MANCHESTER United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has cited Sunderland's 1950s decline as he blasted Real Madrid's lavish bid to regain European supremacy.
United lost Cristiano Ronaldo to big-spending Real for 80m, but Ferguson quipped that he half-expects to see the Portuguese star at centre-half, so unbalanced is the Bernabeu squad.
In a warning to Real, Ferguson recalled Sunderland's Bank of England era in the 1950s – when the Wearsiders splashed the cash but gained nothing more than a couple of FA Cup semi-final appearances, prior to a disastrous first-ever relegation in 1958.
Ferguson said: "Sunderland spent so much money that they became known as 'The Bank of England club'.
"They didn't win anything and in the end they got themselves relegated.
"I am not saying that Real Madrid will get relegated, but they will still have plenty of problems with balance.
"I do not know how Manuel Pellegrini (Real's new coach) plans to pick his side because it has no balance.
"I told Ronaldo before he flew out that he will end up playing centre-half because I don't think they have one."