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United Underwhelm on Deadline Day

Red Devils miss targets, settle for Cavani.

United fans were left feeling underwhelmed by how their club fared during the transfer window, yet they’ll be hoping to see their new striker roll back the years and produce the goods.
Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images

They wanted a left-back, a centre-back and a right-sided attacker. They got a left-back, a central striker and an 18 year-old right sided attacker, who won’t arrive until the new year.

It’s been another poor transfer window for Manchester United who’ve had months to get this right.

Jadon Sancho, their #1 target, who actually wanted to come to Old Trafford, proved beyond reach; United reluctant to play Dortmund’s asking price of £108m.

It’s difficult to know what plan B was in the event the Sancho deal didn’t go through. Maybe there wasn’t one?

Better organized clubs do not get panicked during the transfer window and all have their business tied up generally before the last day. Look at Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool, even Everton. No-one was going, panicking, to the wire from any of those clubs.
United did four deals on the last day, two for the future, so only two to strengthen immediately, in addition to Donny van de Beek who they’d already acquired.

Still no centre-back, nor right-sided attacker. United need players now. Waiting for youngsters to develop won’t save Ole-Gunnar Solskjaer’s job.

The signing of Cavani in particular is the one that underwhelms most. Not because he’s a bad player or lacks credentials, but you get the same feeling as when United signed Falcao, Ibrahimovic and Ighalo. Stop gaps. It’s a case of not getting who they want, so let’s grab any old, proven player that can do a job, with the emphasis on ‘old’.

FC Augsburg v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga
Sancho - No Go!
Photo by Peter Fastl/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Had Cavani been part of the plan, he’d have been signed weeks ago. He’s been a free agent since March. That his deal was completed on deadline day says everything anyone needs to know. United couldn’t get Sancho, their main man. They kept pushing and pushing, much to the increasing annoyance of Dortmund, and finally fell flat on their faces with only days to go, seemingly no back-up plan in place.

Former Liverpool midfielder, Didi Hamann was interviewed yesterday morning by Sky Sports. When the studio posed the question about Sancho, he went off on an answer covering the latest news about the 20 year-old partying with England colleagues and said it was a matter for the player, his club and the FA.

It never occurred to Hamann that he was being asked in respect of Sancho’s possible move to Old Trafford. When corrected he said, “It’s been quiet. There’s not really been anything in the German media. Dortmund said weeks ago the deadline was passed, and everyone, the media, stopped talking about it.”

Thoughts of Sancho moving to United wasn’t anywhere near his thoughts, because seemingly it has long ceased to be a topic of interest in Germany.

United did get Telles the Brazilian left-back from Porto, which looks good business, but that was probably third priority in a list of three.

The 18 year-olds, Amad Diallo and the Diego Forlan recommended Facundo Pellistri are two for the future, but what of Cavani?

He’s been a consistent goalscorer for several seasons, but there is evidence, understandably at 33, his effectiveness could be on the wane. Injuries restricted his appearances in 2019/20 to 22. He scored 7 goals. In the previous three seasons he scored a phenomenal 112 goals in 131 games.

But it was for Paris St-Germain, the mega-rich glamour club, who are so far ahead of the rest in France as to make scoring significantly less difficult than in the Premier League.

Yet there is a certain element of thrill for United fans in seeing one of the world’s top strikers of the last decade in their side. Cavani is a big-name, a big game player, works very hard and is certainly the purest central striker they have in their squad right now.

He may not have the ego of Zlatan, but he’s not got it in him to come to Old Trafford and go through the motions either. The manner of his departure from PSG left a bad taste, after a falling-out with Neymar, so he may feel he’s got something to prove as well.

But even if Cavani works out more Zlatan than Radamel, United fans have again been left wondering what might have been.

Manchester United Unveil New Signing Alex Telles
Alex Telles, United’s deadline day signing from Porto.
Photo by Manchester United/Manchester United via Getty Images

Since the resumption of Premier League football earlier in the year they had been the form team, timing their run up the table like a class thoroughbred to finish in the frame.

Third place was probably the best any club not called Liverpool or Manchester City could have expected last season. Champions League assured, surely now here was a platform upon which to build and at the very least, get closer to their northwest rivals in 2020/21.

It needed a good window and some strengthening. Three or four quality signings and surely the gap would close.

United however have shot themselves in the foot once again. City have spent big, about £150m, Liverpool have strengthened bringing in Thiago and Jota. United players have been looking on (until yesterday) wondering.... who are we going to get?

The new season has just begun and the gap between the top two and the Red Devils has already widened.

Spurs have done good business, so too, Arsenal. And Chelsea spent more than anyone, in excess of £200m.

Instead of kicking on and closing on last season’s runaway leading pair, United now find themselves overtaken by those they had bested.

There’s no prizes for guessing who the fall guy will be unless a miracle occurs. And the poorly-performing Chief Executive, a failure thread through the tenure of every Manchester United manager since Ferguson, is the one with privilege who will take the decision.

Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
Troubled times. Ole’s under pressure at the wheel...
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images