Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted he broke the habit of a lifetime in signing the unknown Portuguese Bébé without having seen him play. Normally the Manchester United manager prefers to watch a prospect in person or at least on video before making up his mind, yet he paid £7.4m for the striker formally known as Tiago Manuel Dias Correia wholly on the strength of personal recommendations.
Why a manager who insists on looking for value in the transfer market was persuaded to pay so much for a player yet to appear at the top level and who moved to Vitória Guimarães on a free just months ago is one of the mysteries behind the most unexpected summer signing, but Ferguson clearly believes he needed to act before other clubs moved in. “Sometimes you have to go on instinct and sometimes you have to trust your staff as well,” the United manager said. “This was a first for me, but we rate our scouting department very highly and our scout in Portugal was adamant we needed to do something, and quickly.”
Ferguson’s former deputy, Carlos Queiroz, now in charge of the national team, tipped off United about the excitement surrounding the player in Portugal. “I know Real Madrid were hovering and so were Benfica,” Ferguson said. “It was one of those decisions that had to be made quickly, so I made it quickly. I don’t think it’s a risk or a fairy story [Bébé was brought up in an orphanage and spent part of his childhood on the streets] it’s just an incentive to all young players who haven’t necessarily had the best start to their careers.
“There are plenty of good young players who don’t get the breaks, or the right opportunities right at the outset, but get noticed in the end. Stuart Pearce was one of them. Bébé is still young – because he’s not yet 21 we don’t have to name him in our squad of 25 – and when you get players at that age you can give them time. With all the experience we have in our first-team squad, we don’t need to rush them.”
It possibly does not feel that way to Bébé at the moment. Speaking through an interpreter in Manchester today he said it had been around a week from first hearing of United’s interest to sitting at Old Trafford in a club tracksuit. “It has all happened very quickly but I have an opportunity and now I have to grab it and work very hard,” he said.
“Of course I have heard of the Premier League before, it was always my dream to play for a club like Chelsea or Manchester United,” he said, perhaps sounding a tad arrogant but more likely simply naming the two English clubs with the strongest Portuguese connections. “Some very big names from Portugal have played here, Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani and Anderson, and that was definitely a factor. I want to become like them.”
For a player whose biggest game to date was a losing encounter with Benfica while representing a Portuguese third division team, Bébé is not short of confidence. Then again, if Manchester United have just snapped you up unseen, why be shy? “I’m fast, I kick well, and I score a lot of goals,” he replied, when asked what English audiences could expect. “But first of all I am here to work and learn.”
Ferguson’s trio of somewhat unlikely summer signings – Bébé from Portuguese obscurity, Javier Hernández from Mexico and Chris Smalling from Fulham’s reserves – have prompted speculation about whether United are having to look at the economy end of the market because the club’s American owners have placed limits on spending. The manager has already pointed out that few other clubs would spend more than £20m on relatively untried youngsters and he says he has no wish to join in the “kamikaze spending” triggered by the new generation of enormously wealthy clubs owners.
“People are spending amazing amounts of money and I don’t see any sign of it abating just yet,” he said. “If anything, it’s getting worse. I am not saying we will never pay big money for an experienced player again, from time to time we might need to. This is a young players’ club at the moment and it has always been one of our policies to identify good players early and let them grow into the club, but even if you strip all the young players out of the equation, we still have an incredible amount of experience in our first-team squad.
“That’s my back-up, I have all that experience to rely on. There were a couple of higher profile players we looked at this summer but if you buy someone like that you have to put him in the team, and I wasn’t sure there was anyone who would actually make the team that much better. I asked myself would they do what Eric Cantona did for us, or Wayne Rooney or Cristiano Ronaldo, and in the end I didn’t think they would.”
three new signings for the new season. haven’t seen bebe played yet. smalling played against chelsea. give him sometime to improve.. hernandez a.k.a chicharito had an awesome start. showed some good pre-season games and a goal against chelsea. runs fast but lacks accuracy and power. still young though..
it’s business in football nowadays. man city spend 130m pounds on transfers alone. the price tag are very high these days.. anyhow i stand by fergie’s decision on buying players for man united. kinda like the way they played against chelsea. spiritful young bloods. best of luck to manchester united and may we repeat the treble this season! article from Guardian.