The hypocrisy of Sir Bobby Charlton

by Will ODoherty

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Sir Bobby Charlton is deservedly a national hero. It is easy to forget how major a star he was in his day, and difficult to fathom just how huge he would be if playing nowadays.

But Sir Bobby Charlton is also the official flag-waver-in-chief for Manchester United and, not for the first time, his interpretation of the facts is completely delusional.

Sir Bobby has hit out at the teams he sees as buying their way to the title, and portrayed United as a side that has based its success on carefully and lovingly developed talent. Which is a lie.

Was it ever really true? Sir Bobby can only hope to get away with saying it because of the team that shot to the title in 1996 with Beckham, Butt, Giggs, Scholes and Gary Neville as major parts. But it should not be forgotten that British transfer records were previously spent on Roy Keane and Andy Cole and that they, Dennis Irwin, Gary Pallister, Peter Schmeichel and, of course, Eric Cantona were the experienced spine of that side, and one that United had nothing to do with developing.

Since that golden generation, the actual throughput of top talent from the fabled United academy has been abysmal. Look at the current squad and you can only count Darren Fletcher as someone who truly belongs. The others are either in the twilight of their careers, Giggs and Scholes, or not up to standard, Brown, O’Shea, Gibson and Evans.

Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley may well make a breakthrough soon, but the truth is that United have based their continued competitiveness on spending ludicrous amounts on cash.

With transfer fees the way they are nowadays, the fees paid for Dwight Yorke (£12.5m), Jaap Stam (£10m) and Ruud van Nistelrooy (£19m) may seem ‘cheap’ but they were huge amounts for their day while there will almost certainly never be a bigger waste of money than the £28m spent on Juan Sebastian Veron.

Of the current squad, Rio Ferdinand cost £29m almost a decade ago, Anderson and Nani cost a combined £30m, Owen Hargreaves cost £17, Michael Carrick over £15m, Wayne Rooney £25m, Antonio Valencia £16m, Chris Smalling £10m, Bebe, a player plucked from the obscurity of Portugal’s lower leagues, was a snip at £7m

United may have picked up some bargains in Edwin van der Sar, Patrice Evra, Nemanja Vidic and Ronaldo but, by and large, they have paid top dollar for their players.

And why not? They have remained the team to beat because of it. Is it any wonder Man City and Chelsea are trying to replicate what United have done for so long?

For all manner of reasons, Sir Bobby is right to hit out and the insane spending going on, but for his words to have a ring of truth to them he should raise his sights at his employers as well as their foes. To suggest United are any different is pure hypocrisy.

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  • OAJP24

    Good to see that Evans is considered rubbish when only 23 years of age – can’t think of many defenders as good as him at his age – despite the poor season thus far – the last two/three were excellent.

    Also Schmeichel and Irwin were bought in as early 20s and developed by the club.

    Also United developed CR7 into best player in the world inspite of the fact they bought him. United develop players – doesn’t mean they have to be there from age of 12 – historically yes they have broken transfer records but more often players have been bought in for the long haul and developed at the club.

  • LoneWolf

    Bitter much? Wes Brown and John O’shea have been excellent squad players for United, give me either over Glenn £16m Johnson any day of the week.

    Van Nistelrooy, Stam and Yorke huge fees for their day? Yorke moved to United for £12.5m in the same year that Inter paid £32m for Christian Vieri, Stam to United for £10m (they sold him for £20m) in the same year that Denilson was bought for £21m by Betis and Van Nistelrooy for £19m in the same year Zidane was signed by Real for £46m, so none were really “huge ammounts for their day” were they numb nuts?

  • Oliver

    Looks like it’s not just Sir Bobby that’s dilusional and in denial.

  • foxy

    the great dane £550,000
    cantona £1.2
    OGS £650,000

    all huge, bank breaking signings too!!

  • SalfordJack

    Will Doherty, or should i say BITTER BERTIE. Sir bobby is spot on, united are not succesfulll because of money, also united earnt what they spent, NOT GOT LUCKY WITH A SHALLOW OIL BARON, city are a soulles club like chelsea. The sooner the jealous people realise this, then maybe their second rate clubs will improve. Remeber will, whatever you do, FOREVER IN OUR SHADOW

  • RandyAndy

    Salford Jack, you’re right that United have earned their money but there’s no denying they spent it in buckets.

    As for the posts above, Stam was a major amount of money of a defender and while Vieri went for huge money, Yorke’s raised eyebrows in England where transfer fees were lagging behind, Schmeichel joined when he was 27/28, Irwin was 25 (is that young?) and chucking out three small-money signings that went on to be huge players doesn’t prove much does it, they certainly made up for it elsewhere.

    This is the thing with a lot of United fans, they revel in telling people they’re the biggest club in the world – they’re not – yet get so precious when people are critical. Your club is far from perfect, no one’s is, but at least you have piles of trophies to make up for it.

  • RandyAndy

    Can you tell me who the biggest football club is then? And how is being the biggest measured exactly?

    Can you explain how good (not talented) Ronaldo was when he joined? Wasn’t he a gamble? Where did he grow? Did United buy him as he was when he left? Yes we do not have a shitload of homegrown players at the moment, but please point me to a direction where I can see one playing for a top team at the moment?

    Clubs like City and Chelsea are reporting losses, yet they still spend shit loads on players.

  • RandyAndy

    I didn’t leave that post. Weird.

    To take whoever did’s points in reverse order. United reported a pre-tax loss of £80m in October, does this mean you aren’t going to splurge money on at least one player this summer. I doubt it.

    Do you want me to say Cristiano Ronaldo? If so, fair does, he became the player he is at your club, but let’s be honest here, he was hardly an unknown when he signed for £12m was he? When United and Arsenal are after a player he’s got to be pretty good in the first place – and, in fact, while he didn’t have much by way of a final ball, he pretty much jumped straight into your first team.

    Oh and Barcelona are bigger in terms of global standing and Real are bigger in terms of history. Both are bigger in terms of their draw to players.

  • Matthew Grima

    Sorry mate, that was me, I wanted to paste your name in the comment box and didn’t realise that I’d put as my name instead.

    Barcelona are not bigger if you’re saying fanbase wise. Real yes they have history, those 5 European Cups in a row are a bit fishy though.

    United reported losses due to the damned owners draining money out of it, the club itself generates revenue, today an article came out that they’re close to the 100M revenue mark.

    Ronaldo was shoved into the first team yes, he also frustrated a shitload of fans, but he wasn’t half the player he is today. You could say that we’d see the same Ronaldo if he went to Arsenal, but that’s just a blind guess that can never be answered.

    I’m not here to blindly support Sir Bobby’s claims, I know he’s biased, as is Crerrand. But he ain’t really wrong about what he’s saying is he? I for example like the way Arsenal do their business.

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