Manchester United’s transfer window was a divisive one. It could be both costly and rewarding.
The window looked set to be defined by United’s pursuit of Jadon Sancho, and in that regard United failed, having pursued the Dortmund winger without success.
The decision not to sign a new centre-back may also be costly. It’s a gamble, considering the poor start to the season in defence, with 11 goals conceded in three league games.
In terms of what we did get, Edinson Cavani and Alex Telles look like they could be inspired signings. Donny van de Beek should also be a surefire success, and will be when he starts getting regular game time.
Longer term, Facundo Pellistri and Amad Diallo have potential to be big first team players. But it won’t be fair to judge them after one year. Only at around the summer 2022 juncture will we have a clearer picture of where they stand and whether the investment paid off.
The consequences of missing top targets
In terms of what we got, there is reason to be grateful. The shambolic summer of 2018 saw the club give up on deadline day after a difficult window, rather than end it with a late flourish to end on a high.
The 2018 summer was a turning point for United. Jose Mourinho was incandescent at the club’s stagnant transfer business and after poor results he was fired before the year was out.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed on an interim basis, and United decided not to make a single signing that January.
United missed out on the Champions League by four points. Failing to take the gamble on just one signing could have made the difference.
A further knock on effect saw United then have to set more moderate ambitions in summer 2019, without Champions League football to offer. This played a part in missing out on Matthijs de Ligt to Juventus.
United then skipped on signing Bruno Fernandes – before landing him months later.
Fernandes saved United’s season and earned us Champions League football, but defeats in Carabao Cup and FA Cup semi-finals could have been avoidable if the Portugal international had been at Old Trafford to start the season.
The Carabao Cup semi was lost by just a single goal over two legs, while the FA Cup saw United have to put in a rotated line up because of an intense battle for the top four, which would have been long secured if Fernandes started the season.
What lies ahead?
The message here is that every action, or inaction more aptly, has a consequence.
Cavani, Telles and Van de Beek are strong additions, but United still lack a first team winger able to contribute now, and look weak in central defence.
The consequences of missing out on players in these positions has the potential to derail United’s season.
The worst case scenario for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is that it costs him his job.
Already United have an uphill battle for Champions League football, and without a top four place, United risk being back at square one next summer in the transfer market.
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