Archives For Transfers

Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 12.55.37 PMThings couldn’t be going much better, an efficient, controlled, clinical performance at Bournemouth headlined by Zlatan’s goal, Bailly’s Man of The Match award, Blind’s calm assurance and a very impressive display from Fellaini. Top of the league and all that!

After the game Mourinho quite rightly pointed out he’s told the squad everyone will get minutes once September comes around and all competitions start. But that begs a lot of questions. Where does Pogba play? What will be the manager’s ultimate starting line-up? What will be the final squad?

With Lingard out Mourinho probably surprised everyone by starting Mata ahead of Mkhitaryan. Yet when everyone is fit or back from suspension, when the transfer window is closed and all the deals are completed, what team lines up to face City  on September 10th? Does Smalling walk right back into the team next Friday against Southampton? You would think so, but you can’t leave Bailly out and Blind has played well and provides a calm anchor. It also looks as if Fellaini is a Mourinho guy, forget the back pass against Leicester, in the first two games Fellaini has been everything you want in front of the back four.

Thanks to a relatively easy start and the successful transfer window United are in an enviable position. Everyone will be disappointed if going into the home game against City, there aren’t the maximum 9 points in the bank.

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But which players does Mourinho trust to challenge Guardiola for Manchester’s bragging rights? Which players may have come and gone? There are some really tough decisions ahead. Do you sell Mata to raise money for Madrid’s Varane? Who makes way if Southampton’s Fonte is the option instead?

Mourinho likes to have a squad of 22 players including three goalkeepers, so if by September 1st that squad is:


De Gea, Romero, Johnstone


Valencia, Fosu-Mensah, Bailly, Smalling, Blind, Shaw, A.N.Other


Pogba, Fellaini, Carrick, Mkhitaryan, Herrera, Schneiderlin, Lingard


Zlatan, Rooney, Rashford, Martial, – Depay (??????)

That’s 22:

Not included:

Schweinsteiger, Mata, Jones, Young, Rojo, Darmian, Perreira, Wilson, Borthwick-Jackson – Nine players!

Wow, and I mean wow.

As the question marks suggest I wouldn’t keep DePay, I’d sell him and buy a genuine jet heeled speedster. There are lots of twists and turns left before the City game.

Watching Van Gaal walk slowly down the touchline after the game you got the feeling that here was a man who knew two points had slipped away and can’t wait to get the check book out again.

Football - Manchester United v Manchester City - Barclays Premier League - Old Trafford - 25/10/15 Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal Action Images via Reuters / Jason Cairnduff Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or

United are solid at the back and in midfield, but as we all know it’s the final third where the magic is missing. Martial is terrific but he needs help. In my opinion Rooney can still contribute, but another forward of proven pace and danger is obviously needed. The clamor to remove Rooney is deafening. After yesterday the Republik of Mancunia let his stats make the point. They weren’t good. His passing was poor, and he had no shots on target. But he is being asked to play a very hard role and he too needs support. Better players are needed. But can you make them available in January? First United have to qualify for the next round of the Champions League. Then the balancing act is if a proven striker is available whose team is out of the Champions league but could contribute to the League and Cup campaigns, do you get that player and another centre half? Or do you try and buy someone who contributes in all competitions?

It shows how tough it is to rebuild and take United to the next level. There are some good players in the current team. Smalling, Jones, Rojo, Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger and Martial were excellent on Sunday and afterwards Van Gaal’s verdict was measured:

I am very proud of my players because I think we played 90 minutes of a tough game. Both sides played a very tactical game. It was very compact and organised, that is how Manchester City played against us. They adapted the line-up against us.

“Against Sevilla in the Champions League, they played with two strikers and now they played with one, with one more player in midfield,so it was a tough game. We created more chances but we didn’t finish them and that is the disappointment because you must win these kinds of games for the fans. It is the derby and when you are so focused and so concentrated like we were today then, yeah, you deserve to win. But sometimes you don’t get what you deserve.”

For me the match felt it was played by two teams tired by playing in Europe. United’s squad is thin. I’ve been saying since August Memphis/Depay is a bust and with Shaw out and Lingard still learning, that leaves Darmian, Blind, Young, Valencia and Romero as the frontline squad players. City were without Aguero and Silva, yet apart from Martial Sunday’s game lacked craft and penetration where it mattered. De Gea didn’t have a meaningful save to make, Hart made one rush off his line to deprive Mata and a good save from Smalling at the death. There was almost half a billion pounds in transfer fees on the pitch and both sides were laboured.

I’m sure United are working hard in the background to do something in January.

Back with the big boys and the majority of opinion is that United got a great Champions League draw.

Group A

PSG, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Malmo.

Group B

PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United, CSKA Moscow, Wolfsburg.

Group C

Benfica, Atletico Madrid, Galatasaray, FC Astana.

Group D

Juventus, Manchester City, Sevilla, Monchengladbach.

Group E

Barcelona, Bayer Leverkusen, Roma, BATE Borisov.

Group F

Bayern Munich, Arsenal, Olympiakos, GNK Dinamo.

Group G

Chelsea, Porto, Dynamo Kiev, Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Group H

Zenit St Petersburg, Valencia, Lyon, Gent.

The reality is have United got the firepower to win it? As it stands probably not. The great teams have game changers and at the moment United do not have that. Good players yes. A very good back four and defensive midfield. But as everyone is saying it’s the cutting edge in the final third where it counts. The further you go in the Champions League the nearer you get to a knock out game against Barca, Bayern, or Real.  Never mind their forwards, their defenders are better too.

Today’s latest Twitter drama is that a bid has been lodged for Lazio’s Felipe Anderson aka The Light Bulb.

Brazilian, and fast and frustrating? Is he Nani in disguise? Felipe-Anderson-Lazio-Chelsea-CFC-Manchester-City-MCFC-Manchester-United-MUFC-Liverpool-LFC-Brendan-Rodgers-564790 If it’s a serious bid maybe not. The one thing about United’s buys this season is that each are sound and solid purchases. So if United are in for him Van Gaal thinks he can “improve the team”. As noted he’s quick, strong, versatile, 5ft 9″, two footed, and has scored 12 in 58 games for Lazio. But he is represented by Doyen Sports who have shall we say an “interesting” reputation in the game as agents and are very difficult people to deal with.  Doyen brokered Marcus Rojo’s move to United and have also struck up an ongoing player recruitment deal with A.C. Milan 

0-0, first points dropped and the familiar pattern of the solid back four, full backs supporting well, tidy midfield then the ball gets in the final third and nothing happens. Here’s the manager’s view:

Van Gaal

On the result…
“I think we can be satisfied about the performance but not about the result because we don’t reward ourselves. I think we have created a lot of chances and we were unlucky.”

On missed chances and whether there is quality missing…
“It’s also luck. I think it was a great dribble by Chicharito after getting the ball. I think you also need luck in football and it’s not only what you say about quality. I think the quality in the third phase in the crossing positions, we didn’t do so good, we didn’t make the right choices. Also we can do better with the speed of the ball and, of course, we had open chances, alone with the goalkeeper, and we have to score there normally. But I think we were very unlucky. But we played fantastic as a team and we have fought until the end and that’s fantastic to see. I like this type of game, only the result was bad.”

Obviously Paul Scholes was at a different game:

Yep, if the squad remains the same United will win far more than they lose, finish in the top 4, reach the Champions League knock out stage, and maybe win a cup. But this is Manchester United, and even though Van Gaal has already done an excellent job of restructuring, reorganizing and rebuilding, he does need some magic in the transfer market. There are nine days left and the big teams are making big moves. Chelsea and John Stones is a certainty, and maybe even Pogba arrives at the Bridge to supplement the Pedro signing. City have had a terrific transfer window. Sterling, Otamendi, Delph and De Bruyne, is 140 million pounds or so of very good business. So what can United come up with? Out there in no particular order are Scholes favourite Zlatan, (Oh God I hope United sign him).
ZlatanThen there’s Bale, Muller, Benzema and Cavani. Anyone else? Perhaps, because what United needs is pace as well as a predator. Maybe Reuss or Gruizeman complement one of the above if United is to be as ambitious as City or Chelsea. I still don’t quite understand what happened with Pedro. Play him on the right today with Mata in the middle and Memphis/DePay wide and to me you are instantly more of a threat. But then of course there’s the Craziest Transfer Of The Week rumor…..Neymar. Like everyone else I think it’s nuts. But could Woodward’s Monday trip to Barcelona have had nothing at all to do with Pedro? Is Woodward lining up one player who combines all the necessary elements? Dream on United fans. What’s next Messi to Watford?

In a week or so it should be the end of United’s Summer of Spending Rumorama Extravaganza. We’ve all been inundated with the stories. As the world’s media competes for attention it’s wonderfully, nutty  and compelling stuff.

A carnival of tips and tattle. An outrageous merry go round filling in the time until we get down to business and start playing again. My bet is the major deals are in place at all the big clubs. United, Chelsea, City and Arsenal know exactly who is available to them. By the time United leave for the US tour any of the following players may join new guy Memphis De Pay on the plane; Schneiderlin; Coleman; Otamendi; Ramos; Hummels; Turan; and a striker. Will David De Gea be on that plane?

Man Utd v Everton

I love the way United have handled the De Gea saga. Madrid have been Madrided. United will either get Ramos or Benzema, and the money exchanged will be a relatively small amount. Or De Gea will stay. It’s a win/win.  And here’s why United hold the cards:

  • If United don’t get what they want from Madrid they keep the world’s #1 or #2 goalkeeper – depending on how you rate Manuel Neuer.
  • If De Gea stays he will try his best next season because he wants to be Spain’s #1 at the 2016 European Championships.
  • If he stays and United win something he may then choose to remain because all reports are that he enjoys playing for United.
  • If he leaves for free at the end of his contract next season, United say goodbye to18 million pounds but he earned that by getting them back in the Champions League with his performances last season
  • If Madrid don’t cave they lose their #1 target, President Florentino Perez is embarrassed and the famous white hankies wave for him.
  • If Madrid do cave and United get Ramos, it’s a great deal. A great player, a great character, and most of all a tough guy arrives.
  • If Ramos stays at Madrid then Benzema is next in line.

It’s a banker’s strategy about assets and value. It’s simply good business. And it says a lot about the Van Gaal/Woodward era.

The questions then begin about the other players who arrive.Names don’t matter. Can they deliver in the Champions League? Are they the difference makers?

But that’s all for further posts.