The World Cup in 2010 was held in South Africa and the winners Spain beat runners up Netherlands in Soccer City, Johannesburg.
That same summer Manchester United brought in four new players to the club, sold six and released three on free transfers.
Goalkeeper Ben Foster, along with Zoran Tosic, Craig Cathcart, James Chester, Cameron Stewart and Magnus Eikrem were sold on whilst Tom Heaton, Ron-Robert Zeiler and David Gray were released.
Sir Alex Ferguson brought in Chris Smalling on July 1st for £10 million from Fulham but whilst that was the official date the deal was announced, United had actually tied up the deal for the promising defender in January 2010. With reference to the World Cup this deal had absolutely nothing to do with it – Smalling didn’t get his first senior call up for England until November 2010.
However, the same certainly cannot be said of the signing of Javier Hernandez, which officially went through on July 1st but was agreed in principle before the World Cup on April 8th. In fact, the club rushed through the £6 million deal, sending chief scout Jim Lawler to Mexico in February and March to wrap the deal up early for fear that his involvement with the Mexico national team in South Africa would cause other clubs to become interested. According to reports the deal had been conducted with complete secrecy and even his agent was not told for fear that he might try to offer his client around to other big clubs.
United signed youngster Marnick Vermijl for £300,000 to add to their youth team but this had little to do with the World Cup, and much the same can be said of the signing of Bebe on August 11th. The Portuguese forward signed for £7.4 million from Vitoria de Guimaras – Bebe, now 23 years of age, still has yet to make a senior appearance (or get a call up) for Portugal, despite being involved at U21 level initially in the year following his move to Old Trafford.
Finally, United signed goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard from Aalesund for £3.5 million in November 2010 after the World Cup. The youngster did manage to make his international debut just one month before his move to Old Trafford was finalized but not at the World Cup in South Africa.
Based on the club’s previous record, even though there is a new manager in place, I would suspect United to have already scouted their targets and have priorities in mind and perhaps even deals in place ready to go through in July. As with Smalling, I wouldn’t be surprised if Premier League youngsters, such as Luke Shaw who has been at the World Cup, could be confirmed when the window opens next month but Luis van Gaal’s involvement with Netherlands could delay deals potentially.
I would perhaps hazard an educated guess that, like with Chicharito, the club will have laboured over deals that could be made difficult by the World Cup – such as Shaw once again as well as potentially a player like Dutch youngster Memphis Depay or reported target Toni Kroos. The attention of the world can be tricky for clubs who have been tracking a player for months but I would suspect deals could well already be in place in principle.