Alex Ferguson has admitted Manchester United will need to “stretch” themselves in the transfer market to cope with a hat-trick of retirements.
For the second summer running, Ferguson has opted not to spend heavily in the transfer market.
United have invested in excess of £20m to secure the services of Javier Hernandez, Chris Smalling and surprise capture Bebe, but the signature transfer to replace Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez has so far failed to materialise.
Ferguson’s thrifty approach has led to accusations that he is being handicapped by the huge debts incurred by the Glazer family, something both he and chief executive David Gill have repeatedly denied.
The Red Devils boss has consistently pointed out that, due to the massive spending of Manchester City and Real Madrid, inflated prices mean there is no value in the market.
Apparently United were interested in one high-profile player this summer, only for Ferguson to discover quite quickly that the man in question was bound for an alternative destination.
However, he has conceded the retirements of Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville over the next few years are going to present a problem.
“We are not at the point where we have to go overboard to get the best player in the world,” said Ferguson.
“There are enough really top players in the club at the moment.
“There may be a time in the next couple of years where we have to stretch ourselves, particularly when Ryan, Paul and Gary retire.
“Then, it is a possibility we would need to get really top players in to galvanise the younger ones coming through.
“But at the moment we have the experience. We have players who have been through the whole gamut of emotions at this club and know how to deal with it.”
If City in particular are spending huge sums trying to force their way up the Premier League table, buying replacements for Giggs, Scholes and Neville will be an expensive business.
For now though, with that trio signed up for another season, and Ferguson not ruling out the possibility of Giggs at the very least going on even further, he is content to see if the entire backdrop starts to settle.
He continued: “We have no financial restrictions. If I hadn’t been confident maybe we would have done something. But there was only one player I would have brought here and that move was sealed off quite early by the club he went to.
“The best thing we can do until the market becomes more sensible is produce or buy young players and develop them in the club.
“By doing that we are easily securing the next eight years at Manchester United.”
Ferguson will not still be manager in eight years, which means his work is leaving a legacy for his replacement. Not that the Scot has lost focus on the immediate future.
Tomorrow night’s Champions League encounter with his old club Rangers presents him with the kind of decision he relishes.
After confirming he is looking past Neville and Giggs as his captain, the return of Rio Ferdinand from the knee injury he suffered on the first day of World Cup training with England means Ferguson has a straight choice between the Three Lions skipper and central defensive partner Nemanja Vidic, who has performed well in the role so far this season.
It is a not insignificant choice, which may reveal much about how much trust Ferguson has in Ferdinand’s body given the number of matches the stylish central defender has missed over the past two years.
Whoever gets the role, their first task will be to guide United past a Rangers team Ferguson has stressed cannot be underestimated by a side who have already thrown away winning positions twice this season.
“We don’t have frailties,” he said. “It has been a lack of concentration in our defending.
“People say this is a mismatch but they said that about Barcelona on Saturday night.
“Football throws up surprises. We are never going to forget Rangers’ history and this will be a tough game.
“I know Walter Smith personally and he has worked with me twice. I know how astute he is and how good a tactician he is. I can almost see that little brain working at the moment.”
Man Utd (from): Van der Sar, Kuszczak, O’Shea, Rafael, Neville, Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evans, Smalling, Evra, Fabio, Valencia, Park, Gibson, Scholes, Anderson, Fletcher, Giggs, Nani, Rooney, Owen, Berbatov, Hernandez, Macheda.
Rangers (from): McGregor, Weir, Broadfoot, Papac, Edu, Davis, Lafferty, Naismith, Beattie, Bougherra, Alexander, McCulloch, Miller, Weiss, Little, Hutton, Whittaker, McMillan.