Date: 23rd August 2008 at 2:22pm
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Fergie is less and less optimistic over the proposed signing of Dimitar Berbatov… incredible, we can’t even tie up a transfer this summer.

Relations between Spurs and Manchester United are quite frosty but that’s no reason: Liverpool managed to snap up Robbie Keane a mere days after they were reported to the FA over their behaviour. So why is Fergie concerned?

‘I’m feeling less optimistic right now,’ said Ferguson.

‘We are looking at something, but if it doesn’t come off then we will carry on as we are.’

Well, what we have is pretty good, I agree. After all, we have won the Premier League and the Champions League as well so we can’t be that bad. Still, it is far from a faultless, perfect squad.

The case was same in 1999. We’ve just won the Treble and Fergie, immersed in glory, felt that the squad is strong enough. That squad also had its faults, most particularly in two areas: the defence was not good enough and while the first-choice midfield was brilliant, their alternatives were not up to the job.

Irwin was aging, neither of our centre backs were anywhere near Jaap Stam’s quality and in midfield only Nicky Butt could provide adequate replacement. Yet Fergie did not plunge into the transfer market.

The Premier League wasn’t as strong then as it’s now and the overwhelming brilliance of our famous midfield four, combined with four lethal strikers, was enough for easy Premiership titles in 2000 and 2001. Yet the team never reached the heights of 99′ (or even ’97) in Europe because the squad wasn’t strengthened after its greatest success.

The current squad needs nothing else but a good, solid, reliable centre forward who is a good finisher. Dimitar Berbatov fits the bill and though his price is astronomical, we can afford him. Not buying him or anyone will comdemn the current crop of players to the same fate which their predecessors encountered: the failure in Europe.

Ronaldo is the only player in the current squad who can be relied upon consistently hitting the back of the net. Tevez and Rooney are brilliant attackers but their finishing is erratic, unlike Ronaldo’s. We need someone who puts away the majority of his chances and while Berbatov is not a Van Nistelrooy, he’s a more reliable goalscorer than either Rooney or Tevez.

If we do not sign anyone, if we stagnate, I won’t protest. I will enjoy our games and expect a lot of good football. But great, sustained success? No, that’s unlikely if we do not try to stay ahead of our pursuers.