The transfer window is in full swing and yet it has been a strange one with very few transfers actually taking place. Even perennial whores of the likes of Chelsea, Man City, PSG and Monaco have been relatively quiet. This is likely due to the fact that they have largely settled squads with few weak areas but that doesn’t always stop them from spending!
In contrast, United’s weaknesses are well documented and the need for a top class central midfielder is pressing. Despite this, United have not made any moves as yet in the window, although they have been scouting various players around Europe if reports are to be believed.
I’m not going to go into the players we’ve looked at or even talk about the specific players that I’d like to see join the club. I think there are plenty of articles in that domain.
What is more interesting is the way in which Moyes is approaching the squad and, in turn, the inevitable rebuild. Of course, the summer window was not good at all and the seemingly scatter gun approach on the final day was embarrassing to say the least. If I’m being generous I would say that this was partly borne out of a lack of time to prepare (which I’m beginning to understand a little bit). You may disagree but hear me out for a second as this will all come together soon enough.
Moyes’ scouting system, as anal and frustrating as it is, seems a good fit for the club as it gives him the optimal chance of finding players who are a perfect fit for the club.
Let’s forget the last window for a second. Let’s put it down to a number of factors that all came together and write it off as a monumental fuck up that we can do nothing about now. After all we can’t go back in time. Let’s, in fact, look at his transfer policy as a whole. Much has been said about his meticulous scouting process since he joined and Everton fans will have been wholly aware of it; hence the not so flattering nickname Dithering Dave.
He has developed a system of scouting players that verges on the pathologically obsessive and players can be scouted over twenty times before a decision is made. This was partly due to the relative lack of funds at Everton leaving very little room for error and partly due to his own nature. He has more money to work with now but certainly not on the level of the billionaire owned Man City, Chelsea, PSG and Monaco. We can’t even compete with the likes of Real, Barca & Bayern despite our commercial success. So his previous system, as anal and frustrating as it is, seems a good fit for the club and it gives him the optimal chance of finding players who are a perfect fit for the club.
Over the last six years alone Fergie wasted a hell of a lot of money.
He’s already signed Fellaini and whilst he hasn’t really inspired confidence, he’s hardly had a chance to settle. He still has plenty of time on his side to prove doubters, like myself, wrong. His injury has obviously hampered his progress but it’s not an ongoing problem and it shouldn’t affect his ability in the long term. I am 100% happy to be proven wrong as it would only benefit the club so, whilst I have huge doubts, I won’t dismiss him just yet. He needs time to prove himself one way or another.
Now let’s look at United’s transfers in recent years under Fergie. It doesn’t make for good reading if I’m entirely honest. Over the last six years alone Fergie wasted a hell of a lot of money. For a club that is run by profit hungry leeches, every penny spent in the transfer market is supremely valuable yet Fergie’s list of shame is long.
For various reasons (injuries, attitude, lack of application, inconsistent form, etc) the players below did not fulfill their potential or are yet to justify their transfer fees (the fees are estimates I’ve taken from looking at different websites so don’t murder me if they’re wrong). Something to note is that I have only selected those players who I have (subjectively) deemed to have a significant transfer fee. There are others with smaller fees who I haven’t included but would fall into the “waste of money” category (Buttner, Kuszcak, Obertan, Diouf to name a few) – Some were sold on for similarly small fees which is the main reason I haven’t included them below.
The list I have compiled is as follows:
Nani (£17m), Anderson (£18m), Hargreaves (£19m), Berbatov (£30m), Valencia (£16m), Bebe (£7m), Young (£18m), Kagawa (£16m), Zaha (£15m).
That’s £156m spent on players in approximately 6 years that has arguably gone to waste. Of course, some of these players still have time to prove themselves (Kagawa, Zaha) or get back to some form of old (Young, Valencia, possibly Nani); others were unfortunate with injuries (Hargreaves, Anderson) and some have shown flashes of their talent (Berba, Nani). However, on the whole, as it stands right now, the above list makes for a very poor transfer record. Whether it’s injuries, form, attitude, homesickness or any other excuse, a club with the financial constraints that we have cannot be this wasteful.
Does Moyes sign good players for short term improvement to ensure Champions League qualification (but reduce his overall transfer budget) or does he wait until the summer to chase world class talent but risk losing out on a top four place?
[Note: I fully appreciate that Hargreaves was an excellent player but his injury record at Bayern was poor and this is something that should’ve been spotted in the scouting process. So, whilst it wasn’t his fault as such, he goes down as someone who did not fulfil his potential.]
Obviously Fergie did have some great successes in the market but that’s besides the point as the above list still represents an unacceptable waste of limited resources. The point is, Moyes is doing his best to avoid a repeat. He seems to have recognised weak players in the squad with the likes of Nani, Anderson and Buttner linked with moves in this or the next transfer window. Additionally, I think he recognises that the squad is decent in terms of numbers but lacks top class quality in the first eleven.
And therein lies the problem. Does he sign good players for short term improvement to ensure Champions League qualification (but reduce his overall transfer budget) or does he wait until the summer to chase world class talent but risk losing out on a top four place?
It’s not an easy question to answer because even the likes of Cabaye, Marchisio, Banega, Cabella, Herrera et al will come with relatively large transfer fees and I wouldn’t consider any of them world class, even if they would likely improve the side. This is the question I am putting to you: is a simple improvement enough or do we want more? Moyes’ long term goal is to build a side to win trophies on a regular basis and compete with the best. If he goes for the calibre of player mentioned he would effectively be using part of his transfer budget on players that won’t take us to the level of Bayern, Barcelona, Madrid etc. either in the short term or in the long term.
Moyes’ long term goal is to build a side to win trophies on a regular basis and compete with the best.
With that in mind, he is using his transfer system to find the players that offer the best value for money and, importantly, top quality for the long term future of the club. Some, like Vidal, are no-brainers whilst others like Koke, have the potential to be great but these players are not available at this moment in time.
Overall, I like his approach even if it can be frustrating as a fan. He sees the potential in the side and whilst he is acutely aware that every penny has to be spent wisely he also knows there is a real need for top quality additions and not just more numbers in the squad. In the long run, I think this bodes well for us; equally it could backfire if we don’t make it into the Champions League but I would rather wait and see what happens than have to write about another long list of mediocre signings in a couple of years time. Indeed, the lack of Champions League football doesn’t necessarily mean we can’t sign quality players (Luis Suarez’s move to Liverpool being the most obvious example). Alternatively, we may get the best of both worlds and he pulls off a Robin van Persie style transfer in the next two weeks. All we can do is keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.
[Knowing my luck, he’ll wait until the summer and then sign a whole host of good (but not world class) players thus rendering my whole argument above completely obsolete. But let’s hope not!]