Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has defended the Red Devils summer spending, despite the club currently being fifth in the Premier League table and not mounting a title challenge this season.
United spent around £95million last summer in a bid to mount a title challenge this season following a fourth place finish in the league last season.
On the defensive
A bit like United until recently, Woodward was on the defensive when talking about the clubs transfer business. Talking about the Red Devils transfer activity, he said: “Some players are bought by other clubs with an eye to them developing into something special in a few years’ time.
“There’s a bit more pressure on some of the other clubs to bring in players who are going to hit the ground running and be top players, verging on world-class almost immediately.
“So there is a slightly different market in which people are buying. Leicester is a fantastic reference point for everybody this year.”
Where are the top players?
If Woodward was talking about United as the one of the other clubs that bring in ‘top players, verging on world-class’ I like a lot of United fans will be wondering which of last summer’s signings are considered top players?
Anthony Martial, Memphis Depay, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin arrived last summer. I must say I thought most of those were good signings.
However, Martial is the only one that could be described as a successful signing. Depay has struggled to even get on the pitch since his big money arrival from Dutch champions PSV. He has found life at United difficult and is at the moment being kept out of Louis van Gaal’s team by United academy graduate Jesse Lingard.
Schweinsteiger has without doubt been a quality player in the past and was a key member of the Germany team that won the 2014 World Cup. However, injury problems and a lack of form at Bayern Munich showed that his career was on the wane and that is why Pep Guardiola agreed to part with the midfielder last summer.
I am a big fan of French midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin, but it would be a stretch to suggest that he has had the same influence on the United midfield that he had during his time at Southampton.
He has often been rotated in the centre of the United midfielder, as Louis van Gaal searched for a winning formula. He is a very good player, but I would not say he is a top player, or verging on world-class either.
Ironically Woodward talked about clubs signing players for the future and United’s most successful summer signing has been of young French forward Martial, who was signed as a player for the future, but has already given glimpses of his ability.
In summary, for me United did not sign any top players, who are verging on world-class. They signed a player who had hit a bad period in his career, a decent midfielder and two young players with potential for big money, one whose proving his worth already and one whose struggled.
A different boss
To be fair to United boss Van Gaal, his signings looked decent, but they just have not worked out in Memphis Depay’s case. The Red Devils are currently fifth in the Premier League table, six points behind fourth-place Manchester City.
Van Gaal’s team are currently odds of 7/4 to finish in the four, which surely would have been the minimum aim this season for the Red Devils this season.
The clubs veteran boss’ style just does seem to suit the players or the club. Some may say that the media are attempting to hound van Gaal out of United, but in all fairness he has been backed to the hilt by the clubs hierarchy in the transfer market.
Maybe a different boss would have spent the money more wisely, or even be able to get better results out of the players at United.
If the reports of Jose Mourinho arriving at United in the near future are true, then we will soon find out if a different boss could get better results at Old Trafford with the current group of players.
In truth this season has just not been good enough and despite defending the clubs transfer policy Mr Woodward must know this simple truth deep down.
Manchester United are one of the biggest clubs in the world and fans believe they should be fighting for the title. The money that has been spent in recent transfer windows should have ensured that happened.
Unfortunately for Van Gaal and United they are not and that is likely to mean the Dutchman paying with his job for the team’s failure this season.
Did Manchester United sign any top-players last summer?