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What went wrong at Manchester United this summer?

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From Thiago Alcantara, to Cesc Fabregas, to Marouane Fellaini - from 'urgent transfer business' in July to really urgent transfer business in September - from impostors in Spain to impostors in the Manchester United boardroom.

What a summer for Manchester United. And not in a good way.

David Moyes was never likely to preside over a radical overhaul of the United squad in his first summer in charge but he's been left high and dry by the very people that hired him.

It all started with Alcantara. The Spain under-21 captain was the trendy deal off the back of a stellar Championships in Israel. But then he claims United never wanted him. Instead they went for Fabregas and left empty-handed.

That public pursuit was not Manchester United. The rejection was embarrassing. And they then end up with Marouane Fellaini, the very definition of a conservative transfer.

Zero ambition shown in the transfer market this summer from Moyes or the club. Targeting two former players from Goodison Park when you've got some of the most persuasive transfer tools at your disposal - the trophy cabinet, the history, the sheer size of the club - is just lazy.

Lazy and conservative. Seen like this, even the chase for Fabregas makes sense. Alcantara was the ambitious play, Fabregas - a proven Premier League player - was the safe one.

But anyone who's watched the 22-year-old midfielder, both for the Spanish youth sides and Barca, could see the talent and potential.

Would that translate in England? Too much of a risk. Better stick to what we know. Better go for Fabregas, even though he'd be much pricier. And failing that, Fellaini. It's what we know.

And even then that was a shambles. If Fellaini was always Moyes's first choice he should have followed him straight into the United dressing room back in July.

Not on the final day of the transfer window. Not when it looks so obviously like you've settled for second best. And not when he cost another £4m on top of his very public release clause that was inexplicably allowed to expire.

It's debatable whether he's even a good signing for United. He's certainly overpriced. And he'll probably change the way they play - a big-money move for Fellaini one day after Kagawa was completely omitted from the match-day squad doesn't bode well for those who like their football played with the feet.

Potential targets either turned them down (Fabregas, De Rossi), were never really available (Modric, Khedira, Mata) or moved elsewhere (Strootman, Thiago).

Had the club not bothered to plan? Because they looked completely devoid of strategy, especially when compared with Manchester City and Chelsea.

Players identified and signed early at the Etihad and Stamford Bridge. No last minute panic. No embarrassing rejections. And they changed managers too. It's important to say, this isn't just a dig at Moyes, Woodward and the Glazers should take the heat. But they won't.

They lurched from target to target, publicised Woodward's 'urgent return' from Australia, went all-in on Fabregas then came up bust.

Then there's the Fabio Coentrao move. Where does that leave Patrice Evra? And since when did United loan fringe players from other clubs?

The infatuation with Baines never made much sense - the left-back position was not half as pressing a need as centre-midfield.

And that's not even getting to the most ludicrous part of the entire window - the impostors in Spain.

Forget the fact that they probably got closer to Ed Woodward ever could to clinching a deal. For a club like United it's just more embarrassment.

And Moyes, as the public face of the club, will have to answer the questions, have to continue to get the results. The Glazers can retreat to America. No-one sees Ed Woodward anyway.

A farcical finish to a strangely disjointed window. The only positive - Wayne Rooney stays. Get him back to his best and the negativity surrounding this window will dissipate.

That's a big challenge for Moyes though. He's not been helped this summer - one of the club's most important in the modern era - but he's the one who will be judged.

Following Sir Alex Ferguson was going to be difficult enough. It's just got a whole lot harder.

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Topics:
Manchester United
Football
Premier League

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