Ferguson not expecting to buy in January
Sir Alex Ferguson has cautioned against Manchester United supporters expecting a sudden influx of January signings following this week’s Champions League exit.
Debate amongst fans about the reason for United’s stunning slide from beaten finalists in May has centred around the midfield.
Many felt it was lacking quality even before Paul Scholes’ retirement in the summer, and injuries to Tom Cleverley and Anderson, plus Michael Carrick’s suspension forced Ferguson to rely on 37-year-old Ryan Giggs and teenage rookie Phil Jones as his central midfield partnership in Basle.
The fact that Ferguson revealed to MUTV Cleverley may be able to start light training next week after having a protective boot taken off was a positive sign.
However, at times this season, even Wayne Rooney has been used in that area of the field, with mixed results.
It seems like an unsustainable situation, especially for a club of United’s standing.
However, Ferguson is not convinced the quality he requires will be available mid-season.
"It is very difficult to buy players in January," he said.
"You don’t just want to buy any player simply because it gives you another one. You want to buy someone who can make a difference.
"We have only had maybe four or five signings in my time here in January. It is not a consistent route for us simply because of all the disadvantages."
The disadvantages are even more complicated this year because United are still familiarising themselves with the rules of the Europa League.
For United, that means they would be allowed to add one player to their Europa League squad who has played in the Champions League this season, as long as it was not for one of the other seven clubs who have been dropped into the secondary competition.
"It is not easy to get players in January," said Ferguson.
"I am not quite sure if you went for a player if he could play in the Europa League. There is criteria there in the sense of playing in the Champions League and whether they could play in the Europa League.
"There are a lot of issues there but there is nothing in my mind at the moment."
Ferguson has made January signings though.
Andy Cole and Louis Saha for a start, also Diego Forlan. And two of his best buys, Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic, were signed a month after their last unscheduled Champions League group stage exit six years ago.
"At the time we were looking to get players in who were important in certain positions," said Ferguson.
"After Denis Irwin retired it was very difficult to get a left-back with quality. Patrice was the one we identified.
"Nemanja is a lad I went to see in Paris three or four years before that when he played for Serbia against France.
"But they played with three centre-backs and I was unable to really get a feel that he could play in a back four.
"He went to Russia and played in a back four there, so we knew there wouldn’t be a problem and decided to go for him."