After Sir Alex Ferguson recently bemoaned the fact that he failed to take the chance to sign Joe Hart for £100,000 in 2006, saying "we all make mistakes." With the large amount of players that go through United's youth system it's fair to say that he may also have made a few unavoidable mistakes in letting some of them go, and he might now be looking to rectify one of those errors in January.
Ryan Shawcross left Manchester United for Stoke on a permanent move in 2008, and has gone on to become Pulis's club captain, as well as earning call ups to England squads. There has been interest in Shawcross before, but it has always been tempered but the question over whether he could step up from Stoke's particular system to play in the back fours of the top English teams. However Shawcross's consistently good performances have again caught the eye of the Premier League's big guns.
Whilst a small fortune might now be required to tempt Stoke into selling their star defender, especially with the inflated prices of English players, Manchester United or Chelsea may think it's a price worth paying. Both will be looking to replace ageing centre backs sooner rather than later, with Terry and Ferdinand past their prime. Shawcross has come into the England squad as Terry's replacement ahead of Ferdinand, and at 25, has his best years ahead of him. Also his price is likely to only go up further, especially if he can earn a first cap for England in the near future.
The move could end up being a good one for all parties. Shawcross will be keen to prove himself at a top club, Stoke will get a handsome reward for turning him into the player he is, and should be able to replace him within their system with the money they get. Having signed Shawcross for £2 million, they will turn a large profit on him if he does move this season, though they may try and delay any transfer to the summer, as replacing such an important player in the January window will be tricky.
Shawcross has spent five very successful seasons at Stoke City, and has given plenty of indications that he would be a success at a top English side. He may be taking on that challenge sooner rather than later.
Is Shawcross good enough to step up?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald