Man United's disastrous 2013 summer transfer window shows Ed Woodward hasn't learned his lesson


Gary Neville expressed his frustration with Manchester United’s transfer activity on Twitter on Wednesday morning.

“It’s appalling that in this market which is probably the easiest in PL history to get transfers done that United haven’t done more yet,” Neville wrote.

“They must get Ole a CB, LB and forward pre-deadline! The others are managing to get things over the line why not United!”

So far, Donny van de Beek is the only player to walk through the doors at Old Trafford.

The Red Devils paid an initial £35.1 million for Van de Beek. Eight clubs have spent more money than they have this summer, according to Transfermarkt, including Leeds United, Aston Villa, Wolves and Everton.

The inability to get a deal for Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho over the line has been a particular irritant for the club’s supporters.


It’s been a messy window from start to finish and with the October 5 deadline approaching, time is running out for the club.

But perhaps we should have seen this coming, for United have never been prolific in the transfer window under current executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.

Since his promotion to the role in 2013, Man United have struggled to bring in consistently excellent performers and have fallen behind their rivals as a result.


United's disastrous 2013 window

The current window has been bad. It might even be worse than Woodward’s first window, which was disastrous.

Seven years ago, Woodward teamed up with David Moyes to begin Man United’s post-Ferguson era.

But what happened in the summer of 2013 was chaotic.

The Athletic have reminisced about United’s failings in the transfer window and it’s actually stunning that one of the biggest clubs in the world could get so many things wrong.

Firstly, there were the failed moves for Gareth Bale and Cesc Fabregas.

Moyes was desperate to sign the pair and in 2016 admitted that he was very confident about getting them both.

"[Bale] was, though, in my mind, the player I really wanted," Moyes said, per The Guardian.

“The other one I came really close to getting was Cesc Fabregas, who we thought we would get [from Barcelona] right up until the last minute."


United bungled Fellaini deal

They did, however, manage to bring in Marouane Fellaini from Moyes’s previous club, Everton. Yet Moyes presumably forgot about a clause in Fellaini’s Everton contract that allowed the Belgian to leave for £23 million if the offer came before the end of July.

The Red Devils failed to exercise that clause and ended up paying £27.5m for Fellaini in September.

However, The Athletic’s sources claim that Moyes was more eager to sign Leighton Baines than Fellaini.


United's 'unacceptable' Baines bid

During the window, United set a valuation for Baines that Everton considered ‘unacceptable’.

United even encouraged Baines that a deal would be completed but they didn’t up their offer for the left-back.

It’s not how a top class organisation is supposed to run.

Herrera farce

But nothing was more bizarre than the transfer farce involving Ander Herrera.

United were interested in signing the midfielder from Athletic Bilbao when three men turned up at La Liga's headquarters in Spain, claiming to complete the deal on United's behalf.

The three men knew of Herrera's €36 million buyout clause and sensed an opportunity to profit from the transfer. But United pulled out of the deal due to the complications.


The 2013 window was later described as ‘disastrous’ in a scathing assessment of Man United’s business by the Telegraph.

Meanwhile, the club’s supporters called for Woodward’s sacking following the summer in which Guillermo Varela and Saidy Janko were United’s other arrivals.


At the start of the year, Man United writer Scott Patterson penned a detailed Twitter thread about the miserable 2013 window.

Click HERE to read it. It's great.

In a forum on, fans reacted disapprovingly to Fellaini’s arrival and called for Woodward to be axed.

“There is simply no way anybody can defend Woodward, and he needs to be sacked right away before he can make our club look like any more of a joke,” one post read, per the Daily Star.

Seven years on and Woodward hasn’t learned a thing, has he?

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