Analysis is paralysis for crippled Manchester United

Manchester United senior figures have over the past week leaking information about the great detail the club goes into when scouting players.

Designed to make the club look smart and forward thinking, the information leaves more questions than answers.

The Times reported that to settle on Aaron Wan-Bissaka, United assessed ‘hundreds of right-backs’ from 32 countries using 30 scouts, before whittling it down to 10, and then moving for Wan-Bissaka.

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Similar staggering number were also reported via The Athletic.


The numbers and time being put in by United’s scouting network are extensive, but the club’s transfer window was close to being a disaster on several fronts.

How the club failed to sign any type of midfielder, a genuine right winger, a true playmaker, or a replacement for Romelu Lukaku is beyond us.

Analysis is paralysis

There is a saying that ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ and this appears to be what is happening at United.

There are too many voices, too many different reports, and no clear leadership or strategy to direct it.

This brings indecision, when there is too much information and reasons not to sign players who would hugely improve the club.

One instance was the decision not to sign Bruno Fernandes, because as The Mail report, his pass completion rate was too low.

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This season he has scored six goals and provided five assists in eight matches. That’s the kind of impact United desperately lack. Who cares if he takes risks?

If you dive into information and data on any player, you can come up with reasons not to sign them, and that’s what appears to have happened with Fernandes.

United are clearly lacking a director of football to get a grip of the team’s needs, and make firm choices based on the information which is available.

A lack of signings in key areas has left United crippled this season with injuries wreaking havoc on a squad desperately low in quality.

Perhaps United should have scouted the current first team players. There are a whole load of deficiencies there which need acting upon.

Analysing the scouts

There are a couple of serious questions which need to be asked about the work undertaken by the scouts this summer.

Harry Maguire has been a solid enough signing so far, but was he the absolute best player at the best value in the whole of Europe? We came up with 10 alternatives in late July which included Dayot Upamecano and Ruben Dias.

What is most ironic about it, is that United invested so much time, hours and money in scouting a centre-back, only to buy the one Jose Mourinho wanted to a year prior, and was denied the funding by Ed Woodward.

This deal took the whole summer, and the time wasted deliberating over a move could have cost United the opportunity to pursue other targets in different positions where the squad needed strengthening.

Considering all of the hours put in and thousands of players scouted, to sign just three players is a very, very poor return considering the holes left in the rest of the squad.

Photo by Alex Dodd – CameraSport via Getty Images

Alarming top pick

United did not sign a midfielder, but not because of a lack of trying.

The one player United did reportedly identify as a top target in this position was Newcastle’s Sean Longstaff.

A ludicrous £50 million asking price put United off, but you have to ask questions about the process if a midfielder who had played a total of nine top flight games at that point was the scouts’ top choice.

You might also wonder about the methodology a year ago when the club decided that Fred was the one midfielder to spend £47 million on.

A poor summer could be forgiven if results on the pitch were not so bad. But the squad deficiencies are being blown up for the world to see.

United need to act smarter, quicker, and streamline the scouting and analysis of players. An ability to self-scout and act to fix their mistakes is essential.

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