Man Utd Transfer Saga: Fellaini, Herrera and the Ineffectual Ed Woodward
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When David Moyes officially took over as Manchester United manager on the first day of July this year, much of the talk surrounding his appointment was focused on the void left behind by Sir Alex Ferguson.
However, one of the most important departures, as mentioned previously, was that of former chief executive, David Gill. Sir Alex Ferguson realised the importance of Gill to the club, as evidenced by the below quote, having tried to persuade the now 56-year-old to stay at Manchester United
“If I could have found a way of persuading him to stay I would love to have done that. But he has made his decision and I respect him for it. He has been, and will continue to be, a fantastic success for Manchester United. He has all the qualities of successful people ingrained in him: energy, honesty, integrity, personality and decision-making ability. I wish him well in whatever new challenges he will tackle in the future.”
Alongside Sir Alex Ferguson, Gill had spent the last 16 years building a dynasty—both domestically and globally—that has provided the club with a solidified footing and allowed it to attract the best players in world football.
Effectively, what has taken place in the transfer market over the following months since Moyes' appointment can only described as shambolic; last night being the zenith of a culmination of badly handled deals by the current executive vice-chairman, Ed Woordward.
The qualified accountant, who replaced David Gill as the man responsible for transfers at Old Trafford, concluded the window with just one piece of business carried out last night; the acquisition of Marouane Fellaini.
Not only did the club fail in their attempts to acquire some badly needed creative midfield talent, but it ended up paying £4m greater than the buy-out clause that expired in the Belgian's contact on 31st July this year, as detailed by Jamie Jackson of The Irish Times.
Given that Fellaini, along with Leighton Baines, was one of the two most imperative players at Goodison Park, it beggars belief that Woodward would be of the opinion that the club would be able to acquire him for less than the initial clause; something that proved to be exactly the case.
In truth, with a deluge of failed bids so far this season, Manchester United has now taken it's place as the domestic transfer laughing stock. It has become an incoherent, unflattering, and ultimately flaccid powerhouse devoid of the nous required to operate at this level.
It leaves many fans wondering how Ed Woodward will retain his position at the club.
The attempted signing of Ander Herrera has only further added to the legend of what this window has come to symbolise, as it's being reported that United were unwilling to match the £30.5m buy-out clause of a player they had previously bid £25m for.
The reports that unauthorised individuals in black suits hijacking the deal are now giving way to suggestions that these were, in fact, recognised Spanish sports lawyers working on behalf of the diminutive Spaniard as reported by the Irish Times
As evidenced by their limp display of creativity at Anfield last Sunday, it is clear to all that United are severely hindered in midfield by the current line-up of Tom Cleverly and Michael Carrick.
While Carrick has been indispensable in recent seasons, the signing of Fellaini does not address a growing problem; which is something that would have been rectified had the three-time European champions signed Spanish midfielder Ander Herrera.
The attempted signing of Herrera only further highlights the callowness of Woodward, and an inability to grasp the positional bargaining of each club individually. Given that Athletic Bilbao field only Basque players, it was obvious that they would be under no pressure to depart with the fulcrum of their midfield for anything less than the stipulated buy-out clause of €36m.
Why Woodward chose to argue over a measly sum in the grand scale of things is both alarming and disconcerting.
Reports coming out of Spain are now suggesting that the loan move for Real Madrid's Fábio Coentrão was not finalised in time, making Fellaini and Guillermo Varela the only additions to last season's title winning squad. With Ashley Young looking increasingly devoid of the talent required for Manchester United, Patrice Evra ageing, and Baines staying at Everton; David Moyes is left with yet another area which needs to be addressed: the left-side of the pitch.
It leaves a sour taste in the mouths of Manchester United fans who were hoping for a smooth continuance of trophy winning seasons at Old Trafford. If the club do not strengthen in a dignified and covert manner during the January transfer window, they can all but say goodbye to a 21st league title.
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