The clock ticked away as usual on Monday night, but what should have felt like any normal day, was a day filled with frustration, anger, sadness and a general feeling of helplessness for Manchester United fans as the summer transfer window drew to a close at 11 pm BST. Finishing third in the Premier League and securing Champions League football on the last day of the season was a cause for celebration amongst United fans, given their dire start to the season.
The uptick in United’s form gave fans a sense of optimism and a ray of hope for the future. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had asked for a midfielder in the summer of 2019 and did not get one. He immediately kept his side of the bargain by securing a top 4 finish when given a midfielder in January.
All through the summer, there was hope amongst the United optimists – “Maybe the board will finally back their manager?”. But it was not to be. Solskjaer desperately wanted a player like Sancho who would finally solve the inadequacy at right-wing. But today, Sancho is still a Dortmund player despite him wanting the move and Manchester United have let us down again.
So, what is the problem?
Buckle-up! It’s a long one…
Just to clear things up, Manchester United fans are not upset about losing out on Jadon Sancho. This is not about Sancho. This is about being lied to, failing to strengthen the squad and being unprepared year after year after year.
Since July, United was in “advanced talks” with Dortmund and all that was left was to pay the transfer fee. This dragged on for 2 months with all other deals put aside on hold. Any reasonable United fan would agree that whilst right-wing is a major problem, the defence and midfield needed reinforcements too.
Credit to the club for signing Donny van de Beek who is a fantastic addition to the side. But the recruitment team missed out on so many good deals whilst making absolutely no progress in getting Sancho to United. For example, Sergio Reguilon was available for just £25-£30 million and Thiago Alcantara for just £30 million.
These were straightforward deals that United lost out on because of the time they wasted on it. We could have been prepared for the opening game of the season by improving on two positions. Thomas Partey is another name that comes to mind as he joined Arsenal for €50 million on deadline day. Partey would have been an excellent signing who could massively release the pressure off of Nemanja Matic in defensive midfield. Pau Torres had a release clause of about £45 million and would have easily strengthened our defence. However, the briefs coming out of Manchester United were that the club is focused on signing of a right-winger.
Alright, where is the right-winger?
Having placed all our eggs in the Sancho basket, we were scrambling on deadline day after it became clear that he wasn’t going to join. A club as big as United did not have a plan B for a “prioritized” position is extremely embarrassing. The lack of accountability will ultimately be the demise of a once-great team.
United did sign Amad Diallo and Facundo Pellistri, but these aren’t the players that will take us to the top. They may become world-beaters in 3-4 years but that still leaves us exposed on the right-wing when we play in the Premier League and Champions League this season.
Lies and Greed
The club kept telling us they don’t have money due to the pandemic while us fans, begrudgingly watched Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool and even the likes of Aston Villa and Everton announce some very good players that actually improved their side.
At the same time, while it’s easy to blame everything on money and say that the club doesn’t want to spend any, it is the inability to spot and capitalize on good opportunities in the market that have cost us another season. Most of the best deals that went on in the window were not even extravagant ones. United signed Alex Telles from Porto for around £18 million on the last day of the season. Telles could have been at Carrington earlier, but the board wanted to save a couple of million pounds.
The manager’s requirements have been put in second-place while the board prioritized their money year after year. It happened with Louis van Gaal, it happened with Jose Mourinho and it is now happening with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Not just about arrivals
While we’re on the topic of transfers, it is worth mentioning the departures too. United currently have a squad strength of 31 players which invites a much larger wage bill. While it isn’t the number of players that cause an issue, it’s the quality. The inability to ship out Phil Jones, Jesse Lingard and Marcos Rojo who are liabilities for the club is baffling. While players like Andreas Pereira, Diogo Dalot and Chris Smalling left, it needs to be more ruthless and consistent. Leeds United was ready to offer £25 million for Dan James which could have been the difference between Sancho coming to United and staying at Dortmund.
Most Manchester United fans would agree that they would not mind missing out on Sancho as long as the money being spent on him was used to strengthen other key areas in the squad. But the Glazers have pocketed that money and will look at it as returns on their investment as unfortunately, that’s what we are for them – a mere investment.