Fri. Oct 30th, 2020

Man Utd

News

Manchester United transfer planning shows they need a director of football

5 min read

Manchester United have secured two signings in the last week of summer transfer windows before, so there is still time for the online mob to douse their torches and withdraw their pitchforks.

Unless United succeed in wresting Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund and supplement him with a more stirring addition than a full-back from Porto then the post-mortems will be bloody. Scalpels have already been sharpened with just four days until the deadline.

United are still without a director of football more than a year on from the scheduled start date and three chums from the University of Bristol are still running one of the most storied sporting institutions. United are being linked with every Tom, Dick and Harry because they have entered the last week of another window on the lookout for multiple signings. Clubs, agents and players are seizing on United’s tardiness and, in this age of disinformation, supporters will swallow almost anything.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer acknowledged Monchi, Sevilla’s DoF in Cologne in August and Jose Mourinho was openly effusive about Sevilla’s structure. Monchi expressed his disbelief in an interview with The Daily Telegraph this week that United are still devoid of a DoF, a role that has gone through at least two name changes without an occupant. United have a director of football operations: Alan Dawson, a former squadron commander in the Royal Air Force.

From RAF to WTF. Woodward is of the opinion ‘the sooner, the better’ with signings yet, as predicted, United have waited until the final week to make a concrete approach for Sancho in the hope it will unnerve Dortmund. Neither club briefed Sky Germany of Tuesday’s ‘bid’ and those whom have worked with Dortmund believe they are principled enough not to sell Sancho before next 11pm on Monday.

Mourinho told confidants he has never encountered anyone in football quite like Ed Woodward, deploying the same tactic on another manager’s watch. Woodward reassured Mourinho United would submit a deadline day bid for Ivan Perisic in 2017, having already been knocked back as Inter Milan held out for £50m. Woodward thought he could get Perisic on the cheap. Mourinho reminded him Perisic needed a pre-season to familiarise himself with his new teammates.

Ultimately, United’s money men decided Perisic, an Eastern European, was not ‘marketable’ enough to merit a £50m fee. Perisic has since appeared in a World Cup final and a Champions League final, scoring in the former and triumphing in the latter.

United’s hit-rate in the transfer market under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is favourable, even if caveats are starting to emerge, but the bragging about last year’s recruitment reboot is disintegrating into bluster. United ‘manipulated the data’, held monthly meetings, increased the accountability of their bloated scouting network, settled on targets by January, accepted second-choice options in a worse-case scenario and reset the culture.

Taking a punt on Ousmane Dembele would be resetting it back to 2013 and that Supermarket Sweep dash on deadline day, or when they brazenly undermined Mourinho in 2018. It says much about United the prospect of a 23-year-old World Cup winner from Barcelona arriving would be regressive.

Dembele was the most expensive panic buy in football when Barcelona moved for him after Neymar had his head turned by Paris Saint-Germain. He has entered the last two years of his contract at Camp Nou, so Barca are looking to cut their losses on a crock who started three La Liga games last season.

Woodward last year privately predicted the house of cards were about to fall at Camp Nou and they are more of a basket case of a club than United, frittering hundreds of millions on marquee names and racking up the highest wage bill in world football. United would be doing them a favour if they took Dembele.

Dembele represents the kind of opportunism United avoided last year when Gareth Bale was available before they walked away from a possible deal for Paulo Dybala. Solskjaer passed on Christian Eriksen as United prioritised players motivated foremost by joining the club. Dembele does not fit the criteria.

Solskjaer wondered aloud whether United could ‘exploit’ the market back in April and it is becoming increasingly clear that manager and board are not on the same page. We all know how that ended for Mourinho and Solskjaer is not as confrontational, which in the eyes of some fans makes him a ‘Glazer puppet’. His response to a journalist’s suggestion United were ‘standing still’ last week was supine.



Solskjaer watches on at Brighton
Solskjaer watches on at Brighton

There is the mitigation of the pandemic, as Woodward has repeatedly cautioned, the exorbitant tax United are levied with and they are usually shopping in boutiques rather than bargain baskets. It is not a coincidence Sancho, Jack Grealish and James Maddison, three forwards all under consideration, have had their contracts extended since the window opened.

Last summer, clubs in the top five European leagues completed 1,932 deals worth £5.25bn and so far in this summer’s window clubs in the top five European leagues have completed 1,070 deals at a cost of £2.44bn. Don’t be surprised if the final figures are quoted in Woodward’s delayed investors’ call this month.

“It’s appalling that in this market which is probably the easiest in PL history to get transfers done that United haven’t done more yet!” Gary Neville shrieked on Twitter. “They must get Ole a CB , LB and Forward pre deadline! The others are managing to get things over the line why not United !”

Neville had half a point but also sounded like one of the online crazies. United invested £130m in defenders last year and no right-thinking individual expected them to sign one of significant value this year. United have never broken the £150m barrier in a single window, either.

Sancho is a budget-busting buy, which is why United are adamant they will not transfer €110m into Dortmund’s bank account. The pandemic and profile of Ajax, a big club in a minor league, brought Donny van de Beek’s valuation down to an appealing amount and Real Madrid stepped aside to leave United with a free run.



Sky Sports charted the 'big six's spending during their coverage of United's win at Brighton
Sky Sports charted the ‘big six’s spending during their coverage of United’s win at Brighton

United are unfairly judged through the prism of Chelsea’s unprecedented spending but more relevant is reigning Premier League champions Liverpool have invested £81.7m after leaving their rivals so far behind they resembled a mirage. The essential difference between Liverpool and United is one is buying to win the Premier League and the other is buying to stay in the Champions League. 

If anything encapsulates the United AD (after dominance) it was when someone last year suggested to Woodward the team’s slump could harm revenue. Woodward pointed out Liverpool last won the title in 1990 and were still the second-biggest shirt sellers in Asia.

Pass the scalpel.

Copyright © All rights reserved. | Newsphere by AF themes.