Ferguson re-opens hostilities

Ferguson tells Benitez his spending doesn't add up

March 20, 2009

Sir Alex Ferguson has re-opened hostilities with Rafa Benitez by disputing the Liverpool manager's claim that he has spent more on transfers than the Spaniard.

Benitez suggested last week that Ferguson had spent £100m more he had, but the Manchester United boss retaliated by ordering his staff to tot up each manager's spending since the Liverpool boss took over at Anfield five years ago.

By United's calculations, Benitez has spent £24m more and Ferguson is expecting him to splash the cash again this summer.

Ferguson said: "I was amazed at that one. I got some of the people in the sports technology department to check that out. He's well ahead of us in spending in the last five years.

"He said our spending power is more than theirs but he has spent £24m more than we have. I think you will see Rafa producing an absolute spending spree, I think that's an absolute certainty now he has signed a new contract.

"There's talk about a recession but I don't think there will be one at Liverpool this year.''

In terms of net spending - taking into account income from sales - the clubs are much the same. Liverpool's net spending over five years on players is £82.5m and United's has been £85.5m. Meanwhile, Chelsea spent £154.8m net on players during that time and Arsenal just £3.4m.

Ferguson claimed his philosophy included developing young players as well as signing stars, while Benitez was more focused on bringing in established players.

He added: "There's a balance - we have signed 18 players in the last five years and eight of those have been young players. There's a balance, it's about doing the thing correctly.

"We like to try to develop young players and we will always do that. That's the nature of the club. Other clubs are maybe different and obviously Rafa has a different philosophy of the game from mine.

"But that's the great thing about football - everyone has a different way of doing things.

"The most amazing fact was that they have used 60 players in reserves matches and have 50 players in their reserves squad."

Ferguson believes United's owners will continue to support any requests for transfer funds that he makes, and that the club must always remained focus on dealing with challenges.

"It's always been that if I wanted a player the club would try to find the money and I think that's still the case. They have always delivered in the past,'' said Ferguson.

"Whatever the challenge, whether it comes from Chelsea, Liverpool or Arsenal, you have to address it.

"It's the same as Chelsea [with Roman Abramovich]. At the time we were saying what's going to happen here, and they were terrific and they got a really good squad of experienced players they could rely on.

"We had to address that and work to get back as the number one.''