Jamie Redknapp has revealed that Sir Alex Ferguson called his father Harry, then manager of Tottenham Hotspur, about signing Luka Modric a day after losing to Barcelona in the Champions League final back in 2011.
Manchester United had been outclassed in midfield at Wembley by a Barcelona side featuring the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets, losing 3-1.
Writing in a column for the Mail, Redknapp revealed how Sir Alex made signing Modric, now one of Real’s best players, his main priority in the summer of 2011.
“Xavi and Iniesta had raised the bar for midfielders. The best had to be players who could take the ball off either foot, dribble and pass through the lines.
“Having seen just how impressive those two were against United, Sir Alex identified Modric as the player to take his team forward.”
Herein lies a piece of foresight from Sir Alex which sheds further light on his naturally brilliant intuitions about the game. Pep Guardiola’s team changed the way football was played in a way which resonates to this day.
Top teams no longer attack from out wide and instead place emphasis on building quickly through the middle, breaking through the lines of midfield quickly and using the No.9 as a springboard for getting options in the box. Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and even England build their style around this premise today..
And yet United, seven years on, are yet to truly embrace this method. Only Michael Carrick and Paul Pogba can be seen as proper exponents of it. Supporters will hope the signing of Fred, along with another midfielder, serves as a step in the right direction in this sense.