Sir Alex Ferguson hailed the £11.7m spent on his defence this month as evidence of the "excellent" stewardship of Manchester United's owners, the Glazer family, yesterday as he paraded Patrice Evra, his £4.5m signing from Monaco, at Old Trafford .
"Without question, I have found the owners excellent," said the United manager, who also welcomed Nemanja Vidic to Old Trafford this week. "They have never failed in their promises and they have been very supportive in everything we have done. That is demonstrated by their commitment in signing both players this week."
But if the Glazers expected their first serious foray into the transfer market to be greeted with wholesale enthusiasm at the club, they would have been deeply saddened by other events on this side of the pond yesterday.
The supporters' trust established in opposition to the takeover insisted it would require an outlay of £100m for the Americans to demonstrate their ambition of returning the club to a position of pre-eminence, and even then they would have doubts.
The divisions caused by Malcolm Glazer's £790m acquisition of United last summer have never been far from the surface at Old Trafford, merely hidden among the trials of a season that has witnessed an early exit from European competition, the loss of Roy Keane, the loss of a lucrative sponsorship deal with Vodafone plus an extended demonstration of Chelsea's unchallenged dominance in the title race. So when Ferguson, who once claimed to be a bridge between the club and its vast support, displayed Evra as a sign of the Glazers' successful reign, it did not take long for frustrations to come to the fore.
"Sir Alex has shown himself to be not only an exceptional manager but also a very shrewd man," rethe Manchester United Supporters' Trust said in a statement last night. "It would be an extremely foolish employee who does anything other than praise his employer in public."
The Glazers have committed the club to a sizeable outlay this month, although the costs of both Vidic and Evra can be spread over the course of their respective contracts, while the number of young players sent out on loan this season and a net expenditure of only £2m last summer indicates that United's finances have been restrained.
The trust continued: "We welcome the fact that some money has been made available and no doubt all United supporters would like to see a lot more. Many feel the squad is in dire need of strengthening and a cash injection of £100m might be required if we are serious about challenging for the top honours. Unfortunately, until there is a change in ownership, that kind of major investment will remain impossible due to the huge debt the current owners have saddled us with."
Ferguson also indicated that Evra will be his last purchase of this transfer window, with Real Madrid unlikely to sell Thomas Gravesen before the end of the month. "We are searching all over the world for one or two players in the summer," the United manager added.Reuse content