As Real Madrid were testing Manchester United's resolve over their striker Ruud van Nistelrooy with a second bid yesterday for the 30-year-old thought to be a straight cash offer of £10.3m the United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, said that he is ready to start the season with his current squad.
Whether Real's offer will prompt United to drop their insistence on a fee of at least £15m is another matter but, despite being linked with a number of potential signings and making at least one substantial bid for Tottenham's Michael Carrick, Ferguson is still to make any additions, even though club officials publicly confirmed back in January that United's midfield needed strengthening.
It is still widely assumed that the United manager will make a move before his side open the new Premiership campaign against Fulham on 20 August. However, having stated that he will not be railroaded into "doing anything stupid" this summer, Ferguson said he would be content for his existing squad to remain fit rather than worry about bringing in new players.
"Some people are trying to make it into a desperate situation," he said. "Of course, we are working on a couple of things but if I were to start the season with the players I've got available, all fit, I don't think the supporters would be disappointed neither would I."
Within that group, Ferguson includes Van Nistelrooy, who has signalled his intent to leave Old Trafford in writing but has returned for pre-season training with an attitude which has impressed his manager.
"Ruud trained well yesterday," Ferguson said. "He showed a good attitude and at this moment in time, he is still a Manchester United player."
Indeed, with Fernando Torres publicly confirming his intention to stay at Atletico Madrid for at least another season, the pragmatic side of Ferguson's nature may yet result in Van Nistelrooy staying.
If Van Nistelrooy does remain at the club, Ferguson may feel his strike force is already well staffed, with Wayne Rooney, Louis Saha, Giuseppe Rossi and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer all available and Alan Smith returning to training this week following his recovery from a broken leg.
Ferguson has confirmed that "at least four or five" of his senior players will gain much-needed match practice in a game at the League Two club Macclesfield next Monday. With Saha, Mikaël Silvestre and Cristiano Ronaldo not due back in training until Monday, Oxford can also expect to see some first-team players when United visit the Kassam Stadium on 8 August.
Bolton's manager, Sam Allardyce, believes he can restore Quinton Fortune's form and fitness in the months ahead.
The South African midfielder was released in the summer by Manchester United after failing to play a senior match last season because of a knee injury. But Fortune, 29, has now secured a one-year deal at the Reebok Stadium and Allardyce is convinced he can be a big asset to the team.
"Quinton is a player I have admired for a very long time," he said. "He is a quality performer and he can play in a number of positions."
* Paul Scholes was on target twice as Manchester United beat Celtic 3-0 in a friendly at Parkhead last night. Defender Jonathan Evans was the other scorer after eight minutes.Reuse content