Fergie: Back off the Glazers. They're doing a great job! Supporters are still angry over United owners putting club 425m in debt, but manager denies problems
23:59 GMT, 21 July 2012
Sir Alex Ferguson has launched a passionate defence of the Glazer family, insisting: ‘They have always backed me whenever I have asked them for anything.’
In a far-reaching interview here at the first phase of the team’s strenuous pre-season programme, the Manchester United manager rubbished suggestions that the mountainous debt incurred by the American owners of the club was hampering his buying plans.
‘I’m absolutely comfortable with the Glazers situation. They’ve been great,’ he said. ‘So if you’re asking me for my views, I don’t have any complaints.
Relaxed: Sir Alex Ferguson has no concerns about the Glazer family
‘I’ve never encountered opposition. They’ve always been as sensible as they can be in terms of financing the team, and they have to invest in the team to maintain the value of their asset.’
The fiercely strong anti-Glazer feeling among United’s rank and file following has grown with the recent revelation that the family are trying to float the club on the New York Stock Exchange in order to raise about 200million to help relieve the debt built up in buying United seven years ago.
That currently stands at 423m, with the club having spent more than 500m on interest, debt repayments and fees since 2005.
‘I think there are a whole lot of factions at United that think they own the club,’ said Ferguson. ‘They will always be contentious about whoever owns the club, and that’s the way it has always been.
‘When I came to the club, Martin Edwards was always getting pelted because he was going to sell to [Robert] Maxwell, then to [Rupert] Murdoch, Michael Knighton, and when they became a plc there was disaffection.
In the background: Glazer brothers Avram and Joel shun publicity
‘Then, when the Glazers took over, there was disaffection, so there have always been wee pockets of supporters who have their views… and there’s nothing wrong with that. But I think the majority of the real fans will look at it realistically and say it’s not affecting the team. We’ve won four championships since they’ve been there, one European Cup.
‘I think the problem is they [the Glazers] are not publicists. They don’t go out of their way to seek good publicity. They are quite happy to stay in the background. Roman Abramovich is the same.’
United are valued as the richest sports franchise in the world, at 1.5billion, mainly as a result of the efforts of Ferguson, whose haul of 48 trophies since he took over 25 years ago has made him the most successful football manager in British history. And now, giving little indication that his tenure is even close to ending, the 70-year-old Scot is as enthusiastic as ever about the future.
Citing the vast improvements to make the Carrington training complex one of the best in the world as evidence of the Glazers’ investment, he said: ‘Look at what they are spending on the training ground.
Investment: The Glazers have invested 30m into improving United's Carrington Training Ground and new players such as Shinji Kagawa have come into the squad
‘It’s going to be fantastic. At the moment it’s a bit of a bombsite, but it’s supposed to be completed by October and we just hope it’s ready on time. They’ll be spending about 30m and its all down to them.’
Ferguson responded to fans’ frustration at the lack of summer transfer activity by insisting he was not prepared to fork out inflated transfer fees. Responding to the fans’ clamour for a 30million-plus signing, he said: ‘Well they can wait!
‘We buy in the right way and that’s the difference between United and the rest — we can play 18-year-olds because it’s part of our history. It’s like a destiny for us that when a young player emerges we play him, and that has never failed us.
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‘No other clubs can do that. City won’t do it. They definitely won’t play any young players who have come up through the system. Their buys are all 25, 26, 27-year-old established players with a good maturity, experience and good ages. They won’t go away because the age group tells you that. They don’t have any over-30s in their team.
They don’t play any young players and the fans don’t expect any youth players to come through the way we expect them to at United.’
While Chelsea have spent huge amounts to sign the likes of Eden Hazard, the United boss has spent a total of about 20m to bring in Japan forward Shinji Kagawa and teenage midfielder Nick Powell.
Inexperienced side: Antonio Valencia is one of Manchester United's senior players on the pre-season tour as 13 players are still away
‘There is a borderline in terms of what you would think is a good signing for United,’ said Ferguson. ‘I see some values on players, like Hazard for instance. To me it was a lot of money. He’s a good player, but 34m
‘What we’re finding anyway, the climate for buying these top players — not just the transfer fees, [but] the salaries, agent’s fees — is just getting ridiculous now. In the Hazard deal, Chelsea paid the agent 6m. The Nasri situation was the same.
‘It’s all about what you think is value for a player. I am not envious of those deals at all. We placed a value on Hazard which was well below what they were talking about. So if it doesn’t work, well we’re not worried about that. We think we’ve got good value in Kagawa.
Young hope: United spent 4m on Crewe's Nick Powell
‘We scout well. Sometimes we do the scouting for other clubs. The minute the agent knew we’d spoken to Powell, I think every club was in with offers. But we’d done the deal.
‘Whenever we show interest in a player it activates the situation with other clubs. But we’ve done well over the years. We’ve bought well, one or two bad ones, no doubt about that, but you handle that.
‘The big difference is when the academy started 10 years ago we had to change our scouting in terms of abroad. So that’s increased. Looking at countries like Brazil, Mexico and through South America. France, too, we’re all over Europe now.’
Fergie on Retirement
Sir Alex Ferguson has insisted that Manchester United will still continue to enjoy great success even after he decides to end his reign as manager.
Asked if he thought there would be life after him at United, he said: ‘Of course. Manchester United are an institution and the history here forces everything.’
Ferguson hinted that any successor would have to have had a wealth of experience managing at the top level. But he scoffed at the idea that following him would be a daunting prospect.
Not ready to go just yet: Ferguson says he still enjoys working at Manchester United
Would he like to follow himself into this job ‘Yes, definitely. Why not It cannot be an impossible job with the structure we have at this club.
‘I don’t think the club will choose a young manager because it is a job that demands experience. The future is absolutely solid. If you look at the team I could play all under 22 or 23, De Gea, Rafael, Smalling, Jones, Evans. Cleverley, Powell, Chicharito, Lingard, Welbeck, Kagawa. These players will become the United team for the next three or four years.
‘It would not be a daunting prospect to follow me.’
On holiday: Wayne Rooney is not expected back at training until July 26 after playing at Euro 2012
Fergie on Rooney
Wayne Rooney and United’s other top players may not be fully tuned up for the start of the new season because of their summer international commitments.
The club have a comparatively inexperienced squad on their pre-season tour to South Africa and the Far East, with many regulars not due to return to training until later this week.
‘We’ve got 13 players who are not here from the squad,’ said manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
‘Evans, Jones and Vidic are still recovering from operations and treatment for their injuries.
‘With the Euros, Nani, Rooney, Young, Jones, Evra won’t be back until July 26. Then we’ve got four more players (Giggs, Cleverley, De Gea and Rafael) at the Olympic Games. So it is difficult.
‘We’ve bought Shinji Kagawa and we don’t even know who he’s going to be playing with.
‘The rest of the squad won’t be playing until the game against Valerenga on August 5. It’s definitely an awkward feeling.’