Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Sheer Incompetence and Broken Promises: The story of the Manchester United summer transfer window

The cringe-worthy soap-opera that was the Manchester United summer transfer window of 2013 reached its hard-to-watch conclusion on Monday night. In summary: The deal for Marouane Fellaini was confirmed 55 minutes after the deadline. No sign of a deal for Baines. The Herrera deal has fallen through in ridiculous circumstances as we'll see later on. Also a late swoop for Real Madrid left back Fabio Coentrao seems to have been done too late.

A sight we should have seen before the end of July.

United needed a strong summer. The retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson after almost three decades at the helm would have worried even the most faithful among the Stretford End contingent. Woodward and Moyes needed to send out a strong message to reassure the fans that the club would endure this transition and remain a force to be reckoned with in Europe. The transfer market provides the only real medium to showcase your strength over the summer. Madrid broke the world transfer record again for Gareth Bale. Barcelona signed probably the third best player in the world in Neymar. Man City spent £100m by mid-July signalling their intent to wrestle the Premier League trophy back from Old Trafford. The club that needed to do business the most however, have failed embarrassingly and become the laughing stock of European football.

United wanted me? Awh that's cute.

Thiago Alcantara (above) was the first relatively high profile name linked with a United move this summer. His £17m buy-out clause was (reluctantly) triggered and it all seemed in place. Until Bayern Munich came in. Once Pep showed an interest in the player there was only one place he was going to end up. I said it at the time it was a mark of how unattractive a prospect United now was for players compared to a similar sized club in Bayern. Thiago took two weeks deciding on the United move. His transfer to Bayern was done two days after they first expressed an interest.

Similar thing with Cesc Fabregas. He never had any real intention of coming to United. It amazed me how public the club went with those dealings. Surely it would make sense, from a PR standpoint at least, to at least check that the player is somewhat interested in your club before declaring your interest so publicly. Cesc Fabregas, in the prime of his career and now first choice in the centre of Barcelona's midfield is not going to swap that for anything in 2013. Who in their right mind would?

Cesc sending quite a clear message to Ed Woodward

The boys did not learn their lesson from these setbacks however and the ridiculousness continues. A £28m joint bid for Fellaini and Baines was the next public embarrassment for the club. Let's do the maths on this one. Fellaini had a buy-out clause of £23m which had now expired so he was obviously going to cost more than this. United had earlier bid pf £12m for Baines rejected. Edward Woodward is a qualified accountant. Where on earth did he conjure the figure of £28m from. A five year old could tell you that was not enough. Everton were right to label that bid as insulting. A waste of the good paper it was written on.

A note on that Fellaini release clause. United could have had him on July 31st for £23m and Everton would not have been able to object. Instead someone decided he'd be cheaper after and interest was ramped up after this deadline expired. He joined for £27.5m in the end. Logic.

Ander Herrera. I don't even know what to make of this one. First they were bidding just short of the buy-out clause. Then were prepared to meet it. Then not prepared anymore. And then it emerges that the team negotiating the deal were in fact not acting under the club's authority. A United executive claimed the club were working on a deal 'right up until the dealine'. You've had three months. The fans aren't going to buy that. I'm sure more details about this will come out in time but I could never imagine anything like this happening at United in the Ferguson-Gill era.

Add to all these a fairly derisory €12m bid for Roma's Daniele de Rossi, a rumoured 9pm on deadline day €40m bid for Sami Khedira from Madrid which just epitomises the desperation at the club right now, a very hard-line refusal of the world-class Mesut Ozil on deadline day when he was basically offered up and the complete failure to hold on to any dignity during the Wayne Rooney saga, this has been a summer of pure embarrassment for the greatest club in the world.

Is it unfair to blame Edward Woodward for this mess? Not really. Sure he's new at the job but when you're job is the chief executive of the biggest club in the world, you aren't really afforded a bedding in period. Besides that he has so far proved himself utterly incompetent and unworthy of the role. I was never really a fan of David Gill, always thought he was a shameless Glazer-puppet but Woodward (a Glazer man since before they came to United) is making him look like the smoothest operator on the planet. Too late to bring him back?

Woodward: I have no idea what I'm doing

On the pitch I think we have less to worry about. Fellaini, United's first new central midfielder since Owen Hargreaves in 2007, will provide the team with an extra physical presence in the middle of the park. Something that has always been lacking recently. In the short term, the current squad is now better than last seasons title winning squad and United will be OK. Provided of course that the atmosphere at the club does not become poisonous as a result of the fans discontent (see Chelsea 2010 - 2013). It is the long term that I'm worried about. Continuous embarrassment in the transfer market will only serve to further damage the club's reputation and fail to entice the top players to come and ply their trade at Old Trafford. Success on the pitch will suffice for now. Next transfer window however, the club, the fans we all want and deserve better than what we've seen this year.

On the plus side, at least we get to wear Fellaini wigs now...

No comments:

Post a Comment