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UNITEDRANT

Woodward’s window touched on farce and leaves Van Gaal just a little short

September 7, 2015 Tags: , , Opinion 47 comments
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“Ridículo” ran the headline in two of Spain’s leading sports dailies last week. No translation needed there. Except that the farce surrounding David de Gea’s aborted transfer to Real Madrid extends beyond the Spanish capital to include a little too much of Manchester United’s approach to the transfer window. It is the third summer in which the club’s executive judgement must be called into question.

The window began with Memphis Depay’s acquisition in May and ended amid bickering about the intricacies of FIFA’s transfer matching system. From the hope of progress to come, to the relative embarrassment of a summer that offered a glimpse into a world of planned squad improvement, but concluded with too many questions for real comfort. It is a window that has left Louis van Gaal better off than 12 months ago, but still short of the resources needed to mount a truly effective title challenge

The club’s critics, including Real Madrid chief Florentino Perez, crudely frame the narrative of United’s summer as one of expensive incompetence where the truth encompasses a far broader story. There is a path forward to a future in which United returns to preeminence, albeit one there are few guarantees the club will take.

El Presidente was moved to labeled United’s vice chairman, Ed Woodward, “inexperienced’ following Madrid’s failed de Gea chase. The Spaniard, like many, missed the nuance in the considerable farce – one that defies the basest evaluation. After all, subtly is a quality that rarely fares well amid all the media noise that accompanies each summer’s extended haggling.

“It’s the inexperience of the new people in charge,” concluded Pérez last week. “This is exactly the same as what happened before with Coentrão and Herrera and we thought they would have learned from what happened in the past.”

Base, perhaps, but Perez’ accusation does cut to the heart of supporter concerns about Woodward’s ability to land the biggest deals. The former banker has brought in more than £250 million in new talent since taking over from David Gill, but the impression remains that more astute executives have too often outmaneuvered Woodward.

The charge from Madrid is perhaps darker still – that Woodward’s bumbling cost the Spanish giants a player, De Gea the move he so obviously desires, and United a £29 million fee.

Still, while the success of United’s transfer strategy this summer will be judged in May, a window that began with the club having planned ahead, ended with more questions laid at Woodward’s door. It is an uncomfortable position for the 43-year-old executive, who has enjoyed success on the commercial front, while being widely ridiculed for his exploits in the transfer market. Not all of it is fair.

In fact United’s riposte to Perez’ rant was sharp and, it is worth noting, credible. Briefing on the QT, United accused the Spanish giants of, essentially, bringing failure upon themselves with a bid at the 11th hour. Moreover, Van Gaal has privately expressed his delight at United’s summer business, including retaining De Gea.

“The facts speak for themselves. The documents were in on time. Real seem intent to move the focus away from their own clumsiness this summer,” a United spokesman told the Press Association. “We all like to blame others but if you let one slip through your fingers then ultimately the culpability is yours.”

Quite. Others view Perez’ agenda as less opaque than the childish sequence of claim and its rejoinder that filled the back pages last week. Some believe that the Real president was happy to leave De Gea in Manchester for another year, allowing the popular Keylor Navas to stay in Madrid, and the club to pick up a free transfer next summer.

Whatever the truth, Perez’ narrative strikes a chord with some precisely because it hints at that wider perceived truth about Woodward. It is a view that may remain the dominant assessment of the Englishman until United lands the Premier League or the executive the ‘worldie’ he seemingly craves.

Outwith De Gea, United’s summer appeared predominantly logical though. Signatures filled significant holes: Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin add class and defensive cover in midfield; Memphis Depay pace and a goal threat in the attack. Matteo Darmian has already proven an inspired signing at a bargain price to cover the hole left by the departing Rafael da Silva.

Elsewhere, United’s window has been more curious. And once again a little haphazard.

The discussion surrounding Anthony Martial has largely focused on the French teenager’s price, which could potentially top £60 million if all bonuses are paid. Even in an inflated market, fueled by an upcoming 70 per cent increase in television revenues, the figure is eye watering. But the decision to complete the deal – with Chelsea seemingly closing in – was made at the very last moment, suggesting that opportunism and not long-term planning was very much to the fore. It is not the first time that observation has been made about United’s transfer strategy under Woodward.

Van Gaal has stronger options now. No question about that. Yet, a transfer strategy is also one of balance. United’s acquisition of six players this summer – two midfielders, two young forwards, a defender and a goalkeeper – is balanced, but counter-acted by Van Gaal’s decision to let 13 players leave permanently. More still on loan.

Some departures were inevitable: the aforementioned Rafael, Jonny Evans and Nani. Tom Cleverley has long since accepted a future away from Old Trafford, while Anders Lindegaard has spent much of the past two years “picking his nose” on the bench. Angel Di María’s unhappiness in Manchester was no secret. The Argentine’s performances, if not his talent, are unlikely to be missed.

Other departures were more questionable in the context of Van Gaal’s squad. The decision to let Robin van Persie leave for Fenerbache made sense only in the event United secured a replacement striker. The club did not. That decision was later compounded by Javier Hernández’ sale to Bayer Leverkusen, which leaves Van Gaal with Wayne Rooney as the squad’s only number nine. It is an imbalance that could well come back to haunt the Dutchman if Rooney’s stark slump in form is not resolved in the coming months.

Meanwhile, United’s failure to land an experience centre-back exposed the ‘Sergio Ramos or bust’ policy this summer. With Daley Blind still occupying a central defensive berth – and brutally exposed against Swansea City last weekend – the decision not to pursue Nicolas Otamendi, or another high-class option, could well become a source of regret. Not least because Van Gaal has fallen out with yet another player, Marcos Rojo, over the Argentine’s failure to renew his passport, while Phil Jones is injured once again. Nobody should trust the Englishman’s fitness.

The most oddball departure of the summer came with Adnan Januzaj’s loan to Borussia Dortmund. The Belgian’s technical excellence, pace and potential goal threat are all qualities Van Gaal has publicly identified as missing from his squad.

More broadly, Van Gaal’s open-door policy has a led to a rapid transition in the nature of United’s squad. Just seven first team players remain from Ferguson’s time at the club: De Gea, Jones, Rooney, Michael Carrick, Chris Smalling, Ashley Young, and Antonia Valencia.

Moreover, of the youngsters offered an opportunity last season – Tyler Blackett, Patrick McNair, Reece James, James Wilson – few, if any, are likely to feature in the months ahead. Blackett and James have left the club; McNair and Wilson will enjoy only intermittent spells on the bench. The club’s proud record of having at least one player from the academy in the match-day squad for more than 3,500 games in succession is likely to be broken this season.

The changes paint a picture of a squad development strategy that does not always sit well with supporters or everyone connected with the club.

“It was always about creating players. Now it is the opposite,” said former assistant manager Carlos Quieroz last week. “There is panic buying. You have to prepare and then make the decisions together. You can still make wrong decisions but we never made panic decisions when buying players.”

And yet, with so many millions spent, the focus also returns to United’s balance, or lack thereof. Woodward’s failure to land a world superstar may haunt the executive; his inability to fill all of the holes in Van Gaal’s squad is likely to limit the team’s competitiveness. Now that’s an assessment worthy of the ridículo moniker.

47 comments

Langa Sigodi - September 7, 2015 Reply

nice one Ed, as always.

Question: and don’t laugh here.. in the context of the outgoings, should we have kept Nani?

The Rookie - September 8, 2015 Reply

No way Nani would fit into Van Gaal’s system.

Ben Turpin - September 7, 2015 Reply

Apparently Toby Jones is lined up to play Ed following his BAFTA winning performance as Neil Baldwin http://t.co/6FE4UdednV

DayusDred. - September 8, 2015 Reply

I am always looking forward to reading your views but am struggling to make sense of this.i will like to ask the following. Will you rather we allow Real to just do as it pleases them? Which of the outgone players will you rather keep? . Nani, Rvp, Rafa, or Henandez. Since when has taken displinary action again a professional player for not know when to renew his passport thereby reporting late suddenly become a fall out?. Has Januzaj with all his pace and technicalities justified his place in the team.? Is it not worth taking a gamble in securing a talent that city, chelsea, psg to mention but a few were also chasing rather than keep an old injury proned senior player? Will you rather keep an unhappy Di maria whose heart was never @ United but in Paris. I will like to know how best you think De gea episode should have been handled. We all have our opinions but unfurtunately we are no coaches.

Ed - September 8, 2015 Reply

DayusDred – hmmm I thought I was pretty clear. Any transfer strategy should be balanced and in letting so many go Van Gaal’s been left with a senior squad of 19 + Wilson, McNair, Pereira and Valdes. Valdes is seemingly persona non grata and it’s not clear how much Van Gaal trusts the rest. So United has a small squad with particular weakness up front (Rooney + Wilson + Depay/Martial, neither of whom is really a number 9) and at the back (Smalling + Jones, who is always injured + Rojo, who is out of favour + Blind, who isn’t really centre back).

denton davey - September 8, 2015 Reply

“Has Januzaj with all his pace and technicalities justified his place in the team.?”

“all his pace” – what are you talking about ?

Adnan has demonstrated neither speed-of-foot nor speed-of-mind in is match-time this season. Yeah, I know, he scored a goal against Aston Villa but, other than that, he’s been drab and off-the-pace.

Could his dreary play be a result of lost-confidence ? We don’t know – what we do know is that he’s not been TheMessiah….. In fact, he’s been a disappointment since he burst onto the scene like a CR7-replicand but has turned out to be something of a hyped-up kid.

Ed - September 9, 2015 Reply

The skill leading up to this (deflected) goal wasn’t too shabby. On debut for Dortmund:
https://youtu.be/xXqADdzbHzg

Lucas - September 9, 2015 Reply

Skill don’t matter to LvG! It’s all about the system, philosophy, process and all the other BS.

DayusDred. - September 8, 2015 Reply

We can all groan and moan about not bringing a “Big star” in to the team but i wonder where the signing of Falcao and Di maria got us last season. Moreover, who is that “Big star” that his parent club will be willing to let go?. Cavani, . Benzima, …… ? What is the guaranty that it wouldn’t end like it did last season.? I think it was G. Neviell that said “We should be careful what we wish for”. I completely agree with him.

denton davey - September 8, 2015 Reply

And I agree with you – and RedNev.

bobbynoble - September 8, 2015 Reply

Bit of a dog’s breakfast. Three decent signings of good value, ready-made players. Two teenagers for big money. Memphis a deal done at the beginning of the window, fair enough, but then Martial a last minute panic buy for seriously silly money.

It’s not just who United signed but who they didn’t.

No centreback, the Ramos thing was all ballocks and tying it it to the De Gea sale might have seemed clever but it was clear ages ago that it was a nonstarter. (The De Gea thing is funny and pathetic. Brinkmanship that leaves both clubs looking bloody idiots. The whole thing could well kick off again in January. The transfer might not go through but Dave could sign a pre-contract with Madrid in Jan and that’ll be that. Probably play Madrid in C.L. in Feb.).

Madness not getting an experienced striker and relying too much on fatboy. Even if world class strikers are not available, United could still do with a stocking filler. We’ll be stuck with Fellaini up front.

Loaning out Januzaj is a joke and I hear Wilson might now be loaned to Derby. United has the smallest squad for years, both in numbers and in experience, so how we fight seriously on four fronts baffles me. There’s gonna be big pressure on Memphis and Martial to be successful this season and thats not fair. Even Ronny took a couple of seasons to get going.

Cant help wondering what the place would look like now if Gill and Ferguson had started spending all this cash three years ago.

Bob the Relentless - September 8, 2015 Reply

LvG as a coach has decided he is happy with his offensive options. A small squad may mean he is open to giving youngsters opportunities that were previously unexpected.. Look at the Mcnair situation. No-one expected him to get a shot at all and he started many games. Also the no CB makes sense if LvG believes that McNair will get a shot.

Maybe this season will uncover a new McNair. Maybe an Ashley Fletcher or James Wilson is expected to feature to some extent. Pereira, Powell and Lingard are all still in the squad too. Maybe him not purchasing more is a vote of confidence in the young players.

The goalkeeper thing is pretty dumb though. Why hold back Johnstone?

DenisL - September 8, 2015 Reply

Good article. Perez was absolutely right when he accused United of having a ‘scatter-gun’ approach to transfers. Is it a psychological ploy by Woodward to go after several ‘big’ names,thus detracting from the real failures in his transfer ‘strategy’? Again,for the third summer running we have spent massively on one player at the very end of the window and again look like mugs.

The point is we are desperately short in key areas,areas that needed attending to early in the summer,before we let players leave.. It begs the question do Woodward and Van Gaal actually have a list of targets,which is then ignored or,more worryingly,do Woodward and Van Gaal actually communicate with each other?

Quieroz makes the point that players are not being created any more,at to a point he is correct.We used to sign moderately priced players and then opened up their full potential.Another thing that worries me is that by the very nature of Van Gaals 3 year contract it seems that there is a great deal of ‘short termism’ going on,the next manager is not going to have the same philosophy and we will be back to square one again.
Is a director of football needed? .

Opti - September 8, 2015 Reply

A tad harsh. If we had not signed Martial but kept Januzaj and Chicharito and De Gea, I think United’s summer window would have been deemed a success (minus the established CB).

Instead, we sold Chicharito, loaned out Januzaj, bought Martial and kept De Gea… I think the difference is not enough to deem it a transfer window failure or joke. What about Chelsea’s 33 players on loan or City’s 16 players on loan at other clubs… how is that the mark of success?

In fact, it is rather clear that every window is improving as well (in terms of target refinement and acquisition).

Let May be the judge of the summer transfer window…

denton davey - September 8, 2015 Reply

“Let May be the judge of the summer transfer window.”

Totally agree.

All of us, sitting outside the decision-making process have no “real” idea of what has happened or why some prominent names splashed in the press were really targets – or just click-bait.

Will DDG re-sign for UTD ? Is he pissed with the rigamarole from Perez/RM/Marca ?

How good will Anthony Martial be ? Anyone of us who claims to know anything about this guy is either lying or just delusional.

Watching the German national team – a team featuring Schweini holding the parts together and Thomas Muller scoring twice – and the Spanish team – a team featuring the sublime talents of Andres Iniesta – has to make one pause when encountering negative comments about LvG’s managerial ability. And, equally, the direction-less play of post-LvG Netherlands national team is also significant to bear in mind. Of course, Lvg is BillyBigBollocks but he’s had a long run of success in a variety of settings and it remains to be seen whether he is just doing things his way or whether he is over-the-hill.

The criticism of Ed Woodward seems to me to be jejeune – he’s an easy target but not one of us knows what he was doing. All we have to go on is rumour/click-bait and innuendo – like Opti said, if TheLads don’t fare better by the end of the EPL/CL season then criticism is warranted; but, if not, then it’s just premature preening by know-it-alls.

bobbynoble - September 8, 2015 Reply

So let’s not bother having a viewpoint until we have the benefit of hindsight?

Ed - September 8, 2015 Reply

bobbynoble – well quite. I normally find the “we can’t judge until May” argument is essentially “I don’t like your opinion so you have no right to have one”

bobbynoble - September 9, 2015

Indeed.

“….. just premature preening by know-it-alls.” says more about its author than anyone else. Plenty of smugness on that Canadian couch.

denton davey - September 9, 2015 Reply

I hardly said – or meant – that. What I did say – and mean – is that “it’s too soon to tell”.

Does that mean that opinions are unfounded ? Of course, we don’t have a full view of the situation or its evolution. But that doesn’t mean that you (or Ed) or I can’t have opinions but, rather, that those opinions are based on incomplete evidence – or, worse, the very smugness that you blame me as promoting.

The key point for me is that last season – and this one, so far – are very much a work-in-progress in which there has been a quite incredible amount of experimentation; some of it the result of giving everyone a chance by giving them game-time and some of the experimentation has been the result of last season’s quite-incredible run of injuries which only enhance the sheer bareness of the midfield cupboard, as it were. In contrast, the result of last season’s experimentation and this summer’s recruitment seem to be a much more focussed and “leaner” first-team.

“sure the final judgement will be at the end of the season” (as Ed writes below) but I would argue that the results from the first few games is too small a sample-size to make serious, interim judgements. In that sense, I am neither an optimist nor a pessimist but, rather, waiting for more “evidence”. I would think that we will be in a much, much better position to make a serious, interim judgement by Xmas when the season will be half-over and there will have been enough time for this post-experimental squad to gel.

With regard to Woodward’s dealings in the transfer window – there is even less evidence for any of us to make a judgement in the sense that we don’t know if the pursuit of Ramos and Bale was as much a form of click-bait as the proposed deals for Pedro and Otamendi. What we do know is that the purchase of Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin and Depay and Darmian were the result of a carefully conceived plan-of-action.

The later transfers of Romero and Martial – what we might call the “second phase of the transfer window” – seem to have been rather different, for rather different reasons, too. Romero was clearly brought in to provide insurance in case the DDG transfer worked out in a way that was acceptable. Martial’s purchase seems to have been a case of getting an offer that seemed “too good to be true” insofar as this kid was a long-term target who suddenly became available. Martial was expensive and the reports about his up-side suggest that he has a very high ceiling – even if he is just a prospect, UTD’s net spend was so low that splashing-the-cash seemed almost “reasonable” in the circumstances. That is how I see Woodward’s actions in the second phase of the transfer season. I don’t see how this “touched on farce”.

bobbynoble - September 10, 2015

Of course United is a work in progress, it always will be under Van Gaal. He is forever fucking around with it.

To move out Van Persie, Falcao, Hernandez, Januzaj and Wilson because they are surplus or not up to it, leaving only Rooney and presumably Fellaini (oh for fucks sake!) is ridiculous. To just replace them with two kids, who between them have little more experience than Januzaj and Wilson (and not in the premier league) is daft.

United have supposedly been following ‘long term target’ Martial for three years or more. So why didn’t they sign him two years ago when he moved from Lyon to Monaco for a lazy five million euros? Too busy chasing Fabregas and Fellaini.

Brian Clough said promising kids should always be given time to develop and not pushed too hard too early. What will happen to Martial?

Ed - September 8, 2015 Reply

Opti – sure the final judgement will be at the end of the season. But I totally disagree if that’s just another way of saying ‘there’s no point having an opinion now’. United should finish better than 17 points off the eventual Champions, but does anybody think a title challenge will be made. I find it hard to see a path to something better than 3rd, with 4th a more likely outcome. Is that progress? Did United get the summer right in terms of making that progress?

Opti - September 9, 2015 Reply

Of course, we are all within our rights to have an opinion, but most commentators have been focusing on the opinion+conclusion of the form: “I believe the transfer window has been terrible; therefore, Woodward/LvG are terrible for United.” — I think this is just cheap shots at United [I am NOT saying that is what you did here, but many other commentators have made that point: I just prefer to comment on this site].

— Yes, the window was sub-optimal, but that does not mean that anyone else would have done better or that LvG/Woody were necessarily at fault for not having Plan B, C, …., Z (made public) or that the window was a disaster. In fact, it is very possible that United will do very well this season.. we are perennial slow starters… we beat City last year and did well against Top 8.

I will give LvG the benefit of the doubt on this one and I do not believe the transfer window was too bad. I think Woodward is learning, but is by no means the inexperienced novice put forth by the Madrid charlatans — the Viruses of Football…

If Fergie was in charge, you would expect siege mentality after the public Madrid assault. I think LvG will borrow a page from Fergie’s playbook and hope to see the Virus get slammed with a transfer ban…

Ed - September 9, 2015 Reply

Optic – Sure. Well I think my headline sums up my opinion in 13 words 🙂

I don’t think there’s any chance of United breaking off ties with Madrid, not while Bale and (especially) Ronaldo might be available.

denton davey - September 9, 2015 Reply

“I think LvG will borrow a page from Fergie’s playbook and hope to see the Virus get slammed with a transfer ban…”

Aren’t RM liable to the same kind of “transfer ban” that was implemented against Barcelona – one can only write “transfer ban” in italics since they purchased Suarez last year and Arda Turan and the guy from Valencia this summer even though they can’t play before the new year. If anything has been farcical in this transfer season it’s been the toothlessness of these “penalties”.

Julian - September 8, 2015 Reply

I think its more a question of unfinished business rather than the wrong business. I don’t have any complaints about any of the newcomers – even Martial who quite clearly is a huge talent in the making. I don’t have any complaints about any of the departures either. Even Januzaj who, talented as he is, did not make the case effectively enough, when given the opportunity, for keeping him at OT as opposed to gaining regular first team experience elsewhere. I hope he returns a better player and much the wiser, ready to resume what should be a promising career with Utd.

The problem is that United could and should have bought at least two more players of experience and quality if they wanted to genuinely challenge for say the league title this season. With the numbers departing it is asking far too much for youngsters like Memphis and Martial particularly to hit the ground running and take the place by storm. In Martial’s case it might take at least a couple of seasons for him to make the impact he seems to be more than capable of making eventually,

It seems to me that the unfinished business is probably only likely to be completed next summer and that Van Gaal will only then be able to say that he has a championship challenging team in what is almost certainly going to be his last season as manager. I just wonder if indeed this was always the intention – that LvG’s basic remit was to restructure the squad over his three year tenure in time to attract and hand over to a successor who will then be in a good position to take it all a step further.

So, once again, a top four finish this season is about all we can realistically hope for. That objective will not be sufficient to protect LvG from mounting pressure, from the fans and media who expect more, if at the very least performances don’t pick up in the near future, let alone next season. A trophy by way of one of hte deomestic cups might be a useful distraction but don’t bet on it.

Gerald - September 8, 2015 Reply

Well well l agree with all opinions ,firstly Di Maria failed at United we all watched ,Van Persie has past his time,Nani was supposed to take over from Ronaldo never rose to that level,Hernandez has never been a starter always effective from the bench suddenly the press wants him to start,if he was a good starter Real would have definitely signed him ,Januaz is still young player to develop he has talent but still has to reach the level of Nemyer and ,Sterling ,The De Gea saga Real Mildred had all the time to sign De Gea in the world why wait for 12th Hour,then cry foul ,by not playing De Gea Man U was ready for life without him,so Perez is just covering for his failures,On Ed has done the best he can on the Market,Van Gaal has reduced the wage bill effectively why keep redundant and unhappy players,let’s let the season roll see what happens ,remember Van Gaal has never failed before Barca and Bayer are still enjoy the his fruits even today .

denton davey - September 8, 2015 Reply

” why keep redundant and unhappy players ?”

There’s a lot of impatience – especially because LvG has given almost every single one of the “redundant and unhappy players” game-time. He has winnowed the pay-list but he has also sorted the squad so that he now has almost all of the guys he wants. I reckon that there’s another couple to come: maybe a left-footed central defender like Aymeric Laporte and a real, “proper” centre forward like Robert Lewandowski or a quick-thinking forward like Thomas Muller (but not necessarily any of those three – I mean, really, did anyone have Matteo Darmian or Anthony Martial on their radar ?)

DayusDred. - September 8, 2015 Reply

Wonder what our reactions would be if chelsea or any of our rivals have signed Martial now that we know Monaco had nocked back chelsea’s £30m bid. ABUs complained about the fee yet they hailed the 49m paid for a 20yr old Sterling as City investing in the future.

denton davey - September 8, 2015 Reply

Q: Wonder what our reactions would be if chelsea or any of our rivals have signed Martial ?

A: Who ?

Raphael C - September 8, 2015 Reply

I think fans and analyst sometimes get lost in playing fantasy football/football manager etc…

We have unquestionably strengthened our midfield core with Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger. Darmian looks like an inspired acquisition. De Gea is staying and I have no doubt he’ll be professional and return to top form. Memphis and Martial are exciting if big gambles that could come good spectacularly.

That is not a perfect summer, but it looks like a reasonable if not very good one. It’s not like we fucked around all day and only got Feillaini last minute for twice the original price.

A title charge in the second season after the shambles of Moyes is unrealistic anyway. One or two more windows, hopefully addressing that GK, CB and CF positions, and then and only then probably we’re realistically ready in the third year. This year should be about making sure we’re properly back in the top three at the least, and the business done so far should probably just about do that, provided the attack as a whole and not just Rooney start to fire properly.

Opti - September 9, 2015 Reply

“It’s not like we fucked around all day and only got Feillaini last minute for twice the original price.”
— LOL 😀

I would personally satisfied with Top 3 and serious challenge (Semi-Final or better) in FA Cup or Champions League and play kids in Carling Cup while progressing a couple rounds.

Lucas - September 9, 2015 Reply

Considering the number of competitions we are playing in this season, we are a bit short, especially after selling Chicharito and loaning out Januzaj. We will feel the effects during and after the festive season in December/January. I foresee a few injuries, and some panic buys again in January.

I think we have a decent squad, but LvG’s tactics and emphasis on possession and control rather than creativity/unpredictability means that we will again struggle to finish 4th this season. Last season, we were certainly helped by Liverpool’s implosion towards the end and our own winning run for a few games.

LvG has spent more than 200M, and plays a game that is absolutely boring to watch, and we struggle to beat teams that defend deep. This is not good, and I fail to understand what the ‘philosophy’ intends to achieve if we cannot beat teams like Newcastle at home.

Subterranean Steve - September 9, 2015 Reply

You’ve been reading my mind, Lucas. How do you do it?

Lucas - September 9, 2015 Reply

I guess I only mentioned what’s in the mind of most United fans, Steve 😀

Subterranean Steve - September 9, 2015 Reply

ED, thanks for the bone which you threw us. Because of the international break, there’s not been much to devour over the last couple of weeks and some of us appear to be on the verge of cannibalism.

Time to bring on the scousers and have a proper feeding frenzy.

Lucas - September 9, 2015 Reply

Who is looking forward to Blind against Benteke this Saturday? Better start with Fellaini (can’t believe I said that!), who can defend the corner kicks.

Julian - September 9, 2015 Reply

Smalling v Benteke would be fairer! Fellaini only if we are losing with 5 mins to go! (emergency plan B)

denton davey - September 11, 2015 Reply

“Farcical” – would that change if the reports are true and UTD get DDG to sign a new contract ?

Subterranean Steve - September 11, 2015 Reply

Surely the slapstick events of August 31st were not really part of a cunning plan masterminded by Ed ‘Baldric’ Woodward?

denton davey - September 11, 2015 Reply

UTD 1; RM nil !

Opti - September 11, 2015 Reply

DDG signs new 5 year deal for 200,000 per week… well worth it @ 10,000,000/year.

De Gea will become the most expensive goalkeeper ever when Madrid sign him in May. 40-50M.

Great for us!

Subterranean Steve - September 11, 2015 Reply

Sounds good but what if Madrid offer De Gea a back-handed sweetener of say 12 milllion to just see out his contract?

Opti - September 11, 2015 Reply

That’s called tapping up a player right? Anyways, it’s academic: he just signed a 4 year deal today.

Mads

Julian - September 11, 2015 Reply

Watch out for details on any release clause.

Opti - September 11, 2015 Reply

United wouldn’t pay De Gea 200,000 per week (i.e., 10M/yr) if there is a small release clause. If there is one, it will be around 50m or more… but I don’t believe United need to accept such terms. De Gea needed the contract to play, I am sure.

Denton Davey - September 11, 2015 Reply

” De Gea needed the contract to play”

BINGO !

Another factor that has been given almost no attention is that his family includes his misses as well as his parents/siblings. Ms Edurne obviously had/has no great affection from my home town but, from what I understand – and, really, what any of us can “understand” in these matters is likely to be fairly marginal – his parents visited him regularly in M/C and were rather happy that he was out of the glare of the Marca-spotlight.

It would seem that, in addition, del Bosque’s intervention – “he has to play to be picked for Spain in next year’s Euros” – and the bungling by Florentino Perez (who tried to stare down LvG and EddieW) must have been a factor in making the move to Madrid less than completely appealing.

For DDG, home might not be where his heart is, but ten million quid a year can make it almost-OK. That ten million this year, ten million next year…… For that kind of money even I might consider a return to M/C !

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