According to some fans we are in imminent danger of losing all our players if we don’t start paying them a lot more.
The only trouble with this is that they’ve been saying it for two or three years now and in that time the squad has got stronger not weaker. So why the reality gap ?
Start with the selling side.
One of your players is offered twice as much to play for United is he interested? Probably. Now imagine the sames offer but from Everton or West Ham, is he still interested ? Probably not.
While there are clubs out there who can tempt our players the truth is there’s only about half a dozen of them. The thing is though that these clubs already have strong squads, so they are only going to be interested in players who plug a gap or represent a significant upgrade.
Guardiola paid £50m for Walker because he didn’t have a fast right back but he isn’t going to be interested in Eriksen while he’s g! ot De Bruyne and Silva. Kane is maybe the best centre forward in Europe but City and Liverpool have so much firepower already he’d represent a hugely expensive marginal upgrade. Rose is finding out about the restricted market, he thought he was going to United and now they seem to have lost interest he’s stuck with nowhere to go. Add to that the player’s preferences, Kane may interest Madrid and Barcelona but Harry doesn’t show any desire to leave London let alone England.
On the buying side we have shown that a combination of good scouting and good timing can reap dividends. Ali and Dier represent the good scouting side. Timing though is also important.
Everyone knew Alderweireld was a good player when we signed him, but for some reason at the time no one else was that interested.
We’ve seen a similar situation with Moura, again everyone knew he was good but the circumstances meant we could get a good deal. Its about doing the deal when the situation works in your favour rather than throwing away money in a seller’s market. The other aspect of course is player development, improving what you’ve got.
We are seeing it with the Alderweireld situation. A couple of seasons ago losing Toby would have been a disaster, he held the defence together. You would still prefer to keep him of course but you know the defence won’t fall apart because we are playing without him already.
Last season I still thought of Vertonghen as Toby’s sidekick, someone who struggled if his partner wasn’t there. This season he has taken a big step up, now he bosses the defence. Even in Jan’s absence Dier and Sanchez have still got the job done. A player comes in and over time he gets better, maybe starting off as no more than an occasional substitute but gradually becoming an integral part of the squad.
Do that with enough players and it becomes a moving target, the loss of any one player (except Kane at the moment) becomes less and less critical. What I’m saying is that firstly we haven’t been and will not lose players in the numbers the prophets of doom claim. Players will leave sure, after all Barca couldn’t stop Neymar leaving.
It only becomes a problem when we lose more in quality or numbers than we bring in.
Secondly we can and do acquire good players, we just do it intelligently.
Thirdly (and often overlooked) we develop our players, make them better players. Acquisitions and development are currently running well ahead of departures and as long as we keep doing what we have been doing I don’t see that changing.