Manchester United: Calling Fact or Fiction on January Deadline Day Rumours

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Manchester United: Calling Fact or Fiction on January Deadline Day Rumours
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Victor Wanyama

Tomorrow is deadline day in the transfer market. Despite steadfast denials from Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United have incurred more rumours than anyone.

Why would that be when Sir Alex has more than once appeared to imply that there were no deals in prospect. Or did he?

At one of his recent press conferences he said he had nothing to report. Little more than a week later he had signed Wilfried Zaha.

That does not in any way imply he was "economical with the truth."

First, he has every reason and right to keep Manchester United's transfer dealings confidential. The alternative of publicising them would almost certainly incur attention from other clubs and more than likely up the price.

It is difficult enough being United when a selling club knows their buying power. No way would he have got Michu for £2 million.

So at any particular time he can reasonably claim that there is nothing to report, because to be precise no deal is done until the ink is dry on the paper.

Equally, he doesn't say he is interested in such and such a player because United have probably scouted hundreds of players. For those in which they are interested, they will have a precise set of criteria to satisfy before they will agree a deal.

They may well have had a serious interest in Wesley Sneijder for years, at the right price and on the right terms, but first Real Madrid and then Inter Milan stole his thunder.

When he was finally available it seems that United were not prepared to meet his wage demands. They don't guarantee tax-free salaries like some foreign clubs do.

 

A plethora of rumours

Let's be honest. Transfer rumours draw readers. It's no different for Bleacher Report from other media. 

Twice a year, in January and the summer, the mainstream media start the rollout, which continues until the window closes.

EuroFootball/Getty Images
Ezequiel Garay

Except that not long afterward the ones that weren't consummated will be rolled out early for the following window.

It's a game that no doubt agents and selling clubs also do not discourage as it might get a better deal when a deal is done. Sometimes it might be no more than a new contract with a player's existing club.

The difficulty is in sorting the wheat from the chaff. Any journalist worth their salt will do sufficient research to establish the credibility of their story. The trouble is it is hard to disprove claims such as "Sir Alex has had him scouted in the past."

Take the current rumour from Manutd.com (h/t Manchester Evening News) about Victor Wanyama . It doesn't make sense. He is Champions League-tied. If Sir Alex was to buy a midfielder now wouldn't it be someone to enhance his resources for the knockout stages?

After all, surely he has sufficient squad depth for the Premier League and FA Cup? 

And why would Wanyama walk away from at least two more ECL ties for a place on the bench at United?

Surely Kevin Strootman or Benat Etxebarria would make better sense? After all, we were right about Wilfried Zaha.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
Benat Etxebarria

What all three names have in common is that they are among a total of almost 50 listed as rumours in December and January on the official Manchester United website alone. Here is the full list:

Fernando Llorente

Leighton Baines

Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa

Cristiano Ronaldo

Jores Okore

Ashley Cole

Fraser Forster

Ezekiel Garay

Hector Herreira

Theo Walcott

Jonathan Tah

Wilfried Zaha

Asmir Begovic 

Ola John

Alen Halilovic

Sime Vrsaljko

Remy Cabello

Fernandinho

Vegard Forren

Lucas Biglia

Robert Lewandowski

Wesley Sneijder

Oscar de Marcos

Raheem Sterling

Pavel Mamaev

Kurt Zouma

Coll Donaldson

Julio Cesar

Victor Wanyama

Urby Emanuelson

Jurgen Damm

Dean Santangelo

Jeffrey Schlupp

Ashley Williams

Juan Quintero

Nicolas Gaitan

Angel di Maria

SerdarTadiesci

Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang

Marouane Fellaini

Benat Etxebarria

Axel Witsel

David Gil

Hervin Ongenda

Leo Baptistao

Fernando Muslera

Pepe Reina

Frank Lampard

Luka Modric

 

Most of these are ridiculous

Does anybody really think good players from Chelsea or Liverpool would move to Manchester United? Or be allowed to, whatever their age?

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Wilfried Zaha

So then some may say "what about Wilfried Zaha?" Sir Alex and Roy Hodgson are pretty good judges of talent and the young man looks like he could become the most talented English registered player in a generation.

Sir Alex likes homegrown players. No Africa Cup or Copa America problems there. Then there is the homegrown quota requirement.

What happens, however, is that the media pick up on someone like Vegard Forren and create the logic of Ole-Gunnar Solskjaer recommending him to Sir Alex. Nice logic, but he went to Southampton.

So if we eliminate the rumours that make don't sense, it doesn't leave many that hold water. He may be bluffing but if Sir Alex says he has the squad to win the treble, or his best team ever, why don't people believe him?

Apart from Champions League qualification, why are there so many rumours around about central defenders (Garay and Zouma, for example) when he has Evans, Smalling and Jones, with Keane and Wootton waiting in the wings?

Or yet another winger after Zaha, unless he is planning to let at least two of Young, Valencia or Nani leave?

And why all the rubbish about signing another keeper now, when De Gea and Lindegaard are here until the summer at least?

The truth is that the media starts rumours and unsettles players. No wonder Sir Alex never reads the papers.


Central midfield

There is one area that Sir Alex knows as well as the fans, could benefit from at least one signing and that is central midfield.

Clive Mason/Getty Images
Shinji Kagawa

After all, he was still clearly interested in Eden Hazard and Lucas Moura despite signing Shinji Kagawa

People still keep banging on about United needing a defensive midfielder. That may be partly because Roy Keane was never replaced and partly because they don't rate Michael Carrick.

However Sir Alex has made clear that United do not want a defensive midfield because that does not suit their style. As City found when Yaya Toure played a defensive role, you lose the fulcrum of your midfield attack.

There is little doubt, however, that a world class "box to box" attacking midfielder would add value to the squad. 

While Sir Alex may have hit on a winning combination of Carrick and Cleverley with Rooney ahead and Anderson in reserve, this leaves little room for manoeuvre.

And now that he has lost Darren Fletcher for at least the rest of the season, surely he must give Ryan Tunnicliffe his chance or enter the transfer market?

 

Little chance this January

Sir Alex has left little doubt that he sees little value in the market generally in January and prefers to do his business in the summer. He is not a manager who indulges in "panic buys."

Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Kevin Strootman

He has also made clear, however, that United are interested in the right player at the right age and the right price, assuming the salary package is right.

He knows that United are in an increasingly strong position from summer onwards, as FFP begins to bite across Europe, with the UK Government also throwing a spanner in the works yesterday.

There are now 34 or so hours for United to complete a transfer even if there is one already "in the works." Given that it took the best part of a week to complete Zaha's deal, that seems unlikely.

If there was a last minute deal, who could it possibly be?

Frankly, we keep coming back to Kevin Strootman, but not before the summer, even if a deal is agreed in principle now. Certainly the Dutch media think he's bound for the Premier League no later than that.

But you can't rule out Jeff Schlupp or Jurgen Damm. Both are on extended trial at United; neither would probably cost more than £2 million. Both bring versatility.

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