So the summer transfer window has finally slammed shut (it can never just close nicely). Like any frequent lover, it was long-lasting, energetic, and finished strongly. ‘Arry even gave an interview out of his car window after grabbing some players he’s previously managed at the last-minute. It was perfect.
Perfect for all but Manchester United (be quiet Newcastle), who endured a dreadful time throughout the whole window. It seems replacing your manager and chief executive at the same time isn’t the wisest of schemes as United did just about everything you can do wrong in a transfer window.
Now I’m not saying their season is over, they’re still big dogs. It’s just that the other big dogs have new collars and… manicured paws or whatever else dogs buy. One thing’s for sure though, they’ve made some mistakes this summer that has given their image a tarnish that may last a while.
Let’s look at how they done goofed…
4 – Not Starting Strongly
The opening of your club’s window is important. It is essentially laying down a marker for your season; huge initial signing = big ambition, shrewd youngster = club overhaul coming, French league player = Joe Kinnear doesn’t know what he’s doing (I told you to be quiet Newcastle).
This is especially true when there is new management in place, as it’s a good chance for the new coach to display his intentions and nous, and why it’s important that all your early targets don’t reject you.
Failing to purchase someone is damning for a club in the way they are perceived. Other clubs and players will secretly talk about you and possibly chortle. It gives you an air of incompetence and also makes your club less appealing which upsets fans and turns off other players.
United made this cardinal error when they tried to pursue Thiago Alcantara. A quality player coming off the back of a fantastic U-21 Euros where he captained Spain to the trophy, Barcelona made it known it was possible for him to leave and clubs got interested.
Normally it would be a wise move to go for a player like this, but not when the manager who coached him as a youngster, and gave him his first senior games, a manager who is at one of the few clubs that are stronger than yours – is also in the chase.
That manager was Pep Guardiola and while United tried to shake their financial booty in Thiago’s direction, Pep merely stated his admiration for Thiago in the press and the deal was practically done.
Unlucky and badly judged but not a total disaster, all United had to do was quickly and successfully sign a different big player and all would be forgotten. This time they just needed to pick someone who would be willing to move. That person was not Cesc Fabregas.
Cesc was a born Catalan and a product of Barca’s academy. The only reason he ever went to Arsenal where he honed his talent, was because the Spaniards couldn’t lawfully offer him a professional contract young enough. In his blood was Barcelona, and it was clear that one day he would return.
Obviously, that eventually happened and that’s it. That’s probably the end of his story as far as transfers go – he will remain at Barca passing until his feet go numb.
That made it all the more painful when Man U kept pursuing him with multiple bids. It eventually got to the ultimate fail-stage of Fabregas himself saying in a press conference that he didn’t want to go to Old Trafford. Burn indeed.
3 – Failing To Understand Contract Clauses
Let’s initially glance over the knowledge that United were chasing creative attacking midfielders, then suddenly decided they needed Fellaini and a left-back and just look at the facts.
Moyes was Fellaini’s manager at Everton.
Moyes had access to Fellaini’s contract.
Fellaini’s contract had a buy-out cause of £23.5m.
This clause had a time limit on it.
The time limit ran out.
Moyes then bought Fellaini for £27.5m.
Can no one else see how incredibly retarded that is? Either David Moyes’ brain is powered by a particularly overweight hamster on a treadmill, or United really couldn’t decide if they wanted him or not. And I don’t even know which one of those is worse.
Secondly was the curious case of Ander Herrera, a player who was keen to join United but who’s club – Athletic Bilbao – turned down a £25m bid. United then seemingly announced that they would then be willing to activate his buy-out clause of £30.5m. Well, surely that’s job done then. Everyone signs the papers and they are handed into the leagues.
Not when a random group of con artists are your representatives.
Some guys in United looking suits turned up to discuss terms in what seems to have been one of the biggest footballing hoax’s since Ali Dia and everything fell apart.
Now, that’s a bad thing to happen. Moyes must have cursed his luck that this public misfortune had struck his club. Then he pulled out a bottle of chloroform and took a big hit – because he completely left the deal there and forgot all about getting a creative midfielder.
2 – Panicking
The mad, unorganised flapping of deadline day is what makes it great for the impartial viewer. It’s great to see real-life, giant clubs chucking out bids like nervous glances at a swinger’s party. It’s like watching Football Manager come alive, throw as many deals out as possible and see what sticks.
According to a variety of relatively trusted news sources, United put in late bids for Mesut Oezil, Gareth Bale, and Sami Khedira. Obviously the initial sting of the first cardinal error (don’t fail to sign big players) had completely faded after the Barcelona midfielders debacle and Moyes was keen to feel it’s sweet, sweet pain again.
Oezil was already going to Arsenal when Man U tried to get in there, and Bale to Madrid was always taking place since the two met eyes one steamy night. The Khedira bid happened in a flash and was rejected even quicker. You don’t buy players from Madrid unless they’re selling them – that’s common knowledge.
Now failing to buy players you are bidding for is bad. But with enough swagger you can carry it off – you can’t blame a guy for trying after all. But attempting to slot your contract paper over another club’s on deals you never stood a chance in is silly billy stuff.
Everyone then knows you are panicking and suddenly, you look very weak. How would Man City, who did £90m worth of business without a hitch earlier in the window now view Woodward and Moyes’ United? They look like 12 year olds on Fifa – just trying to buy all the big, hyped, super expensive players at the last second. It was horribly misguided and made Moyes look naive and unprepared.
1 – Not Paying Attention To The Time
All the things above are forgivable. They are pretty stupid but forgivable. This is the first time Moyes has ever had multiple coins to rub together and obviously it was challenging for him and new exec Woodward.
But the final error they made is complete and utter idiocy.
Real Madrid left-back Fabio Coentrao made no secret of the fact that he wanted away from the Spanish capital this summer, and neither did Madrid – even proposing to include him in the Bale deal at one point. That didn’t happen and he was sitting there in the shop window all of deadline day.
Simultaneously, it was pretty clear (despite another panicked £15m bid) that Baines would not be leaving Everton, but that Man U still wanted a left-back – well who better than Coentrao! It seems sometimes 1+1 does equal 2.
Unfortunately 11+2 equals two minutes past the deadline hour for submitting transfers (yeah maths joke!).
Yup, in a fit of completely disorganised desperation, Man United successfully secured a loan deal for the Madrid player but didn’t submit the paperwork on time.
What in the name of Ferguson was going on there? You know you want the player right? So why leave it until the last-minute, just to give your rivals as much chance as possible of snatching him away from you? Well that’s very nice of you Moyes but it doesn’t make for a good business strategy.
There was absolutely no reason to leave that deal until the final half hour and now United look unprofessional, didn’t get the player they wanted, and have some answers to give to Patrice Evra.
Then again, maybe Coentrao forgot where to go. After all, he did turn up as a substitute once – despite not being included in the squad.
Seems like a perfect match for each other!