‘El Tigre’ Excitement
I woke up on transfer deadline-day to read that Manchester United had become, out of nowhere, in pole position to sign Radamel Falcao. I got the well-known excited-anxious-top-of-the-belly cramp. If you are a United fan, you would understand. I’m sure that you, just like me, spent that whole day checking Twitter every ten minutes. Needless to say I was dancing in joy when the deal was finally announced after a late scare it might fall through.
What made me so happy about the deal is that, for the first time, I knew what it felt like to be on the right end of a last-moment deal-hijack. Being a Red Devils fan, I had been devastated by the brutal swings and twists of transfer windows. Lucas Moura, Eden Hazard and Thiago Alcantara were the most high-profile recent examples. United had given us the impression that they were unable / unwilling to compete in the market.
Falcao’s abilities and reputation were of course very exciting, but I have to admit that the fact that he was snatched right from under Manchester City’s, Arsenal’s and maybe Real Madrid’s noses was just as, if not more, thrilling.
As much as I love Sir Alex Ferguson, I think his genius meant that we had to make do with not-so-star-studded squads. Why? Because we could afford it. Well, kind of.
Make no mistake; it was a source of great pride that we were able to beat money-titans like Chelsea and City to titles with much less high-profile players. However, it sometimes meant we had to do it at the expense of sexy football – ‘The United Way’. It also freed the Glazers’ hands to bleed the club dry. Plus, had we been half active in the market as City I’m sure we wouldn’t have lost the title to them on goal-difference.
Now that Financial Fair Play has come to put everyone in their place, our summer spending in general, and Angel Di Maria and Falcao deals in particular should be positive signs for the future. We are a club that earns its own money – it was about time we outmuscled the ones that don’t.
Falcao’s first game at Old Trafford wasn’t bad at all. Despite missing the only clear-cut chance he got in his 23-minute shift, the Colombian looked lively and linked up well with his teammates.
However, it’s the goals upfront the fans are craving, and Falcao, as well as his record, has promised them that.
Crystal Ball: Falcao will prove to be a great signing. Just like van Persie did in his first season at the club, he will win United games on his own, leading them to achieve their objective – 3rd place this season.
The Glazers will finally figure out that heavy spending has more positive sides than negative ones and will continue to pursue ‘marquee’ names with more intent and success than in previous times. Sometimes they will even take it too far and do it just for the sake of it – Florentino-style.
Dat Guy Heartbreak
Danny Welbeck leaving for Arsenal has been the only little, yet very annoying, stain on a very bright transfer window.
What baffles me is that the debate among the fans has been under the title ‘Falcao or Welbeck?’, which isn’t fair to the Welbeck lot, including me. There could have been a very applicable solution – sign the Colombian and loan out ‘our lad’ with NO option to buy.
Louis van Gaal has said that he let Welbeck go because his goal-record doesn’t live up to the Rooney-and-van-Persie standard. It’s true, but it’s mainly due to the fact that he never got a run of games in the position that would allow a striker to score goals and refine his touch in front of goal – and that is STRIKER.
It’s also true that, in this tough transitional phase they’re going through, United need ‘finished articles’ rather than ‘work in progress’ (pardon the clichés). However, to assume that Danny wouldn’t have had a role to play in the club’s future plans would not be as accurate. Robin van Persie is 31 and Falcao and Rooney will both be 29 soon – it’s only realistic to think that, by next season, a 24-year-old talented, energetic striker will do us no harm. A loan deal, therefore, would have been ideal. Maybe Welbeck himself wanted to go permanently, but the love he has for the club suggests it would only be due to the fact that he was told he has no future at the club.
That he has been sold to Arsenal, a rival on the rise, doesn’t make it any easier, obviously.
Welbeck ticks all boxes for Arsene Wenger’s new project: young, talented and British. The Frenchman has vowed to make him a better player, and we all know he is more than capable of it. I still wonder what made van Gaal pass on the challenge to polish the huge raw talent Danny has.
His first two games for the London club against Manchester City and Bayern Munich haven’t served his advocates’ case, with him missing some (very) easy chances. However, it’s too early to judge, and Wenger himself has insisted that it’s not a problem and that he is sure Welbeck will improve finishing-wise. The Frenchman has rather been rightly excited by Danny’s energy and movement.
In the future it might turn out that we got the better deal selling him for £16m. But I don’t think it will be the case. Anyway, in difficult times difficult decisions must be made and you can’t have everything. Only time will tell whether this is a huge mistake or a master stroke.
Crystal Ball: Welbeck will ‘do a Sturridge’ for Arsenal, scoring goals on a regular basis. In three years’ time, Ryan Giggs will take over as manager and will sign him back as ‘Dat Guy’ himself will push for it. We’ll be happy, Arsenal fans will be fuming. The usual stuff on Planet Earth.
Tyler Blackett Promise
Not so long ago, Tyler Blackett was relatively unknown, even to many Manchester United fans – including me. I was familiar with the name, but that was it – I had no idea we had such a great talent in the ranks.
With United losing Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic all in one summer, Blackett has been successful in making a case for himself as a potential first-choice replacement.
Unlike Michael Keane, Blackett jumped at the chance once he had it. He caught the eyes of the manager as well as the fans with his steady performances in the US Tour, particularly when he showed no sign of fear facing a superstar in the form of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Despite being only 20, Blackett has played every minute of United’s four games in the Premier League so far, and he has impressed.
He is composed, calm and confident. And while his tackle success rate could be better (33%)*, his 2.5 interceptions every 90 minutes show that he reads the game very well – he’s a Rio rather than a Nemanja. There are many signs to suggest he is a typical ‘Louis van Gaal’ defender. Having always focused on building from the back, van Gaal will surely be happy with a central defender who aims 78% of his passes forward with a completion rate of 87%.
The signing of Marcos Rojo will inevitably reduce his chances of playing, especially when Luke Shaw returns to full fitness. However, with the chronic injury issues of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans, Blackett can expect to have a decent role to play for United this season.
Anyway, he must be very happy with the progress he’s made so far at United – he can proudly say “I’ve made it!”
Crystal Ball: Blackett will go on to be a United hero, a fan favorite. He will enjoy a long successful career with the club, where he will retire and join the coaching staff.