Manchester United have become accustomed to life on planet earth following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson.
No longer can the club and its fans idyllically swim round a stratosphere that belongs only to them and the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona, comfortable in the knowledge that when it comes to the transfer window they will have their run of things every time.
If nothing else the first transfer window post-Ferguson was a crash of meteoric proportions. David Moyes wanted to sign Gareth Bale, he wanted to sign Francesc Fabregas, he wanted to sign Luka Modric. He signed just Marouane Fellaini.
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He paid the ultimate price. Since then Louis van Gaal has been the IV line needed to stabilise a United side that had looked threateningly devoid of life.
United in the hunt
The Dutchman has taken his experience and reputation, mixed it in a pot with United’s incredible financial backing and sprinkled some extra flavour in the form of Ed Woodward. The result has been a broth boasting the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Memphis Depay and Morgan Schneiderlin.
And yet the 64-year-old knows that there are one or two ingredients missing before United can be marketed as a world-class dish.
That’s the reason he tried - he did indeed try, despite what he would claim - to bring in Pedro Rodriguez, with Ed Woodward himself having flown to Catalonia to smooth over negotiations.
Whether or not United ultimately decided they didn’t want Pedro, or the player himself embraced a move to Stamford Bridge in preference to Old Trafford is a question that remains unanswered, but one thing's for sure: United missed a trick.
Pedro a fine talent
The World Cup winner is but one level below the absolute plateau for a professional player. Hair-raising without being a world-beater, efficient without being unstoppable and ultimately able to walk with giants without actually being one himself.
Of course there is a platform above him, one that harbours such future Hall of Famers as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Thomas Muller, but for all intents and purposes - and just £21m - he’s an incredibly astute buy.
Nevertheless United haven’t seemed forlorn in the slightest over their failure to sign Pedro. In fact a recent report from the Daily Mail’s Ian Ladyman claimed that Ed Woodward had told close associates he and his club weren’t concerned as they were targeting 'bigger' players.
There remains just one flaw with such a statement. That being - to put it bluntly - there are no bigger players. None that will be available to United this summer at any rate.
The players don't exist
If you’re a United fan you’ll be well rehearsed when it comes to a script mentioning the likes of Bale, Muller and Neymar in the same breathe as Old Trafford.
Not just names than embody consummate professionalism at the highest level and reek of quality, as is the case with Pedro, these are the biggest of the boys on the playground.
The fact remains though that as confident Woodward is concerning his ability to charm rivals with both a soft tongue and a bulging wallet, none of the above are going to be turning out for United this year.
They’re simply both too important to their current clubs and already at a level that renders a switch to Old Trafford essentially redundant.
Simply no chance
Bale is at Real Madrid; one of, if not the, most revered clubs on the planet. Neymar is in line to inherit Lionel Messi’s throne at Barcelona. Muller is playing in a side who can win ten domestic titles in a row and not cause that much of a stir.
United meanwhile have to navigate a second qualifying leg against Club Brugge before they’re even in the Champions League. It’s fair to argue that’s a routine fixture if there was ever such a thing in Europe, but all the same they remain a good bit away from possessing the allure they did under Sir Alex.
Even the legendary Scot would have struggled to take such players as the ones mentioned to Old Trafford whilst they’re in their pomp at their respective super-clubs.
That’s not to even touch upon the fact that Real, Barca and Bayern would rather keep Bale, Neymar and Muller than receive a king’s ransom as compensation.
A mistake made?
Woodward is ambitious, there isn’t a fan alive who can accuse him of not being that. It seems though that expecting a deal of mammoth proportions to come through between now and September 1 carries only a fool’s hope.
In this instance Woodward might have overplayed his own abilities, and United’s pulling power. Perhaps Pedro wouldn't have been a bad option after all.
United fans, do you think Woodward might have made a mistake? Is there any chance you can land a world-class name before the end of the transfer window? Let us know in the comments box below.