It’s hard not to get swept away with the wave of negativity washing over Man Utd. With messages like “disaster”, “circus” and “embarrassing” being constantly rammed down our throats through the media in all its twisted forms, it almost feels as though our subconscious is being attacked and reprogrammed, leaving rational thought and sane deduction over powered.
I realize negativity sells and that stories about United sell even more, so combining the two is going to sell papers and get plenty of hits on your website. But I implore my fellow United supporters to rise above the Zeitgeist.
There is perfectly understandable concern from United fans about the team’s uninspiring style of play (I’ve watched more exciting knitting), but to compound their frustrations by telling them that their club has had a “disastrous transfer window” too? Well, that’s just incorrect.
Football is an industry of short memories and forgetful observers. “You’re only as good as your last game” is one of the games most apt and fitting clichés. “You’re only as good as your last signing” would be a decent way to describe the consensus concerning United’s transfer business this summer.
If you could do a chronological flip of sorts, which would see Martial signed at the start of the summer and Darmian, Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger and Depay signed in the last week of the window, I would stake a good chunk on United being awarded an “A+” for their transfer dealings by those dreadful rating features we see in every major paper. It feels as though United have almost been a victim of their own efficiency in the market. By getting the majority of their business done early, the lack of a strong finish to the window can be used to paint a bleak overall picture, which just simply isn’t the case.
If you were to list United’s major outgoings: Chicharito, Evans, Van Persie, Nani, Rafael, Cleverley, Lindegaard, Falcao and Di Maria, you can only conclude that the club has managed to shift an awful lot of dead wood. Bar perhaps the enigmatic Di Maria, who provided plenty of assists last season for United, but who also found it difficult to break into the team for his last 6 months at Old Trafford. The rest offered very little to the team.
A lot of United’s transfer business was of course clouded by the David De Gea situation. They didn’t seem to be acting fast enough to resolve the goalkeeper’s future. A comfortable second in his relationship in the “who wears the pants” stakes, he was nailed on to move to Real Madrid on the last day leaving no time for United to find a more suitable replacement than the hebetudinous Sergio Romero.
All the evidence screams complete mess…..but……the most important fact in the case is that De Gea DIDN’T leave. He is still there. United still have one of the best keepers in the world at their disposal – for now. De Gea will want to play and play well to establish himself as Spain’s number one for the European Championship in 2016 which is great news for United.
The sensible onlooker would say United could still do with a centre back. They failed to add a top defender after naively putting all of their eggs into Sergio Ramos basket. But at the season’s end, that same onlooker would have identified the right back and defensive midfield areas as problem positions. United look to have addressed those problems well with the additions of Darmian and Schneiderlin. When you add Smalling, Blind and Shaw to the aforementioned due as well as David De Gea, you have a defensive unit with an average age of just 24.5 – a unit that has been generously complimented for their organization from the excellent Carragher and Neville on Sky Sport’s Monday Night Football. If that doesn’t excite you as a United fan, then check your pulse. It isn’t perfect, but there is so much to build on.
Our opinionated onlooker would also have said United needed a technical, metronomic passer in midfield. I can’t think of many better than Bastian Schweinsteiger. Our attentive voyeur would have cried out for some pace and goal threat from out wide too. Enter Mephis Depay. You can throw in the late (albeit insanely overpriced) arrival Anthony Martial too. In Depay and Martial, United have invested in potential, so often the route to success for great United teams. Both players will bring pace, trickery as well as bags of frustrating inconsistency, but I can’t be alone in being excited at the prospect of watching a 21 year old and 19 year old develop over the next 5 to 10 years. Give me that over Pedro any day.
Goals and potential goalscorers still remain a problem of course. Rooney and Mata will always have issues playing in the same attacking quartet with their lack of explosiveness and unpredictability around the box. It will take at the very least a bit of tweaking, but more likely another financial outlay over the next window or two to get United’s attack fully firing again.
But the progress within the squad is there – it’s so ignorantly obvious. Fears over potential short-termism in Van Gaal’s transfer policy have been largely unfounded. He has drastically reduced the average age of the squad over two summer windows. The team’s current style of play will continue to win him more enemies and doubters than friends and supporters, but after the post-window exhale, it’s clear United are taking constructive and progressive steps. They are potentially one signing away from having a terrific set of players.
So beat back the sensationalism from your subconscious. Let objectivity prevail and say: “Yeah….pretty good window that.”