Manchester United’s mad scramble for a striker in the last 24 hours of the transfer window underlines the club’s dire need for a director of football.
The club were reportedly in discussions over the transfer of a number of players such as Bournemouth’s Joshua King and Southampton’s Danny Ings before finally landing the services of former Watford man Odion Ighalo at the 11th hour.
Fans, pundits and members of the press were left baffled as to why a proper shortlist hadn’t been drawn up and researched weeks ago – something a director of football would be sure to have done.
I'm going to stick my neck out and say #MUFC aren't the best when it comes to transfer strategy.
With all the bids, this seems like Ed Woodward right now trying to find a striker… pic.twitter.com/i2YXCh5rSG
— Nick Thompson (@NickThompson20) January 31, 2020
The Red Devils had known since August that a new striker would be needed after selling Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan.
Clearly the first choice was Norwegian starlet Erling Braut Haaland, who appeared close to joining United before ultimately signing for Borussia Dortmund instead.
That decision, though, was made on December 29th – over a month ago – so even if Haaland was the only name on the shortlist – which would have been strange in itself – there should still have been plenty of time to line up an alternative and avoid the knee-jerk antics that occurred yesterday.
For one of the worlds biggest and richest clubs in the world, scrambling around for a striker on the last day of the #TransferWindow is beyond embarrassing. It smells of desperation & clubs everywhere can smell it. This should have been sorted way before today! #MUFC #DeadlineDay
— 🔥 яєαℓιѕт נανѕтαн 🔥 (@RHJOfficial) January 31, 2020
Bidding for Josh King on Jan 30 and then thrashing around looking at loans for Ighalo etc really doesn't do much to inspire belief in the "structure" or strategical vision at #MUFC. They've needed a new striker since deciding at end of last season that they'd sell Lukaku https://t.co/5hocRepSSb
— Oliver Kay (@OliverKay) January 31, 2020
In fairness, that alternative may have been French Under 21 international Jean-Kevin Augustin. He was snapped up by Leeds United earlier this week after ‘Manchester United came to the table far too late and in a far too disorganised way’, as The Athletic reporter David Ornstein noted.
Marcus Rashford’s back injury made the search for a striker more urgent, but that, again, occurred 16 days ago – more than enough time to have lined up a bid for a replacement before now.
Because United left it until the last minute to make a move for the likes of Ings and King, their offers were turned down because the selling clubs were left with no time to find a replacement.
Renowned reporter Sam Pilger amply summed up United’s farcical transfer dealings, saying ‘Selling Romelu Lukaku and looking to replace him 5 months later with Josh King on deadline day doesn’t do much to convince there’s a brilliant transfer masterplan’.
Selling Romelu Lukaku and looking to replace him 5 months later with Josh King on deadline day doesn’t do much to convince there’s a brilliant transfer masterplan at #MUFC
— Sam Pilger (@sampilger) January 31, 2020
And when executive vice chairman Ed Woodward did finally bag 30-year-old Ighalo, many fans showed their displeasure at the signing.
Manchester United are actually signing 30-year-old Odion Ighalo on the basis that they need a striker and he is a striker. Don’t tell me they’ve done any scouting on this one. They’ve known they needed another striker for weeks now. All part of ‘the process’ though, I’m sure… https://t.co/VDLSDUwL47
— Tom Carnduff (@TomC_22) January 31, 2020
Odion Ighalo scored 1 in 18 in last season for Watford before dropping into the Chinese league. WTF type of signing is this for #MUFC ? Woodward taking the piss again out of the supporters.
— Mal Dickenson (@MalDickenson) January 31, 2020
I love how Ole is developing the new culture at United by shipping out deadwood in Sanchez and Lukaku and replacing them with worse deadwood in Ighalo!
Great business from United, eh? pic.twitter.com/gEFkBg5cAX
— KB_MUFC 🔰 (@kabtastick) January 31, 2020
Should have burst the bank for Haaland mate! Ighalo is a strange signing and reeks of desperation if u ask me 🤷♂
— Forbes Wilson (@Forbes_Wilson) January 31, 2020
Whether or not a director of football will finally be appointed after another chaotic window remains to be seen. Names such as Antero Henrique and former Red Jordi Cruyff have been linked with the post, but to date executive vice chairman Ed Woodward has proven reluctant to allow the reins of power over transfers to be passed to someone outside of his inner circle.