Goodness, is Joe Cole really a United summer transfer target, as the Times newspaper claims?
Sir Alex, say it aint so!
"Manchester United are planning a shock move to sign Joe Cole on a free transfer next month as Chelsea prepare to let him leave for nothing at the end of his contract," the Thunderer has revealed.
"Chelsea have not made contact with Cole’s advisers to discuss a new deal since the end of the season, leaving the England midfield player to conclude that he is no longer wanted at Stamford Bridge.
"Cole’s contract at Chelsea expires on June 30 and with no offer of an extension, United are eager to exploit the situation by taking a big-name player from one of their rivals."
It is dismaying that Oliver Kay, who put his name to the piece, should be surprised by United's interest in the player when the nugget has been a transfer gossip staple for months.
Kay could have received a bum steer and may yet be embarassed by his splash if Cole ends up at Spurs.
But if if the Chelsea midfielder's move to United is rubber-stamped, it will underline Kay's reputation and serve as grim confirmation of United's declining fortunes to those fans who have followed the club's progress towards financial meltdown these past five years.
As Chelsea seek to rejuvenate their squad and plan for a bold assault on the Champions League next season, they slam the door shut on a player whom the club's coaches have worked with and now believe may be in decline.
At the same time, United prepare to take up Chelsea's waste excess and add to an already aged first team (EVDS, Neville, Ferdinand, Berbatov, Scholes and Giggs) yet another older, injury-prone international who has seen better days.
How are the mighty fallen. What next, a Michael Owen-style dossier ?
Of course, United will use their media friends to create exactly the right mood music to seduce the Red fan base.
We'll be told that Cole is still a top class player, hungry for a new challenge.
A YouTube show reel of hits will leave no-one in any doubt as to the wit and intelligence Cole will bring to a United team which looked dangerously like a one-trick pony last term.
With the gorgeous, pouting Carly looking on admiringly, we might even hear Sir Alex recall how his interest in Cole started when the player was still in school uniform.
Like a perfect ending to a UK rom-com, United finally get their man after a 14-year wait.
For all the media honey and perfume likely to accompany Cole's parade before the cameras in a United jersey, no one should be fooled.
This deal tells us everything about United's brave new world under the Glazers.
As the Times was leading with its 'scoop,' the Guardian newspaper reported that the club's indebtedness requires the sale of top players to sustain the current business model.
United "posted a £66.5m loss in the first nine months of their fiscal year as financing costs and one-time items more than offset increasing media, matchday, and commercial revenues."
The newspaper quoted the view of Philip Long, a partner at PKF accountants and business advisers, with experience in football deals.
He claimed: "The loss shows that the business model doesn't work unless there are player sales.
"It's an absolute mess. When the full-year interest is accounted in and there are no items like last year's sale of Ronaldo, what's going to happen?"
The United rebuttal was instant. Chief Executive David Gill was pressed into service to declare United's £95 million cash bounty but post-Owen, Tevez and Ronaldo, the club has yet to convince that its transfer strategy is not now overly-reliant on the recruitment of cut-priced innocents and media-friendly has-beens,
Yes, Joe Cole is still a Premiership standard player but at nearly 29, frankly, he's too old and too slow for this United team. His goal-scoring rate is unimpressive.
Yes, Joe Cole is brainy and cunning but with Berbatov still on board, shouldn't United be wary of fielding another top player liable to slow the team's effective counter-attacking style?
What would be Cole's role in the United first-team? Does Fergie want him for right midfield or just behind the front man? Surely, he has better players in both positions already.
Above all, many a good observer claims Cole is not the same player since his return from a serious knee injury. If Chelsea sense he's no longer good enough for their first team, he has no business at Old Trafford.
If United really want a Chelsea midfielder, it should be Frank Lampard or Michale Essien.
United need craft, graft, vigour and goals from midfield . Aging, bit-part England stars like Cole, may have something to prove and could offer short term cover, but United should aim higher.
Joe Cole to United? No Thanks!
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!