Set the Giddy-o-Meter to ‘eleven’; in the Van Persie deal, United have found the means to attract, sign, and then pay, a genuinely top class, peak-of-career player, for the first time in years.
Indeed, you have to go back into the mists of the Sexton era to find a purchase of this calibre that also had the benefit of being filched from a genuine top-notch rival.
I don’t count 1995’s Andy Cole, because Newcastle never actually won anything, and were essentially fly-by-nighters. So my nomination is Gary Birtles, from Forest, in 1980: big money, right age, proven goalscorer, and from a club that had just won back-to-back European Cups. Remind me, how did that turn out again...ah.
Yes, perhaps we should get a grip: RVP’s done nothing in Red yet, and my colleague who pronounced us 2013 Champions on a website yesterday needs to ‘give his head a wobble’, as they say round here. A Gooner friend, briefly breaking off from his round-the-clock wailing and teeth-gnashing, warned me: “don’t forget — last season was his first injury-free one for us. In eight years!”
He makes a good point, of course; moreover, injury-prone players only become more so as they age. Nevertheless, this is a market coup that has excited us more than any since, ooh, let’s say — Juan Sebastian Veron? Oh. Y’know, maybe we should just move on from these historical parallel reminders...
Kigawa is, in some ways, just as significant a deal. Here’s a lad with the world at his feet, a perfect-age double winner in the one league that’s even better-supported than ours, with suitors aplenty, and who could have looked at us as a potentially spent force, no longer even champions of our own city. Yet he’s here, impressing already, and seemingly offering us a whole range of attacking formation options because of his all round footballing intelligence. Add the two youngsters we’ve brought in and you can see why many Mancunian Reds have already gladly forgotten what had been shaping up as the one of the most miserable summers ever.
Why the gloom? Two reasons: firstly, the necessity of having to move gingerly around our own city lest someone spot you and loudly remind you of That Thing That Happened back in May. Secondly, the Glazers’ horrendous IPO brought home to everyone what a collection of vile parasites we have sucking the blood out of this club. Even the handful of Quislings in the fanbase who support them had the decency to look ashamed when the family pulled their 11th hour stunt and announced that they would, after all, be pocketing tens of millions previously earmarked for debt repayment.
Worse was to follow as Alex Ferguson, quite unnecessarily, chose to come out and add to his track record of deliberately provocative pro-Glazer statements by labelling those who oppose the leeches as not being ‘real fans’. The reaction to this was quite electric; middle of the road fans who had previously kept out of all these debates now, finally, piped up to say that he’d gone too far. Comparisons spring to mind, and my favourite is with Pierre Laval, the hated Vichy prime minister, who blew all chance of one day escaping the firing squad when he quite needlessly declared in 1943 that he wanted the Germans to win the war.
An unfortunate public spat then developed between Fergie and well-known financial analyst and Glazer critic Andy Green over whether Fergie would be personally filling his trough from any proceeds of the IPO, the implication being that Fergie’s support for the Gimps had been ‘bought’ as easily as one might secure a prostitute’s devoted attention. Sometime next year, we’ll know who was right.
All these shenanigans, taken together with United’s lack of market action hitherto, had threatened to leave us heading to Goodison for Monday night’s kickoff under a heavy cloud ofrecrimination and pessimism: but instead, with one swish of the pen, Fergie has left most Reds dancing a sunny jig this weekend. Such is the power of a football manager or a prime minister — he is always in a position where he can pull a lever and make the weather change. And he hasn’t necessarily finished, either; the money earmarked for the Moura deal remains to be spent.
Of course, we may yet see painful departures — Nani and Chico have been the subjects of rumours for at least a fortnight. Furthermore, Reds continue to clamour for a top central midfielder, the lack of which was 2011/12’s most relentless theme. But we set sail in determined mood. The destination? Only one really matters, the slot above City.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved