Manchester United Commercial Director Richard Arnold caused a bit of a stir among rival fans, and a certain amount of embarrassment among his own fans when he claimed United had '25 George Clooney's in their ranks, referring to each one of them being a star player. Well, I think even the most hardy United found that quite hard to believe after a number of average performances this season, and a trophy-less campaign.
I suppose if Mr Arnold believes his own theory we can now point towards George Clooney No.26 after it was announced yesterday Shinji Kagawa had agreed to join United from next season. A few years ago the deal would have caused much excitement among United fans but even the signing of Bundesliga's player of the year did nothing to change many people's opinions that United were settling for second rate players.
There's the minority of fans who realize Kagawa may well be a better signing for United than Eden Hazard, who was previously linked with a move, but just because he didn't cost £30m it appears United's '659m' worldwide fans believe Kagawa to be half the player that Hazard is. Well, Kagawa scored many goals and gained many assists over the past two seasons as Borussia Dortmund won back-to-back league titles, and got the opening goal in the German Cup final last month against Bayern Munich.
I'm not going to try and change the opinion of people that Eden Hazard is a better player than Kagawa, he probably is, but Kagawa is a central attacking midfielder, which United are crying out for. Hazard, as good as he is, is a winger, which we have plenty of quality in. Obviously the £12+ spent on the Japanese international compared to the thirty odd million Chelsea will spend on Hazard will cause the anti-Glazer United fans to come out with the old line, 'we've no money'.
The myth United have no money is quite frankly, rubbish. Yes, there's debt, but 99% of league clubs are in debt. They still spend. In 2009 United fans weren't happy when Antonio Valencia joined from Wigan, just because he wasn't a big name and came from the bottom end of the league, but I think many will now be eating their words after his performances whilst fit at Old Trafford. In 2010 the United hierachy will no doubt have lost sleep over the signing of unknown Mexican Javier Hernandez, and one-time non-league defender Chris Smalling, before both went out to have superb opening seasons and help United to title No.19.
Even the £50+ spent last summer did nothing to stop the rumours United couldn't afford Wesley Sneijder or Samir Nasri, it just simply wasn't the case. Inter were asking for ridiculous amounts of money and Sneijder was personally asking for more than he was worth. United had the money for Nasri before City blew United out of the water wage wise. I'm not denying United can't compete in wages, that is in no way saying we have no money, but it's difficult to compete with Arab owners who have money coming out of every body part.
Phil Jones, David De Gea & Ashley Young all joined for hefty sums and despite City buying the likes of Sergio Aguero, United still challenged and will continue to challenge. It hasn't taken long this summer for the same United fans to come out from their caves and say there's no money. Conveniently forgetting the fact United had agreed to pay the same amount of money for Hazard as City and Chelsea both did, before even the Sheik's buckled at Hazard's wage demands.
United have enquired about Leighton Baines, Cheick Tiote and Yohan Cabaye over the last four weeks, and have made enquiries about the availability of Tottenham's Luka Modric for each of the past three seasons. Of course the doomsday fans believe this is all one big publicity stunt and United were never in for Hazard. Even if Sir Alex went out and bought back Cristiano Ronaldo this summer it would do nothing to dispel the current 'Glazernomics' theory around Old Trafford.
The debt interest payments certainly haven't helped but it doesn't mean United can't spend. Ferguson has always been a fan of bringing through young players instead of giving £200,000 per week to star men. It's worked before, it almost worked again last season, and I'm 100% sure it will work again in the future.
I'm not fan of the Glazer family, there's no doubt they're bleeding the club dry since their takeover but the money has always been there to spend if Sir Alex wants to. He's been in charge for 25 years and you should know buy now he'll buy who he wants, not who the fans want. Twitter's a miserable place to me at the end of a transfer window when United fans realize they won't line-up with a midfield four of Hazard, Modric, Sneijder and Ronaldo but there we are. I'm sure Kagawa and whoever else signs will send the 'die-hard' United fans back into their cave until next May when United miss out on the next big thing that goes to City or Chelsea.
But in the meantime, enjoy the summer, embrace the challenge and get behind Kagawa and whoever else comes to Old Trafford this summer. Just don't expect to be welcoming Lionel anytime soon...
Follow Richard Laverty on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JournoRich