As Thiago Alcantara’s transfer to Bayern Munich was confirmed, there was almost a crushing inevitability to the whole sordid affair. Rumours had suggested that a deal had already been struck with United yet as soon as Pep Guardiola named him as a target you knew the game was up.
Whether United’s interest was indeed as vested as seemingly everyone in the know believes it was then the rejection has, understandably, not been announced.
Looking at the decision objectively, it seems strange that a midfielder who needs playing time would try to slot into one of the strongest midfields in club football.
That is until you include the pulling power of a manager who knows Thiago intimately and the gaping chasm in reputation between Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes. Hindsight can be cruel yet with Ferguson seemingly guaranteeing trophies, there stood a better chance of attracting names.
Like a pretty girl in a club being wooed by two men, reputations matter for new suitors. In one corner there is Guardiola – the erudite, handsome and successful playboy, being challenged by Moyes – the promising new virgin in town.
There really is no contest and no matter how gentlemanly you were or how many drinks you bought in the end, it barely matters when public declarations are made.
This all brought a certain song to mind called Bigger Boys & Stolen Sweethearts by Arctic Monkeys. The first verse reads:
‘There’s always somebody taller with more of a wit
And he’s equipped to enthrall her
And her friends think he’s fit
And you just can’t measure up no, you don’t have a prayer
Wishing that you’d made the most of her, when she was there.’
The best players will always have their pick of clubs, managers and contracts. Without the draw of perhaps the greatest club manager in history, this could just be the start of a very tedious few weeks until the season begins.
Talk of a warchest being available is simply just that at the moment. Will United end up with both Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo as some ridiculously optimistic reports suggest? I’ll believe it when I see it.
Until players are signed, there is that underlying worry that the unproven track record of Moyes will hold the club back in the transfer market.
With Ed Woodward as the new executive vice-chairman, the boardroom also has a new look to it. Exciting times yet with the departure of David Gill goes a wealth of knowledge in player recruitment. Apparently the funds are there for a stellar signing but you cannot buy such security of experience or indeed reputations.
There is a belief that with Ferguson at the helm, United had a head-start in the league. That his experience, knowledge and winning mentality would earn ten, even 15 points.
With last season’s top three clubs all bringing in new managers, the league campaign begins on a far more level playing field making player recruitment all the more important.
The Moyes era has begun and with it comes a sense of change and fresh uncertainty. Players can be attracted to projects by the prospect of being part of a new legacy of success thus building up the new manager’s reputation by winning trophies.
Or players can be put off by the prospect of working with a manager who is yet to win a trophy and wonder if he ever will. The pulling power of the manager can make or break a transfer.