Sunday, August 13, 2006

Chelsea beats United even before the campaign begins

Buying and selling football players in the transfer market is big business. The top players in the industry are rich millionaires. They are branded products and scores of merchandising items from tee shirts to drinking mugs are sold on their names. They have agents who charge million dollar fees to buy and sell their players to the highest bidding clubs. That's how the game works.

Sir Alex Fergusion has just realized this, perhaps rather belatedly. Fergusion has eaten the humble pie. Michael Carrick's move from Tottenham Hotspur in a deal that could add up to 18.6 million pounds ($35.48 million) has proved that United, under the Glazer family, can still spend big.

The 25-year-old will fill the holding role left vacant by the departure of Roy Keane last year, following a number of disappointing midfield buys, and United should be defensively sound, especially if Gabriel Heinze returns to full fitness.

Fergusion is quoted to have said, "Perhaps it is the cavalier amounts of money Chelsea have been spending which has upped the ante because the asking prices these days have soared to ridiculously high levels." It is as if the thinking is that if Chelsea can afford such-and-such then we can expect Manchester United to pay through the nose as well.

Big-spending Chelsea, who have again invested heavily over the close season on Michael Ballack, Andriy Shevchenko and United target John Obi Mikel, will take some catching as they pursue a hat-trick of championship wins.

The time has come for manager Alex Ferguson to deliver again or face fresh questions about staying on beyond his 20-year reign at Old Trafford.

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