Ever heard the saying ‘silent but violent’? You probably have, only used in the crudest of terms. The idiom could become the new mantra of Manchester United this season as they go about their business with uncharacteristic discreetness.
More often now, Ferguson declines the opportunity to be drawn into the psychological battle of wits, petty debates even longwinded transfer embargos. This summer is already a prime example of how things have changed for the North West giants over the years as United were, once again, quick to complete their transfer activity and now sit back comfortably, analysing the bustle of their competitors with contentment.
This new personality – or lack of – could serve them well; formerly, Ferguson and United were the talk of the English footballing world, never shying away from the publicity and the media hounds always sniffed amorously around Old Trafford. Because of this, the pressure was consistently on them to perform or else feel the unforgiving wrath of the fickle press. More commonly now, the press have looked elsewhere to garner their back page scoops and hearsay. Now, teams like Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool, with their big spending antics, draw attention as the teams’ intentions inadvertently promise so much; with the amount that City and Chelsea have spent this season, the media expects that both will be fighting for the title. Similarly with Liverpool’s expenditure – the media now expects that they will be around the Champion’s League berths. The pressure is on these teams and somewhat alleviated from the United players who will remain under the radar. It’s not entirely assuaged – the press will still expect a strong season and better performances from Rooney – but they will also be more forgiving if things don’t work out as well.
There haven’t been any drastic shape ups at Old Trafford either, just the odd tweaks here and there. It’s nothing but mere maintenance work and applying filler to widening gaps. Whether it was Ferguson’s objective or whether it is down to United’s fiscal situation, the Red Devils have added only a few impressive signings – in Kagawa and Van Persie in particular - whilst keeping their important players from prior seasons. Comparatively, several of their rivals have rung in wholesale changes that could take time to work out ideally. Ferguson can now add the ‘master of the early transfer deal’ to his surfeit of nicknames.
Once the deals were tied up, Ferguson put paid to any media harassment by telling them, in no uncertain terms, that their transfer dealings had concluded for the summer. The media may know Ferguson as a lot of things but one thing he is not, is a fibber – you can pretty much bet your life that when he says he’s done, he’s being completely genuine. This is United’s ‘out of sight, out of mind’ period where they will hope that the other teams will shoot themselves in the foot by taking the emphasis away from his team, allowing them to operate sneakily. It could have already worked with Mancini pulling Liverpool into the title race banter, Liverpool responding with quiet confidence and Hazard claiming that Chelsea are the team to beat this season. Meanwhile, United will exploit their right to remain silent and let the football do the talking.
Whatever advantage United can gain over their rivals, they will welcome with opens arms. Whether obscurity is even an advantage is still subject to debate – I mean, two seasons ago, Ferguson only coined a single phrase – ‘noisy neighbours’ – and it still came back to bite him and shall haunt him until he retires. If there is something in the theory, however, they may need it as many football enthusiasts suggest that United have the third best squad in the Premiership.
Are United making the right moves - or lack of - in the transfer market in the build to deadline day? Or will their squad get found out down the line?
image: © birdies-perch