“I do not know,” Josh King said when quoted by TV2 about how his proposed move to Manchester United broke down. The ex-Red came close to returning on deadline day as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer desperately searched for striking reinforcements.
United ended up paying around £3m in wages and fees to bring former-Watford man Odion Ighalo from Shanghai. King’s current club, AFC Bournemouth, reportedly demanded an immediate fee of at least £30m for a permanent transfer.
Money appears to have been the reason for King’s botched move but the Norwegian’s comments explain another problem. After returning to action for Bournemouth in a 2-1 loss against Sheffield United, King spoke to TV2, a broadcast station from his home country.
“How close it was I have no complete answer to. I have to watch what I say,” King explained, being understandably guarded.
“I had some faith that it was going to happen. And it was a bit sensitive for me considering that I moved to England as a 16-year-old to achieve my dream and wanted to reach that goal at Manchester United.
“When you hear that you are connected to United and a bid comes in, then the feelings you had as a 16-year-old come back to you.
“But why it did not happen, I do not know. It had been a dream come true, I will not lie.”
Emotional about missed opportunity
King spoke with some emotion about the situation. It’s an oft-forgotten part of deadline day and the transfer window; the failed moves which can break a player’s spirit.
“[It] didn’t happen and I’m going to give everything to Bournemouth as long as I’m in this club,” King continued.
“The coach [Eddie Howe] was absolutely fantastic with me during those days and was very helpful with me. I have respect for how he behaved with me during the little episode.”
Is Josh King episode a sign of wider issues at United?
It’s unlikely United will ever make a move for King again but football is, and has always been, about relationships and reputations.
King made a concerted effort to praise his manager Eddie Howe but said nothing of United, his former club.
United’s approach to deadline day was manic. That’s not an attribute unique to them. Plenty of other Premier League clubs were at panic stations searching for a striker. In fairness, United eventually succeeded while Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea did not.
But if by doing so they left Josh King in the dust without a sense of where his future was, then that’s a problem. United have taken a number of hits in their transfer market reputation and this could be another. Agents and players speak to their counterparts.
It makes sense that, with time ticking, United would be pursuing Ighalo and others and could forget the personal element of all this. But there should be someone at the club who could take the time to speak to King, an ex-player, and explain the situation.
Perhaps it would still do no good, but it may leave him speaking in praise about how United conducted themselves rather than doing so about Eddie Howe.
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