I’ll be honest; any notion of being angry at him is lost on me. I get lost in the panic of the moment when having to choose between having a Chinese or a curry when the better half opens the JustEat app (other take away apps are available), so deciding on what to do with the prime years of your professional life when you’ve so many strings pulling you in so many directions is something I can’t begin to imagine.
He’s the pull of a club that has a global appeal much like United’s, but given how uncompetitive La Liga is he’s far more likely to hang up his gloves with significantly more honours having played at Real than if he stays with United where we have to compete against the likes of Chelsea, City & Arsenal to hope to win anything significant on the domestic front. Add to this the fact that such a move allows him to return to his homeland, where his friends, family and unbelievably annoying girlfriend are, and I cannot begrudge him that move.
What I’m having trouble accepting is that when it was obvious to all involved that he wanted to return home, that we spent the summer doing nothing definitive about it, we didn’t sell him there and then and move on to bring a new keeper in who could spend the summer getting to know his team mates, nor did we say to him, go next summer, sign a 4 year deal that allows us to get what you’re worth and we’ll sell you for X amount in July 2016 before you join up with Spain for the Euro’s.
I love the lad. He joined United looking like a 15 year old in a pub team; as a result he was bossed and bullied to the point where there were genuine questions over his ability to do the job. But he went away, he worked hard at the areas he was weak in, he learned how to kick a moving ball, he learnt that catching a cross is something that should not be frowned upon, and he bulked up to become an imposing frame who could intimidate opponents baring down on him in 1 on 1 battles.
In short he’s delivered at a level over the last 2 or 3 years that have stopped people asking if he was good enough to be compared to his peers like Neuer & Courtois, he played at a level that put him on the very top shelf alongside them.
That brings us on to the the problem we have today. Once you’re on that shelf, as Real have shown with Ronaldo (both), Zidane, Beckham, Benzema, Kaka, Kroos, Rodriquez & Bale, to name just a few, when they want someone, they’ll get them, that’s something I’ve come to accept.
This summer’s business has for the most part been cracking. We’ve added midfield options that provide us with greater protection for the back four than we’ve had in the last 10 years. We’ve signed a right back who believes that defending is an art form not a dirty word, and we’ve brought Memphis who’s the potential to be one of the biggest talents in the European game in the coming years, throw in the deadwood we’ve shifted out and we should be going into the coming season with a great deal of optimism. But instead of that we’re starting it off with a dark cloud hanging over us as a result of failing to address a situation that’s been staring us in the face since last summer.
I’ve no doubt that there’s more business to come this window, and that some of it will once again lead us to salute the way that Ed’s gone about bringing players in. But the prices gained from the players we’ve sold, and the handling of Dave’s exit leave a worrying amount of questions out there about the clubs approach to dealing with player exits, because there are good and bad ways to go about it, and I’ve seen little evidence this summer to suggest we’ve mastered the good way’s in any way shape or form.
So when Dave’s being presented at Real, there’ll be no anger from me at him choosing to go there at 8 minutes to the window closing (whenever that is), there’ll just be huge frustration that the club left it so late to conclude a deal that needed doing in June, and that they’ve once again created an opportunity to get off to a start to the season that makes a genuine title challenge far more complicated than it needed to be if they’d done the job right, because the longer this goes on, the more it reads like Alan Partridge is the one running this shambles of a deal through!