Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is reportedly looking to splash the cash this summer, in an attempt to prevent rivals Manchester City from establishing themselves as the powerhouse of English football, according to an Express report.

The Red Devils have long been the most dominant team in English football and are easily the most decorated as well, at least in recent times. For them, therefore, to finish the season without silverware is nearly unthinkable. However, that is just what could happen, if they do not win the league; it will be only the fifth time in nearly two decades that the club will finish a season without trophies.

To be fair to Ferguson, however, his side are by no means out of the title race, trailing City only by goal difference. The fact that he has achieved that with a largely make-shift squad and ageing players like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes is testament to his and the player's determination. Unfortunately, the fact of elimination from the Champions League, the Europa League, the FA Cup and the Carling Cup, all in one season, does suggest reinforcements are needed.

According to various reports, Ferguson has reportedly lined up a number of star targets, including Tottenham's Luka Modric and Lille's Eden Hazard, along with Athletic Bilbao's striker Fernando Llorente (who was one of a number of Bilbao's stars responsible for United's exit from the Europa League).

In addition, apart from strengthening the striking and midfield positions, Ferguson also has a weather eye open for defensive reinforcements, particularly for Brazilian wing-back Rafael da Silva, who proved himself unreliable after a disappointing performance in United's 4-4 tie with Everton and Frenchman Patrice Evra, who is in the twilight of his career. The 70 year old Scot is reportedly already in line to bid for Valencia defender Jordi Alba, who is likely to be available this summer.

To bring in reinforcements, Ferguson will also have to free up space within the first team squad and players like Michael Owen, Dimitar Berbatov, Anderson and Federico Macheda are reportedly going to leave Old Trafford this summer. Former Red Devils' captain Gary Neville also feels that Ferguson should add talent to his side this summer.

"I'm sure he'll improve his squad. I think he has to. He's an honest person and he'll recognise there are areas of the squad he needs to strengthen," the Express quoted Neville as saying.

Elsewhere, Chinese outfit Shanghai Shenhua's new head coach, Nicolas Anelka, is reportedly trying to bring Owen to Asia, according to a report in The Sun. The former Chelsea and France striker was appointed to his position following Jean Tigana's dismisal. Anelka could also look to convince former Blues team mate Didier Drogba to shift to China.

Owen, 32, was greeted very warmly on his last visit to China, which was on a pre-season tour with United in 2009.