Desperation has led to compromise at Manchester United and they're paying the price. The transfer of Marcos Rojo is just the latest example.
Louis Van Gaal is not to blame for United's current malaise, and while he did nothing to help matters, neither really is David Moyes. Ed Woodward has done himself few favours and is more culpable than most, but even he is not the root of all incompetence some Manchester United fans would have you believe.
The Glazers are the real enemy here of course, sucking as much as £700m from the club while increasing ticket prices year on year. But even they are not the only reason for United's predicament. Because despite this, United have still made significant funds available for transfers, and this is where the Glazers, however unsavoury, cannot be blamed.
In actual fact Sir Alex Ferguson is an important reason why the United playing staff looks like it currently does. Ferguson was too good, his legacy formidable, but it was his forward planning - or lack thereof - that has handicapped his former club in his absence.
The vast majority of squad construction was conducted under his watch. Players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand, Paul Pogba, Edwin van der Sar, and Gary Neville all left, retired or were sold over the last six years - the vast majority under Ferguson.
Only van der Sar was replaced by a player of equal quality - David De Gea. The rest of the replacements have failed to live up to their predecessors.
Ronaldo, Tevez and co held United to a Champions League-winning standard. Is it any surprise that Fellaini, Kagawa and co couldn't match up? This is the biggest reason why United have regressed.
To make it plain, here are the (big-money) 'replacements' signed over the same six year period: Anderson, Nani, Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling, De Gea, Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Robin Van Persie, Shinj Kagawa, Wilfried Zaha, Juan Mata, Marouane Fellaini, Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera. That's £304m of spending.
Look at the first group again. Now back to the second. The players that have left United are much, much better than the ones that have arrived. It's not rocket science.
That drain of talent occurred, predominately, under Ferguson's watch. Certainly no planning was done to smooth a transition. Yes, Ferguson left Moyes a title-winning squad but he also robbed him of right to inherit the one player capable of living up to the Class of 92 legacy - Pogba left for free.
David Moyes must take the rap for Fellaini, and that brings us onto Van Gaal.
Van Gaal squad
Look at the squad he fielded for his first competitive game. Jesse Lingard and Ashley Young as wing backs, a back three of Tyler Blackett, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones. United fans expecting a positive result from this were surely doing so more on the strength of Van Gaal himself than the team he was putting out. Young played the second half at left-back, let's not forget that.
Which takes us back to Rojo. The Dutchman's signing of the Argentinian looks more likely to fit into the second group of additions than the first.
Marcos Rojo improves the United squad, but how much of an achievement is that when the current crop of defenders are so woefully short of the level United expect?
There is a reason Southampton were the last team to submit an offer for him. As a Saints fan, there's no shame in admitting that United and Southampton should not be competing for the same class of player. The last time that happened? Alexander Buttner.
He is by no means a poor player, but it's another £16m that doesn't progress the United squad. Another Zaha, or Bebe, or Kleberson, or Chris Smalling or Antonio Valencia. Squad players.
Ferguson was blessed with one of the greatest academy classes in English football history, and he supplemented his latter years with world-class additions like Ronaldo, Tevez and latterly Van Persie.
Short of options
United do not have another 'Class of 92' to build around. And this is the major problem. How do you build a Champions League contender under these circumstances? Well, look at Real Madrid, or Chelsea, or Manchester City, or Paris Saint Germain.
Even Barcelona have recognised that their own La Masia golden generation are approaching the end - and they've reacted with club-record deals for Neymar and Luis Suarez. Where is the United equivalent?
Instead, they've adopted a patchwork approach to rebuilding. Unfortunately times have changed and teams no longer have the ability to undergo patient rebuilds. Commercial sponsors don't like consecutive seasons outside the top four.
When Manchester City can construct a squad two-deep in every position and Chelsea can address their only weakness with the £32m acquisition of Diego Costa, and still throw in Cesc Fabregas for good measure, the benchmark is clear.
United need difference-makers in midfield and defence. They need the kind of 'top level' quality Brendan Rodgers has talked about and Jose Mourinho has delivered. They need players like Arturo Vidal, Angel Di Maria, Mehdi Benatia, even Kevin Strootman.
They don't need more Marcos Rojo's. They don't need of the same mid-level talent.
United have the Glazers holding them back, leeching hundreds of millions from the club, but Ferguson backed them and Woodward still insists Manchester United can break the transfer record any time they want.
Time to prove it.
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