Transfer window verdict: Manchester United completely blew it

Transfer deadline day passed on Monday evening amid a frantic scramble to get deals done.

Manchester United were busier than most clubs, a product of leaving deals until the last minute.

United secured deals for Edinson Cavani, Alex Telles, and also Facundo Pellistri and Amad Traore.

But this day was not about who we did sign as much as who we did not.

All summer long United’s transfer window has been defined by the pursuit of Jadon Sancho.

Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

The club invested time reaching agreements with Sancho’s agents, and yet could not come to an understanding with Borussia Dortmund.

United’s late dealings were a contingency plan, from a by product of failing to get a deal for Sancho done.

It is infuriating because Dortmund were happy to sell Sancho prior to their self imposed August 10 deadline.

The Guardian reported in early August that they were happy to receive the fee in installments over three years.

United still did not pay, believing they would be able to grind Dortmund down to accepting a lesser fee as the window dragged on.

This was a calculated gamble on United’s part, and it backfired.

The £108 million fee Dortmund were demanding was viewed as too high amid the financial climate, but United could pay the price for this failure.

Sancho’s price is unlikely to go down in a year’s time, there will be added competition, we may not be in the Champions League, and bridges with Dortmund may have been burned.

What made it worse was that United kept trying weeks after the deadline, instead of moving on. Instead of either a) paying Sancho’s asking price, or b) moving on to an alternative target, the club somehow managed to do neither.

This was ugly business all round from United, and it has overshadowed the rest of our transfer window and defined it as a failure.

It’s about how we got here

There are some reasons to be positive, undoubtedly. United have signed some good players.

Perhaps in a year’s time we may look at this window and reflect that United got a lot of these decisions right.

But in the cold light of the morning after, United’s window has been a frustrating one.

It’s about how we got here, as much as what we ended up with.

Photo by Jose Manuel Alvarez/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Donny van de Beek looks a smart acquisition, as does Alex Telles and Edinson Cavani.

United have strengthened three key positions in the process, while taking a gamble out wide where numbers are needed.

One of the reasons a striker was needed in the first place was due to the failure to land one on a permanent basis in the past two transfer windows.

There are questions over a failure to sign a centre-back. United are gambling on the development of Teden Mengi and Axel Tuanzebe, but it may have been more sensible to pay big money for a Dayot Upamecano or Kalidou Koulibaly and go with a known quantity.

This window has highlighted how disorganised United are, by once again leaving business until the last minute.

A famous tweet from Gary Neville back in 2012 is as apt eight years on as it was then.

The perception of the club to the outside world matters too. United look like a club which cannot operate functionally.

United had months to prepare for this transfer window, with extra hours to plan during the lockdown, and the deadline extension to October.

And yet it looks like the club have spent just a month cobbling together deals at the last minute.

These late moves combined with the heavy defeat on Sunday is reminiscent of Arsenal’s efforts to sign five players in 2011 a day after being hammered 8-2 by United at Old Trafford.

The best run clubs get business done early, and it is clear that the lack of speed in doing transfer deals has been a contributing factor to the poor start to the Premier League season.

Past failures like signing average players up to high wages have contributed to the difficulty of signing players. Bad business signed off by chief executive Ed Woodward continues to hurt the club.

Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images

The window has been a distraction on the pitch, with the fanbase restless and even players like Luke Shaw coming out and pleading for new signings, when he knows he is at risk of being replaced.

The players and manager see what other clubs are doing, and feel the lack of ambition coming from Old Trafford.

United finished third in the league last season and reached three semi-finals.

It felt in late July that the club were poised to make a splash in the transfer window and build on the positive end to the season.

Instead the feel good factor has evaporated and United are further than ever from challenging from the title.

Yes we have some new shiny players to slot into the squad and give the team a boost, but it almost feels too late already.

Having missed out on our main target, failed to sign a centre-back, and left deals until the final moments, this transfer window is a missed opportunity for the club to really kick on.

United had an opportunity to build, and right now it feels like the club completely blew it.

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