Manchester United spent the summer fluttering their eyelashes at the finest central midfield talent in the world, and ended up signing Marouane Fellaini.
All summer long it has been a tale of woe and desperation for Manchester United supporters, which only got worse and worse as deadline day unfolded.
David Moyes was always going to have a difficult task succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson. This was a transfer window where he needed to make a mark and improve the squad to give himself an even chance of finding success this season. It didn’t happen.
Let’s run through the summer for United. It started positively enough, with plenty of noises from Moyes that the midfield was the area that needed strengthening. All indications pointed to a move for Barcelona’s supreme talent Thiago Alcantara, who looked an ideal fit for United. Nothing happened and the player went to Bayern Munich.
This was followed by a desperate and frankly embarrassing pursuit of Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas. After the first bid was rejected, United were told out of hand that the player was not for sale. Still they persisted, wasting so much time and getting absolutely nowhere.
Time marched on and then finally came the bid everyone had expected all summer, for Evertons Fellaini and Baines. A joint bid, rumoured to be £28 million. United were laughed out the building.
A second bid took weeks to come. Again rejected. New targets were muted with around a week to go as United were knocked back again in bids for Daniele De Rossi and Ander Herrera. The reek of desperation was sickening from Manchester United.
So we reached deadline day when the chaos descended into farce. Mesut Ozil was rumoured but United staggeringly claimed they had no interest. New hope emerged as it was claimed that United were willing to match the release clause in Ander Herrera’s Bilbao contract. Marouane Fellaini decided the time had come to push through a deal and so handed in a transfer request at Everton. With three hours to go, it looked like United had finally got two midfielders.
Then the news broke that the Herrera deal had fallen through, amid claims of impostors posing as United officials and an unwillingness from United to pay the amount wanted. No deal.
Finally some (sort of) good news for United came when the Fellaini deal went through. It then emerged that a deal was also in place to bring in Fabio Coentrao on loan from Real Madrid. The problem? Nobody submitted the paperwork on time. No deal.
Rumours of failed bids for Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira and Luka Modric flooded in. It sounds like United went round Madrid asking who can we have, and the answer was only Coentrao. Even that failed.
So at the end of the window United were left with young Uruguayan right back Guillermo Varela and Marouane Fellaini to show for their embarrassing efforts.
To add insult to injury, it was common knowledge that Fellaini had a buy out clause in his contract of just £23 million if United had acted in July. Instead they shelled out £27.5 million with just minutes to spare on deadline day. Given the initial £28 million joint bid, that must value Baines at £500,000. Does that suggest Fellaini wasn’t really wanted by United? Or just total incompetence. I would suggest the latter.
So who is responsible for all this madness? Edward Woodward. The clubs new chief executive, taking over from the ultra impressive David Gill. Quite obviously, Woodward has absolutely no idea how to conduct transfer dealings. Whereas with Ferguson and Gill the deals would be discreet, quick and seamless, with Moyes and Woodward they have been embarrassingly public, painfully long and ultimately unsuccessful.
Fellaini has his merits and may well do a job for Manchester United but he is not the player they wanted or needed. United are crying out for a playmaker, a creative midfielder with vision and imagination. Fellaini wouldn’t know creativity if it shaved off his afro.
Yet United claimed no interest in Mesut Ozil, probably the finest midfield playmaker in the world, forced out of Real Madrid in their effort to recoup some of the money they lavished on Gareth Bale.
Ozil was allowed to go to Arsenal, at best the fourth best team in England and probably not one of the top ten teams in Europe. That is a sad reflection of the way Moyes and Woodward conducted their business this summer.
They had no clear strategy and their scattergun approach failed miserably. It is believed they will go back again for creative midfielders such as Herrera in January. By then it could be far too late. You can’t win a league title by January but you can certainly be out of the running. There will be many United fans fearful of their chances of retaining the Premier League crown.
Admittedly this was a team who won the league by a long way last season, but it was not a great United side. The main factor in that win, Sir Alex Ferguson, has hung up his hairdryer and in his wake, David Moyes is blazing a trail of inexperience and costly misjudgements.
Dealing in the transfer market is just as important as management on the pitch and United have failed miserably in their task. Given the lacklustre performances in the league so far, Manchester United could be in for a very long season.
Manchester City and Chelsea look far stronger on paper, while Tottenham and Liverpool have strengthened significantly in this window. Throw Arsenal in as well and there will be a few United fans looking over their shoulder rather than up towards the top.
The pressure is on for David Moyes. He and Woodward have let United down in the transfer market, now he must deliver on the pitch.
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