We'll buy but don't take us for mugs, says Fergie
By JOE BERNSTEIN
Last updated at 10:57 13 August 2006
Saha (63), Ronaldo (88), Jones (90)
Sir Alex Ferguson last night declared that Manchester United would not be taken for 'mugs' as they chase new stars to fill 76,312 seats at Old Trafford every week.
Cristiano Ronaldo's triumphant homecoming in front of 40,134, complete with a goal and assist, failed to stop Ferguson seething about being quoted £25 million for Inter Milan striker Adriano and even more for Fernando Torres, of Atletico Madrid.
Ferguson, who spent £18.6m to sign Tottenham midfielder Michael Carrick, fumed: 'It has got to a point where you can only take so much and I want to make it clear we are not going to be taken for mugs.
'We don't expect to get players on the cheap but at the same time we have to stick to our values and make a stand. 'Perhaps it is the cavalier amounts of money Chelsea have been spending that has upped the ante because the asking prices these days have soared to ridiculously high levels.
It is as if the thinking is that, "If Chelsea can afford such and such, then we can expect Manchester United to pay through the nose as well".'
Unless Inter are shamed into allowing Adriano to arrive at Old Trafford on loan, it looks as if Ferguson will have to make do with what he has already got.
If that is the case, he still expects the current squad to deliver at a newly-extended Old Trafford. 'The players here, like myself, have a responsibility to produce their best efforts,' he said. 'We have a strong support base but must
never take it for granted. There are grounds like the Nou Camp and Bernabeu that aren't filled every week.'
With Wayne Rooney nursing a groin strain that makes him a doubt for Sunday's Premiership opener against Fulham, Ronaldo provided the star quality against UEFA Cup winners Sevilla as seating in the quadrants was opened to the public.
On his first home appearance since his controversial role in Rooney's sending off at the World Cup, Ronaldo did not disappoint.
Buoyed by having his name cheered before kick-off, Ronaldo created the opening goal for Louis Saha with an electric burst and low cross into the path of the Frenchman.
Even better was to come in the dying minutes when he whipped in a free-kick from 20 yards to beat Andres Palop at the near post.
Substitute David Jones added a third in injury-time, but it was Ronaldo who left to a standing ovation. His team-mates had mobbed him in delight after his goal. United fans also had a first glimpse of new goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak, just signed from West Bromwich Albion. He made a couple of good saves from former West Ham and Tottenham striker Fredi Kanoute and Daniel Alves in the second half as Sevilla pushed for an equaliser.
Ferguson, already without Carrick because of a knee injury for the start of the league campaign, admits Rooney is also a doubt. The 20-year-old has not played since his red card in a preseason friendly against Porto nine days ago after injuring his groin in training. 'It is a race against time for Wayne,' admitted Ferguson. But the United boss, in his 20th season at the club, will not use any of it as an excuse.
'We have a good trophy record but we cannot afford to lose our determination to bring more success to the club,' he said. 'Our new-look home is another landmark moment. We must heed the clarion call. For now the onus is on the playing side to fill the stadium.'
With Ronaldo in this kind of form, that should not be a problem even if Ferguson is adamant he will not be paying Chelsea prices to recruit new A-list talent.
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