It used to be a case that every player and his dog was linked with a move to Manchester United. While that was, in no small part, due to agents and journalists fuelling fires that didn’t exist, a former boss also played his role.
Jose Mourinho gave Ed Woodward a list of targets for each position – a one-from-four approach. Sometimes it worked; sometimes it didn’t. But what is certain is that United’s current boss has far smarter tactics.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows who he wants. If he can’t get them, he doesn’t settle for alternatives.
Time and again the United manager stresses the importance of wanting to play for the club. That is almost as important as innate talent. It is all well and good having a player like Paulo Dybala waved in your direction, but he needs the desire to become a Red Devils great or what’s the point?
Gone are the days of signing players like Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez. United are building a team for the future. Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Dan James and Bruno Fernandes all wear the badge with pride.
You can see it every time they step onto the field. It is testament to Solskjaer’s scouting but also to the fact that he makes them feel valued from his first approach.
If United sign you these days, it is because they see you as someone to continue a legacy that fell flat under bigger-name bosses. It isn’t the case of missing out on one but getting another.
Solskjaer may be relatively inexperienced as a manager – certainly compared to Mourinho – but the current United boss is making all the right moves in the transfer market. Long may that continue.