Manchester United Transfer News: Failing to Add Leighton Baines Was Critical
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David Moyes' failure to lure Leighton Baines to Old Trafford means that his plan remains incomplete. According to David Maddock and Alan Nixon at The Mirror, Baines will receive a pay rise for not joining Manchester United that could lift him out of Moyes' reach.
Baines' combination of expert positioning and aggressive defending would have made him an immediate upgrade over Patrice Evra, while his attacking instincts would be ably covered by playing Marouane Fellaini in a defensive midfield position.
Fellaini himself is diametrically opposite to United players like Shinji Kagawa, but the addition of Baines would balance out these differences by allowing the defender to overlap on the left and bring extra width. Both Kagawa and Wayne Rooney tend to gravitate to a more central position in attack, while Fellaini offers a more traditional target in the box.
Manchester United are expected to come back in for Leighton Baines and Ander Herrera in January. (Mail) #MUFC"— 24/7 SOCCER (@24_7SOCCER) September 6, 2013
When Fellaini arrived, there were cries from some fans that Moyes was intent on turning Old Trafford into Goodison Park, cultivating a team set up to be difficult to beat rather than enjoyable to watch. A route-one approach seemed very plausible, and the benching of Kagawa—arguably the most creative player at the club—seemed to support this.
However, it's also clear that Moyes did not land his intended targets this year, and as a result his master plan for United is incomplete.
All is not lost, though, and Moyes' intentions for the season were further revealed by the botched loan attempt for Fabio Coentrao.
According to Ben Jefferson at the Express, the Real Madrid player was "reduced to tears" when the move fell through, as the unsettled player could see Moyes' plan for using him as an opportunity for regular first-team football.
Fábio Coentrão would be a great signing for Manchester United— Dan Manson (@DansonManson) September 2, 2013
Coentrao brings similar qualities to Baines in that he's an attack-minded defender who can anchor down the left side. It's clear Moyes is looking for a left-back who can bring him that extra width in attack. Baines was the obvious choice for the former Everton manager, then Coentrao after him.
Baines is 29, so there's no doubt that any move for him would have been a short-term fix. His impressive stamina cannot go on forever, and the loss of pace is what prompted Evra's own decline.
Coentrao is younger and remains available for the January window. Moyes would be wise to make his move at the earliest possible opportunity.
Until then, the failure to land Baines has left a hole in Moyes' United that will go unfilled until the New Year.
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