The one way Baines could have already been a Manchester United player

With Manchester United again linked with a move for Leighton Baines, Vincent Ralph ponders the if onlys of time-travel.

Time travel usually causes more problems than it is worth. You either have to teach your dad to grow a pair and simultaneously play Johnny Be Good while you slowly fade into non-existence, or you end up saving the world by allowing an aeroplane engine to crush you while you sleep.

But time travel also has its plus sides, and were it possible, David Moyes would surely be somewhere in the queue.

Because for all the good you could do with unlimited hindsight, or all the money you could pocket with the knowledge of next week’s lottery numbers, you could also accept an offer from a club you will one day manage, for a player you were once desperate to keep and are now equally desperate to sign.

Manchester United have been heavily linked with Leighton Baines for quite some time. Last summer there was talk of £8million offers…£10million offers…£15million offers; all for a player seen as the perfect long-term replacement for a Frenchman swiftly losing his va-va-voom.

The fact that Patrice Evra has just had his best season at Old Trafford for years doesn’t make the need for Baines any less. He is more than just a young, extremely gifted defender. He is a goal-threat, both from open play but most importantly from set-pieces.

It is no exaggeration to say he could be United’s most effective free-kick taker since David Beckham.

So don’t be surprised if Moyes is cursing himself for not accepting an offer from his predecessor in the past. A fact in itself that surely confirms the new United manager had no knowledge that he would so swiftly inherit Sir Alex Ferguson’s hot-seat, despite conspiracy theories to the contrary.

Hindsight often hurts. It often leaves nothing but the whisper of if only that we can either ignore or yield to.

In the case of football, to dwell on the past is a trait for only the weakest of managers. There is always another game, another season, another chance to make amends.

But if that DeLorean did exist…or if Moyes could somehow go back and tread on that proverbial butterfly, would Baines be the one thing he would change? Or would he throw in Fellaini for good measure?

Of course I am both playing devil’s advocate and pondering the fantastical. At the time Moyes had only Everton’s best interests at heart, now he has only United’s. Such is the job of a football manager.

But as his new club readies another offer to his former one, Moyes may just think how much easier it could have been if he had known what was to come.

images: © Jason Gulledge, © wonker

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