Manchester United would list the recent signing of Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes as evidence that they can do a decent job in the last days of a transfer window. However, in the January transfer window, Odion Ighalo was signed at the eleventh hour, and this summer is looking like the same way. History is being recycled.
United should have learned lessons in transfer windows late from errors in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era. Fans would be mindful of the nonsense they might decide. It could never even have done so, but the connection of United to Jadon Sancho and his later reluctance to sign left them in this mess.
How much does the late flow of the window cost to avoid? Borussia Dortmund would have done the trick by £108 million. The team is here, though, instead.
Let’s get to the nadir of United’s day of desperation purchasing quickly as Louis van Gaal took over an all-powerful reworking of the company in the 2014 retail sweep and invested a stack of £169 million on seven new recruiters. The loan to Monaco was just £6million expended on Radamel Falcao, so like United, it did well to prevent Alexis Sanchez from transferring a transfer number. In both cases, players long below their peaks hit Old Trafford on big salaries and did nothing to support the hardship.
Many of the United fans protested in Falcao that his arrival prompted the departure from time of Danny Welbeck for Arsenal and Real Madrid loan for Javier Hernandez. At the same time, the Colombian striker was initially an excited player. But it became clear as the season went that United committed a grave error. It would have been much safer for the club to hold on to Welbeck and Hernández than signing Falcao. It can be argued that his resume was better than both strikers. Still, the same guy who, in the 2012 European Super Cup, tore Chelsea’s defense asunder for Atletico Madrid couldn’t replicate that form mostly because of injuries.
And, to get back to recent problems, though Ighalo was never expected to be the star of Old Trafford — signed explicitly as a backup — he always thought like he was emblematic of a transition technique like United should have left behind too long.
Six years have elapsed, and nothing has changed. There’s no football director, and no boss is seeing the players he wanted. Ed Woodward is also profoundly interested in transfers.
Since Van Gaal was probably not the one to get out Falcao or, that time, Angel Di Maria, neither fit into his favored formation nor his playing style, which is a 3-5-2 possession football. It was ironic that the player Van Gaal was very keen and knew Falcao could work into his system, alongside Daley Blind.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will also be forgiven for making the appearance of the transfer window a little irritated. He never said it, but after the recent 3-0 Carabao Cup win in Brighton, it was clear that the Norwegian had forgotten his speech to him. He is worrying in the dark what the glass holds for the last few days.
You could be told that his speech would have been different in the last press congress if Sancho and a left-hand man had appeared at Donny van de Beek. He still plays the diplomat, though he challenges his political cause.
Solskjaer is concerned for every excuse. Having chaired United’s transition firm with a cool authority as his method (Ighalo aside) is counter to a panic transaction as it was by Van Gaal. Other managers will roll, but the Norwegian is cautious about the kind of players he needs. As he said after the acquisition of Fernandes, he values personality as much as ability.
This is not to suggest that the names of Edinson Cavani, Luka Jovic, Ousmane Dembele, Douglas Costa are related to a Unified move. However, none seem to be the right profile, with a broad risk portion. They may be fine, but it looks like United fears being red-faced once again on the transfer market.
Looking at how business is being done at the red side of Manchester, their post-Ferguson woes may not end anytime soon. All other things equal, players will continue to disappoint, and performances will continue to be inconsistent.