky seem to think the deal is possible if we hike the fee while bbc is saying basically no deal is going to transpire.

    logic would say cesc isn’t going anywhere, and we need to make sure we have two players ready to go if/when this deal tops out. less than three weeks left till we face wigan and any new players would need time to bed in. given our tough start we cant afford to make mistakes.

  34. King Eric says:

    Erikson is garbage and Rodriguez is a rentboy who’s joined the projects.


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