EXCLUSIVE: Fellaini can be United’s Yaya Toure and Glazers aren’t blameless for summer woes

by Sam Peoples

First of all, can you introduce yourself to the readers?

My name is Adam Crafton and I am MailOnline’s Manchester Football Reporter.

Transfer deadline day was horrible from a fans’ perspective. What was it like within the industry reporting it?

A little bit chaotic but also hugely exciting. It’s our Christmas. Sky have done a remarkable job in marketing Deadline Day as a major event in the football calendar. I’m biased of course, but I thought our rolling coverage on the MailOnline was fantastic, from 7am until way past midnight. The demand is there from the readers, we are fortunate to have a huge readership and I was exceptionally proud to be involved in our coverage.

“In my mind, it [Fellaini] was a done deal. I’d been at Wigan on Saturday, and the source was reliable but as the clock started to tick down, you do become nervous.”

Everyone moans about the transfer window, the panic buys et al but I think most people secretly love it. As a journalist, you have a responsibility to provide information accurately and at speed. You hope that your information is correct and you are proved right.

I’d been banging on since Saturday about the chain of events that would take Fellaini to United, McCarthy to Everton and Powell to Wigan. In my mind, it was a done deal. I’d been at Wigan on Saturday, and the source was reliable but as the clock started to tick down, you do become nervous. There are so many complications that can change things – fees, how payments are staggered, loyalty bonuses, agents etc.

Failed attempts to sign the likes of Fabregas, Herrera and Khedira summed up what was quite an amateur summer from United. Who do you think should shoulder the responsibility of those failures?

Difficult one. I think the club as a whole spent too much time patting themselves on the back after the smooth transition from Ferguson to Moyes.

The Glazer family should take some blame, too. This has slipped under the radar a little but should the owners not have taken more responsibility this summer?

Certainly, Ed Woodward struggled. His role has changed significantly, from bringing money into the club to now having to spend it. It must be difficult to adapt to that new mindset but United’s approach did, as you say, seem amateurish. United would probably benefit from a Director of Football but I just can’t see that happening any time soon.

The Glazer family should take some blame, too. This has slipped under the radar a little but should the owners not have taken more responsibility this summer?

I am struggling to understand how a club that is set to announce £350m revenue, that is welcoming in sponsorship deals seemingly every week and that has received their portion of a new TV deal worth billions failed to attract players this summer.

United’s financial might should be supreme and as strong as – if not more powerful – than Barcelona and Real Madrid. Something doesn’t add up. I know some are blaming Moyes but I think that’s a little unfair. I feel that he was let down by his superiors this summer.

What is your take on the Ander Herrera saga? Who was at fault for the failure for that transfer to materialise?

This was a bit bonkers. Let’s deal with what we definitely know. Athletic Bilbao insisted from the very beginning that they would not negotiate. The message was clear: pay the €36million buyout clause or we aren’t doing business. United, inexplicably, tried to haggle and do a deal. This makes me think they should have done their homework better.

“Who knows? Either way, all that really matters is that United failed to add a really good, talented young player.”

Bilbao rarely sell below the buyout clause because it is so hard for them to recruit replacements due to their Basque-only player policy. United should have known from the problems Bayern Munich had in signing Javi Martinez that any deal would be complex and extremely difficult to pull off in that narrow timeframe.

Then we have the United representatives/impostors/lawyers. United deny they employed the lawyers, Herrera and Bilbao also. The LFP suggest they were there working on the deal. Who knows? Either way, all that really matters is that United failed to add a really good, talented young player.

fellaini-unveiledMarouane Fellaini was always going to join this summer but United waited until the last possible moment to do so. Why do you think Moyes did not wrap up his transfer earlier?

Spot on. He should have. This deal should have been done in the first weeks of July. Instead, they dillied, dallied, pursued a pipe-dream in Ronaldo and a wild-goose chase in Fabregas.

Fellaini was always the top target – plus one in midfield. United tried to cut a bargain and ended up paying significantly over the odds (and the £23.5million release clause). I also think United could have done a deal for Baines if they had submitted a reasonable offer in July. The bidding ranged from £9million to £15million. I think he’s worth £18-20million. And Everton seem to agree. This is the one area where Moyes perhaps could have done better.

Last year, Manchester City had a poor transfer window bringing in the likes of Scott Sinclair and Javi Garcia and it was a prelude to a poor season. Do you think Manchester United have made the same mistake or do they still have the squad to compete?

United will compete in the Premier League, of course. I still feel United do not keep the ball well enough, particularly in Europe. I felt Modric was the player they really needed; someone to dictate a game like Scholes used to do. But I just look at that midfield and it still lacks invention and guile. Ozil would have been excellent too, someone to commit opponents, work between the lines and scores goals from midfield.

Fellaini will add some real bite to the side this year. How do you see the derby matches going now that Manchester United have an answer to Yaya Toure?

“I do think that Fellaini can be United’s Yaya…in terms of a midfielder player having a major impact on big games. United have lacked that in Darren Fletcher’s absence.”

Fellaini is not as good as Yaya. They may be equally powerful, but Yaya allays wonderful finesse with that brute force. Not sure Fellaini has that. However….I do think that Fellaini can be United’s Yaya…in terms of a midfielder player having a major impact on big games. United have lacked that in Darren Fletcher’s absence.

Finally, what is your prediction for where Manchester United will finish this season and why?

Do I have to?

Before the start of the season, I said Manchester City – but that was on the condition they bought a world class centre-half – I thought they may sign Pepe at that stage. I worry for them a little defensively and I wouldn’t have let Gareth Barry leave – he has been excellent for City these last couple of years. Not sure the Fernandinho/Yaya partnership has the right balance but it’s early days. In attack, Navas offers City genuine width – something that’s been lacking – but they need David Silva and Sergio Aguero to recapture their best form on a consistent basis. Could miss the energy of Tevez, too.

United still have an very good squad but I just think it is asking too much to expect a league title in David Moyes’ first year. If he pulls it off, it will be remarkable. I’m wary of writing United off – United players win titles – it’s in their job description – but it’s just my gut feeling this year.

Chelsea look seriously solid. They look very difficult to beat and I can’t see them losing many games. A lot depends on how Samuel Eto’o does. And start playing Juan Mata, will you, Jose?

They are my favourites now. For this week, anyway…

Image: Everton

You may also like