Can Sir Alex Ferguson Break his Long Losing Streak by Bringing in Luka Modric?

This appeared on SB Nation first. If you read it there first, I’d leave it this time.

After the various Player of the Year gongs were handed out, Manager of the Year Sir Alex Ferguson named Luka Modric (conspicuously absent from official shortlists) as the league’s best player. Quite a commendation. I mean this is a Scottish football manager talking after all, and not just any Scottish manager THE Scottish manager. Sir Alex Ferguson. He would know right?

Well no he wouldn’t, actually.

Fergie, I’m afraid, has no idea when it comes to buying midfield players.

Admittedly, he had some success in the early nineties. It would be churlish to suggest that Paul Ince and Roy Keane were anything short of magnificent additions to Ferguson’s first successful United sides. Keane was bought in 1993, though, and Manchester United have not bought a really top midfielder since then (those of you screaming Owen Hargreaves’ name at your laptop/smart phone/tablet relax, I’ll get to him).

One reason for this, of course, is the incredible seam of midfield talent unearthed by United’s youth system in the early nineteen-nineties. Having won the 1992 FA Youth Cup with a midfield that included Nicky Butt, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs, United finished runners-up the following year with Paul Scholes replacing the by-now first team established Giggs. The midfield richness of the Youth Team’s dividends in this period relaxed the need for outsourcing; Idaho doesn’t import potatoes, does it?

Now though, with Paul Scholes’ retirement, Ryan Giggs is the only surviving member of United’s dominant youth teams.

This situation has been inevitable for years and Ferguson, as the pragmatic genius he is, has attempted numerous solutions over the last decade or so. The most famous was the 2001 signing of Juan Sebastien Veron, which it’s fair to say didn’t work out. The most infamous were the 2003 signings of Kleberson and Eric Djemba-Djemba, which it would be remiss of me to describe as anything short of apocalyptically disastrous. Recent additions have proved more successful, especially since some of the slack has been picked up by the emergence of the unspectacular but nonetheless solid Darren Fletcher. Michael Carrick (signed in 2006) is not United’s most popular player, but his appearance in this season’s Champions League final is testament, at the very least, to his sticking power. The same is probably true of 2005’s Ji Sung Park. These are reliable enough performers, but you won’t dominate the domestic and European game with sides built in their images.

Many United fans, at this juncture, will point to the 2007 signing of Owen Hargreaves as their what-might-have-been man. Perhaps. Unfortunately, the truth is that Hargreaves’ United career is little more than a huge question mark. Yes, they won the League and Champions League in the closest he had to a full season in 2008. But, quite simply, 27 appearances in 4 years are far too few for the Canadian/Englishman to count as a counterpoint. Hargreaves serves instead as a warning against the Million-Dollar Man (‘we can rebuild him’) attitude of a medical team buoyed by their recent success in rehabilitating Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Hargreaves had a good career prior to joining United, which is itself enough to suggest that he could have become a United great. It is clear, however, that sadly that did not happen for him. For various reasons, then, and as incredible as it seems given his success, Ferguson has still to find a true success in this incredibly important area.

That may be about to change.

What United need, in Scholes’ absence, is an intelligent, technically gifted, modern (for which read small) creative midfield player preferably with proven Premier League pedigree. Fortunately for them, in spite of Harry Redknapp’s already wearying protestations, there’s one available in Tottenham Hotspur’s Luka Modric, whom, it seems, their manager already rates above any of his current players.

Modric’s quality and availability are not, sadly, secrets. Chelsea and Manchester City would probably both love a piece of the Croatian midfielder too. At 25 Modric just squeezes under the age-limit the Glazer administration has imposed for expensive acquisitions, but the financial weight of their opponents in the likely bidding war will ensure that the playmaker moves for an absolute premium.

That and Ferguson’s inauspicious history in this area entitles the Old Trafford moneymen to regard the signing of Modric as a significant risk.

Perhaps they could bring Arsene Wenger in for a consult. The Arsenal manager lined up Patrick Vieira’s move to North London before he had moved himself and the totemic Frenchmen was just the first in a long and continuing line of sparkling midfielders that the Prof. has brought to the Premier League. Payment for services, of course, would be made in kind; Ferguson, unlike Wenger, is impeccably qualified to pinpoint Arsenal’s next centre-back.

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23 Responses to Can Sir Alex Ferguson Break his Long Losing Streak by Bringing in Luka Modric?

  1. That’s 2 minutes of my life I wasted reading this. What a pathetic article… You mention Park and don’t specify central midfielders, so are you stupid? Ever heard of a kid called Ronaldo who is a midfielder bought by Ferguson and became world player of the year?

    • Calum says:

      Cheers for that classic ‘time I won’t get back’ response, haven’t had one of those in a while.

      Bet you’ll give me a few more minutes though won’t you? You’re not letting this one lie.

      Ronaldo won World Player of the year playing as a striker.

    • Paul says:

      Park has consistently played central midfield

  2. Red Rupert says:

    so Beckham, Scholes, Keane and Ince don’t count?


  3. Homez says:

    What a load of gibberish crowned by the last paragraph….

  4. sebba says:

    Do you know who ravel morrison, paul pogba, ryan tunnicliffe, larnell cole and davide petrucci are calum? Do a bit of research son. You might just get a little insight into the future of mufc. I dont think sir alex will be needing to buy any midfielders in the future either.

    • Calum says:

      No. I don’t know who any of them are. Apart from Morrison, none of them even have wikipedia pages. Must be shit.

      • jo says:

        They are the best young players in country fella. All of them midfielders. How can you write an article about a club you know fuck all about? You sound like a bitter to me.

      • Calum says:

        Nice one. Maybe one of them will grow up to be the new Terry Cooke? Or, even (whisper it), the new Luke Chadwick! Either way, you’ve proved me wrong.

    • Paul says:

      I know who all of them are. None of them have anything to do with Ferguson.

      Also, United are currently thinking of releasing Morrison due to his persistent disciplinary problems.

  5. Kate says:

    I enjoyed this Calum and would do a deal with you on some Wenger/Fergie partnership 🙂

  6. James says:

    I agree with you that Ferguson has hardly led the way when it comes to purchasing world class midfielders. If that is to change this summer, I reckon it is more likely that he signs Nasri.

    • jo says:

      Only keane, beckham, scholes, ince, giggs. The best midfielders this country has produced all from ferguson. Not to mention champions league winners carrick, fletcher and hargreaves. Nah no good at all is he lol. What a bunch of bitter clueless cunts.

  7. jish inc says:

    Poor article. If our midfield is so poor how come united have won 4 of the last five titles and appeared in 3 of the last 4 champions league finals. Surely that must have more to do with it than luck. What has fabregas and company done to justify being better than carrick and co. Utterly crappy article

  8. Belly says:

    I’ve got to agree with the writer. In the last 10 years in particular, Ferguson’s midfield signings are in general, very poor. Often forgotten shockers include Obertan, Tosic, Llajic, Possebon,, Lee Martin and Liam Miller. He has more recent success with wide men such as Valencia and, possibly, Young but centrally Ferguson is left wanting.

    Link below covers Man Utd signings since 92/93, for information:

  9. Editor says:

    Please read the article before you comment. You only embarrass yourselves otherwise…

  10. Pingback: The Only Person Who Can End The Perpetual Cesc Fabregas To Barcelona Saga is Cesc Fabregas | Good Feet for a Big Man

  11. IP Freely says:

    What author I think is trying to say is that with having Scholes and Giggs, Fergusen has gotten a little complacent in the midfield department. But the question is with Scholes and Giggs performing day-in-day-out for 15 years, what more do you need? That’s half the midfield problem solved right there; Nani and Pak were good enough to get to the Champions league final, if not to beat Barcelona, bu that’s an almost thankless task nowadays..

  12. Pingback: Tactical (D)evolution, or How Fergie Hopes to Catch Barcelona by Going Backwards | Good Feet for a Big Man

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