ALEX FERGUSON insists he has cash to spend in the January transfer window – but he does not expect to find any bargains.
With Manchester United in the middle of a defensive injury crisis, Sol Campbell’s name has been put forward as a potential solution.
The mere fact a 35-year-old, who enjoyed his best days at Arsenal four seasons ago, was being linked with a move to Old Trafford only served to fuel speculation about the money that Ferguson has at his disposal.
Critics of the Glazer family have never been scared of outlining their doomsday scenario for a club whose current debt stands at £790 million (€878 million), and are convinced the bulk of a world record £80m (€94m) transfer fee received for Cristiano Ronaldo will go towards massive interest payments.
It is a stance condemned forcibly by sources close to the owners, who have always claimed Ferguson has the money to spend and it is his decision alone to keep the bulk of it.
Yesterday Ferguson ruled out a move for Campbell and emphasised his view there is no value in players who might be available.
“It has been said I do not have the money so I want to get someone cheap. It is nonsense,” he said.
“I don’t know where the Sol Campbell story came from. He has had a great career but he is not of any interest to us.
“I am happy with the players I already have. At this moment we are having a hard time with the centre-backs but I am sure by January we will have most of them will be back. The money is there if I wanted to use it. I didn’t see any value in the summer and I don’t see any value now either.”
The Glazers will be glad of Ferguson’s statement, having presided over a period unparalleled in United’s history given they have won three successive Premier League titles and reached at least the semi-finals of the Champions League on each occasion.
And they can hardly be held responsible for an injury situation that robbed United of 14 senior players in Wolfsburg on Tuesday.
Four will return against Aston Villa today for a repeat of what Ferguson felt was the defining moment of last season, when Federico Macheda secured victory in stoppage time.
In addition to Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov, Nemanja Vidic is back to partner Michael Carrick in central defence.
Against a side that could easily utilise John Carew and Emile Heskey in attack, having Vidic available after a flu virus could be vital.
“Nemanja is particularly important against Villa because they do cross the ball a lot,” said Ferguson.
“If they were to play Heskey and Carew up front, you would have a formidable task trying to deal with them because they are such big lads.
“Vidic is the one player who can cope with that and we are delighted he is back.”
Meanwhile Martin O’Neill has insisted Villa do not have “a mental block” about playing United at Old Trafford. Villa will be looking to end a 26-year sequence without an away victory against the Red Devils today.
O’Neill said: “We keep being told we have not won at Old Trafford for 26 years but the whole point is we can’t be affected by something that has happened when we have not been involved the majority of the time.
“In fact, in the last couple of years we have played well enough at Old Trafford to have got something out of the game.
“I don’t think we have a mental block about going there despite our record at Old Trafford. “We are playing very well and it is an opportunity for us to try and push on.”
O’Neill knows United will still provide a massive test despite their recent catalogue of injuries.
He said: “We have beaten Chelsea and Liverpool this season and that gives us added confidence if there is such a thing, even though those games were some time ago.
“Our record against Championship-chasing sides as well as the sides chasing the top four has been good this season – but this is a major test for us.”
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