Transfer dealings have been one of the root causes of Manchester United’s struggles since 2013. The wrong players coming into the club, and the not enough players going out of it.
There have been many signings, particularly under Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, which in hindsight were obviously made by people who don’t know a lot about football. Radamel Falcao is a prime example. Before he joined, everyone knew he was a wonderful, instinctive finisher. He was the sort of player that you just know will get you goals.
We as fans don’t have the resources to learn about players to the extent Manchester United can, but the aforementioned opinion of Falcao seemed to be enough for the club to slap a big money deal on the table and take him on an extremely expensive loan. Including the loan fee and wages for the year he spent at the club, it reportedly cost United £15.8 million.
It became clear after he’d signed that his niggly knee injury we’d heard about was not even close to being fixed, and was going to limit him for the rest of his career. According to player interviews since that loan move, it appears Falcao wasn’t in a great place mentally, partly due to his inability to get fit and get scoring.
Surely a club the size of Manchester United can delve deep enough into the background of a player and see that he’s very much injured, and is very unlikely to hit the goal-scoring heights you want within a year.
Other mistakes include the likes of Angel Di Maria, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Bastian Schweinsteiger (although how good was it seeing him at Old Trafford), Memphis Depay, potentially Eric Bailly, Alexis Sanchez, and probably a lot more that I’ve phased out my mind.
Eric Bailly does often look like a very good player who could be very important, but he’s quite clearly extremely injury prone. He looks one more big injury away from being moved on.
This past transfer window however, has shown signs of improvement. We’ve made three successful (so far) signings. Harry Maguire is a different sort of transfer to Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James. Everyone, including Maguire, knows that he’s not worth £80 million. That’s just the way the market works. If you’re going to sign an English player who isn’t kicking up a fuss at his current English club, at the end of the window, expect to pay well over the odds. The bottom line is that we needed Harry Maguire, and we have the money. I don’t particularly care that we paid more than he’s worth.
In regards to AWB, that has to go down as a wonderful piece of business form the club. He’s worth more than £45 million to us. He’s probably been our most consistent player this year, and has clicked with the fans immediately. Of course, there are things he can improve on, such as his composure when going forward. He often looks panicked and rushed when over the half-way line, but he has tightened up our defence on that right-hand side entirely.
When we signed Daniel James, it was expected he’d come in and out of the squad throughout the season, slowly finding his feet. If it didn’t work out, we can afford a £15 million pound flop. Now, he’s being rested during Europa League games because we need him to be fit for the Premier League. He’s made a great impact. He could do with another goal soon, just to keep the confidence up, but he looks like another bargain.
That summer transfer window does seem like a corner was turned, but only time will tell if the club just got lucky with players settling in, or if they changed their scouting approach and identified the right type of players. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is clearly trying to build a squad of players who all have the same mindset, so hopefully we won’t see the same expensive panic buys in the future.