AS Manchester United are raging in the transfer market, making bids for troublemakers Adrien Rabiot and Marko Arnatouvic. It’s easy to laugh along with the Muppet Show farce of anything.
Feast on some custard pies, indulge in some internet memes, wonder how a financier like Ed Woodward stayed in charge of the football team for so long.
But it’s only when you fully consider the raw facts that the sheer scale of incompetence in United’s transfer business becomes so overwhelming.
Between the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013 and the return of Cristiano Ronaldo last summer, United signed thirty players for £10m or more – and not a single one was a real success.
All big clubs have their expensive flops. The market is a shark tank and no transfer is a guaranteed success.
Footballers are people. We understand. A 50 percent success rate would be a very decent number.
But zero out of 30 over a nine-year period is exceptional. Even Everton under Farhad Moshiri have made a decent buy on occasion.
United have only turned a profit with two players bought since Ferguson’s departure – Daley Blind and Dan James – not that any of them have covered themselves in glory at Old Trafford.
Just look at this list of United recruits and try to argue that one of them is an unqualified hit with value for money.
Bruno Fernandes looked like the man to buck this longstanding trend when the Portuguese arrived in January 2020.
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But after a largely brilliant 18 months, his form fell off a cliff during the death spasms of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign last season and has not recovered.
Others had their moments. Romelu Lukaku was a goalscoring cult hero for a while.
And even at £80m, a world record fee for a defender, Harry Maguire started well enough – but now the captain is the latest in a long line of players being dragged into a quagmire of mediocrity.
United fans used to sing a sarcastic song about the English press mocking Anthony Martial’s £50m transfer fee.
They haven’t sung it much in the last two years which has seen the Frenchman score five times in total in the Premier League.
There was speculation that once the hapless Woodward left the building, United under John Murtough and Darren Fletcher might rediscover a semblance of professionalism in their transfer deals.
And while it’s far too early to judge this summer’s recruits – Lisandro Martinez, Christian Eriksen and Tyrell Malacia – the bid to sign France midfielder Rabiot and the aborted attempt to tie 33-year-old Arnautovic seems more comedic than ever.
The fact that United have dropped their interest in Bologna’s former Stoke and West Ham striker due to fan anger simply adds to the aura of ‘catching up’.
A nap from the ruling Glazer family, Woodward was always just a symptom of the problem.
The root cause was always the Glazers themselves.
After hiding behind Ferguson’s genius for eight years after taking over in 2005, Americans have been horribly exposed since the great Scot’s departure.
There are many reasons United fans have rebelled against the Glazers – the leveraged takeover, the debt, the dividends, the detachment and the erosion of Old Trafford as a stadium.
But purely football-wise, this list of incoming transfers is the most damaging since 2013.
United is a football club that used to win the biggest trophies.
Had they continued to do so, the majority of their fanbase would have overlooked the rest of these issues.
When it comes to cast-iron flops, you might all have your particular favorites.
Mine was Alexis Sanchez – with United apparently ‘hijacking’ his move to Manchester City from Arsenal, then the triumphant unveiling video of the Chilean playing the concert piano on the pitch at Old Trafford, then three goals in 32 league games.
Or there’s the ongoing mystery of spending £50m on Fred or Marouane Fellaini, whose mere presence on the United States side summed up the sudden, sharp decline of the early post-Fergie years.
Several promising youngsters have been snapped up only to retire – including Jadon Sancho, Aaron Wan Bissaka, Memphis Depay, James and Donny Van de Beek – aka Van de Bench.
There has also been an odd addiction to signing aging strikers – Zlatan Ibrahimovoc, Edinson Cavani, Ronaldo, Radamel Falcao – a trend that looked set to bottom out with the possible arrival of Arnautovic.
But craziest has to be Paul Pogba’s Manchester to Turin boomerang – a free transfer to Juventus, a world record £89m for United, another free move back to Juve after six wasted years for club and player.
And now United are ready to shell out £15million for the untrustworthy Rabiot, who has just one year left on his contract at Turin.
It’s almost as if Juventus saw United’s mug punters coming.
Looking at this darn big list, it’s clear that it would have been difficult to overlook.
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/5965173/man-utd-transfer-flops-post-alex-ferguson-comment/ Man Utd have signed over 30 players for over £10m since Fergie – none have been a success and just two have been sold at a profit