Manchester United chief executive David Gill is bracing himself for an ‘interesting’ summer.
As usual, Gill will play a lead role in negotiating United’s transfer business and there are also other significant issues, not least a new contract for Paul Scholes, that need to be sorted out.
It means Gill will be busy when Sir Alex Ferguson is beginning his annual summer vacation – possibly after guiding United to a record 20th league title.
‘The work goes on all year round but obviously intensifies as we come to the end of the season in terms of players,’ Gill said.
‘There’s various contracts we’ve got to do, we’ll look at some acquisitions and there will be some players who will leave. It’s an interesting time.’
The most notable players likely to be heading for the exit door are record signing Dimitar Berbatov, who has already been told by Ferguson that United would listen to suitable offers, Michael Owen, whose contract runs out anyway, and Bebe, who is due to return from a loan spell with Turkish outfit Besiktas, with whom he is currently suspended after breaking a club curfew.
Normal rumours about player purchases are starting to intensify and though Ferguson solved what appeared to be a significant weakness in central midfield by calling Scholes out of retirement mid-season, it would be a disappointment to many United fans if the club did not try and secure at least one reinforcement, especially as doubts remain over the future of Anderson, to ensure there is no repeat of this term’s awful European performances.
Efforts will be made to try and persuade French youngster Paul Pogba to sign a long-term deal and with Fabio due to leave on loan, a deputy at left-back for Patrice Evra is also required.
The task is made easier by United’s continued presence in the Champions League and winning yet another league title would also provide further proof the Old Trafford outfit are able to compete for the major honours.
For long periods this term, it did look as though United would end up playing second fiddle to big-spending neighbours Manchester City.
However, a run of 11 wins from 12 games swept Ferguson’s team into top spot and though defeat at Wigan nine days ago was a surprise setback, Gill accepts he would have taken United’s present lead of five points with four games left had it been offered at the turn of the year.
‘I think we all would,’ he said.
‘It’s been an amazing run and it’s going to be a tense end to the season. If we do it, it will be fantastic.
‘This time of year’s not good [for the nerves]. You do get tense but we’ve done very well and are in good shape now – five points ahead with four games to go. It’s going to be tight but it’s been wonderful.’