I wish we'd bought Bolton striker Anelka, admits United boss Ferguson


Last updated at 13:51 24 November 2007

Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted that he has tried to buy Nicolas Anelka on more than one occasion and believes the France striker is crucial to dragging today's opponents Bolton out of trouble.

Ferguson takes his United team to the Reebok Stadium this afternoon for a local derby that the Scot hopes can kick-start a 'golden period' of football for the Premiership champions over the winter.

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Nicolas Anelka

And for the first time Ferguson conceded that he had considered buying Anelka. "I have tried to buy him several times because he is a very talented player," said the United boss. "We always assess players with pace and ability to score and he comes into that category. He has done it throughout his career.

"For a variety of reasons it didn't happen, simple as that. Sam Allardyce showed faith in him because he had been round a few clubs. And for the first time in ages he seems to be happy and settled where he is. I think happiness is important for a player like Anelka. I also think he is crucial to them."

United looked at Anelka last summer and also when he was on loan at Liverpool from Paris Saint-Germain in the 2001/02 season.

Ferguson has had to pick some of his international players up after disappointments with their countries this week but believes the return of the Premier League will bring the best out of them.

"The thing that helps me is that we are top of the League — and we can only stay there if our concentration is what it should be.

"We've had three breaks and a friendly. Now it is over we can look forward to having a prolonged period right through to February.

"Normally this is a good time for us. We tend to pick up at this stage of the season. And if we can have a full strength squad it will be even better."

However, United's France full back Patrice Evra has wasted no time in claiming Euro 2008 bragging rights.

"In my heart I am disappointed England have not qualified but I have to laugh at them because they would do the same to me if France had not qualified. I was singing 'England, England' in the dressing room, which I found quite funny, even if they didn't."

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