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Jul 13, 2009

Fergie: No more player movement at Old Trafford

Sir Alex Ferguson handed Michael Owen Ronaldo's old shirt at Manchester United and then declared Old Trafford closed for transfer business.

After recieving £80m from the sale of the Portuguese winger to Real Madrid, it was thought Ferguson would add to the signings of Owen, Antonio Valencia and Gabriel Obertan.

But, faced with a market over-inflated by Real Madrid and Manchester City, Ferguson has decided his current squad is good enough to challenge for an unprecedented fourth consecutive league title, even though Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez have left.

He said: "It is the end of our business, so all these stories about who were are supposed to be getting - forget it. I can only placate the fans this way and say I am not going to be stupid.

"We have got that wonderful sum of money from Real Madrid but there was no way we were going to throw it away and put an extra nought on the end of the transfer which I didn't think was value.''

It means Owen will take over Ronaldo's shirt and his place in an attacking line-up containing Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov, plus youngsters Danny Welbeck and Federico Macheda, who will both be given a chance to prove they are worthy of the accolades that have been bestowed on them.

"They are both young players - but young players with ability always get a chance here.''

Owen maintained he was in good shape despite his injury-prone tag. "It does irritate me that so many people have doubts,'' he said. "But if there is one thing I am angered by, the injury thing would be it. There is no doubt I have had injuries in my career. But there is a long list of players that have had a broken metatarsal.

"I was foolish trying to rush back for the World Cup and my leg had just come out of plaster. "But I played 33 and 32 games in the last two years in a team that was not in Europe and did not go on a decent cup run. Still I was continually labelled injury-prone, which gets up my nose.

"I am 29 and have played over 500 games for club and country. That says it all.''

What Owen does accept the need to prove is the retention of ability that has made him only the fourth striker in England history to score 40 goals for his country.

"In certain parts, people do have a justification to have a go at me,'' he said. "I didn't set the world alight in the last year at Newcastle. That is no-one's fault but mine. We were not playing well as a team and I wasn't doing my bit either.''

Ferguson confirmed he made a bid for Karim Benzema, only to be rebuffed by the Lyon man, who instead became part of Real Madrid's extraordinary spending spree.

''There are some amazing numbers being talked about, not all of them realistic,'' he said. ''It is very difficult to get value now. ''In a way we benefited through the sale of Cristiano, although that figure was non-negotiable.

"But I feel we have a good squad, which meant there was no need for knee-jerk reactions. 'We asked about Benzema and we had a value for him. Lyon have done well because they got 42m Euros but I think we took a sensible view.''

"Michael gives us experience in the penalty box, which is vital,'' said Ferguson. "He has always had that little knack of losing defenders in the last third. "I know he will score a lot of goals for us. He has been great at that for years.''

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