Manchester United’s bullyboy tactics in their pursuit of Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines are in danger of damaging the club’s image, built up over 26 years by Sir Alex Ferguson, according to Everton manager Roberto Martinez.
United have been surprisingly public in their quest for new signings this summer, and their opening gambit of £28 million (via ESPN) for the Everton pair was widely regarded as falling way below market value and deemed "insulting" by the Toffees.
In the most recent quotes reported by the Daily Mail, Martinez says he has never witnessed the champions conduct themselves in a manner that could be seen to unsettle other clubs’ players, but is unmoved in his belief Fellaini and Baines will not leave.
I have never seen Manchester United working in this manner before. When you want a player you just do the business quietly.
I don’t know if this is a new way of working. I don’t expect a new bid. We’re not in that position. There isn’t an offer on the table where anyone would consider anything.
The cliché of a club "airing laundry in public" was rarely associated with United during the reign of Ferguson, who preferred to say little to the media until a transfer was completed.
By contrast, new boss David Moyes has been open to discussing failed moves for Thiago Alcantara and Cesc Fabregas, as well as the joint bid for Fellaini and Baines, despite the fact United’s bids have constantly been rebuffed by the parent clubs.
Former United assistant manager Mike Phelan, speaking to BBC Radio Manchester, admits the issue could be new chief executive Ed Woodward, whom he says is still learning the role of purchasing footballers. Dominic King and Ian Ladyman of the Daily Mail provide the quotes.
Ed Woodward has previously been on the commercial side and concentrating on bringing money into the club rather than spending it. It is a totally different outlook. He will learn that.
He may be frightened by a few prices but he will have to pick that up, because you are dealing with high quality football players.
United are now 10 days away from closing the summer transfer window without a major summer signing, but they are expected to make a further approach for Fellaini and Baines—believed by the Daily Mirror to be in the region of £35 million—in the coming days.
So far both players have done little to force an Everton exit, but King and Ladyman claim Fellaini is desperate to make his big move before next summer’s World Cup. They suggest an impressive tournament could see his value rise even further—potentially pricing him out of an Everton departure:
Belgium are expected to qualify for next summer’s tournament and a talented team including Barclays Premier League stars Fellaini, Eden Hazard and Vincent Kompany are already being tipped to do well.
Fellaini fears that a successful summer could push his price tag up even higher and that it would be best for his career if he left Goodison Park this time round.
However, United’s conduct so far in negotiations with Everton has clearly annoyed the Merseyside outfit, making it increasingly unlikely the clubs will reach an accord by September 2.