David Moyes

Reds suffering on the altar of value

It had to happen, the confab that Manchester United fans now dread, the one that ends with ‘V’ … for value. But contrary to his predecessor United manager David Moyes apparently believes that the mythical quality exists in the transfer market. The Scot just hasn’t been able to find it. Or buy it. And with just nine days to go before the transfer window closes Moyes admitted for the first time that the club may not reinforce this summer.

Indeed, those United supporters of a more cynical bent might conclude that the club had little intention of succeeding in the market this summer. After all the far-fetched chase for Thiago Alcântara, low-balled bid for Cesc Fàbregas and, frankly, embarrassing joint offer for Marouanne Fellaini and Leighton Baines were hardly conducive to success.

Rant would comment on that particular theory, but slander is still punishable as a criminal offence in some territories.

Still, while supporters might chunter on the sidelines the benefit of the considerable doubt remains with the club for a little over a week at least, Moyes insistent as he is that United is still working on bringing new faces to Old Trafford before 2 September.

There is, in fact, a “need” to add to the squad according to the 50-year-old Scot, who identified United’s midfield as an area of weakness early in the piece. But with Fàbregas and Alcântara out of sight, and Everton unwilling to trade Fellaini on the cheap, it has remained a summer of considerable frustration. Incompetence even.

Still, it is likely to be a fascinating period both on and off the field over the next 10 days, with the seemingly impotent vice chairman Ed Woodward attempting to a close a major transfer for the first time, while United faces Chelsea and Liverpool in the Premier League. It is a period when the club could gain significant momentum, or lose  more ground on rivals at home and abroad.

Running out of time Moyes admitted for the first time on Friday that the club will fall back on the promise of youth should the Reds fail to augment a midfield quotient widely recognised as falling short. It is an approach that appeals to United’s legion fans, although there are few central midfielders of quality in the Reds under-21 side.

“There is a need to do it, but there is no pressure to do it,” said Moyes of United’s plans to recruit.

“We’ve been talking about it since I took the job on 1 July. I have an idea of where I’d like to strengthen and what we need to do. We have only targeted certain players and don’t have a big, big list. There are only certain quality players we want to bring to the club.

“There is a possibility [we won't sign anybody] but the plan is we bring in one or two if we can. If the right players are available then great, but, if not, the first thing we’ll do is encourage our own young players in the squad to do as well as they did last year.”

Moyes’ belief that United can recruit at the highest level is a theory sound on paper, but seemingly much harder to enact in practice, with Woodward green in a market still governed by old-school relationships. Indeed, while United’s efforts this summer have widely been viewed with embarrassment among the club’s supporters, a naïve approach has brought little but scorn from rival clubs.

Everton, once Moyes’ home, is now basecamp for United’s sceptics, including Moyes’ former employer Bill Kenwright and the Scot’s successor Roberto Martinez. Angered by Moyes’ admission that he had accepted the United job weeks before his contract with Everton ended, Kenwright  is now reportedly enraged that United has sought to unsettle two contracted players with a low bid.

Although Moyes claimed on Friday that Everton released details of the bid, it is an assertion Martinez disputes. Further, says the Spaniard, United’s seemingly amateur approach this summer is a factor of change both in the coaching set up and boardroom. With Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill gone, 40 years aggregated experience has been lost to the  club.

“I’ve never seen Manchester United working in this manner before,” said Everton boss Martinez.

“When you want a player you just do the business quietly, you get it done and that’s it. I don’t know if this is a new way of working. There’s been a previous relationship of 11 years with a manager and he had a great relationship with the chairman, so you can imagine it’s extra sensitive.

“It wasn’t even a bid because it never reached any sort of valuation. There isn’t an offer on the table where anyone would consider anything. All we’ve had is a bid that doesn’t go anywhere near the reality.”

Critics lies from closer to home as well, with former assistant manager Mike Phelan suggesting Woodward’s inexperience in the transfer market has cost United this summer. Woodward has excelled driving home United’s strategy of securing exclusive local-market sponsors in selected verticals.

After all, the list of partners signed this summer far exceeds the resources added to Moyes’ squad. But in the game of smoke and mirrors of the European transfer market Woodward has been left exposed.

“Ed Woodward has previously been on the commercial side and concentrating on bringing money into the club rather than spending it,” said Phelan, who is yet to take on a new role after departing the club this summer.

“It is a totally different outlook. He will learn that. He may be frightened by a few prices every now and again but he will have to pick that up, because you are dealing with high quality football players. He and the club have gone on record to say that money is available. That’s great, but then every price goes up a peg or two as well.”

But Woodward’s assertion at the start of the summer that the club is prepared spend upwards of £60 million on a single player has proven false – not least with United’s unusually low opening offers for Fàbregas, Baines and Fellaini. The approach, unsurprisingly, has proven unsuccessful.

Woodward is smart enough to learn of course, although he has little experience of executive management in an alien industry.

Perhaps it still comes down to that old word, the one Ferguson used to such divisive effect during seven years under the Glazer family’s stewardship. But asked on Friday whether he believes value exists in the market Moyes’ answer remains definitive: “Yes I do.”

The worry is that it may be too late for United’s to discover the Holy Grail this summer; an outcome that will leave Moyes short and vulnerable to the brutally competitive landscape domestically and in Europe.

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Comments

  1. A. Snow says

    I have to say, I’m firmly in the cynical-minded category. I’d even go as far to say that Moyes has been an active participant in the hoodwinking of United supporters. Yesterday’s line about “giving the youngsters a chance” was straight out of the Glazer handbook. They’ve done exactly the same thing at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Initial spending severely & harshly cut back to save money, excused by an insistence that the club/franchise/project is focusing on developing younger players. The thing is, I wouldn’t mind if they were actually true to their word, but where were Pogba’s chances? And this season, despite being United’s best player during that ridiculous tour they went on, Januzaj got all of 10 minutes against Wigan in a glorified friendly, and didn’t make the bench against Swansea. Instead, United went with a 40 year old in his position, and I don’t think any of us would be surprised if Januzaj didn’t play a league game this season. Maybe I’m reading a bit too much into it, but I hate all the bullshit that surrounds United now. All the myth and pretension used to justify one man’s desire to bleed as much money out of our club before selling it on. The posturing this summer from Woodward & Moyes has been a clear a indication as any to me that the club are scared this frugality is becoming too obvious, and that being seen/heard to be interested in players is actually more important than signing them. It’s downright depressing.

    • JA says

      Absolutely spot on. My feelings exactly. Woodward is a Glazer fanboy and Moyes accepted the job on exactly those terms.

  2. gerald mcloughlin says

    David Moyes,listen,very carefully,take heed,ok,our players are not for sale,tap up all you want,no,means,no, cannot wait till we defeat you twice,then you’ll have egg all over your face|

  3. Damian Garside says

    Look on the bright side: if we United pessimists are right and we are going to be really found out in midfield, then we are going to have to go crazy in the January transfer window: bidding realistically for key players who would fit into our team beautifully (not the case with Kagewa or Rooney) and who will not snub us. They don’t have to be big names or household brands (Barca/Real galacticos).

    Maybe, for now we can solve our central midfield Woodward style by stacking a pile of Apollo tyres there: I’m sure that the company would really appreciate the extra advertising exposure.

  4. twisted bloodtwisted blood says

    Window’s not closed yet lads. Let’s see where we are post September 2. Perhaps the Bale signing tomorrow will set things off…..

  5. Dayus D red says

    We will look at our young players. Sounds familiar does’nt it?. Moyes is finally preparing our minds for no new signs. SAF said it when he failed to sign synider yet he called Scholes out of retirement instead of given Pogba a chance. Giggs at 40 has started more matches than anybody in the team and i will be surprise if he didn’t start on monday. It will be naive of moyes to think we have a strong squard unless he is been forced to do so. I hope we wouldn’t be forced into panic buying after monday nite.

  6. Denton Davey says

    So much negativity – let’s check last year’s EPL statistics.

    UTD won #20 by eleven points after being as many as 15 points ahead of their nearest pursuer; UTD scored the most goals, too – and twenty different players chipped in with goals.

    UTD have started this year by winning 1-4 away to Swansea.

    So, now we get told that the sky-is-falling-in. ChickenLittle was a piker compared to some of UTD’s fanboys.

    • Damian Garside says

      Such a sharp football intellectual he are. The Jean-Paul Sartre of the beautiful game! Let’s talk after the Chelsea game: we are reigning champions and at home:, but for us to thrash them 4-0 will mean we were heroically brilliant. But for them to win 4-0, all it will take us a few little things to go wrong for us and right for them. That’s the difference between us and them unfortunately.

      • Dennys says

        I support Denton on this. We focus so much on the negative. Surely, there are a few positives in this Moyes era so far. Do you disagree rant? Yes united seem naive in their quest to have some signings this summer but then we still have 8 days to recollect and maybe land one or two valuable midfield talent…..what in my view still remains as the biggest challenge for Moyes is not making new signing but whether to keep or sell Rooney!

    • says

      Denton – not sure who that comment was aimed at. I’m not sure who has said the sky is falling in? But if you believe United will win the title by 11 points this season then you’re either the most optimistic person I know or incredibly naive. Chelsea and City have both strengthened on the field and in the dugout over the summer. Neither will be as unstable this season; both have better options on the pitch than last year. United haven’t strengthened at the right time and have just lost the best manager of the past 25 years. Off the field a respected ceo (albeit a duplicitous bastard) has been replaced by a 40-year-old marketing guy who is seemingly out of his depth. The gap between United and the rest will most definitely close.

      In European terms United are miles behind Bayern and Barcelona. Miles. The positive spin on the Madrid result came off the back of United parking the bus in Madrid, who got tanked by Dortmund. If we make it to the quarter-finals that’ll be a very good result this season.

      So, sky not caving in but there’s a pretty logical reason to believe that this will not be a trophy filled season.

  7. Damian Garside says

    Can’t we just go back to being a football club, instead a global monster thriving on hype and spin?

    Ronaldo, Thiago, Bale, Modric, Fabregas, Fellaini, Baines, Shaw, Strootman, Baines, Mata, Willian (feel free to add to this list): everybody a “certainty” to come, tons of speculation as to how they will fit in. But nobody arrives.

    Theatre of Dreams meets Theatre of the Absurd.

  8. Coach Herbie says

    Well, with all the money that Man.City spent, they just got flogged 3-2 by Cardiff
    We need to sell Rooney because he does not want to play for us and I don’t believe in keeping a player or forcing a player to stay because he will not give 100% and will not be a team player. Mourinho has stated that he would make a swap, Mata for Rooney because he now has Willian. I don’t know what Moyes is going to do with the midfield but some fans are predicting Moyes will be sacked before Christmas. I don’t believe that! Moyes is got the team playing some good stuff but he needs more quality in midfield and time is running out.

  9. Denton Davey says

    Ed @ 10:48: “But if you believe United will win the title by 11 points this season then you’re either the most optimistic person I know or incredibly naive. Chelsea and City have both strengthened on the field and in the dugout over the summer. Neither will be as unstable this season; both have better options on the pitch than last year.”

    You wrote this before watching ManShitty fall on their faces this afternoon so your use of “evidence” can be qualified. But you also wrote this after watching CSKALondon narrowly escape with a home-victory mid-week by virtue of some very one-eyed officiating.

    So, my rejoinder would be only a nattering nabob of negativity could write: ” Chelsea and City have both strengthened on the field and in the dugout over the summer. Neither will be as unstable this season; both have better options on the pitch than last year.”

    Who is incredibly naive ? People who live in glass houses……

    • says

      Denton – seriously, are you really making this point? We’ll return to this in May but if United win the league by 11 points I’ll buy you several beers. City played poorly at Cardiff but there’s no way they’ll be 11 points behind United in May. No way Chelsea will be 15 adrift. No chance at all. Please feel free to bookmark this.

  10. Damian Garside says

    Oh Denton, where do I start? (I don’t want to pre-empt Ed having his own bit of fun picking through your less than impeccable logic, but things need to be said).

    First up, the City debacle v Cardiff. I doubt if this game is going to define their season. They will most certainly learn from their mistakes and bounce back. A lesson from history: those who start of badly often triumph over those who get off to a rocket start: Romans vs the Carthaginians, Soviets vs Nazis, and us British in probably ever war we ever fought. So from a historical perspective, what you are spouting is just so much ignorant nonsense.

    Secondly, Denton, just how is being aware of one’s own failings and of the strengths of the opponent, being a “nattering nabob of negativity” (got to love da poetic touch)? To me knowing one’s own weaknesses is essential to avoiding arrogant hubris (and fortunately, United have tended to treat opponents with respect and thus have tended to avoid being on the receiving end of complete upsets — as City were in the FA Cup final against Wigan) . My sense is that we are going to come short soon because we are ignoring the fact that for Chelsea and City — and indeed Liverpool — things have changed, they are not going to repeat the errors of 2012-2013. If we simply think we are going to go out and do what we did last year — with equal ease, we are sadly mistaken. We have glaring weaknesses inb midfiled — and to win anything we are going to have to play a game which doesn’t presuppose midfield dominance and which is set to neutralize our opponent’s midfield power (one thinks here of Chelsea with Hazard, Oscar, Lampard, Obi, De Bruyne, Mata). If we fail to do this enough times in enough matches, we will find it hard to get int the top 4, let alone win the league by 11 points.

    And, since you are making such a big deal of last season’s triumph, what about the less than impressive run in? — our points total from the last 8 ganes was no way championship winning style — if City had not fallen before then we could have been in trouble. The dividing line between the ease with which we won last season and getting pipped at the post as happened the season before is a lot finer than most of us imagine.

    Anyway, I hope we kill Chelsea tonight, so that all the myopic optimists amd gullible geegaws can pour scorn down on my happy head. Better this than that the nattering nabobs are right and Chelsea kill us, coz then some of the aforementioned gullibles and optimists are going to get the stuffing shocked out of them.

  11. Lucas says

    Imagine…one big injury to Carrick, and our PL season will be effectively over! That’s how much we are dependent on Carrick in midfield.

    Forget CL this season. If we get an easy group, we can hope to go into the 2nd round. Otherwise, we will struggle.

  12. Denton Davey says

    Ed @ 11:47: “We’ll return to this in May but if United win the league by 11 points I’ll buy you several beers.”

    AND air-fare from Toronto ?

  13. Denton Davey says

    Lucas @ 9:58: “one big injury to Carrick, and our PL season will be effectively over! That’s how much we are dependent on Carrick in midfield.”

    Maybe; maybe not. I seem to recall a season when Giggs and O’Shea were forced to play as UTD’s first-choice midfield and TheLads put up a good fight.

    To be sure, MC16 is UTD’s key player at the moment but in professional sports it’s hard to be wise-before-the-fact or, in fact, before the ball is in play. The best one can do is to consider alternatives – so, in the unfortunate circumstance of a serious injury to MC16, what would UTD do ? I don’t think that throwing-in-the-towel is part of Manchester United’s game-plan – going all the way back to 1958.

  14. Denton Davey says

    Damian Garside @ 8:26: “the City debacle v Cardiff. I doubt if this game is going to define their season. They will most certainly learn from their mistakes and bounce back.”

    Like last year ? You mean when they welcomed Carlitos “back to Manchester” after he refused to play in Munich ? You mean buy Balotelli – or selling Balotelli ? Or do you mean their constant bigging-up of Joe Hart – the human sieve ?

    Their “mistake” was to purchase three attacking players and leave themselves bare-faced and naked at the back in the (predictable) event of an injury to Kompany.

    “If we simply think we are going to go out and do what we did last year — with equal ease, we are sadly mistaken. We have glaring weaknesses inb midfiled — and to win anything we are going to have to play a game which doesn’t presuppose midfield dominance and which is set to neutralize our opponent’s midfield power.”

    It wasn’t “easy” last year; it won’t be “easy” this year BUT UTD have the greatest strength-in-depth in central defence and also in goal-scoring. The idea of “midfield dominance” is all well-and-good but – somehow ? – with the same cast of characters in midfield, UTD romped home last year. Was it a fluke ? Was it a fluke that TheLads have won five of the last seven EPL trophies and were just a non-call on an off-sides (by Martin Atkinson – yikes !) and goal difference from a seven-peat ?

    I know that “midfield dominance” is one of those mantras that all footie fans seem to love to trot out – just like “playing-with-wingers” is part of UTD’s DNA or “you’ll win nothing with kids”. But the game on the pitch is played by a team with eleven players. I also recognize that MC16 is UTD’s key player (see above) but I don’t believe that TheLads are a one-man team. Great teams overcome adversity and I happen to think that UTD’s greatest asset is the players’ will-to-win. Sure that asset came up short against Barcelona in 2009 and 2011 but those were two fantastic teams; that asset has come-up-trumps more times than not in the last twenty-odd seasons in the EPL.

    ” I hope we kill Chelsea tonight, so that all the myopic optimists amd gullible geegaws can pour scorn down on my happy head.”

    Don’t worry, I’m not a vindictive winner.

    Also, since you decried my “historical ignorance” it is perhaps germane to point out that it was Richard Nixon’s ax-man, Spiro Agnew, who coined the phrase “nattering nabobs of negativity”. Whose pants are down now, eh ?

    • Damian Garside says

      Actually, I prefer Agnew’s phrase “pointy-headed intellectuals”. You do have a point about there being possible midfield combinations where the whole us way better than the parts (Feegie once paired Phil Neville and Seb Veron and they totally outplayed an Arsenal MF deemed best of its time.

      Enjoy the game.

      But why should my pants be down? And why should that be such a bad thing?

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