4 Stupidest Things Man United Did This Transfer Window

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.

United’s financial booty: Nothing but G-strings under those coats

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.

‘My role at the club? I’m the chief player buying man…’

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.

‘We’re interested in your pla…’ ‘No.’

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!

 

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The 6 Best Debuts Of The Opening Weekend

The opening round of fixtures was the bountiful fruit that starving football fans had been craving, and didn’t disappoint.

Robin van Persie was deadlier than a rattlesnake tie, the big teams were dominant, the small teams suffered, and Arsenal did a massive Arsenal.

But while we, the fans, were slipping on the familiar loafers of the Premier League, many of our entertainers were either doing it for the first time or doing it in a new colour. Let’s see who did best:

Kolo Toure – Liverpool

When Liverpool signed Toure on a free from Man City, there were little sniggers through the Prem world. Toure was old. Toure was banned for using a woman’s slimming medication. Toure couldn’t get a game for Man City. You know what this meant? It meant Toure was hungry (especially after those pills!)

‘I wonder if McDonalds’ advertising hoardings taste like a Big Mac..?’

Showing experience, eagerness, and raw power, the big Ivorian had a great game for Liverpool. He was in control at the back, willing to come forward like the Toure of old, and scary in the box. He was only the woodwork away from getting a debut goal.

In Toure, the man who has kept a clean sheet in around a third of all Prem games he’s been in (102/308) Liverpool have a great signing.

Simon Mignolet – Liverpool

Kolo Toure’s statistic would be one worse without the Belgian keeper’s heroics. He had a pretty flappy game for Liverpool; clearances into rushing attackers and weak claims on aerial balls would normally rule any player out of a list like this, and were probably less a sign of his ability and more a sign of the occasion.

But after Agger gave away a penalty after 87 minutes of dominance by Liverpool, the Kop must have feared a repeat that haunted them so many times last year was going to take place. But Mignolet was having none of it.

He saved well from Walters (who must be out of a job now), and then even better with his hip from Jones. The fans were ecstatic, and the players all mobbed him. Liverpool’s new number 1 had arrived.

Paulinho – Tottenham Hotspurs

I knew nothing of the Brazilian until I saw him playing in midfield during the Confederations Cup, and even then, wasn’t sure when Spurs began their pursuit of his ever rising price tag. His performance against Crystal Palace was controlled and measured though, and he looked instantly at ease.

To be fair, when have Brazilians not looked at ease?

Not necessarily your stereotypical flair Brazilian, more like Carrick with more energy, Paulinho played 58 passes with over 90% finding their mark. Passing hasn’t been Spur’s forte but with a midfielder who can get out of situations and keep a cool head, that could change.

Jesus Navas – Manchester City

Maybe this is a biased position in the list because I love this little winger. And I do mean winger.

I don’t mean slightly wide but endlessly coming inside (Robben), or faffing around on the ball (Lennon), or trying tricks when there is no need (Zaha). Nor do I mean blindly crossing from anywhere (Stoke), or driving crosses into defenders (Milner). No, Navas is – in Pellegrini’s words – “a winger winger”.

Lightening quick, careful with possession, but above all – a fantastic crosser. I say this position on the list may be tenuous because he didn’t get an assist, but his energy, creative wing play, and the ability to always keep himself open mean he is going to be torturous for defenders this season.

Kevin De Bruyne – Chelsea

The Belgian 22 year old looked good 2-3 years ago so it was no surprise when Chelsea bought him. It was a surprise when Chelsea loaned him out to Werder Bremen where many fans forgot about him. And after amassing what could well be the Prem’s best midfield last season, I thought De Bruyne’s days were numbered but I was proved wrong when an injury to Mata meant he started against Hull.

And what a start. He’s the kind of player teams outside the top six (and maybe within it) dream about. Skillful, confident, with technique and vision that betray his age, he could’ve had much more than the one assist he picked up. Chelsea’s great midfield just got greater.

Antonio Luna – Aston Villa

A lot of things were remarkable about Villa’s win over Arsenal (mainly Arsenal’s defending) but there’s one moment I enjoyed more than any other.

At 22 years of age, in a new league, against a superior team, and trained as a left back – going through on goal on the halfway line is not something you’d expect, nor be prepared for.

So you run it and wait for the option right? Well what if the option doesn’t arrive? Well you forget everything about yourself and you slot it away like a 35 year old Brazilian striker in a charity game, obviously.

He gives him the eyes! He also had around a 94% pass completion rate. Definitely the best debut and more than Villa could have asked of him.

Some Players That Just Missed Out

Fernandinho (game was too easy to give him too much credit), Roberto Saldado (played as well as expected but nothing more), Ricky van Wolfswinkel (scored but only had 12 touches of the ball in 90mins), Andre Schurrle (didn’t play long enough but looked dangerous), Iago Aspas (linked well with the Red’s attack but didn’t quite do enough).

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9 Predictions For The 2013/14 Season

You know what the Telegraph did? They produced their 20 page ‘Total Football’ supplement, featuring predictions for the season, and forgot to ask me! They even asked Dwight Yorke!

Because the guy just commands respect…

Well don’t worry Telegraph editors, I know you didn’t mean it and to help you out here’s my predictions…

…now all I gotta do is stick them in every edition…

Premier League Champions Will Be – Chelsea

Man United will wobble; no strengthening of the squad currently, and despite the players being a good unit, it was Fergie that really made a decent team a championship winning team. Man City are an unknown quantity; Pellegrini is new to the EPL and so are many of their new players. Chelsea don’t have these issues though. Their team is strong and balanced (bar the striker position) and their manager has stepped back in with the snugness of a well-worn glove. If they get Rooney it’s a definite.

And The Other Three Will Be – Man City, Man United, and Arsenal

City are still far too strong to finish anywhere but second and despite being wobblier than a pensioner on a skateboard, it’s inconceivable to me that United won’t finish in the top four. I mean, can you actually picture Manchester United finishing 6th? It’s madness. Arsenal to round out the pack after everyone slates Wenger for not spending tens of millions, the team not getting off to a good start, and him wearing an even bigger coat.

The Human Wengerpede

The Three Relegated Teams Will Be – Crystal Palace, Cardiff City, The Hull City Tigers™

I have my doubts about Sunderland. And Newcastle were appalling last season, as were Aston Villa. But looking at the teams of the newly promoted sides I can see nothing by relegation. Hull might battle with 17th but the other two will seriously struggle.

The Player Of The Year Will Be – Juan Mata

This is still running along the theory of Chelsea winning the league. Mata is an incredible player who has a hand in most good things that the Blues do, and his vision, passing, finishing, and ethic made him a serious contender for the award last season. Usually it goes to a scorer though so RVP will probably press him.

The Young Player Of The Year Will Be – Christian Benteke

Absolutely robbed last season, the Belgian 22 year old had a stunning season for Villa banging in 23 goals in 39 apps in two competitions. Villa were shocking last season and he pretty much singlehandedly saved them from relegation. If he can do the same thing again, it’s his.

The First Sacking Will Be – Martin Jol

Now this may seem odd considering that yesterday, I wrote about how well Fulham have done in the window so far, and everything in my mind is screaming Monsieur Alain Pardeux will be the first to go. But how many times have you seen a change of manager accompany a change of owner? As discussed yesterday, the new owner hasn’t really spent much money through Jol, maybe that’s because he’s waiting for his ideal coach to take over…

Souness. Because Khan loves moustaches so much

The Top Scorer Will Be – Edin Dzeko

Nearly impossible to pick between the ‘big boys’ of RVP, Aguero, Suarez, and this fellow. RVP has the law of doubt against him, as in, I doubt he can do it for another season in a row, Suarez will miss the first six games and will then take a while to get back in the swing. And Aguero just misses out to Dzeko for me.

He’s not everyone’s cup of tea and he didn’t look stunning last season, but he’s been on fire in pre-season and Pellegrini seems to favour him up front. No Chelsea player in with a shout due to them sharing the goals out because: Torres.

The Champions League Winners Will Be – Bayern Munich

No one has ever defended their CL title since the competition was created, but wouldn’t it just be like Guardiola to break that record? Although he failed to do so at Barca, Munich’s team looks as strong and deep, as it does unbeatable. How do you improve on perfection? You get Guardiola in.

The Europa League Winners Will Be – Fiorentina

I’ve avoided the route of picking a drop-out from the CL as the winners because that’s cheating and they should never have made the rule. I wanted to say Tottenham because on paper – it’s theirs. But Spurs have a knack of never looking at that paper. Fiorentina had a good season last year and the signing of Mario Gomez swung it for me.

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