In the musical The Last Five Years, a love affair is deconstructed from the perspective of both parties.
And as former Manchester United coach Rene Meulensteen discussed his own last five years in an interview with the Telegraph, I couldn’t help but make that connection.
The Dutchman covered many topics, including his feelings on the new Old Trafford regime and life under Sir Alex Ferguson.
But the revelation that he tipped United off about the Willian situation, when it first became the clear the Brazilian was for sale, may cause some United fans to wonder if their club’s transfer policy has become a comedy of errors.
Speaking of his doomed 16-day tenure at Anzhi Makhachkala, Meulensteen said, “There were good players like Willian, a player who can make a difference, a player that people come to the stadium to watch. A good character, too. I made United aware of him straight away when things were going belly-up. ‘Have a look at him’, I told them.”
That may have been the case, but his old club didn’t appear to act on that advice.
Prior to all-but-completing a deal to sign for Chelsea, the Brazilian midfielder was linked with United, and was reported to favour the move. But the champions’ apparent interest came to nothing – little more than paper talk.
“At the top level you need to refresh at the right time,” Meulensteen added. “Like van Persie with us last year.”
There is no doubt that just as United lacked a world-class striker prior to the Dutchman’s arrival, now they miss the midfielders – both attacking and defensive – to maintain their domestic challenge and rejuvenate their European one.
Their former coach knows that only too well; as does David Moyes given his pursuit of quality talent in those areas.
But if Willian thrives for Chelsea in a midfield already crammed with players the envy of many, Meulensteen may be forgiven for saying, “I told you so,” even if, as before, no one listens.
Should United have moved quickly for Willian? And will they miss Meulensteen in the seasons ahead?
image: © eirikref