Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted he wished he had signed Carlos Tevez 12 months ago.
Tevez finally completed his protracted transfer to United on Friday afternoon, a year after Ferguson was first alerted to his availability.
At the time, United shied away from doing a deal as there were too many uncertainties over the way it would be structured.
Subsequent events proved the stance to be wholly sensible. However, as he watched Tevez inspire West Ham's late-season survival surge, just as his own side were struggling to sustain a Treble challenge with an injury-ravaged squad, Ferguson could not help thinking what might have been.
'In his year at West Ham, Tevez proved himself to be an absolutely top player,' reflected Ferguson.
'Every time I saw him playing for West Ham last year, I thought to myself, I just wish we had done it last year.
'But there were too many complications at the time.'
Instead, Ferguson made Tevez one of four summer signings, splashing out £50million on Owen Hargreaves, Nani and Anderson within weeks of United clinching their ninth Premier League title.
His rapid recruiting mission meant Ferguson could enjoy a worry-free summer holiday for once, convinced he had got the right men at the right time.
'I think the four signings will be good ones,' he said.
'We knew Hargreaves was going to happen for a long time. We hoped it would be last June, then January but we finally got it done in May.
'Nani and Anderson were quick decisions.
'We saw an opening regarding their contracts and weren't prepared to wait.
'Anderson broke his leg last year but if we had let him start the season after his broken leg, everyone would have been after him.'
Meanwhile, Ferguson has confirmed Gabriel Heinze will not become an 'alien' in the United dressing room if his proposed move to Liverpool is blocked.
Heinze's case will be heard by the Premier League on August 20, with the governing body set to rule on whether a signed letter by Red Devils chief executive David Gill, which confirmed the Old Trafford club were prepared to accept £6.8million for the 29-year-old, over-rides his current contract, which runs until 2009.
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has already matched the sum but United claim they informed Heinze's agent - long before the Merseyside giants made their interest known - that they would not sell to one of their chief domestic rivals.
Given the long-standing antipathy between supporters of both clubs, Heinze can expect a rough ride from United's fans if he doesn't make the move.
Yet Ferguson is convinced there will be no problems inside the dressing room and would have no worries playing him.
'Gabriel Heinze has not become an alien within the squad at all,' said Ferguson.
'He is a very popular player within the club.
'Obviously the meeting on August 20 will settle it one way or another.
'We think we have a good case. They probably think they have a good case too or they wouldn't have gone this far.
'But once it is settled, if he is still a Manchester United player, he will be treated accordingly. He is a warrior and a fighter. He won't let us down.'