The Devil’s Advocate – Transfer embarrassment and #GlazersOut

by Mayur Joshi

Well…that didn’t go according to plan did it? After a promising pre-season, Manchester United fans everywhere were excited, if not confident, for the new season. 90 minutes of turgid football later and we’re back to square one. Watching a Louis Van Gaal team resort to pumping it forward to the microphone-headed Belgian was difficult to take and more so considering that he and Herrera  cost the best part of £60m between them.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Herrera and I think he’ll grow into a fantastic footballer but he was never going to have a dramatic impact on his own. He’s just not at the requisite level…yet. The less said about the Redwood tree we bought from Everton the better. A cock-flavoured lollipop would be more useful than that leaden-footed giraffe.

What this team needs is quality. Gone are the days where we could boast a world class player, even two, in every position. United are now at a stage where they have to spend big and fans are fed up of broken promises and false dawns. Jim White took to Twitter almost immediately after the game on Saturday to announce that Mehdi Benatia is on his way to United. That has turned out well…

I tweeted with cynicism that the timing of his IndyKaila-esque tweet was all too convenient as it felt designed to take at least some attention away from the defeat to Swansea. It didn’t work. The manager came out in his press conference stating that his player’s confidence will have been “smashed” by that performance and result. United fans’ confidence in the club being able to complete deals was smashed a long time ago and even talk of Benatia arriving couldn’t assuage the ill feeling towards the club’s hierarchy as #GlazersOut quickly trended worldwide.

Ed Woodward himself stated that the club does keep an eye on Twitter and other social networks to gauge fan feelings but I suspect if that were true, he’d have been driven to a state of alcohol-fuelled depression by now. It’s amazing how effective a whiskey or two can be at drowning out a barrage of malicious tweets!

Woodward has dug himself into a hole and, no matter what happens now, it’s wholly unacceptable that a club that required a large influx of players at the beginning of the summer has left it to the last two weeks of the window to complete major deals.

The apparent lack of planning and, more importantly, the complete lack of execution is an embarrassment and there seems to be a complete disregard for this within the United ranks. A recent investor presentation puts more stock into Facebook, Instagram and Twitter followers than the actual team. No mention is made of the need for more players and more quality within the squad which in itself is a cause for concern. Investors may not want to hear about massive expenditure but their investment is going to disappear should United fail to add to the squad in the coming weeks. The old adage of having to speculate to accumulate certainly rings true.

Throughout the summer we have been “hopefully close to trying to prepare a possible introductory discussion for a potential bid” on several world class players and some guy called Rojo. It’s not good enough. It’s a dereliction of duty from those involved in transfer dealings and while the money continues to flow into the club, the squad continues to deteriorate.

Talks of “showdown” talks between Van Gaal and Woodward are not surprising and this United fan would love to be a fly on the wall of that meeting! I can just imagine King Louis tea-bagging Ed Woodward before handing in his resignation in the form of a #GlazersOut tattoo imprinted onto Woodward’s forehead. Van Gaal has nothing to prove and if the board don’t give him the tools he requires to succeed then he is likely to seek a final swansong elsewhere. And I for one wouldn’t blame him. At 63, he’s not likely to want a five year re-building project.

United fans were very patient last year with David Moyes, more so than he deserved in my opinion. The regression has continued and United have lost three senior defenders having only brought in one. It’s almost as though we didn’t know that Vidic, Rio and Evra were leaving.

Benatia is the level of player we want at the club, a world class performer who can have an instant impact on the side (which invariably means we won’t get him). Typical that United are the club that makes the largely reliable Jim White look like an internet ITK looking for retweets.

Promises of stellar signings, made by the increasingly infuriating Ed Woodward, haven’t come to fruition whilst the likes of Fabregas, Alexis and Diego Costa have been added to already superior squads at our (former) rivals. We want players of that calibre but, for whatever reason, the club just isn’t sealing the deals.

In the last year alone the club has wasted three transfer windows and yet have managed to spend close to £130m on players. Fellaini was never going to be good enough. Mata is a world class player but it wasn’t necessarily a position we needed to strengthen and we only got him because he wasn’t wanted by his club. Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera are far from the finished articles and cost close to £60m. The money is clearly there but the club’s ability to prise star players from other top clubs is non-existent.

Historically, we have rarely gone in for the world’s top players but such is the paucity of talent within the squad that we are now in desperate need of expensive stars. Clubs are fully aware of United’s position and will hold out for massive sums and as a result the deals won’t be sanctioned.

Even if we do sign two or three more players, the chronic underinvestment over the years means we will still be short of the required players to compete at the highest level. The only saving grace is that we have no Champions League to be embarrassed in. This time last year, I defended the squad profusely but a year on, three poorly executed transfer windows later and the loss of key, senior players has substantially weakened our position. For the self-styled biggest club in the world, it’s a total embarrassment that we can’t compete for the biggest players in the world. It’s an utter shambles and a disgrace that this has been allowed to happen.

United fans are not just frustrated, they’re apoplectic and this might just be the catalyst for them to get off their arses and do something about it. On field success has made us lethargic and both Sir Alex’s football genius and unashamed defence of the money grabbing owners has been highlighted in the last 12 months.

The Glazers no longer have an apologist in the dugout and the lack of backing Van Gaal has received has exposed them to fans’ eyes once again. The message to sponsors from the club is that we are still a top draw for players and fans across the world but that message will surely change with public demonstrations and protests. Top sponsors don’t want to be associated with a club in turmoil and it might seem slightly late in the day but United fans are starting to wake up. We won’t be able to force them out but it’s time to make sure that we are heard; it’s time to start hurting the Glazers; it’s time to reclaim our voice.

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