Man United might have beaten Leicester but a lack of signings means top-4 could be a difficult prospect
Transfer Deadline Day. Three words that send millions of Premier League fans across the world into a frenzy. The internet buzzes with anticipation as rumours fly around the day. And at the end of it, you are either over the moon, satisfied or utterly disheartened by your club’s transfer dealings during the summer window. The Manchester United fans certainly fall in the latter category.
The summer of 2018 was a blur for the football fans as the World Cup fever had taken over the entire planet. And before we knew it, the World Cup got over, the pre-season began and just like that, the summer transfer window was shut.
The new Premier League rules saw an early closure of the window. And one of the clubs to be hit hard by this new rule was Manchester United. The club signed Diogo Dalot early in the summer. The 19-year-old right-back was signed from Porto and is likely to act as a back-up to Antonio Valencia.
Then, Fred was signed before the World Cup. This was an exciting signing as Mourinho had to replace Michael Carrick and rejuvenate the midfield.
And after that, all that came United’s way were failed bids and negotiations. According to a report by Daily Star, Toby Alderweireld had been a long-term target but the real challenge was agreeing to a transfer fee with Daniel Levy, Tottenham’s chairman.
Spurs wanted a fee in the region of £75m for the Belgian international, which is quite a steep fee. Eventually, as per Daily Star, Mourinho turned his attention to England’s World Cup star, Harry Maguire. The 25-year-old Englishman was quite impressive in the World Cup and Leicester City were have successfully retained his services.
Repeated failures in the transfer market frustrated Mourinho and this could be clearly seen during the pre-season tour of USA. He was grumpy in all of the press conferences, indicating that he needed signings and he needed them fast.
It was quite obvious that United, apart from the players signed, needed a left-back, a centre-back and a right-winger. On one side, there is Manchester City who have the likes of Raheem Sterling, Bernado Silva, and Riyad Mahrez to play on the right-wing and on the other, United are forced to deploy Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Juan Mata on the right.
To mount a title challenge, United must have world-class players in every department and then some on the bench. Even at the centre-back position, United have quantity in terms of Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones but not the desired quality.
Bailly is the best defender amongst all of them but due to his injuries, he has made only 38 Premier League starts in his two years at United so far. Lindelof had his first season last time around and he did impress with his range of passing and positioning to sniff out the danger.
Smalling had shown growth under Louis Van Gaal but in the last couple of years, his poor decision-making in critical situations has been quite apparent. Rojo is too rash to trust for a complete season and Jones’ fitness issues continue to be his undoing.
The left-back department is another headache for Mourinho. United bought Luke Shaw in the summer of 2013, but Shaw has been unlucky with injuries and never got a run of 15-20 games. Jose Mourinho understandably favoured Ashley Young over Shaw last season and even though he did a commendable job, that’s not the way to win titles.
Jack of all trades and master of none. This is the category that most of United’s current players fall in. But the club must forget about signing multifunctional players and instead focus on experts in each position.
Liverpool’s excellent summer business from this summer should increase the pressure back on Mourinho and his men. Even the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea, who play in the Europa League, have strengthened their squads.
Even though they have won the opening game of their season against Leicester, this might be a long season for the fans from the red half of Manchester as their lack of quality transfers could haunt them at the end of the season. If that happens, there is a huge chance that the most successful club in England could miss out on Champions League football next season.