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Sat Dec 03 17:40:04 SAST 2016

Glazers stand by their Man

Archie Henderson | 2016-10-19 08:05:09.0
Manchester United’s capture of Paul Pogba suggests the days of the best players choosing England over Spain may be returning.
When Pogba left Old Trafford in 2012, his move to Juventus earned Manchester United a handsome £800000. It was also an admission that the club could not retain and mould a promising young player. File photo
Image by: GETTY IMAGES

Manchester United are trying to buy themselves out of mediocrity.

The English Premier League team's mission is to make money. The club's owners, the American Glazer family, watch the bottom line more than the goal line.

Man United, who once virtually owned the league, have not won the title in three years. This lack of achievement has been reflected in their lack of quality football, of which there was much in evidence again during the goalless draw with Liverpool on Monday night.

The Glazers know that if their club does not pick up its game, the money-making machine will slow down. This is why they wrote the cheques for a £600-million (R10.4-billion!) buying frenzy, with - depending on whom you believe - about 15%-21% spent on a single player, Paul Pogba.

The 23-year-old Frenchman, whose departure from Old Trafford four years ago earned him the wrath of Alex Ferguson (Fergie said the player disrespected the club), has returned at a cost of a £90-million (R1.5-billion) transfer fee to Juventus.

At least that's the figure reported in British newspapers. According to Forbes, the deal is between £99-million and £108-million. (It's not worth trying to convert to rands because it just looks silly.)

Then there is the reported fee for Pogba's agent, Mino Raiola, which is said to be about £21-million. That means the cost for a still untested young player could be between £111-million and £129-million. That would be either 18.5% or 21.5% of the kitty. Raiola has another 50 clients, so imagine what he earns for what is not real work.

That's not all. The new contract keeps Pogba at Old Trafford for five years on an annual wage of £22.5-million. That adds up to just over £112-million for the period and brings his overall cost to between £223-million and £241-million.

When Pogba left Old Trafford in 2012, his move to Juventus earned Manchester United a handsome £800000. It was also an admission that the club could not retain and mould a promising young player.

Jurgen Klopp, manager of Liverpool, touched on that when the Pogba deal was announced. He said football was a "group effort" and once it became about a single individual, he would be without a job.

Klopp, by the way, spent £75-million during the off-season on seven players.

Arsene Wenger of Arsenal described the Pogba deal as "complete madness", but we must wait to see if it does indeed strain sanity.

The fee paid for Pogba is now the highest in history. What it is not is the highest percentage of club revenue for a Man United player. That title goes to the unlamented Juan Sebastian Veron, for whom the club paid £30-million in 2002 that was 21.4% of the £170-million revenue that year.

Pogba is only third on the list. Veron is followed by Rio Ferdinand (19.9% in 2002). Eric Cantona is nowhere in sight.

The man who must have made the call to buy Pogba, Jose Mourinho, now needs to bring the individual into the group effort. On Monday night Man U had only 35% of possession at Anfield, their lowest since such data was first recorded accurately in 2003. And apart from one cross to an unmarked Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Pogba was a figure on the margins. The Special One clearly has much to do with his own special one.

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