The reasons for David Moyes’ dismissal after less than a year as Manchester United boss are too vast to mention, yet it stands to reason that at the heart of every one of his shortcomings was his failure to land a marquee signing during his first transfer window in charge of the club.
Though the Scot would eventually go on to clinch both Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata, he suffered wholesome embarrassment in his pursuits of a number of top targets, and the manner in which he and United were so frequently, and sometimes publicly, rebuffed did little to solidify his position. Of all the rejections he faced however, the one that came from Francesc Fabregas was perhaps the most wounding.
At numerous points last summer it was registered that the Spaniard would be leaving the Nou Camp, and United were so sure that they could make him the first landmark purchase of the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era that they left little behind closed doors in their attempts to sign him. Ultimately they were flatly rejected, Moyes ended up scratching his head as to who to turn to as an alternative and the United midfield which plodded around last term was one of the most uninspiring Red Devils fans will have ever watched.
Fast forward to this summer and Moyes is no longer in the Old Trafford hot-seat, but the speculation of an imminent departure from the Nou Camp for Fabregas couldn’t be more prevalent. The 27-year-old reportedly finds himself firmly on the for-sale list at his current club, and once again United have engaged in a firefight with their closest Premier League rivals in the race for his signature.
Certain sources would have you believe that Louis van Gaal has gone as far as having offered £34million for Fabregas but, just as with Moyes’ experience last year, it seems to have been to no avail. The mainstream media today would have you believe that Fabregas has agreed a deal which will see him take part in Jose Mourinho’s reshuffle at Stamford Bridge, and the general consensus is that negotiations are close to being finalised.
Van Gaal may well be a far more natural successor to Sir Alex than Moyes ever was, but even he deserves to be questioned if Fabregas does indeed put pen to paper in west London. His immediate predecessor was chastised for much of his ill-fated reign for not being able to convince the former Arsenal skipper to move to United, and it would appear that the Dutchman was given a far clearer path to sign him than Moyes was.
The primary concern for United fans, and reason that justifies venting annoyance towards Van Gaal, is the fact that the once-long list of potential top quality central midfield recruits is already running precariously low. Of the main names initially in contention to provide competition for the likes of Michael Carrick and the aforementioned Fellaini at Old Trafford, Toni Kroos, William Carvalho, Enzo Perez and Koke have made it abundantly clear that they are not looking to move from their current clubs this summer, Paul Pogba shows no signs of leaving Juventus, and Kevin Strootman’s injury complaints mean that a deal for him is far more feasible in January than it is now.
That leaves a very narrow field of selection from which Van Gaal can now pick if he wants to guarantee the arrival of an experienced central midfielder who is realistic going to positively impact upon his side’s fortunes. As was made perfectly clear last campaign; a lack of investment if simply not an option.
Then of course there’s the prospect of Fabregas strengthening Chelsea’s position ahead of United, which he duly will do should he complete the proposed move. Whilst the Barcelona trio of Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Andres Iniesta proved too difficult a nut to crack for Arsene Wenger’s protege, he remains a world-class act on his day, and his ability to dictate games and decide important matches is a trait Mourinho will certainly benefit from.
Van Gaal may have tricks up his sleeve yet, but if the United fans were quick to harangue Moyes for his failure to tempt Fabregas away from Barcelona, they should be more than ready to quiz his successor for letting him move to Chelsea.