An explosive weekend of transfers has drawn to a close and United fans will be excited to see what happens before the window finally closes. Ed Woodward has now been in charge of finances and transfer dealings for just over two years. His first season was pretty much seen as a failure. A new partnership was born with David Moyes and perhaps it was doomed before it began. In his second season Louis Van Gaal was appointed manager at the theatre of dreams and a new era was born. Manchester United are a force to be reckoned with again, even more so than the David Gill and Sir Alex Ferguson era where United often missed out on the marquee signings and best young talent.
In 1996 Alan Shearer was the number one target and rightly so, after inspiring Blackburn to their one and only Premier League title. United dithered over Rover’s valuation of the player, opening the door for Newcastle to step in, whom he would go on to play for. When the £15 million fee was eventually met it was too late, his heart was elsewhere. In 1998, Patrick Kluivert was in his prime and he had an excellent World Cup in France behind him.
The Red Devils were in the market once again for the hottest property in town but could not persuade him to join, opting for Barcelona instead. The silver lining to this failed transfer though was Dwight Yorke was signed instead. Another high profile player who didn’t quite sign on the dotted line but had came so close, even to the extent of agreeing personal terms in the summer of 2003, Ronaldinho. United had dug their heels in over negotiations and again would lose out to Barcelona. Said that, the replacement for David Beckham all was not lost, as a youthful Cristiano Ronaldo was signed instead.
Always a team to promote youth, the scouting system was never doubted. Gareth Bale appeared on United’s radar in 2007 but an unwillingness to spend big on an unproven talent meant the player moved to Spurs, eventually becoming the most expensive player in the world to date. A year later in 2008 they again failed to complete a deal for another young talent, this time it was Aaron Ramsey that fell by the wayside. Ryan Giggs, Ramsey’s boyhood hero couldn’t even persuade him to join the club. When it got down to the nitty gritty United again lost out, this time to Arsenal.
The simultaneous departures of Gill and Ferguson had Woodward and Moyes under pressure to deliver instant success. A host of names were linked to the club, Thiago Alacantra was earmarked as the next big thing and future Spain star. Instead of putting their foot on the gas United stalled and would lose out to Bayern Munich. The duo also failed in the transfer saga of the summer with Cesc Fabregas, they had repeated bids turned down despite rumours of Fabregas willingness to leave. In the end he turned the Reds down to play second fiddle to Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets. Under the duo United did fork out £37.5 million for Juan Mata and £30 million on deadline day for Marouane Fellaini. On the face of it these were buys under severe pressure from the fans and expectation that a club like United should be investing but both Chelsea and Everton would have been rubbing their hands at the fees they had exploited from Woodward.
Moyes’ timely exit presented Louis Van Gaal to the club. Instantly, he expressed his grief at United’s scheduling of the tour of the states and made his mark on the transfer market. He and Woodward would go on a summer spending spree would see record signing Angel Di Maria sign for close to £60 million and Radamel Falcao somehow drafted in on loan. Let’s not forget Di Maria almost singlehandedly had won Real the Champions League that year with a Man of the Match performance against bitter rivals Atletico. Falcao had fans bubbling with excitement. With his undeniable talent United had loaned a player that at the time looked like turning the previous season’s fortunes back on its head. The tide was turning and the red side of Manchester was back on the biggest stage.
Back to present day. Schweinsteiger, Darmian and Depay have been recruited. Louis van Gaal must be the major factor in luring the world cup winning captain to the theatre of dreams and he seems to have revitalized Woodward. Ed’s bullish approach to the David De Gea and Sergio Ramos saga is in complete contrast to his previous counterparts. Thomas Muller is on the radar, figures believed to be around the £60 million mark. Previously mentioned, Sergio Ramos is definitely a headline that won’t go away. They are not stopping at Schweinsteiger it seems. Another bid for Morgan Schneiderlin is imminent and if you believe reports Real Madrid have pulled out of the race to sign Nicolas Otamendi as they believe United have almost done a deal to sign the Argentine.
Under LVG and Woodward it seems the pair have finally relinquished the shackles that have been all too evident in the club’s history of transfer negotiations. Whether they succeed in their transfer dealings this summer or not it seems they are now writing the rules that other clubs must abide by. Fans no longer hope these players will join… they expect.