Former Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton has called Manchester United manager David Moyes' transfer dealings a "nightmare," writes the Mirror's Paul Gorst.
Writing in his Paddy Power blog, Barton launched what Gorst called a "scathing attack" on the Manchester United boss. Barton believes the lack of transfers has cost Moyes the title:
Their first attempt at improving the squad, last summer, was a nightmare. You never see Manchester United conduct business in such a shambolic manner.
They were thrown in at the deep end and they didn’t manage to swim. They’ll be better this window for it but the title’s gone because of that.
Moyes only managed to sign his former Everton player Marouane Fellaini on the last day of what was a quiet transfer window for United.
The Scot took over from Sir Alex Ferguson at the end of last season when the latter finally retired after 27 years as United manager.
Since taking over, United have gone a few steps backwards as the club transitions from one era to the next. The Premier League champions are nowhere near the title-chasing pack at the top and run the risk of missing out on the Champions League places this season.
Not All Moyes' Fault
One of the first situations Moyes had to contend with was Wayne Rooney and the subject of interest from Chelsea. The West London club had two big offers for Rooney turned down last summer, per Tony Bank and Paul Joyce in the Express.
Trying to sign new players may be one thing; keeping the ones you already have is another. Moyes needs to be applauded for doing so and getting the best out of Rooney who has scored 11 goals in 22 appearances for United this season, per ESPN stats.
Throughout the summer United were linked with top superstars such as Barcelona midfielders Thiago Alcantara and Cesc Fabregas.
I played under him in the (Barcelona) youth team and I've got him to thank for everything that I have achieved so far. I never had a coach like him. He's unique. After the European Under-21 Championship, I spoke with Guardiola on the phone and, after that, I decided to come to Bayern.
As for Fabregas, the former Arsenal man was the subject of two bids by United, per Ben Jefferson in the Express, but even they had been accepted, the Spanish international would have rejected the Red Devils anyway.
Speaking to Spanish radio Cadena Cope via the Express:
I am focused on winning with Barca. When I arrived, I knew there would be other clubs where I would have earned more money and where I could get more playing time.
For example, I was making more money at Arsenal. But to join Barca was my dream, and I would not leave even if they [United] offered double my salary.
How can Moyes possibly take the blame for two players rejecting United based on their dreams?
The Scot never had a chance of signing Thiago when Guardiola and Bayern came along, whilst Fabregas left Arsenal for his dream move to Barca.
If Fabregas was ever to leave Barcelona, United would have stiff competition from Arsenal, his former club. In an exclusive interview with the Guardian's Spain correspondent, Sid Lowe, Fabregas revealed he would one day like to come back to North London.
Barton still believes Moyes can turn it around but thinks the United manager needs time to make this United team his own.
He has a point. Apart from the signing of Fellaini, Ferguson has left Moyes a squad that hasn't had much cosmetic work in the last few seasons:
You’ve got to at least let Moyes buy his own players and put his stamp on the team. If given time, Moyes is a good enough manager and will turn it round. And if he manages even a fraction of Fergie’s success, he won’t have done too badly.
Moyes has used Ryan Giggs in nine Premier League games this season, probably more than he would have originally hoped for from the 40-year-old, ESPN stats show.
Robin van Persie, the former Arsenal man who fired United to last season's title, has been injury hit and has only played in 16 of the club's 31 games this season—almost half of United's games.
His loss has been evident as United have relied heavily on the individual brilliance of Wayne Rooney. When the England striker has been injured, United have turned to the unexpected source of talent in young Adnan Januzaj.
Van Persie's injury should, however, be cause for concern for Moyes. Writing in the Manchester Evening News, Simon Bajkowski says that "since 2004 van Persie has not completed three-quarters of a full season in all but the last two years."
His injury problems have been persistent this season, but with Rooney also having niggling injuries, the United manager has been dealt a bad hand.
United travel to Stamford Bridge this weekend hoping for damage limitation against an in-form Chelsea side fighting for the title. The best Moyes can hope for is that his side come out of the match unscathed, then he can concentrate on the transfer market.
United have been linked with numerous players including Borussia Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, but any hopes of a transfer happening now are limited with United hoping they'll get their man in the summer, reports Simon Jones in the Daily Mail.
There also continue to be reports of interest for former United player Paul Pogba, reports Ian Herbert in the Independent, but the player has rejected that notion.
There is still a way to go in the season and Moyes will be judged on his team's performances and his eventual transfers.
But with the manager already warning that January isn't a good time to buy players, per Simon Stone in the Irish Independent, United fans should avoided judging the manager just yet.