Date: 8th January 2010 at 5:06pm
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Sir Alex does have money to spend in the transfer market, according to the gaffer himself – it’s just that sees no player who’s available and who’s worth the price his club demands.

‘We`ve got the money – there`s no question about that. I just don`t see that player that can make a difference to us in terms of value and availability.’

Fergie’s words will be greeted with suspicion and even derision as journalists are gleefully predicting United’s imminent doom because of the debts heaped on the club by the Glazers. Yet it is true that he rarely buys in January but does not refuse it on principle: when he sees a player he deems good enough, he is willing to splash the cash.

Sir Alex himself referred back to earlier January successes like Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and Andy Cole – but signing Louis Saha did not save our 2003/04 season and Diego Forlan could not score a single goal in his first six months at Old Trafford so buying in January is always a gamble, it’s not a recipe for instant success.

If you draw a shortlist of players who would be reasonably priced and could play in Europe as well you’ll see there’s precious few of them. David Villa? He’s 28 and would command a ridiculous fee, as would David Silva – and Valencia would extremely reluctant to let them go now, as they are pushing for a Champions League spot which would be a massive financial boost and they could still gain additional income by selling their prized assets in the summer when CL football is secured.

Edin Dzeko? He could not play in the Champions League and Wolfsburg want to cling on to him so that they can turn their season around. Karim Benzema? Do you seriously think Madrid will cut their losses on him after only half a season? Simon Kjaer? But he does not want to think about his future until the summer and besides we’ll have enough defenders once everyone recovers. Angel di MarĂ­a? Well, according to rumours we did try on him but were put off by Benfica’s excessive demands. So who could come, indeed?

Fergie’s hand is tied – by the lack of options. Hopefully the market will be more reasonable during the summer, with no Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka transfers.