Patrice Evra is still relatively spry for a 33-year-old, especially when you consider the amount of top tier football he’s played during his career.
What comes next won’t revolutionize sports science or medical journals, but at that age you’re one niggle away from it all ending quite quickly. As such a succession plan is not advisable, its entirely necessary.
In trying to find that long-term replacement we went the youth route with Fabio and the bargain bin – no disrespect intended – with Buttner. Neither was able to provide the competition for or killer blow to Evra’s status as incumbent, which has as much to do with his good form as it does that pair’s shortcomings.
The one-year deal Patrice so loyally inked to stay a red will likely be his last at United, after which his energy and effervescence down our left hand side will be remembered as it should be: in direct competition with Denis Irwin as our greatest ever left back.
Buying Luke Shaw is an investment. This is a man who could well line up 400-plus times in the red/white/black/blue of Manchester United. Sensibly, United are playing the long game.
Its somewhat fitting that Rio Ferdinand, the template for such a purchase, gets it.
The man with a mouth shaped like an omlette comically folded in on itself tweeted, “If @ManUtd get 10 good yrs out of Luke Shaw then its a no brainer. Top class young player”.
Unless the club plans to surprise us all and forecasts that we’ll get just two good years out of him Rio is bang on the money. And in far fewer characters than it’ll take me to get the point across, too.
When Rio traded white for red following the World Cup of 2002 he was 24 years of age and already well on the way towards that oft sought, rarely attained status of [deep voice] “World Class.”
Still, £29.1m was an enormous gamble on the precocious lad from Peckham with a penchant for cream suits, whose eyes likely lit up when he saw Boots had peroxide on sale. But he’d develop into a fine hat salesman arguably the finest defender of his generation. Given the certainty he provided at the back, and the successes he was integral in delivering, the fee was ultimately proved a snip.
Word is Shaw will cost United more or less the same amount. £30m. For an 18-year-old left back with one year of Premier League experience. OK, that has just sunk in and my eyes have stopped watering.
Without question it’s a contentious figure; a conversation starter that will be debated and discussed from the terraces of Stretford End to the bars along the Bay of Bengal.
One man the sum has spooked is Paul Scholes. The long time metronome in the heart of United’s midfield has been trying his best to be provocative during what I presume is a guest stint blogging for Paddy Power, weighing in on the move and its various ramifications in his latest effort.
A picture attached to one column shows him brandishing a megaphone. Perhaps he planned to stand out the front of the Arndale and recite the piece, thoughtfully bringing the device to improve the projection and reach of his voice in the pedestrian heavy thoroughfare
Note: I do hope he gets the writing bug and branches out into a series of lightly fictionalised detective novels where a version of Paul Scholes travels the north of England, solving sports related crimes and bedding noir-ish femme fatales. It could be called ‘Paul Scholes: Football Detective’. Yes, in a tremendously comical twist Paul refuses to brandish firearms, opting instead for a football, which he uses to strike down the unsavoury sorts that cross him and the community.
“Far too often, good English prospects are put out on loan to Championship clubs, or elsewhere, at the expense of very average imports”
That is a very valid point, Paul. English players are a bit dear and cheaper foreign alternatives do often represent better value for money. Now that I think about it, its like cars and electronics.
But to say or insinuate English clubs ignore English talent is a little naïve. Clubs want the best available and if that means the player is English that is who they will buy. If it means they’re not then so be it.
To criticise the loan system, however, is a bit odd. Top teams who loan young players out usually have an established, highly paid alternative in the role that young player performs. We all know the function of the loan system and how it benefits everyone involved.
“As it is, I can’t see how we’re going to get enough good English footballers into the top teams to get the international results we want.”
I’ll hazard a guess and say they’ll do precisely what United look to be doing and buy it if they haven’t cultivated the talent in the first place. If they’re already on their books they’ll send them on loan to gain the first-team experience they need.
If you look at England’s World Cup squad, every player either plays for a “top team” or has been linked with/on the books of one due their good form or promise, past or present.
If you’re a good player your nationality matters little, you will be approached by so called big clubs or fast-tracked through an academy system into a first team debut.
“The proposed transfer for the 18-year-old Luke Shaw to Manchester United is another example of something which has a bad long-term impact”
Wait, what? Manchester United want to buy an English player and put him more or less straight into their first team. They aren’t going to farm him out, they’re paying top dollar to the Club that developed him so they can reap the financial rewards of their hard work AND bring in reinforcements… I don’t get what is so bad about this.
This system might well suppress teams without the financial might of others, but it’s just the way it works.
“We should limit the amount of foreign players allowed in each Premier League squad. Clubs will then only sign the best, and English talent gets priority for development.”
But that’s what United are doing with Shaw, Paul. They’ve identified what they believe to be the best option for them. He’s English, he’s young and he will be given the opportunity to play in one of the “top teams.” Whether international results will follow I can’t say.
United are, in essence, selflessly encouraging the advancement of the English game – in one position, at least.
I was disappointed to see Scholes so disappointed, to be frank. This is an enormous show of faith in a man rightly deigned to be part of England’s future. Furthermore, it’s a show of faith in the English game and the development of its young talent. Happy with what Southampton have done already, the Club thinks they can make young Luke even better.
United could have gone after someone like Daley Blind, the very sort of foreigner Scholes laments is taking opportunities at “top clubs” from English talent, but they’ve decided to buy home grown.
As for the potential signing of Evra’s successor, my attitude is that United can – and seemingly have – learn from my mistakes. Although how they’d know about the following is a mystery to me.
Some time ago I upgraded to a HD TV with 3D capability. This necessitated I get a HDMI cable to enjoy both Blu-Ray movies and gaming in their purist form. Thinking I could get away with spending as little as possible, I picked up the cheapest cable on the market. It did the job for a little while, albeit with the odd splutter here and there. Then, suddenly, one day it crapped out and died. I had to buy the better cable I should have in the first place, at the premium price, which is still working soundly to this day without sign of fault.
When you’re trying to save money or get a bargain you’re not going to end up with the best.
If Shaw does indeed sign on the dotted line here’s to a decade or more of him wearing the shirt.
Written by Sean Peter-Budge. Follow him on Twitter.