Ironically I had started writing on the subject “The Summer transfer window: Manchester United’s Achilles heel” for my first piece on this blog. As a Manchester United fan, over the years I’ve always been underwhelmed at the end of transfer windows, largely due to the kind of players we’re linked with and the players we end up buying. I’ve been naïve in many cases but I’m sure there are fans that understand where I’m coming from. We’re Manchester United for Christ’s sake! We ought to dream big, we ought to sign the best players. That however, wasn’t the clubs policy. Sir Alex’s Manchester United didn’t buy superstars… It made superstars, which is why Robin Van Persie’s signing in the summer of 2012 was met with such surprise. He was the finished product; a signing which many felt was unlike Sir Alex.
The point I’m trying to get at is, barring a few exceptions there was a specific plan of action. Four transfer windows have passed since Fergie left the club and not one can be termed a success. David Gill leaving with him did not help at all and his replacement Ed Woodward seemed to lack a coherent recruitment policy that saw him overpaying for players and being held at ransom by clubs who obviously knew of the discord within. It almost seemed like players were being signed first and a role for them was chalked out later which led to imbalance in the team and bewilderment amongst fans. If someone told me two years back that we were going to sign Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao in the same transfer window and said they would be appearing off the bench I would have laughed it off with the rhetoric: ‘Who is going to keep them there? Ashley Young?’ There certainly seems to be a change in fortunes for the three players mentioned.
This time however there seems to be a different approach by the club. It is probably helped by the fact that the manager can have a say early on and targets can be identified and pursued with his knowledge and specifications. For it is his game plan that these players have to fit into. The last two transfer windows saw the club leaving it too late which led to fans losing patience and new players not having enough time to settle in and understand what the manager exactly wanted from them. If United can get a good pre-season with the new signings then it would work wonders for the club. The key is to wrap up business early. With a club of United’s stature, the longer the negotiations are, the higher the price seems to go.
It’s not official, but if the papers are to go by, Ilkay Gundogan, Memphis Depay and Nathaniel Clyne seem to be heading to the Theatre of Dreams. Young players that can fill positions United currently seems to be lacking in depth, all of them are technically good and have age on their side. Gundogan seems to worry certain fans due to his injury problems but he is a player that could be a perfect heir to Michael Carrick in the long run. His performances in the 2012-13 season are testament to his talent and if he can maintain his fitness, then at 21 million pounds United have started off with a good signing. If the club has been working on various such deals behind the curtains then it wouldn’t be premature to say that we could be serious title contenders next season. A centre-forward (Danny Ings on a free seems to be a good option) and a centre-half seem to be other areas that the club will definitely look to strengthen. Players that seem to be on the move include Chicharito, Radamel Falcao and Tom Cleverley. The futures of Robin Van Persie, Nani, Anders Lindegaard and Rafael seem to be uncertain but the one player every United fan would like to see stay put is David De Gea. There seems to be a situation with his contract, with United having offered a mega deal and the player yet to put pen to paper. Real Madrid seem to be the only suitors and De Gea has been made out to be the natural heir to Iker Casillas. The Spanish national has been United’s best player this season and if he does make up his mind to quit the club it seems the coming transfer window would be the time that United let him go since they would then risk him leaving for free at the end of the 2015-16 season.
The coming season holds real promise with the clubs prospective return to Europe. Players like Luke Shaw, Adnan Januzaj, James Wilson will be looking to take their games to the next level, as they certainly seem to be part of the core for United’s long-term future. The case of Angel Di Maria is a peculiar one. I believe Old Trafford will see the best of the Argentine next season provided he is played in his position. Surely his inability to cause trouble playing as a striker when the team was faltering in its build-up play and other off-field incidents might have taken their toll. To add to that he doesn’t speak the language. If he starts performing at the levels he was at early on in the season he could be as good as a new signing next season.
As a firm supporter of the club I’m extremely excited by the times that lie ahead. I hope the club lives up to the promise it has shown in the last seven weeks and if that happens I can say without doubt that Van Gaal’s record of winning the league with every club he has been at wont be in danger.