Of the events of last Monday the take-over of Manchester City will affect the future of United a lot more than the signing of Dimitar Berbatov. The early signs are that the owners of the Abu Dhabi United (sic!) Group are prepared to spend on a scale that will dwarf the outlays of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. Already Torres, Kaka, Fabregas, Villa, Ronaldo x 2 and Henry have been mentioned. The problem from United’s point of view is that neither Abramovich nor the Abu Dhabi group are in this business primarily to make a profit.
The Glazer family, on the other hand, see United as a business like any other. They acquired a strong brand that they wish to develope further by investing wisely rather than spending recklessly. This is all very sensible, and United still have considerable spending power since no other club generates as much operating income. But it puts United firmly in third place, among English clubs, when competing for the big stars. In the past few seasons Chelsea have outbid United for Mikel, Robben and, my biggest regret, Essien. In January and next summer Ferguson will have to sit back and let City conclude their business, and then see what possible targets remain. It will be very interesting to see how Abramovich reacts.