In a bizarre turn of events, Manchester United are the first to blow their wad on a big transfer while Chelsea are demonstrating some financial prudence. Both clubs were looking to strengthen their midfield options as Sir Alex finally put us out of our misery by agreeing a fee with Bayern Munich for Owen Hargreaves, and Jose Mourinho opted to pay Reading nothing to make Steve Sidwell his 9th choice midfielder.
For Hargreaves, the move caps off a remarkable turnaround in his career that saw him go from poster boy of Sven Goran Eriksson’s awful England reign to public hero after a couple of energetic appearances. 17M may seem like a massive amount for a pitbull, “water carrier”, type footballer but Chelsea paid a similar fee for Claude Makelele and he’d hardly be considered a waste of money. Sir Alex is rightly paying the price to get the player he feels he needs, regardless of how unspectacular he may seem.
Steve Sidwell equally fits the bill for what Mourinho wants, a squad player who is not going to compete for a starting position but step in when needed – especially when the African Nations Cup and injuries will ravage his side midway through the season. It probably isn’t the best move for Sidders’ career from a footballing standpoint, but he’ll be making a shedload of cash and might get to play a Champions League match or two.
So all in all, two very different but two very good first moves by the Premiership’s top two.