Because of the Netherlands’ impressive showing at the World Cup finals in Brazil, Manchester United supporters asked few questions of Louis van Gaal when news broke that their new manager had rejected the chance to sign not just one but both world-class midfielders. Surely, they thought at the time, even better signings were being lined up by their exciting and unorthodox new boss.
Why else would Van Gaal have rejected the chance to sign both players? Kroos was available for a bargain £20 million fee and had made it clear that he wanted to leave Bayern Munich, while Barcelona were keen to shift Fabregas for the reasonable price of £27 million.
For the relatively modest cost of £47 million, then, Van Gaal could have solved his central midfield problems in one fell swoop. But, with the exception of £29 million June signing Ander Herrera, United still have the same inadequate midfield options - and paid the price in their opening Premier League match of the new campaign against Swansea City on Saturday.
Kroos and Fabregas would have made a big impact
A Manchester United side containing both Fabregas and Kroos would not have been beaten 2-1 by Swansea at Old Trafford last weekend. Darren Fletcher is, by all accounts, a lovely guy and undoubtedly a tremendous servant to the club, but his performance against the Welsh outfit was abysmal.
Juan Mata, whose lack of concentration led to Sung-Yong Ki’s opening goal, was similarly ineffective, while Herrera was subbed off for Marouane Fellaini with 25 minutes of the match remaining.
It was impossible to tell whether this Manchester United side was managed by Louis van Gaal or David Moyes. It felt no different to last season’s abject Old Trafford performances, when the Red Devils looked largely clueless for much of the game before slumping to another humiliating defeat.
Kroos shines for Real Madrid
But days earlier many of United fans would have seen Real Madrid’s new signing Kroos produce a masterful display in the UEFA Super Cup against Sevilla.
And last night, some of them would have watched the same player boss the show against Real’s city rivals Atletico Madrid in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup.
Watch: Kroos in action for Real Madrid
Fabregas stars for Chelsea
Meanwhile, on Monday night, Fabregas produced a scintillating first-half display against newly-promoted Burnley, playing a key role in all three goals to kill the game off before the start of the second half.
No wonder the ant-Glazer movement has suddenly reappeared.
Van Gaal to blame
But it seems the reason Kroos and Fabregas are now at the Bernabeu and Stamford Bridge respectively and not at Old Trafford is not because of the Glazer family or the club’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward - but because of Van Gaal himself.
He decided against bringing them to Old Trafford. And for that reason, Manchester United fans should have serious concerns about their new manager’s questionable transfer policy.
Marcos Rojo will make little difference in the title race, but it could have been oh so different for the Red Devils this season.