John Giles: Old Trafford's transfers dealings a shambles
I’M beginning to wonder does anyone at Old Trafford know what they are doing when it comes to finding players in the transfer market with a bulging wallet ready and no spending limits imposed by the Glazer family.
Between Louis van Gaal and Ed Woodward, three successive summer transfer windows have ended with big chunks of cash being spent on the wrong players. It’s a shambles.
The David de Gea saga is simply ridiculous, Marcos Rojo apparently wants to leave after falling out with van Gaal and in Monaco, they are scratching their heads and grinning from ear to ear at the £36million fee paid for an unknown teenager, Anthony Martial.
I don’t know every good player in Europe but the lad passed me by completely. He may turn out to be the buy of the century but on the basis of what Woodward and Van Gaal have achieved so far, I won’t be holding my breath.
That might be unfair to Anthony Martial who, after all, didn’t force anyone to spend that sort of money and by all accounts, is a decent prospect.
But he will arrive at the club with a milestone – the most expensive teen in world football – around his neck. After spending so much, fans will want an instant return and they may not get it. His record doesn’t suggest he is worth anything like what Van Gaal has paid. He claimed that Manchester United would not dragged into panic buying. That’s what this deal reeks of to me.
Sure, he’s a young lad and we’ve hardly seen him kick a ball so it would be foolish to make any snap judgements but if I’m spending such an enormous amount of money, I would want something closer to the finished article.
Which brings me to Van Gaal’s role in all of this and whether the grip in player recruitment I believed he had is as tight as he would like, or worse, he has full control and this is all his own work.
It may be a mixture of Woodward’s clear inability to bring a deal over the line and Van Gaal’s stubborn nature but whatever the cause, Manchester United’s transfer dealings since Alex Ferguson and David Gill left the club have been a disaster.
I remember when David Moyes was sacked and Van Gaal came in thinking that they needed to give him about £250m to rebuild the squad and return it to a high level of competitiveness.
I wasn’t sure he would get it because I didn’t know how the Glazers would react to the removal of near certainty which Ferguson provided but all the evidence tells me that they opened the chequebook and told Van Gaal to buy who he wanted.
The Dutchman was not involved when Woodward made a mess of the transfer window immediately after Moyes was appointed and the great irony for me is that Marouane Fellaini, the one player the former Everton manager was able to buy, has turned into a big asset for Van Gaal.
He’s the only player bought in the last three years who has given some sort of return on the investment but I’ll bet Van Gaal would never have bought him if he had taken over immediately after Ferguson.
The players he did buy have hardly been a roaring success and after spending over quarter of a billion, Van Gaal has too many midfielders and worrying gaps everywhere else.
I’m not at all convinced by Memphis Depay and with Wayne Rooney in patchy form, where will the goals come from? Maybe Martial but maybe not.
The De Gea situation is beyond stupid. Why did Manchester United leave it so long to sign off on the deal? Were they haggling over pennies like they did with Pedro?
De Gea clearly wanted to go to Madrid and the only issue was the price and I assume that was Woodward’s territory.
There is no sign of any planning in all of this. Strikers and defenders are leaving the club and nobody is coming in to replace them.
On the pitch, Manchester United look unbalanced and awkward They ended the game against Swansea with Fellaini up front and long balls raining down on him from all angles.
It was the most effective football they played all day but over a quarter of a billion pounds is an awful lot of money to spend and end up playing kick and rush.