Sunday, 5 May 2013

Alex Ferguson Regrets Not Signing Frank Lampard

Alex Ferguson regrets the day he decided against signing Frank Lampard.

The United boss sent scouts to check on the Chelsea star during his formative years at West Ham.

Fergie had been alerted to the midfielder's burgeoning talent when the youngster netted 14 goals in 2000, a year after helping lift the Hammers to fifth in the Premier League.

But with a midfield quartet of Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Roy Keane and Paul Scholes in situ and Nicky Butt coming off the bench he felt there was no room for Lampard in his team.

So he stepped back and saw Chelsea snap him up in August 2001 for a bargain £11m fee.

Lampard has gone on to have a stunning career at Stamford Bridge having won three Premier League titles, four FA Cup and a Champions League medal.

And now with his Blues career winding down, he is hot on the trail of Bobby Tambling's club record of 202 goals.

Ferguson is fully aware that Lampard could equal the total today, and concedes he still kicks himself about missing out on the midfield goal machine.

He said: "We looked at him at West Ham when he was a young player and I regret not doing it – where else could I get 200 goals from midfield?”

"He is fantastic, an incredible player – if he gets the 202 goal record…I don’t think there’s a midfield player who will do that again.

"He is quite phenomenal. He has that great knack that Bryan Robson had of timing when coming into the box.

"He arrives at just the right time and it’s about timing for that kind of player. John Wark at Ipswich was another one who could time his runs into the box. That value has got him 200 goals.

“Plus I can’t remember him ever being injured. I always thought he wasn’t playing because they thought he was past it or whatever.

"That is luck – the guy has had a great career. "

Lampard is expected to leave Chelsea in the summer and head to the States, followed out of the Stamford Bridge door by Rafael Benitez.

That leaves the coast clear for Jose Mourinho to jump into the hot seat and Ferguson reckons he will be forced to keep many of the clubs expensive stars - even though they do not fit his style of play.

Midfielder Juan Mata, Oscar and Edin Hazard are all lightweights and the Portuguese prefers to build a powerful team that dominates opponents.

Ferguson added: "Those three players are good players – and if any manager comes in he’ll want to keep them because they are their three best players – Oscar, Mata and Hazard.

"They are by far their best players. I don’t see how they can possibly change that.

"When the new manager comes in, he’ll have his own philosophy – most managers come into a situation where a manager has been sacked but that’s not the case with the new man coming in to Chelsea, whoever it may be.

"Benitez is interim manager until a new manager comes in until a new manager comes in, so any new manager that comes in would be silly to get rid of those three players.”

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