Manchester United fans all over the world wait with a mixture of excitement and trepidation to see how the remaining twelve days of the transfer window unfold.
It seems an age now since Ed Woodward, in mid July, gave his first set piece interview to the club's in-house TV station. He was pleased to tell United fans that they were interested in the very best players, and went even further, promising that they were willing to break the world transfer record for the right player.
He then finished by saying, with a twinkle in his eye, that we should " watch this space." One would presume that this tantalising remark was not referring to the arrival of the promising, but somewhat underwhelming, Marcos Rojo, but the world class stars the fans crave. Then, just like last year, he disappeared without trace on "urgent business."
News coming out of United, about which players they are interested in, has been in short supply, in stark contrast to last year. Indeed, the usually well informed Manchester based journalists from the national press seem to have heard very little from their usual sources. Most stories seems to have been lifted from reports coming out of Italy, Spain, Germany or South America.
A string of names have been linked to the club in recent weeks, some of them, such as Arturo Vidal, Angel Di Maria and Juan Cuadrado have been persistently mentioned. In Manchester, though, off the record briefings seem to suggest the club have no interest in any of them. So, what are we to conclude from these conflicting signals?
After last year's transfer debacle, it seems unlikely that Ed Woodward would have seemed so confident if there was no substance to the pursuit of 'A list' players.
Van Gaal, although commenting little on transfers, has asserted with some confidence, that signing the right players is not a problem and that " we can sign a player in 24 hours."
Closer examination of these two separate remarks might suggest that United have been negotiating some big deals for some time and both men are confident they could be concluded very quickly. It may well be, for example, that the selling clubs are asking an astronomical fee for a player and United are playing a somewhat risky game of brinkmanship, in the knowledge their clubs want to sell.
Interestingly, Van Gaal has refused to comment, when asked by journalists, on targets such as Vidal and Cuadrado, claiming that any comment would only "raise their asking price."
So, it looks like these deals are still possible before September 2, but what if they do not materialise? It is hard to believe there is no Plan B in place to see United through until January and the next transfer window.
The evidence from the first match of the season against Swansea City confirmed the need for at least a top class central defender, a midfielder with the ability to defend and specialist right wing back. Two players, previously mentioned, Vidal and Cuadrado would fit the bill for two of these positions and, add to that Matts Hummels, the German centre back and you would see a huge difference. Interestingly, United are still odds on with Skybet to sign both Vidal and Cuadrado.
If unsuccessful, what would Plan B look and which players would be likely to arrive late in the window? The answer will probably involve three of Van Gaal's World Cup squad, namely Daley Blind, Ron Vlaar and Nigel de Jong. The advantage here being that Van Gaal will know exactly what he is getting with these three highly reliable players.
A further advantage would be that the cumulative fee for these three players would be around £30m, leaving enough money to buy Van Gaal's favourite Dutchman, Kevin Strootman, in January.
United fans will be hoping for the full implementation of Plan A, but may have to settle either for a little bit of both or Plan B. If it is the latter, then it might be advisable for Mr Woodward to disappear on "urgent business" until whatever the plan is starts to work.
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