ALEX FERGUSON has admitted he would never have paid £35million for Andy Carroll.
The much-maligned England forward heads to Manchester United with West Ham tonight fresh from scoring the first goal of his loan stint at Upton Park.
For a team who have made a habit of conceding the first goal this season, Carroll is an obvious threat.
Yet Carroll continues to struggle to live up to his billing as England's most expensive player thanks to that extraordinary move from Newcastle to Liverpool in January 2011.
"He has only played something like a dozen games for Newcastle and then he had to deal with a £35million transfer to a club like Liverpool. That's quite a big jump," Ferguson said.
"I'd certainly not sign that kind of player for that kind of money.
"We've gambled on young players in the past, maybe a couple of million or whatever, but when you get to that level you really have to do a bit more homework and see how he is in his second season maybe.
"He's still not had a lot of games but he is a big lad, aggressive and a great header of the ball.
"He'll be a handful for our defenders."
After working alongside the 23-year-old at close quarters during Euro 2012, Wayne Rooney knows the reality of Carroll's performances is nowhere near the perception many have of him.
He said: "That type of player doesn't always get all the goals but they can cause trouble up front and create problems.
"I am sure that is what Sam Allardyce wants him to do."
Rather like Rooney, Carroll demands attention. It seems he cannot have a quiet game, when he blends into the background.
He has to either be brilliant or awful, with the brutal assessment often falling on the latter.
Rooney knows from personal experience such situations are never quite so black and white.
However, he accepts they come with the territory.
"It is something you get used to," he said.
"In the Premier League, you are there to be judged, whether that is good or bad.
"You just have to deal with it."
With Paul Scholes suspended, Ferguson has already confirmed Anderson will start for only the second time in the Premier League this season.
It is also possible Phil Jones or Chris Smalling will replace Rafael at right-back, whilst David de Gea might also come in for Anders Lindegaard.