The 8th of May 2013, for Manchester United and it’s fans was the day that marked the end of an epic era. One of, if not the greatest manager of all, called time on his illustrious reign and as a result ushered in a new start under David Moyes. This huge change left United fans thinking how would their team perform on the pitch and at this stage of the season it is far too early to judge. However, just as important was how United would perform off the pitch, in the transfer market. To their rivals, United’s failure to land target after target proved to be a great source of amusement.
What the transfer deadline gives you is a clear indication of the badly run football clubs
Manchester United are a global powerhouse financially, with enough clout to buy and sell most teams in the English game. Although the reign of their American owners the Glazers has divided many fans, United have continued to grow on and off the field. With a new manager eager to prove himself to fans accustomed to success, it was vital that Moyes brought in the players that he felt would smooth the transitional period that was bound to exist. The transfer window has now closed and Moyes was only able to land one of his many targets, ironically pinching Marouane Fellaini from his previous club Everton, for a fee higher than the release clause that Moyes himself helped insert!!!! You only had to go on Twitter for a few minutes on Deadline Day to see the anger this caused amongst United fans with the finger being pointed at various individuals. It probably didn’t help they were beaten by their deadliest rivals Liverpool a short time earlier. For the first time in a long while, United fans were the brunt of the jokes. But why did this happen to such a professionally run and ruthlessly ambitious club?
Those that don’t follow United closely may not have been aware of the summer departure of a man called David Gill, United’s Chief Executive. Ferguson and Gill formed a crucial partnership spanning the last decade and worked together closely in improving the United squad. Sir Alex identified his targets and Gill landed them, players such as Ronaldo, Rooney, Vidic and RVP who all became world class players. Gill was the footballing equivalent of the Terminator and proved himself a vital component of the United juggernaut.
Gill was not always a popular figure amongst fans and was a target of personal abuse during the supporter led ‘Green and Gold’ campaign in 09/10, when fans attempted to drive out the Glazers. He survived this and went on to become Fergie’s closest ally, his impending departure possibly being a contributing factor to the manager’s own retirement. It was perhaps just as crucial deciding Gill’s successor as it was in finding a new manager.
That man was Edward Woodward, who at 40 was promoted from Executive Vice Chairman to work alongside David Moyes. His previous track record was superb, driving commercial expansion to never before reached levels and was described as a commercial genius, but was he the right man for the job?
As a pair, it is my belief that Moyes and Woodward lacked the necessary experience to land their key targets. Pursuits for Fabregas, Thiago, Baines and Herrera amongst others proved fruitless, whilst United fans have never forgiven Woodward for his infamous departure from the preseason tour to conclude ‘urgent transfer business’. We’ve never found out what that was!!!! The worry is that Woodward is a ‘money man’, someone who is eager to count the pennies coming in and runs the risk of being a Glazer lapdog. His inability to pull the trigger may have been an indication that he just didn’t have the stones. I can only imagine it’s easier to seal a deal for money coming in than it is for money going out.
David Moyes has also come in for criticism, mostly from rival fans wanting to score points over United supporters. In fairness, how much experience of major transfer deals did he have whilst at Everton? In fact the only major star who arrived at Goodison in recent years came in the shape of Hollywood celebrity fan, Sylvester Stallone. Or was it a case that he was afraid to challenge those above him so early into his new job? In any case, come January he will need to be better prepared.
For me, the blame has to lie mainly with Woodward as he is seemingly responsible for sealing the deals and as I previously mentioned, many United fans have called for his head and for David Gill to return. I firmly believe that in the next two windows, United will have a point to prove and they will flex their muscles a little more appropriately. That will be the chance for Moyes and Woodward to prove they are more like Stallone and Schwarzenegger than they are Laurel and Hardy. Never before have United fans been as desperate for instant success, uncertainty is probably a feeling that many have never experienced before. It’s certainly not time to hit the panic button, yet………