Summer woes for Manchester United

by Omar Soliman

June. That agonising time of year when the league season seems so far away and we have to make do with the placid attraction of internationals and, heaven forbid, tennis.

If you thought it was difficult enough as a fan imagine life as a football journalist with nothing but innocent tweets and tedious rumours to help fill back pages. How do they manage it? More importantly, why do so many buy into it?

Silly season is upon us yet this summer must have appeared to be a godsend to Fleet Street with managerial upheaval and the faint sound of imaginary treasure chests being teased open. The top three will all be tempted to treat their new manager to mould their all-new conquering side by throwing money at the latest and greatest on the world market.

This gives tabloids ample opportunity to go into transfer frenzy overload, even if it means harming their integrity with the most spurious of links. In this murky world of rumours and shady agents what can you really believe anymore?

What exactly did Cristiano Ronaldo mean when he tweeted that Real Madrid were fibbing? Is Wayne Rooney‘s newly shaved head signalling a new beginning? David Gill’s wink and a smile? What does it all mean?

For United, the talk has been of filling a gaping hole in midfield for a couple of years now but certain names seem to be confirmed targets simply by being mentioned often enough. Kevin Strootman, Thiago and Cesc Fabregas are the latest batch to be reportedly heading straight to M16 depending on which rag you pick up.

The Thiago transfer seems less a guessing game and more a process of elimination. According to Spanish journalist Pepe Gutierrez: “Due to conflict of interests and pacts, Thiago will not be joining FC Bayern, Real Madrid or Manchester City.” So he’s nailed on to join United then.

There are also the more optimistic/cluelessly hopeful names of Robert Lewandowski (who was seemingly a Bayern Munich player only a few weeks ago) and the holy grail himself, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Reports for CR7 seem to be covering all bases with snippets exclusively revealing that he is edging towards a move back to Old Trafford and others that he’ll become the highest paid footballer on the planet. If you are convinced of something then head to the bookies but do it quick as they always seem one step ahead of the game. For instance, the odds of Ronaldo returning have been slashed from 11/8 to 5/6 over the past week so surely he’s coming.

Then again, that transfer may depend on whether Madrid get Gareth Bale. With the media happy to lap up any nods and winks the rumour mill quickly turns into a well oiled tapping up machine. Zinedine Zidane has already manipulated the system by publicly stating his personal wish for Gareth Bale to swap the lilywhite of Spurs for the blinding white of Real Madrid.

He said: “If Gareth feels now is the time to move then he has to have a private discussion with his club and express that he wants to leave.” Only, it cannot exactly be called personal when he is employed by Real as a sporting director.

Amidst the madness are the increasingly sensible/predictable/clueless links due to Moyes’ already assumed raiding of his former club with Marouane Fellaini being the final piece of the jigsaw, which is odd as he was barely mentioned this time last year. Then of course there is Leighton Baines as if Patrice Evra’s sparkling form was merely a figment of many an imagination.

Gone are the days when the first you would know of a transfer is a photo of the player in the new home shirt, holding aloft a scarf with the North Stand behind him. Gone are the days when confirmation of a transfer was not a tweet beginning with that palpitation inducing phrase ‘breaking news’. Sigh, I still remember learning of Teddy Sheringham’s transfer when rain-delayed coverage of Wimbledon was briefly halted for Des Lynam to casually confirm it. Halcyon days they were.

Social media and the insatiable need to report anything first has put paid to that. Where there is no margin for error occasionally news slips out, or so it seems. Gremlins at Sky Sports News teasingly operating the giddy rolling news bar to report that United had signed Jagielka, only that they hadn’t. Maybe the work experience boy was checking that the bar was working properly. Or an apparently leaked news story on including quotes of Lewandowski signing.

Thanks to Twitter we now have the rapid evolution of the ITK, or ‘In The Know’ which in most cases is probably some teenage boy armed with a sticker album making wild guesses. Tabloids have also coined the term ‘transfer kitty’ which is another hit and miss method of working out roughly how much each manager has to spunk on the transfer market.

According to some ‘exclusive’ reports Moyes has £60m at his disposal which happily equates to Fellaini + Baines + Lewandowski. According to other reports he can happily splurge it all on the return of the chosen one at between £70m – £85m because, as well all know, £15m is really just loose change.

Few journalists seem to be in any sort of agreement over what plans Moyes may want to bring to his team. What personnel to fit what choice of formation, in short no-one really has a clue. The only people who do know are working behind the scenes on identified targets, not those that have been plucked out of a fantasy football aficionado’s wet dream. Expect signings but do not believe everything you read, it is easier to bear that way.

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peter Godwin 06/24/2013 - 08:24

Am happy to be Man U fans, and i believe in Moyes. Up Man U………………….

mig78 06/24/2013 - 05:08

Spot on omar. Until I hear a confirmed news, I’ll treat everything as a cheap piece from a lazy journalist trying to take us for a ride just to sell their news.

ITK my foot.

Eoin Fitz 06/24/2013 - 02:44

Great article. Still it’s nice to imagine. Honestly tired of united not coming through on transfers. Since Ronaldhino Man United have been close to sign so many star players yet we get let down every summer. In the last couple of years we’ve all been disappointed with transfers “nearly” or “next week” signings. Snieder, Muara, Snielder, Hazard etc etc. I honestly think united need to step up a gear in the transfer market and take a few leaves out of Barca Bayern and dare I say it Chelsea’s book and just get deals done quicker. Sadly I got my hopes up about Thiago as a lot does suggest that he is a possible transfer and not just a pie in the sky story, but I wouldn’t be suprised if next week I read that he’s joined Bayern. I was really rooting united to get Zaha and they did thankfully but United seem to have a lack of pulling power outside the premiership. They we’re lucky that Kagawa was on last year of contract at Borussia and they’ll be lucky to get Thiago for 16mil. I’ve been a United fan for 25 years and I’m tired of hoping United get this player and hoping United get that player. Do you think Madrid fans or City fans loose sleep and are hoping this time of the season… no! why because they spend the money. Then you hear Ferguson saying we can’t compete in the market with the like’s of the above mention. Well I say cobblers to that Sir. Biggest club in the world? Uhhh if we have such a strong fan base where’s the money being spent. Oh that’s right the crazy debt. But hold on United revenue for the past five years shows they have tons of money left over? Where did Ronaldo’s transfer money go? Debt?. I think United fans have been made mugs of by the people at the top and I for one am tired of being let down in the transfer market with little excuse as to why we can’t spend easily 100million this year and every year. You think that’s ludicrus huh!? well when the debt??? is paid off in oh some three four years united should be well able to spend oh maybe 140 million each summer. Time will tell but to my guessing they’ll be some bulls**t united fans will fall for when the Glazers and Co. cannot compete even then. Rant over.

P.S. hope Rooney stays too many fans jumping on the band wagon to get him out and say he’s lazy I think it’s bad support. Get behind your players. Two reasons I’d stand by Rooney, he want’s to play all the time and he didn’t hand in a transfer. As much as alot of fans love to say what a marvel Sir Alex is he can be a pretty hard nosed scot when he wants. Simular story with Jaap Stam’s autobiography.

Quis 06/26/2013 - 19:55

The debt/equity ratio for United is outstanding, ask the NYSE. So quit you whinging, you’re just parroting others with just as little knowledge as yourself. You may have heard of FFP, it is based on income not debt. I hope you know the difference. So given those parameters you can’t go out and spend 100 million a year if your net income isn’t 100 million so get off it. (by the by there’s no football club in the world that has a net income of 100 million)

You probably haven’t noticed this because you head is somewhere else (dark and dingy) but spending doesn’t make a winner. United buy players to fit their weaknesses (although I think Fergie has a blind spot for the midfield.

Finally on Rooney; he may be great but he’s not in shape and he isn’t the force he once was, so maybe he needs to go somewhere else to find out if he can get back to his old form because he’s not doing it at United. As for Fergie, he said shrek asked for a transfer not he put in a transfer request. Given the past performances of the two who would you believe… ok maybe in your case who would a reasonable person believe.


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