Manchester United’s transfer policy has always been something quite enigmatic.
Business was done mostly in the boardroom and rarely on the back pages. There has always been rumour and conjecture, but that goes with the territory.
Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill went about their dealings with as much responsibility as one can muster in this day and age. On the evidence provided so far, the same can not be said of David Moyes and Ed Woodward.
Whether it is Cesc Fabregas, Cristiano Ronaldo, Thiago, Kevin Strootman, or Gareth Bale, all have been very publically connected with a move to Old Trafford. In some cases, terms are said to have been agreed, in others, the transfer fee agreed.
So far, the one thing that can categorically be agreed is none of them have yet to don the latest 2013 kit and be paraded in front of an ever increasingly sceptical press.
The transfer which seems is the only one cast in stone, the one Moyes is saying will never happen is Wayne Rooney’s move to Chelsea. This has divided the United support, with many wishing him good riddance, but probably not to Chelsea. There best paid player signing for one of, if not their main rivals for the Premier League is a sure sign of weakness.
The signals so far coming out of Old Trafford, Sydney where the farcical Juan Mata swap deal story originated, or Barcelona where Woodward is chasing his tail over Cesc’s signature are indicators of a club, not only in transition, but of one not knowing what it is doing.
What is Moyes' game plan? Does he know what players he wants, and do the world’s best players want to go and play for him? Sure, they will be at Manchester United, but it is an unfamiliar Manchester United, and one which is getting more unfamiliar with every passing day.
If United sign one of his former players from Everton, a Baines or a Fellaini these will not be classed as ground breaking deals. They are obvious. Good signings, no doubt but game changing, no.
They won’t be seen as United putting a marker down because having had so many years under him at Goodison, following the boss to the bigger club is the easiest career move possible.
What will make the footballing world sit up and take notice, and also confirm that Moyes knows what he wants and knows what he is doing will be a quality midfielder, and a quality forward arriving. He need not even worry about defence during this window; it is the area which needs the least amount of reinforcement. Still there are signs that 25m Euro’s could be spent on a single central defender. Why?
As each day passes, the lack of activity will be magnified. The unrest is creeping in, and the composure which United used to emanate from Old Trafford during the close season will quickly turn to panic. A large sum may be splashed out in the end, but whether it proves to be money well spent will depend largely on the existing players.
Moyes knows that, while he is embedding into the hot seat he will be given a certain amount of leeway. He has to get his season off to a good start though and he has to make a mark in the transfer market. So far there is little evidence of either.
It is a scatter gun approach, and one will eventually stick. It is not what United fans are used to, not what they expect and need placating before Moyes has even been given the time he needs. Which player though is prepared to take the leap of faith and prove that United’s transfer policy hasn’t been affected by Sir Alex’s retirement?
Has signing for Manchester United suddenly become something that top players need to think twice about?
image: © Gordon Flood