United officially unveiled new signings Javier Hernandez, Chris Smalling and Bebe in front of the world’s media on Tuesday at Old Trafford – with Sir Alex Ferguson suggesting his three new-boys fit the profile of exciting prospects.
The Reds boss said the three new signings could be moulded into top players in time, and because they have joined the club at a young age would show loyalty to United. Sir Alex also reasoned that the policy of signing young players fits with the needs of his squad, and bypasses a lack of value on ready-made first-team players.
“We could have bought players in the summer for a lot of money,” he said. “But I didn't think they would have made a really big difference. They wouldn't have done what Cantona, Rooney or Ronaldo did for us. They wouldn't have given us that quantum leap."
So the focus has very much been on youth. “It’s one of our policies, one of our important policies, to identify young players that can grow into the club and develop here. We’ve always worked on the age-factor here. We have several players in their thirties, a few in the mid-twenties to late-twenties, and the rest area all young players who are improving all the time.
"So I feel it is the right policy for Manchester United. We’re good at producing our own young players and we’re also good at developing young players. The three young players sitting here today are part of that.”
Sir Alex says that focus may have to change, presumably when old heads like Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Edwin van der Sar and Gary Neville decide to call time on their careers. “There will be a time when we look at the team differently if we need experience,” he said. “But I think we have enough experience at the moment. By getting younger players now – at 20 or 21 – they have time and we don’t need to rush them. They can develop to be the players we want them to be.”
United’s policy of signing young players or rough diamonds is in stark contrast to some other clubs, who have instead ramped up their spending – but Sir Alex is confident that spending big isn’t the only road to success.
“It doesn’t seem to abate,” said the Reds boss. “In the last two or three years we have seen very wealth owners become