I’ve always seen Deadline Day of the transfer window as a day for other people. United fans could instead sit and reflect on the opening games of the season, look forward to a new Champions League campaign and lament the forthcoming suspension of activities that is the irritating international break knowing that the squad that we had was what we had. Invariably, Fergie would have already confirmed there’d be no further signings and, whether we agreed with it him or not, we trusted his judgement and we all knew where we were. If we were involved at all, it was usually because the pursuit of a long sought-after player had been dragged into the eleventh hour by a reluctant seller.
Meanwhile, Stoke would run around like a lot of headless chickens – their default position on and off the pitch – trying to snap up any number of journeymen, Spurs and/or Arsenal would look for a last minute marquee (or at least gazebo) signing to appease uncomfortable supporters and a dozen or more clubs would have their backs firmly planted against the walls in a too often futile attempt to fend off a shafting from the big boys.
This season, it’s all been a bit different. Not in terms of the snapping up or the shafting, which have been as plentiful as ever, but because United joined the feeding frenzy and allowed ourselves to drift into Deadline Day with urgent and unfinished business hanging over our heads as never before.
For others, the frenetic scurrying around that occurred on this day appeared no more than an act of desperation, the result of poor prior planning and organisation leading to hasty over-priced deals for players whose value to the purchasing club was dubious at best. Which is the crux of the matter, of course. While the arrival of a new manager and chief exec made it inevitable that business at United might be carried out less smoothly than we’d become accustomed to, the summer’s transfer pursuit has been far worse than that – a shambles from beginning to end.
Already disappointed that we’d left it this late to secure any deals, United fans sat in front of Sky Sports News, Twitter and any number of blogs and watched a drama unfold that quickly descended into farce and which had, to the club’s detriment, elements that would make a great film but which, for the watching Reds, only made deeply uncomfortable viewing. Fellaini, the unlikely hero, was forced to take matters into his own hands by handing in a transfer request before a high speed dash down the M62 delivered him to United and a deal was completed with seconds to spare. While he was on the road, the action cut to Spain where a group of imposters posing as United representatives fooled everyone that something was happening on the Herrera front before they were rumbled by bureaucrats while a brief cameo from Khedira added confusion and hope in unequal proportions. As the comic capers reached their close, Real Madrid almost allowed for a happy ending all round by apparently agreeing a deal for Fabio Coentrao but a fumbled altercation with the fax machine (I’m visualising Laurel & Hardy meets Dad’s Army) left the deal high and dry. The movie ends with a widening shot taking in a gasping Moyes and a red-faced Ed Woodward while Fellaini stands in the middle of it all, proudly holding the United shirt up that he’d wanted enough to fight his own way through the chaos and secure.
This is not, I would like to add, a pop at David Moyes, a new manager who has lacked the support from the wider United set-up, and particularly his chief executive, that he deserved and needed. The transition from Fergie to Moyes was never going to be seamless and the new boss admittedly made a mistake when going public on Fabregas, a player who we were simply never going to get and whose pursuit cranked up the media frenzy and led to unrealistic expectations among United supporters about what might be possible. Better always to take the age-old Fergie line of stating you’re happy with what you’ve got but, should the right player become available…
Better, in other words, to suppress expectations rather than build them up. Better to endure accusations of lack of ambition than to risk looking, to both your own supporters as well as the outside world, as an organisation that doesn’t know what it’s doing. That way, if you end the close season without a big name signing, you can at least make it appear like you meant it. And if you manage to pull something like RVP out of the hat, fans are all the happier for having such a nice surprise while rival clubs are given the impression of an already strong club getting even stronger.
This year, there’s been no RVP and no convincing attempt to disguise the need for a major addition to the squad, and the board at United need to be asking serious questions, perhaps more of Ed Woodward than of Moyes. Why did we allow it to be so widely publicised in July that Woodward had left our Far East tour to arrive home to carry out urgent transfer business? Why did we allow Fellaini’s release clause to lapse before moving for him? Why did we end up paying only slightly less for Fellaini than we’d originally offered for him and Baines? And what was Woodward actually doing during July and August? Why was the move for Herrera – a player identified in the Ferguson days as a potential target – left until the last days of August? Most importantly of all, having supposedly been so active in July, why did we allow the club to enter what was always going to be a difficult series of opening games with so much speculation hanging over our heads and so much time being spent on the pursuit of evident dead ends in the transfer market? Why, more than anything, did we leave it all so late?
As Baines, Herrera and Coentrao – all players who evidently wished to play for United – wake up this morning to find they’re exactly where they were yesterday, our club finds itself in a position it’s not been in for decades – surveying a landscape of disorganisation and failure. Some United fans are blaming the Glazers for all this for concentrating too much on recruiting sponsorship deals rather than players, but my guess is they’ll be as angry as anyone at the way the club has been made to look a laughing stock and I trust they’ll want answers and that searching questions, at least, will be asked at board level. The summer transfer window of 2013 has been one of panic, uncertainty and evident confusion, words that have rarely been connected with our club since the grim days of the eighties. We now need those at the very top of our club to take action to ensure they don’t become a familiar part of the United lexicon.
10 replies on “Questions Need To Be Asked About United Transfer Chaos”
This is very nice and concise piece. I commend you for summarizing all the questions, problems and lapses of judgement that happened during this transfer window. It precisely portrays the sentiments of all the fans. As a fan who believes in supporting his club during thick and thin, lets chalk this transfers windows unpleasant experience down to inexperience of the new management and hope that they learn from this as well as revisit the way the transfers at our beloved club were carried out in the past.
It is perhaps too late to say this but would it not been have better to stagger the retirement of the long serving and successful managers and the experienced chairman. Losing two powerful figures at once for the most famous sports club in the world was in itself poor planning.
The real scandal is that we wasted time and lost credibility with a series of low bids. We have ended up paying £5m excess for Fellaini by ignoring the buy out clause Moyes had inserted. More disappointing, is to miss out on Baines. He created more scoring opportunities than any other player last season and speaking to Everton fans last weekend they were adamant that Fellaini was expendable but Baines was irreplaceable. Moyes has not covered himself in glory throughout this transfer window and his comments after the Liverpool game about how “it was as good as we’d played this season” suggested a man who is already out of his depth. I hope I’m wrong but I don’t think Moyes will be around Old Trafford by the time the window re-opens.
the best word for moyes is holigan and i can assure he wil get his sack letter come may next year after we might have found ourselve in 7position.lost credibility indeed bcox he’s dad owns Tesco.mayb he priced ozil 15k and arsenal paid 47k plus.time to learn ur lessons or get sacked if u dont get atleast three playmakers by jan…last Grace
Great piece Mark, it’s good to see that the majority of fans realise the errors don’t lie with Moyes – he can only outline who he wants. I would refer you to this article from May a few days before Sir Alex announced his retirement: http://www1.skysports.com/football/news/11667/8685403/Manchester-United-vice-chairman-Ed-Woodward-No-major-overhaul-of-squad
One wonders if Woodward never intended to spend money this window so it was always the case that Moyes wasn’t going to be backed unless we could get someone on the cheap, but due to Woodward’s continual errors he eventually stumped up more than was required for Fellaini?
I feel a better window for Moyes will be January when he’s had time to assess our real weaknesses and maybe add a player or two to help us push on for the second half of the season and hopefully young Ander will be wearing our red shirt in the near future!
All that said we have strengthened the one area of the squad where we are lacking so all is not lost!
Simply, in Fergie’s Era fans never complained about transfer actvity even he didn’t make any move for a new player. In dave’s era, fans has pushing him to make a bid for a new player. If he doesn’t get a player what they want, they’ll judge him, not competent. It’s all about trust. What did fergie do when Beckham out? He bought Cristiano Ronaldo who was a very young, wasn’t famous, and people didn’t know him. Did any fans complain about that? IT’S ALL ABOUT TRUST!
Fergie failed on-star-Ronaldinho, bought-no one know-CR7, no complained
the problem is that moyes can act like as part of red devil..
when he said about the match againts liverpool..that’s bad game, but what he said about that?
he said that is the best game..
oh man..i always trust moyes, but he should change their attitude..
An excellent article covering the sorry saga of United’s approach to transfer dealings.
Apart from the Rooney to Chelsea and the Suarez to Arsenal media scrums, most transfer media ‘news’ over the last couple of months has revolved around United’s targets, in particular Fabregas, Baines and Fellaini. This publicity cranked up expectation and and was in sharp contrast to Fergie’s (and David Gill’s) softly, softly approach to transfer dealings. I never thought that the Fabregas deal would be a goer but clumsy, mismanaged attempts to get Baines and Fellaini have been embarrassing for the club. In the end Fellaini had to engineer the move himself and United paid over the odds.
With Bale’s 85 million quid move to Madrid, it was a reasonable bet that a player or two would be leaving Real, if only to balance out their transfer budget and reduce the wages bill. A farcical last minute attempt to get Coentrao on loan was the nearest United got to the action.
Not going to lay the blame at Moyes door but his public utterances about being confident of several incoming transfers, added to the embarrassment. He was let down by Woodwood who is ultimately responsible and Fergie’s call to ‘give Moyes time’ might well apply to David Gill’s replacement; though I don’t think it should.
My son has emailed United to see if he can borrow the number 7 shirt for the season, seeing has how it isn’t be used. He hasn’t heard back from them yet.
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Come on guys, we gave this year for Moyes to mature himself at United. Expect no cups and glory during this year. The community shield was the only prize possible for us this year and we have already won that in style.