Manchester United have today once again been linked with a move for Wesley Sneijder for what must be the 47th year in a row. In celebration of this annual event, we've unearthed this piece from the archives which is the most commented upon in Sabotage Times' history.
If the tabloids are to be believed then the fight to secure Wesley Sneijder this summer is a straight shoot-out between Manchester City and Manchester United. He'd be mad to go to Old Trafford.
It seems mightily incongruous to suggest that the year’s title winners and Champion’s League finalists are a spent force but we all know what we saw last term. Alex Ferguson hauled, cajoled, and intimidated an eminently beatable side – his poorest for many years – through an attritional campaign of struggle and mediocrity. Clinching their nineteenth title with no recognised right-back, two geriatrics performing at fifty per cent of their previous capabilities, a misfiring superstar and a midfield consisting of Carrick, Fletcher and Anderson amounted to a prolonged conjuring trick.
With their rivals looking to strengthen in the summer it is witchcraft that even the dark lord Fergie himself will be unable to replicate unless he too drafts in new, and very expensive, personnel.
It is a necessary overhaul that, despite the fawning media’s claims, is far beyond Manchester United’s financial capacity. The Glazers have hamstrung the club to such a degree that, quite frankly, they have barely a pot to piss in.
The retirement of Scholes leaves a creative vacuum in a moribund midfield. Yet they have so many other areas that urgently require revamping that, should they be successful in blowing most of their summer budget in luring Sneijder he would be the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dyke, plugging a hole that threatens to overwhelm.
Manchester City would boast a forward line that consists of Silva, Sneijder, Balotelli and Tevez….perhaps a complimentary Kleenex should be placed upon each seat in the stadium next year?
To further the water analogy, he would, in short, be joining a slowly sinking ship, a side that has completed its natural cycle of dominance and now faces a new dawn of transition and uncertainty. Especially with a 69 year old Fergie heading for retirement on the next year or two. Should Sneijder join Man U - he would soon find himself at a club imploding in Sir Alex's absence.
Essentially now is precisely the wrong time for any great player to join Man U. At City he would be arriving at just the right moment - and would provide the final piece in the jigsaw. Mancini has moulded a talented side studded with technique, youth and power that is primed for glory. They are unquestionably a club in the ascendancy and the balance of power between the two arch-rivals is tilting ever more in their favour.
Furthermore at Eastlands he would be linking up with one of his best mates, and international enforcer, Nigel De Jong.
The last point is hardly trivial. With De Jong and Yaya Toure patrolling and bossing the centre of the park it would allow the scheming Sneijder the freedom to revel in his ideal trequartista role. It is a position that Ferguson has long distrusted, preferring to place his flair on the wings and instructing them to drift infield when necessary. Mancini however is Italian right down to his Armani shoes and will know better than any other Premier league gaffer how best to utilise such an advanced playmaker and wandering spirit. Look how Silva has flourished under his tutelage, a player who many believed would struggle in the robust environment of the English game.
Talking of the artful Spaniard, a forward line that consists of him, Sneijder, Balotelli and Tevez….perhaps a complimentary Kleenex should be placed upon each seat in the stadium next year?
Such tactical considerations will surely form part of Sneijder’s decision making but will presumably be of secondary importance to the potential bumper salaries offered to him. He is currently - reputedly - on £175,000 a week with Inter. For Rooney to better that he needed to take on Ferguson in a highly publicised media spat that risked his reputation, career, and even life and limb.
Manchester City would hardly baulk at improving such a heady sum; they’d merely need to root down the back of their sofa for small change.
The battle to recruit Sneijder could prove to be one of the most fascinating transfer soap operas of a summer that promises many. For the first time in living memory City are on an equal footing with their quiet neighbours, as attractive a proposition to any of the world’s elite looking to cash in on the premiership goldrush. Yet in Wesley’s case there really isn’t anything to mull over. In fact, it’s a no-brainer.
Sneijder will complete City and be a major factor in them securing a litany of honours in the coming seasons. Whereas should he opt for red over blue - Salford over Manchester - he will one day control an errant pass by Gibson, look up to see Fletcher in space, and die a little inside.