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Ferguson set to solve striking dilemma

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Phil McNulty | 18:03 UK time, Sunday, 10 August 2008

nevilleshield438.jpgWembley Stadium

Sir Alex Ferguson was in relaxed mood - as relaxed as a manager should be with the Premier League and the Champions League in his trophy cabinet and with the cosmetic glory of the Community Shield added to Manchester United's collection.

He took all questions amiably in the bowels of Wembley, even the sort of inquisitive probing on specific transfer targets that can spark, shall we say, a prickly response.

But it was clear that there was one cloud on Ferguson's Old Trafford horizon. Not exactly a thunder cloud, but one he appears to have every intention of blowing away before next Sunday's first game against Newcastle United at Old Trafford.

Ferguson watched his side dominate possession, create a presentable collection of chances, but still need penalties to beat a Portsmouth side who should have been dismissed well before the need for a shoot-out.

Carlos Tevez was inspirational, but with Wayne Rooney recovering from illness, Cristiano Ronaldo sidelined until October after surgery and Louis Saha sidelined until the 12th of Never with whatever it is now, Ferguson's need for a natural goalscorer is clear.

And he candidly admitted he had hopes of having his man in place before the serious stuff starts next Sunday.

It provided an intriguing backdrop to a Wembley game that offered much to encourage Ferguson ahead of the new campaign.

United can afford to miss chances in the Community Shield. They could even have afforded to miss their penalties in the grand scheme of things - but a finisher might make the difference to the fine margins that operate in the Premier League.

Missed chances could prove the difference between a good start and a great start, which is why Ferguson made his priority clear. He does not want to offer the slightest piece of daylight to his closest rivals from day one - it is not in his nature.

United have been linked with Thierry Henry, and while Ferguson pointedly did not dismiss the notion, he is surely a decoy for main target Dimitar Berbatov.

Henry would be a gamble, a once great player now past his best but still with the ego of by-gone days.

Ferguson has never been shy of taking a punt, Eric Cantona was his greatest, but it would be a major shock if the former Arsenal icon was his man.

Can you see him fitting in at Old Trafford? Can you actually picture the great one-time Gunner in a Manchester United shirt? No, nor can I.

But what purpose would it serve Ferguson to deny the interest in Henry? He could be a crucial pawn in his game of chess with Spurs.

There is no shrewder or more battle-hardened transfer operator. If Berbatov is his chosen one, he will happily play the long game to land him and invariably gets his man.

Spurs, however, are experts at playing hard-ball when it comes to selling and they will not blink unless Ferguson delivers the exact package chairman Daniel Levy demands.

The shadow of Berbatov has lurked over Old Trafford all summer, and Ferguson will have watched his side's wastefulness with interest, before hardening his resolve to ensure the problem does not undermine their start to the season.

Ferguson wants his double champions to hit the ground running. He will not want missed chances raising his blood pressure.

The absence of a finisher was only placed into sharper relief by the fact all other parts of Ferguson's team looked to be in excellent working order.

United's defence looked imperious, barely refusing to give Portsmouth's new strike force of Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch an opening.

Rio Ferdinand looked like the England captain-in-waiting, with a display that had Ferguson enthusing that when he was in that mood "he's approaching the best centre-back in the world by far - a magnificent player."

Ferguson was just as effusive about the returning Gary Neville - "a remarkable man" - who played for 66 minutes and looked as if he is finally over the injury problems that have dogged him for around 18 months.

If he is fit, Ferguson faces a happy dilemma (although he labelled it "cruel") after Wes Brown's outstanding performances in the right-back role last season.

Ferguson's resources are plentiful in midfield, so it is only that striking dilemma that will worry him in the countdown to the new campaign.

He admitted it has been pressing since the end of last season, and history tells us Ferguson is not a man to leave serious matters to chance, so expect action in the next seven days.


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  • Comment number 1.

    drogba would do as a one season stop gap.

  • Comment number 2.

    Quite right !! -- Not quite sure why Ferguson is dropping hints to newspapers that he is interested in Thierry henry but just no-one but no-one is buying this one. It is quite clearly a decoy to try and get Berbatov at his price, rather than Tottenhams. However, I Genuinely think that Spurs do not want to sell Berbatov and who can blame them ?. Spurs can not buy a replica replacement for £20m so why should they sell a player that they neither need to, or want to, on the cheap ???

  • Comment number 3.

    It was intresting that you mentioned defending but nobody ever mentions the best left back in European football.....Patrice Evra....its like having two wingers and two left backs....absolute top class...who needs a striker,shove Patty up there!!!

  • Comment number 4.

    I can't see Henry signing for United for numerous reasons. Firstly, would Ferguson shell out £20m on a soon to be 31 year old who seems past his best? Ferguson witnessed this first-hand during United's Champions League semi-final clashes with Barcelona last season. Besides, Barcelona want Samuel Eto'o out, and insist that Henry is very much part of their plans for the coming season. I can't see them letting him go. Furthermore, if he were to leave for Old Trafford, would he even be guaranteed a starting place? When Rooney and Tevez are both fit, surely Ferguson would opt for them instead. Finally, I don't think Henry would want the move. He is an Arsenal man through and through, and reiterated this in January when linked with Newcastle, stating that if he were ever to move back to England, an Arsenal return would be his only option.

    United will probably get Berbatov, but whatever happened to Manucho?

  • Comment number 5.

    Frazier Campbell looked good when he came on. If United don't sign a big name I'd love to see Campbell given an opportunity at centre forward. Giggs and Tevez as a strike force are never going to get many goals; we need a spear head, a centre forward, and Frazier fits the bill. In the absence of Berbatov, Campbell and Tevez should start against Newcastle.
    Henry in a United shirt: unlikely, but the looks on the faces of the Gooners would be something to savor!

  • Comment number 6.

    I still think Klaas Jan Huntelaar is the answer. Berbasulk is exactly that. If he doesn't get his own way, he'll sulk like a child whose had it's favourite toy taken away. AND he's massively overpriced. For the £30 million that Spurs are asking for, Sir Alex could buy Huntelaar and STILL have almost £10 million pounds change!

    On the Manchester United Fans Forum, there are over 1100 posts asking for Sir Alex to buy Huntelaar. And the player himself has already said he WANTS to play for United. All we're waiting for is a bid to be accepted and the player to sign! So Daniel Levy - you can keep your Bulgarian cry-baby - we'll have "The Hunter" !

  • Comment number 7.

    I would hate to see Henry in United shirt.We need someone younger

  • Comment number 8.

    United should be in for Messi or Kaka. We've earned hundreds of millions over the last few seasons and bought relatively little; and a lot of that on a deferred payment basis.

    Glaizers cost United 60 million in interest repayments alone for THEIR loans every year.

    Sold Ruud, Mikel, Rossi, Smith etc...

    We'll end up with a loan striker in Jan again, cause that's what clubs without deep pockets do. It's a myth that United are cash rich, we have a living breathing financial liability running the club.

  • Comment number 9.

    I could see Fergie showboating Campbell in the community shield just to boost his value for a partial trade for Berbatov or Roque Santa Cruz.

  • Comment number 10.

    One thing's for sure and that's Berbatov won't go anywhere unless/until spurs have got suitable replacements lined up. They're already a striker down. Do you think they're going to sell Defoe, Keane and Berbatov without replacing at least two of them? Arshavin was supposed to replace Keane. They're not going to go into the start of the season with just Bent.

    I think they'll be some movement this week but I can't see Berbatov going. Besides he played today against Roma and if a move was imminent surely he'd have been rested.

  • Comment number 11.

    Henry at Man United no chance. He's an Arsenal man through and through plus he's not been at his best for a few years. If ur gonna look at Barca strikers go for Eto'o.

    Berba would be a great signing but I don't see Spurs letting him leave.

    Huntelaar would be great. True he does want to play for the Red Devils and Ajax have a habit of selling their best players for the right price.

    Why not go for Villa, Fabiano or even Martins or Ashton.

    I do wish that they would give Campbell a chance but they do still need another striker.

    Its times like this you wish they kept Rossi etc.

  • Comment number 12.

    Someone forgot to close a bold tag!

  • Comment number 13.

    I'm amazed that people seem to see Campbell as a first team striker this season - pretty ridiculous if you ask me. Fair enough, he might be a good prospect but he shouldn't even be given the chance at the start of the season - that's something you do when you have the players to bring on in case of failings, and you're playing comfortably in the middle of the season.

    Huntelaar would be the best signing of the players seemingly available in my opinion. Second would be Santa Cruz with his proven track record of goal scoring in the prem.

    Berb is unlikely as has been mentioned - it is unlikely that Tottenham will get rid of Defoe, Keane and Berb without someone to replace at least 1 or 2 of them.

  • Comment number 14.

    when the transfer window opened i saw that UTD bought two brazilian brothers aged 17...anyone else see that?

  • Comment number 15.

    I think it's remarkable that a player who is reportedly costing United 36 odd million pounds, (Teves), cannot spearhead an attack... He's a talented, hard working, and industrious player, but he's never worth over 30 million!

  • Comment number 16.


    Rafael and Fabio da Silva; twin brothers from Rio de Janeiro.

    Rafael is a right-back, whereas Fabio a left-back.

    Both have been on United's books for quite a while, but have only recently been granted international clearance for them to play within the UK.

  • Comment number 17.

    Ferguson mentioned Campbell in his press conference after today's game, but he appeared to talk about him more in terms of potential than anyone he would play from the start in an ideal world.

    What do we know about Huntelaar? Would you United fans out there take him ahead of Berbatov?

    Here's one for you? What about Roque Santa Cruz? Well worth a punt if you ask me.

    As for Thierry Henry, I am prepared to be proved totally wrong, but I just cannot see it.

  • Comment number 18.

    Just to add - Ferguson spoke in the most glowing terms about the right-back Rafael da Silva when questioned after the game.

    It was in the context of Gary Neville's return, but he spoke with such enthusiasm that I think we can assume he would have no hesitation in playing him in the first team.

  • Comment number 19.

    From all the names mentioned above the most appealing to me as an unbiased non Man Utd fan would be Klaas Jan Huntelaar. For me, Utd have stacks of flair, pace and skill in their forward line but lack a focal point who will give them a different dimension should the flair players have an off day! Berbatov would want to play every week and and i'm not sure that a new striker would get that opportunity with all the talent in the Utd squad.

  • Comment number 20.

    What do we know about Huntelaar? Would you United fans out there take him ahead of Berbatov?
    Question is, would Fergy?

    He doesn't seem to fancy strikers that are unproven in the Premiership, these days.

    (Although he seems ever so partial to strikers that other Premiership teams have brought over!).

    Torres is a case in point; he was always suspect on the old banging 'em away front, but our loss has been Liverpool's gain.

    Huntelaar is different, in that he would score goals on Mars, given the correct breathing apparatus.

    But from what I've seen he brings very little else to the party. So, could be just what the doctor ordered, or not.

    If the play breaks down with him, he'll be a disaster. If we start constantly trying to feed him, we're back to the days of Ruud; which is a backwards step.

    What United need is for Tevez to start scoring 30 goals a season. And on today's evidence that 'aint gonna happen any time soon.

    So we'll keep relying on a winger for goals, while our strikers create a smokescreen and bang in a few themselves.

    A happy medium is required, and it appears to be Berbatov shaped.

  • Comment number 21.

    I agree that all this is possible,

    My money is on Berbatov......

    This is going to be Tevez's season in terms of goals - last year he was second to Christano but this year it's his opportunity to shine...

    Go the reds,


  • Comment number 22.

    The question is, what do we want in a striker?

    Do we want a playmaker? Well, I think that's Rooney's role.

    A battler perhaps? That's Tevez.

    A goal machine? Oh, so there is the gap in squad.

    And who scores more goals, Berbatov or Huntelaar?

    KJH for MUFC.

  • Comment number 23.

    I think comments that are saying that Fergie and the club don't spend enough money on players is harsh.

    If you look at the recent years, we have bought Veron, Ferdinand, Rooney, Anderson, Nani, Carrick, Hargreaves and Tevez for huge sums of money. We do have the money to spend on players and yes, we do need to buy an out and out striker. However, i feel that complaining about united not spending enough money on players is ridiculous.

    Its a very big if, if united were to sign Henry and he may be getting on a bit, but as we saw with Henrik Larsson, Fergie can get the best out of any player so in this case I think Henry would be a class signing for united.

    However, I feel Berbatov would be a better deal. Think about united's strikeforce with berbatov, he has a fantastic touch, brilliant movement (when he chooses to) but most of all an amazing finish. United's strikeforce of Berbatov up top with Tevez and Rooney just behind him (in their favoured position) and then Ronaldo and Nani/Giggs bamboozling players down the wing, whipping crosses in for the big man Berba. I think he is a top player and would be a great signing for united.

  • Comment number 24.

    I think the Berbatov money would be better suited going to Ajax in return for Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

  • Comment number 25.

    I was rather against going for Berbatov until I read the comments from memyselfandmincepies. Some very good points were made. I haven't seen enough of Huntelaar to comment, but if he really were to be of the van Nistelrooy ilk, I'd be a bit worried.

    Basically, it doesn't matter how much flair you've got in a team, I have a feeling that with that kind of striker, you can't help but end up making them the focal point. And if United were to do that, it would be a step back. We looked like a new team when van Nistelrooy left and we started playing Saha!

    I do see the flipside, though. Rooney and Tevez will never get you a striker's amount of goals. Combined, they might do. But not individually. And do we really think Ronaldo's going to be as prolific in the future as he was last season? It's still in question how long he's going to be around anyway.

    All these leads me to the conclusion that I really have no idea what I want! It seems we need a striker with a real eye for goal but who also has a bit more to his game, and who won't mind warming the bench from time to time. Solskjaer, anyone?

  • Comment number 26.

    I only saw the highlights today, however it seemed to me Man Utd were doing one pass too much, in range for a shot but laying it off to a teammate.

    It will be interesting to see what happens if they do buy another striker. How will you fit in Tevez and Rooney (and Ronaldo).

  • Comment number 27.

    Re: Rob3108

    Tevez - Late equalisers against Tottenham, Lyon and crucially Blackburn. Winners against Roma, Birmingham and Chelsea. Opening goals against Wigan and Sporting Lisbon. Scorer of one of the penalties that lifted the Champions League trophy. And that's not even touching his assists and teamplay. Worth way more than £30 million in my book. Without his workrate and goals, United would not have won the elite double. Fact.

  • Comment number 28.

    As a spurs fan,

    I personally believe that Spurs are waiting for a replacement (i.e. Arshavin) to cover the loss of Berbatov for when he finally leaves.

    The Arshavin deal will take some time thanks to Zenit St Petersburg, so its just a waiting game for Fergie now..........Unfortunate for us!!!

  • Comment number 29.

    berbatov is a gd opyion but i fink santa cruz purely on the fact spurs have no1 to replace plus we still have the forgotten louis saha who when fit is a 15 goals a season player

  • Comment number 30.

    Sir Alex Ferguson has got to realise that because he is put into the Champions League by virtue of position in his home leage, then his club will make a lot of money!

    He must understand that if he maintains that position in the home league by buying up all talent from lower placed teams then some of the money he makes must filter down to those clubs. The bigger the star, the more he must pay. I have no doubt that Berbatov is going to United but why should they get him on the cheap. We (Spurs) have just sold Robbie Keane for close to £20mill and he wasn't our main striker!

    And If I were the Glaziers I would be asking SAF why it is he is always late to the party when it comes to buying players. Rio Ferdinand, via Leeds, Michael Carrick, via Spurs, Berbatov, via Spurs, all would have been a lot cheaper if he had been aware of their ability earlier and was able to see what other clubs could see.

  • Comment number 31.

    After reading all the comments, I personally, even though I am a big fan of Huntelaar, would have to say that I would prefer Berbatov out of the two. We've said getting someone as straight forward as Ruud would be a step back, so what we truly need is a naturally skilful player, like Rooney and Tevez, but with that clinical finishing who can poach a goal. The question is, is there anyone out there like that?
    Berbatov comes close, but not quite close enough for my liking.

    The Answer: Keep Saha fit for a whole season, sort his attitude out and get him on the pitch. Problem sorted!

  • Comment number 32.

    Oh and I would like to say, the Glazers have got us into so much debt, we will never be able to go for multi-million price tags, we just don't have the money anymore. The victories in the league and Europe go straight to the bank.

  • Comment number 33.

    Last thing: We don't want Henry. Let him stay at Barca, or go back to the Gooners. You have to belong at United, and you simply can't if you've played for arsenal or liverpool.

  • Comment number 34.

    rockstar has it spot on........i anyone who has sir alex's ear please please please tell him that forget brooding berbatov (you have enough of a prima donna in ronaldo0. The fans want the hunterlar we is good, wants to be a united star, and comparables with rudd the van man can be made, he is also young enough to learn under the united's great master whereas the bulgar reckons he knows all their is to know.

  • Comment number 35.

    For me Huntelaar is the best option.

    His goal record both at club level and International is fantastic to say the least. With him only being 24 he would be around for some time still to come. For me he could be better than Torres and we all know how Fergie missed out on him.

    Huntelaar wants to play for Man Utd and looking at the postings on so do the fans.

    So come on Fergie make Old Traffords Number 9 Huntelaar!!!

  • Comment number 36.

    How about Samuel Eto'o. Class player and available... and would definitely fit into Utd's style

  • Comment number 37.

    Phil, you havent said anything here that we didnt all know already.
    I wonder, if Berbatov is the guy, why it hasnt happened yet. If it is about squabbling over a price, I believe Fergie would have dealt with that sooner, so he had his man for pre-season.
    I think its more connected with the Ronaldo saga. He know needs to recognise that Ronaldo will move on and he will want it to be at his time of choosing, not Madrids.
    I reckon he might be planning a major signing, a player who can potentially trump Ronaldo, and really get the fans excited up front. Berbatov and Huntelaar do not fit the bill. The Henry thing is very unlikely not least because he is too old and has fitness issues.
    If I am wrong about this, then my back up would be Michael Owen.

  • Comment number 38.

    Please not Berbatov. He is far too slow for our style, it would be a return to the Van Nistelrooy days. I would much prefer Huntelaar.
    My #1 choice would be the guy that Spurs apparently would want to replace Berbatov with - Samuel Eto. Fast, good with the ball at his feet, decent in the air and can create chances out of nothing. If there is a possibility that Eto's available then we should definitely make a move!

  • Comment number 39.

    "United's defence looked imperious, barely refusing to give Portsmouth's new strike force ... an opening"

    - Scan that again. I don't think it means what you meant, if you see what I mean.

    Oh, and further complications have put back Saha's return to training until the 13th of Never...

  • Comment number 40.

    The Berbatov transfer to Man Utd - a mainstream media illusion - is great for filling column inches (alongside similar nonsense covering Adebayor, Barry, Lampard, Owen, Ronaldo).

    But is it true?

    Of course not.

    Berbatov's agent clearly wants his client at Old Trafford.
    There is no evidence that this desire is reciprocated by the club.

    For reality rather than illusion, check:

  • Comment number 41.

    I bet Ferguson buys Huntelaar tomorrow, it is his 25th birthday, I think it will happen.

    Huntelaar is undoubtedly the best around at the moment, just look at his goal record and also look on Youtube, you will see he is a bicycle kick expert, would make a very useful signing for Man Utd.

  • Comment number 42.

    3 Words Mr Ferguson:


  • Comment number 43.

    Drogba and Anelka would be OK I think.

  • Comment number 44.

    It is great to see Gary Neville back. Let us wish the the great England footballer all the very best in the new season.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 45.

    Well! after watching Sir Alex's interview,I have no doubt there is a package on the table for Berbatov.
    With both camps keeping tight lipped,obviousley theres something being thrashed out..
    As for Henry I wouldn't write that off..A one off season back in the English Prem..won't do any harm to his profile,
    before he moves on to the States..

  • Comment number 46.

    As a united fan from manchester, i feel there is only one striker from the 5 mentioned thats worthy of wearing a united shirt. And that man is Huntelaar.

    Berbatov is a lazy player who only cares about his own goal tally, not the type of player we want at united.

    Henry, played for arsenal, enough said.

    Benzema, hes got this big name but from what i can see he only performs in the french league and when it comes to the big stage i.e. the world cup hes a flop.

    Santa cruz, second to huntelaar, proven in the premiership and a all round good striker but would blackburn sell him and would he want to leave after they just signed his brother.

    So yes, huntelaar is the number one man for the people of manchester united, great player, not even reached his peak and ajax are willing to sell and he wants to come. And after that belter he scored against arsenal i cant see why fergie wouldnt want him.

  • Comment number 47.

    What about Michael Owen? I believe he has still not signed a new contract, is a proven Premiership goalscorer who can link with Rooney, used to performing on the big stage and would cost far less than Berbatov plus, I imagine, Huntelaar also.

  • Comment number 48.

    The striker situation is not that bad for Utd in my opinion. Yes they do need something, but not really that urgent. Berb would be an excellent choice and Sir Alex will soon enough take his attitude and bury it deep deep down!!
    "The Hunter" would also be class, although, I think it is high time Utd show their youth and Campbell fits that bill. Although he may not be the top striker in the world, he can with the guys around only succeed???
    Henry to Utd (I may be proved wrong) will NEVER happen in my opinion, as he has always said a return to the Prem would only be with the arse and no-one else and anyway, he is not at his best by far!
    If they were to buy a striker I would go for Eto or here is a mere new suggestion (Niclas Bendtner) as they need a bit of height??? The saga continues but I still think they will come good at the end of the season. Great to see Neville back, but the new guy (Rafael da Silva) will soon take over!?
    Utd need a striler yes, but not for over-the-top money as they are not that desperate, but they are unfortunately Utd.

  • Comment number 49.

    i can see west ham beating henrys future club - man.u. and henrys ex team - arsenal, home and away this year again like 2 seasons ago..first team to do double over both for 30 odd years. man.u. can have henry and berbatov, none are as good as god - tevez. we'll still win this season home and away! irons!

  • Comment number 50.

    Ferguson will be looking for a striker who can contribute over 90 minutes, so that discounts Owen.

    I can't see Henry at Old Trafford. As an ex Arsenal player and Arsenal icon, I'm not sure it would be possible. Also, as a player who basis so much of his game on pace, buying Henry now at this stage in his career could turn into an expensive short term option.

    Huntelaar I think has said he wants to stay at Ajax to develop his game under Van Basten, which is a sensible move by him. Maybe in a year or so Ferguson could make another move for him because with Saha proving to be injury plagued, he may look to add another striker to the squad at a later date as well as in this transfer window.

    Benzema for me would be the perfect choice. He's young and one of the most gifted young strikers in the game today. But it doesn't look like he's an option at the moment.

    Berbatov is the most likely to join and I don't think any Manchester United fan would complain about that. He's one of the best strikers in the world and would lead the line in a way United need and have been missing for a while.

  • Comment number 51.

    if man.u. dont sign berb, henry or anyone good, send them to west ham..i suppose..we'll have them...

  • Comment number 52.

    CPWMANU wrote:

    Benzema, hes got this big name but from what i can see he only performs in the french league and when it comes to the big stage i.e. the world cup hes a flop.

    First of all the whole french team were flops and benzema was the only player who looked decent.

    Second of all he doesnt do it on the big stage?? Oh and the brilliant goal he scored against us in the champions league knock out phase isnt a big enough stage for you????

  • Comment number 53.

    While theres no doubt that Klaas-Jan Huntelaar a good player and his goal against Arsenal showed some of his striking prowess I think its possible that some are over-estimating him. At the end of the day 37 goals in a season is impressive but Kuyt also managed 36 in the dutch league. I'm not saying that Huntelaar would be terrible, just that I wouldn't be surprised if he could only manage around 15 goals a season at United.
    Berbatov is impressive, but as well as Spurs being unlikely to sell I would question what he brings to the united squad, he's creative but you already have Rooney and Tevez and as a goal scorer I don't think he's much better then them (certainly Rooney has a better shot) also there's no way he'd be able to keep up on the counter attack with the pace of Tevez, Rooney or Ronaldo.
    For me Eto'o's your man but his recent injuries might mean that SAF regards him as little improvement over Saha (who is arguable comparable to Eto'o in raw pace and skill). Henrys a no hoper but prehaps Ferguson will take a punt on a less established but promising talent like Agbonlahor or Bafétimbi Gomis.

  • Comment number 54.

    As for Santa Cruz, if Ferugson really wanted him, I think he'd be a United player by now.

    If he does sign him, I think it would only be because he can't sign Berbatov.

    Santa Cruz would add good depth to United's squad however, but I can't see him being Ferguson's first choice.

  • Comment number 55.

    @ ShackyTauro. Can't see Owen leaving the Magpies,think it's just a case of sorting his contract out.
    But as you state "a proven Premiership goalscorer" is what Fergerson wants and Huntelaar does not meet that criteria,in the short term.

    United can't afford to take Huntelaar on short term,players like that have to be brought in slowly to allow them to adjust to the English Prem.

    Now long term yes.but that dosen't help Utd this moment in time.Utd are use to having 4 proven strikers to play with..

    Now if you were a manager and needed a quick fix who would you go for? Berbatov? or Huntelaar..

    And if you're looking at the Merchandising (buisness) side of things,Huntelaar? or Henry...

  • Comment number 56.

    i dont think an out and out striker is that important for utd - like an earlier poster said - we do not want to go back to the days of ruud, if you remember rightly, we didnt win much.

    we always tried to run everything through our dutch master but on the whole the team werent scoring from everywhere.

    i believe we do need something tho, it was ok last year - you sort of knew that ronaldo was gonna get one or two and if he didnt tevez and rooney would chip in - as much as people will say we relied on CR too much it worked and we were league and euro champs.

    this year is a new year and a new man needs bringing in. As much of a fan of torres i am, i do not believe he adds anything more than poaching instincts to liverpool. but utd are not liverpool, we play through teams and it has always been an emphasis of the SAF era that utd scores goals from all over the pitch.

    therefore, a new ruud is not necesary but a link up man and composed striker is. my money is on berbatov - if that levy is willing, which appears not.

    if that is not an option, i would welcome henry - dont ask me why - i just think he still has the quality. plus the prsopect of tevez rooney ronaldo henry nani scholes giggs all on the pitch at the same time is mouthwatering - even to the moost stubborn of pool fans - they couldnt deny that line up would be a force to be reckoned with.

    Klass Jan Huntelaar seems too much in the mould of RVN.

  • Comment number 57.

    Steffi Kuqi is available ! We'll let Man Utd have him for a bargin price !

  • Comment number 58.

    If you look around Europe at top quality Strikers which could be purchased at such short notice there is not much unless you really want to break-the-bank,
    as a stop gap Fergie should probably look at Podolski, who is 3rd choice at Bayern, he had a good Euro's despite Germany being fairly poor, and he doesn't mind playing on the left, something Fergie loves doing with Rooney for some reason.

    A very good, and potentially cheap stop gap.

    Can't see Benzema or Berbetov coming at this late stage.

  • Comment number 59.

    Berbatov is still on the cards Ramos and SAF are speaking the language now..(no comment) which means something is happening..Just a case of Ramos holding out untill all the top Euro clubs have finished buying and selling..

    So it looks like Totty will have only 1 option..

  • Comment number 60.

    On all evidence I'm still wary of Tevez. Yes he's industrious, yes he creates havoc with his movement, but his finishing is poor. Too poor. He won't bang in 30 a season for that reason alone.

    For me we either need Berbatov or Huntelaar. Berbatov is ideal . He suits United's style and can finish. He gets in space and takes the right option. With Rooney, Tevez and Ronaldo off him it'll give him options to pass or shoot. He will get the goals and he can head. I also think he's the closest thing to Bergkamp in the EPL today, who I always wanted at Old Trafford.

    If we can't get him Huntelaar is second best . Main fear here is a return to the latter days of RVN. While he's a deadly finisher it's everything else that concerns me. We've had success over the past 2 years due largely to pace and movement. Don't want someone who upsets the coherence of 11 players. Yes, he'll score a ton, but how many goals will we lose elsewhere. (That's my fear - I haven't seen enough of him to have a proper opinion).

    Other than that, United need David Silva. Am I the only one who thinks (almost above all else) we need another wide man. Giggs is past it (good squad player) and I still don't rate Nani. I like Park but don't think he's world class. So unless Fergie plans to play Heargreaves on the right and Ronaldo on the left, or switch to 4-3-3 when we get a striker, we NEED a wide midfielder. Available and the bomb, Silva is key.

  • Comment number 61.

    4-3-3 at Utd!!! never heard of. lol.

  • Comment number 62.

    to be honest i would much prefer benzema...funny how links to him have gone guessing a surprise bid etc...

    he has quick, can play in more than one area (appeals to SAF) strong...gifted....and has played lone striker for both France and Lyon.

    Berbatov does bring an elegance to the team but he will always be the "one behind" the top striker where as we need an out an out striker.

    Huntelaar is very good...but.... he isnt as quick and given we are now past the days of playing around someone like Ruud (which in all fairness, he did slow down how we played towards the end of his reign)....isnt the man for me...

    Spend £25-30m on Benzema and we would have a player who is young, hungry and will not moan about being rotated which will happen during a long season!

  • Comment number 63.

    if rooney/tevez drop off who takes the lone position up top? dont see berbatov doing it...

  • Comment number 64.

    That scenario would never happen he would use Campbell.

  • Comment number 65.

    Manchester United heve excellent football as it was well displayed against Portsmouth in the community shield. Thiery Henry is a very good striker who can help fill the missing gap that was shown in the game. If getting Berbatov can not be achieved, then why not, bring in Henry and things will go on very well.

  • Comment number 66.

    I'm a completely impartial Scot reading a wealth of comments being left about United's need for a skillful yet deadly striker who can create chances for others while still banging in 30+ a season, and it seems to me there are names who have been forgotten, although admittedly it may not prove easy to lure them to Old Trafford.

    David Villa has been linked with just about every other club in the Premiership, why not Man Utd? He has proven himself as a goalscorer, although he may be considered a little too similar to Wayne Rooney to be a real option.

    A much harder target would be something I'd be highly interested in seeing - Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He scores goals for fun in the Serie A, although he has a terrible attitude, and I don't see him leaving Inter in a hurry with Mourinho having barely hung up his coat.

    Other names have been banded about with moves - Arshavin (not an out and out goalscorer), Pavlyuchenko (unproven at the highest level, but I reckon he'd do a great job at United), Eto'o (not sure how well he'd adapt to English football), Drogba (never gonna happen), Henry (really never gonna happen), and other names that are unproven at the highest level, such as Dean Ashton, Nikola Zigic and Lukas Podolski.

    It does seem Berbatov or Huntelaar will be the most likely, although there are many other options that people don't even seem to be considering. Personally, I just wish someone would buy Daniel Cousin and Jean-Claude Darcheville to get them out of Ibrox. Sir Alex, would either of those do? I'll give you them both for a tenner.

  • Comment number 67.

    I have to say that i honestly dont think the bid for henry is a decoy to steal berba at a lower price. If you beleiev what you hear, apparently united had a £15m bid for henry rejected in june. so i think hes serious about buying him.

    those of you who are sayig that henry will never join man utd are slightly misguided in my opinion. hes bin played out of position at barca and has been playing second fiddle to messi all season. He looked slightly out of sorts as he was playing out wide, yet he was still barcelonas top scorer above messi and eto'o. For a man whos supposedly past it, id say thats a pretty fair season.

    He obviously isnt enjoying himself in spain, and his daughter is still over here in england which will be a definite incentive.
    Im sure SAF will take the punt if he had the opportunity, because he is a proven top class striker in the premiership, and the merchandising and revenue would certaily recoup what they pay for him.

    Spurs are apparently after £25-30m for berba so they can buy either arshavin or villa for £32m. How stupid would SAF have to be to buy berba for £30m when he could get villa for a few million more. I cant see it happening at all. berbatov would be a liablity to the club as he is known for being stroppy and SAF would not have any of it so i could see him going pretty quickly.
    Other options would be huntelaar who we know SAF has been after for a while, and would be a fantastic acquisition or owen or ashton who hes expressed an interest in and could probably get on th cheap. Another outside bet would be villa, but we dont know how SAF feels about him.
    I just cant see him signing berba for £25m when ther is so much else on the market that would be better value for money.

  • Comment number 68.

    "Berbatov is a lazy player who only cares about his own goal tally, not the type of player we want at united."


  • Comment number 69.

    True ronaldo is selfish, but he is loved by the players and everyone around him becuase of his outrageousness and selfishness with his play.

    Whereas berbatov is known to rub people the wrong way bth on and off the field, and if he tries it with SAF he'll be back on the transfer list swiftly.

    Ronaldo granted is selfish, but you have to look at the assist he has provided, a vast amount of them, second only to rooney i think, but you'll have to check on that one. But ronaldo without rooney would not be 40 goals in a season that is for sure. The link up between those two was sublime and at real madrid ronaldo wouldnt have someone like rooney setting him up every 5 minutes.

  • Comment number 70.

    Anyone know much about this Posebon we have on the books?

    Is he a playmaker or forward?

    Is he any good?!

  • Comment number 71.

    I thought that was quite funny myself Hex Enducation Hour..

    Can anyone tell me a striker who dosen't care about his goal tally..

    Lazy players don't make for bad players..But i'm sure SAF will mold him as he has done before..

  • Comment number 72.

    Well he can keep his grubby mitts off Andy Bishop - the best striker in Bury . .

    . . . and district!

  • Comment number 73.

    It's strange how people seem to forget Benzema when talking about a new striker at Old Trafford...and it seems rediculous.
    Someone said taht he only performs in the French league (well that is the only place he's played) and flop at the World Cup...well lets make a list of great strikers who are useless in a world cup...where would we begin...lets not forget that Ronaldo was next to useless in the European Cup this year.
    Outside of England, Spain and Italy the French league is arguably one of the most competitive and certainly a similar fast paced game to that of the Prem.
    Hunterlaar is indeed anotehr Ruud and in our setup that probably wouldn't work. We no longer have a side that can deliver pin point crossing and that isn't the way this team would naturally play anyway. Hunterlaar may struggle to fit in well in amongst this.
    Berbatov is undoutedly talented but his attitude is comparable to another pre-madonna, Anelka. Both can score but both need to realise they aren't by any means the best (especially in a side where Ronaldo...when king).
    So Benzema, an industrious young player with pace, pinpoint striking from in and outside the box, powerful header and great attitude. Whats more he's young. He can come and get the ball and make goals as well as score them. In the Old Trafford setup he will fit much better and at a lower cost. Whats more, in a few seasons he still won't quite have reached his best.
    Karim for United all the way!

  • Comment number 74.

    Thiery Hendry signing for Man-U. That will never happen not in my life time.

  • Comment number 75.

    I find it difficult to accept that getting a Van Nistlerooy type player would be a "step back" for MUFC.

    If we could get Ruud in his pomp into the current United side it would be virtually unstoppable.

    However I don't believe that Huntelaar would be quite the goal machine that Ruud was and therefore would still opt for Berbatov.

    Benzema looks fantastic but seems an realistic target at the monet.

  • Comment number 76.

    Why? jaysnoe..No one wants to give an answer. Only he's too old (so was Larsen) but i bet there's not one utd fan on here who wouldn't have minded keeping him.

    So what if Henry played for the Gunners whats the problem,Rooney played for Everton
    Cantona played for Leeds..

    Signing Henry would upset the Gunners more than Utd fans..

  • Comment number 77.

    I can't see Berbatov going to United. It was in all the papers the deterioration of his attitude in the Spurs side when he felt he wasn't playing enough, wasn't it? So if he is going to play, who will be happy to sit on the bench? Rooney? Tevez?

    Don't see how Berbatov as a third striker would work.

  • Comment number 78.

    McNulty's article was spot on. Perhaps SAF would not be delighted to have the team's current needs displayed. But this was evident for anyone who watched the game Sunday. Also, maybe this 'need'...plays into Fergie's strategy. Four men are mentionned, Bervatov, Huntelaar, Benzema and Henry. The one that seems to fit the best into Man Utd's scheme is Benzema....but that greedy man at the helm of Lyon .....will probably want 40 million pounds...and that is way out for an unfinished perhaps Bervatov will arrive after all....only to have the need to get another striker in two/three years time....again! This is the sort of issue that we rather have.... than no additional silver ware to polish!!!!! Oh and lets hope Chelsea bring Rubihno...and Kaka. It will be a greater -and more fun- EPL!

  • Comment number 79.

    I realise most people cant see the Henry transfer coming off, but in all seriousness, who is he going to offend by doing so?
    He was never the man at the centre of all the controversy when he played against united, they had gallas or viera or keown for that.
    He is world class player, possibly the finest the premiership has seen. And he always had the upmost respect for the fans and his club. Hes a true professional, and i dont think even arsenal fans can begrudge him a move to manchester united.

    If you get offered a couple of seasons at a club that big you cant make a man feel guilty about taking the offer. Bear in mind hes still only just about to be 31. I guarantee that if he moves to united he would still look a better player than berbatov next season. and if hes going to cost £10m less its a no brainer.

    However, i wouldnt say no to seeing david villa in a red shirt. That could be a scary prospect for any defence, alongside rooney ronaldo and tevez.

  • Comment number 80.

    After reading the above posts its clear that we have a 50/50 split between "The Hunter" and "The Berba" but I reckon we should get Eto'o what a fantastic player, fast as lightening and a prolific goal scorer!!

    But we dont just need a striker guys... what about a new right back?? G Nevs not going to be around forever and although Wes is a good replacement, i dont think he's quite United quality, we need a younger G Nev to replace him when he finally hangs up his boots.

    Also, what about another Midfielder?? we need another playmaker for when Scholesey and Giggsey go and dare I say it, the impending departure of Ronny, yes we have Nann Bread and Anderson, but they are still very young, and better cover is needed on our right flank.

    United also need to get rid of many mediocre players still in the squad e.g. Fletcher, O'Shea, Silvestre and Saha. These lads are good player but i still dont think they are quite United quality.

    Jay, Manchester

  • Comment number 81.

    i do agree. i would however hope that Berbatov is NOT sold. Spurs do not need to sell and will never improve if they are constantly selling their best players to the top 4 clubs e.g Keane (Liverpool) , Carrick (man united) etc.

    in the current crazy transfer market 30 million is not enough for Berba IMHO - it would cost us more to get a relacement as good as him.

  • Comment number 82.


    This not about Spurs being a selling club. This about creating an oligopoly - even though it should be a discussion about whether or not Man Utd should find a new #9.

    Oh, that's the same thing!

  • Comment number 83.

    Why do so many man utd fans think a RVN-esque player would be so bad? I know you didn't have your most succesful spell with him, towards the end of his time at utd at least, but the man was, infact still is, a goal machine. Surely the fact Utd didn't play there best football with him around, was more to do with the rest of the team rather than just RVN? I honestly think if you took RVN in his prime and stuck him up top with rooney and tevez, the rest of the prem might as well give up before a ball was kicked! Anyway my worry about Huntelaar would not be that he is too like RVN, but from all the dutch people i know (all 3 of them hehe) say he really isn't that good a player. More Kuyt the RVN. Haven't seem him play that much myself so can't really comment too much.

    I am very suprised Utd haven't been more linked with Villa, anyone know whats happeneing with him? Is he staying with valencia, or off to Madrid? If valencia are as cash strapped as all the reports keep saying, surely you could pick him up for the same 25/30 as spurs want for Berba, and i know who i would prefer. As good as Berba is, i think he is slightly over-rated and doesn't often seem to perform against the big teams.

    Another option i think would be a good sohut who a few poeple have mentioned on here, is Eto'o. I know he hasn't had a great season but the guys goal scoring record is phenomenal in spain. If you can get him for a reasonable amount, and he can stay fit for a year, i think he would be ideal for Utd, as he is faster and a bit more direct than Tevez or Rooney. And he can lead the line on his own, or play wide left if he needs too. He's about the same age as Berba i believe? and although he may demnd massive wages, i think he could be cheaper than Berba.

    Another, bit more of a long shot, name for me is Adrianno. He did go massively off the boil for about 2 years after his Dad passed away, but apparently last year when he was loaned back to brazil to sort his head out, he looked back to his old explosive self. Earning his place back in the brazil team in the process. Bit more of a gamble, but again if you can get him at the right price could turn out to be a bargain!

    If your looking for a stop gap like henry, how about Trezeguet? Or milito would be pretty cheap? Maybe sign one of these till one of your youngsters is ready?

    Anyways enough of my ranting, good luck for the new season!

  • Comment number 84.

    #80 jay, i agree with everything your saying.United are 2 years away from losing the spine of their team in giggs, scholes and neville and replacements are needed sooner rather than later to give them time to develop.
    Anderson is the obvious replacement for scholes. hes shown talent, hes representing brazil and hes young. Im expecting a real break out seaosn form him this year. Nani seems to be the replacement for giggs at the moment. He still loks like an early ronaldo, hopefully hell evolve into his game better. Right back si awkward, as brown is the obvious replacement, but there are many better right backs out there. And SAF is keen to sign richards among others.
    But all that is a few years off. United need a striker before next weekend and they need to offload saha. There is a lot of choice out there, but if SAF is gonna spend big then Villa has to be the man. Anyone who thinks berbatov is worth £30m or more is deluded. compare him to Villa and my point is proven pretty easily.

  • Comment number 85.

    @ unitedJay08

    You do know Wes Brown is the longest serving player at Utd and probably he'll be hanging his boots up before Neville as for Fletcher he is the captain of the Scotland you know..

    Lets not be harsh on mediocre players after all they are the only ones to fall back on,when the big guns are out of action.

  • Comment number 86.

    i watched sunday supplement on skysports on sunday (surprisingly!) and apparently the journalists are brimming over the henry move.

    i dont know myself, but there was a lot of talk that henry may have already made a deal with utd and that rumours have come from very important reliable sources.

    of course, dont take this thinking i'm just fuelling the rumour, but normally journo's speculate and overexagerate things. this seemed more genuine - maybe journo's are just perfecting their lying abilities.

    i would not now be surprised if henry was unveiled as a utd man soon.

  • Comment number 87.

    i actually think carrick is the obvious replacement for scholes. anderson seems a very up and at 'em kind of midfielder - last season alone he was in gerrard, lampard and flamini's face - it was great. he is stronger than scholes and not as good a passer as carrick so maybe a carrick anderson combo is perfect

    as for the right, nani will be great - i truly mean that, he looks like a winner and if he can only deliver consistantly this season he will be a utd winger for years.

    ronaldo, i dont think will leave - i can only see the same saga next year. after all, he still gonna be under contract! is there something madrid dont get!?

    wes brown was outstanding last year to be honest but a replacement is needed, especially when you look at evra - how clichy was picked over him in team of the year was incredible.

    rio and vidic, nuff sed!

    foster? not sure yet, will wait and see

    campbell - not seen enough of

    then there's the holy trinity.

    utd champions 5 years running??

  • Comment number 88.

    I saw that also and they seemed pretty serious.

    I mentioned earlier that about a month ago or so i had read that united had already had a bid turned down of about £15m for henry in june. I saw it reported in about 3 proper papers(none of them were the mail, sun or sport). Apparenlty hed already agreed terms but the new barca coach, being the fool that he is turned it down.

    One would assume that if all that was true a signing must be imminent. And united are definitely going to be willing to offer henry anything he wants to bring him over. I think united have the advantage that his daughter is in England, and that could really help sway him in the move. Not exactly subtle or classy tactics but could possibly help him settle a bit more.

  • Comment number 89.

    moustacio, are you a utd fan

    what would make of a henry rooney tevez ronaldo front line.

    im licking my lips already!

  • Comment number 90.

    #87 jcooper, i think i probably should have been clearer with my comments about anderson. I see him as a replacement for schole on the teamsheet as opposed to a replacemnt in terms of style and position. Carrick is very similar in style to scholes, i think united will be going from carrick-scholes to carrick-anderson. But the kid has got something special going on. I expect him to be a big hit.

    the back line seems pretty strong for now. as long as rio and vidic stay fit united arent gonna be droppin off the pace anytime soon. right back isnt a massive issue and silvestre is good enough cover for evra when hes injured.

    Foster i see, as do many others, as van der sars heir apparant. kusczak for me is too green when hes on the pitch and doesnt seem confident enough or able to command a defence like the other 2. When foster did play this seaosn he was extremely solid with very little match fitness.

    i think united will hold on to ronaldo. United will match any offer real give him and he knows that he is guaranteed first team football and tons of goals at united, whereas madrid could be slightly trickier with some of the egos around the place and the notorious politics that go on around the club.

    The holy trinity as you put it are effective, thats for sure. But theyre going to have a new addition, thats for sure and i really want to see henry or villa. Either of those two and united could be the first team to retain the champions league. Berbatov isnt goin to help that cause.

    Dont be hugely surprised though if SAF goes bananas and buys 2 of the players weve been talking about.
    playing 60 games a season with 3 strikers could be troublesome if one picks up an injury. so he could opt for 4 strikers. we saw it in 98/99 which was devastating. he could effectively have 2 partnerships and a fresh strike force every game. we have to assume saha is done. so possibly bringing in someon like villa or huntelaar as the big man then a cheaper man like henry(similar to the larsson idea) would be effective and gurantee a good attack and experience.

  • Comment number 91.

    jcooper, im a massive united fan. But im also a huge thierry henry fan, if you havent noticed. so big a fan that i would cheer if he scored against us. he is my all time favourite player so henry up front alongside rooney would jus be a dream for me. and a nightmare for most defences.

    personally i see rooney-henry as a similar partenrship to rooney-tevez but with 30 more goals in a season. I think united need a real experienced man up front who can play the offside well and draw defenders. similar to how larsson worked, but with much more goals.

    Im hoping for villa henry rooney ronaldo. if that was the front line i dont think anybody in the world would argue that it would be the most destructive attack in the world.

    but imagine they buy one of them, tevez will probably start a lot on the bench and start the fa cup matches, but he would be effective wherever. im not sure how hed integrate 3 strikers and ronaldo. rooney on the left is good, but SAF wants him 2 play more up front this season.

  • Comment number 92.

    Errrrrr...... Ruud van Nistelrooy would probably get the goals Man U need.........??

  • Comment number 93.

    if these players were to come i dont think SAF would have a problem playing them all.

    we know ronaldo and rooney are probably the two that will start most if not all macthes if fit.

    i can just see:


    all playing and switching every two seconds

    scholes are carrick feeding them!

    god defences will be dizzy!

  • Comment number 94.

    I think SAF needs to realise that if he wants to retain the champions league he either needs a young forward who had a good season and a lot of potential or a seasoned guy whos world class and will get him goals.

    agbonlahor or ashton would be goo in terms of young guys or henry as the veteran.
    Id take 2 or 3 years of henry as opposed to 5 or 6 of berbatov. Whos gonna bring you more trophies? and whos gonna be easier to work with?
    Henry is probably one of only 10 all time greats who are still playing. And he hasnt won a champions league. he stands a better chance doing so with united this season than barca. They still look a bit out of sorts with respect to fielding a consistant team. There is too much swapping around goin on.

  • Comment number 95.

    come on u irons

  • Comment number 96.

    even though there are so many targets, i bet SAF has zeroed in on just one or two particularly. even if u think about berba or klaas jan, i would also lie to remind u of a stunner scored against united by a player.....KARIM BENZEMA.
    he has been one of the most talked about talents and i hope all of u know how ferguson loves signing players who do well against his side!
    the boy is strong, fast and has an incredible shot! he gets my vote!

  • Comment number 97.

    'bringbackgreavsie' what are you on about fergie needs to spot players talent earlier. There are plenty of examples of players that Fergie has spotted and both started and ended their careers with us! Every top team is going to want to poach proven premiership players, its how football works and if spurs were more succesful, they wouldn't have to sell all their top players!
    As for a new striker I favour Berbatov because of his immense touch, strength and finishing. If not him, why not Ashton!!

  • Comment number 98.

    We will probably sign Beratov but i dont agree with spending so much money on an old player that wont spearhead an attack. If it was down to me id sign two out and out strikers while getting rid of injury plagued Saha. i would sign a proven Premier league one someone like Santa Cruz and another someone who isnt proven who would score like Benzema but doubt wed be able to afford both but this wont happen we will waste money on Berbatov and get no one else

  • Comment number 99.

    After the match between pompy's side yesterday, its imperative that a dealy striker is needed in the attack. ferge should go out and scout for young players with attacking prowells like Fernado Toures.

    Thiery be a man utd player is impossible and age is not on his side. We need young talanted player and not oldies.

    Player like Klass Hunteler is needed in Man Utd line up for this new season campaign

  • Comment number 100.

    I'd love it if United signed Henry. Yes, he's had a bad time at Barca but there is no doubting the mans pedigree. At the right club he still has 3 top class seasons in him.

    I think Utd's style of play and management would suit him and he would form formidable partnerships with Rooney and Tevez.

    I think a contract which is heavily based on performance for Henry is not out of the question.

    It would mean less of a gamble for Sir Alex. I dont think Henry's age would scare Fergie off as long as the money was right.

    Remember he drafted in Henrik Larsson on loan when we were short of striking options and wanted to keep him longer. He was a dinosaur in comparison to Henry.


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