Blog by: Anni
Manchester United’s transfer market troubles could be easily solved with the swift appointment of former manager Sir Alex Ferguson as director of football.
Much has been said about the club’s difficult summer, during which time the reigning Premier League champions missed out on numerous targets, before finally completing the underwhelming deadline day signing of Marouane Fellaini from Everton.
High-profile names such as Thiago Alcantara, Cesc Fabregas, Sami Khedira and Ander Herrera all slipped through the net, and they also failed with bids to bring Leighton Baines and Fabio Coentrao to Old Trafford.
Manchester United ended up paying the Toffees an inflated £27.5million for their only major signing; £4million more than the price the Belgian midfielder was actually available for only a month earlier, due to a release-clause written into his contract, which expired on July 31.
To make matters worse, every time a prospective deal collapsed over the summer, the club’s scattergun approach to business was made public – something that rarely happened under the Ferguson regime.
The Manchester United of old wouldn’t have struggled to get deals done for those players, and they certainly wouldn’t have waited until the very last minute before entering into negotiations, and rushing through business at the eleventh hour.
David Moyes has come into criticism for Manchester United’s recent transfer failings, and there have already been calls for new chief executive Edward Woodward to tender his resignation, following the disastrous player recruitment drive in the build-up to the 2013/14 campaign.
Neither can be held solely responsible.
David Gill’s departure in June, which coincided with Ferguson’s retirement at the end of last season, has had a much bigger impact on the club than perhaps was first predicted, prompting demands for a reshape of the Manchester United board, with the appointment of a director of football highlighted as a measure to help ease the pressure on both Moyes and Woodward.
A director of football is commonplace at clubs around the rest of Europe, but Premier League sides have been reluctant to move away from the more traditional set-up, although the role is starting to be embraced in England, following the recent success of a number of continental pioneers.
It’s no coincidence that Franco Baldini’s arrival at White Hart Lane has coincided with Tottenham Hotspur’s successful acquisition of no less than seven summer signings, all of which are highly regarded around Europe, and will help soften the blow from the departure of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid.
Former Barcelona director Txiki Begiristain has also played an instrumental part in Manuel Pellegrini’s summer signings, helping the former Malaga coach get the majority of his business done by the middle of July, having only been announced as Manchester City manager a month earlier.
Manchester United’s reluctance to bring in a director of football could see them miss out on more signings in the future, and potentially damage the club’s reputation as a major player, both domestically and in Europe.
Moyes can’t be given the same all-encompassing power that was enjoyed by his predecessor. In fact, club officials should move hell-and-high-water to convince Ferguson to take up a more hands-on role than his current ambassadorial duty, to help his replacement oversee transfers.
His perpetual pulling-power would be influential in the recruitment of marquee signings moving forward. And anyway, it wouldn’t be the first time that a Manchester United legend has come out of retirement to rescue the club at its greatest time of need.